Spring and Lent
by William DeBiase, OFM
The reflection below originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of The Pilgrim, the publication of St. Francis Inn and its ministries.
Spring is that time of the year when all nature seems to come back to life. It is nature’s time of the year to shout: all things will be new!
It is a time of hope. The beautiful winter is over. The snow and cold have done their marvelous work of preparing for the newness of spring. Spring is that time of the year when the work of winter comes to fruition.
A Time to Grow
Lent is the springtime of our lives with God. The seed of the word of God was planted in our hearts. It has been there waiting to come forth… Lent is the time when we grasp this word and let it see the sunlight of life. The winter cycle must be mixed with spring. Lent is the time to let God sow and reap. It is the time to listen.
Lent is the time to grow in our relationship with God. In many parts of the world, there are people who are preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil. The Sundays of Lent will find them standing before the communities into which they will be Baptized and promising to live the “way.”
This is the meaning of Lent: to let the seed of new life planted within us by God blossom in prayer, fasting and good works. But as the reading from the prophet Joel reminds us, it is not only for us as individuals but as a community: “Order a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly.”
We walk this time of newness together or we do not walk it at all. The sense then is of the entire Church looking to God and asking for the grace to re-commit to grow and to remember the great things He has done for us.
A Time of Penance
Lent is indeed a time of penance. It is the joyful penance of trying to turn to God in a deeper way…can there be anything sad about this? Lent is a time of preparation. It is the time when we look forward to the celebration of the Paschal Feast, but it is also the time when we prepare in a special way to celebrate the Easter mysteries every day. We cannot celebrate Easter in April if we do not celebrate it today.
Lent is a time to remember. We remember who we are and whom God has made us. In remembering we go beyond this world into the world of God.
— Fr. William, a resident of Juniper Friary in Philadelphia, is a member of the Province’s Ministry of the Word.