The Joyful Season of Lent...
the Journey to Easter!

Father Saumell Amaro

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HOW many Lenten Seasons have you been through?  I won’t admit how many I’ve been through. It’s sort of embarrassing.  Why?  It is not because of the years or my age.  Actually, it’s because each Lent we have an opportunity for growth and I can’t really say that there has always been a distinctive, measurable difference in my spiritual life.

I asked the people of the parish one day, “How many converts do we have here?”  A handful of them raised their hands.  I looked at them in a very perplexed expression and said, “Gee, how many people here are baptized?”  I could see by their expressions that they were thinking, “I get it!”  So I asked them again, “How many converts to we have here?”   They all raised their hands.

THE RCIA programs have brought about a new consciousness to conversion, especially during the Lenten season.  We life-long Catholics are challenged as to what type of witness we’ve been giving all along.  We’re expecting these people to change and forgetting that we must change too!  How can we hope to remove the splinter from the eyes of our brothers and sisters when we have planks in our own?

THIS is a joyful season.  Joyful?  Well, that’s what the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer says.  It might be expressed in a much more subdued manner, but it’s done joyfully nonetheless.  You see, Jesus can’t be separated into parts.  He is birth, passion, death, resurrection, and second coming.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  We experience him different ways because he joined us in the context of history.  We have joy because we know of the total Jesus.   We know of his mercy.  We know of the journey.

OUR lives are all journeys of faith.  We have many different experiences. Every human experience is valid for growth.  But, did we learn anything from the experience or do we find ourselves in a rut?  Well, this season calls us out of the ruts.   It calls us to change. Every time we change, we become a new creation and thus can sing a “new song.”  God is known a little differently by every grace that He extends to us.  We learn about ourselves and learn about God.  We experience grace and the accompanying joy.

LENT is a time of fasting.  It sounds like such a sacrifice. It is, but it doesn’t have to be painful.  We fast every day. Yes, every day!  A fast is a time in which we step back for a moment to give thanks.  Don’t you fast for a moment every day just before you eat long enough to say Grace? That’s a fast.   Sometimes the fast can come from giving up an hour of your own time to spend it in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament for meditation.  Sometimes we fast from conversation in prayer in order to hear God speaking rather than ourselves.  There are many things from which one can fast.

RATHER than looking back on all those years and trying to measure our conversion and change, just look back one year.  Are you different?   Is there something distinctly different in how you present God and His miracles to others? Don’t worry if it didn’t happen.  You have a whole new opportunity.  That’s another gift from God... another grace.  Next year at this time you’ll be able to make that distinction... and be just that much closer to God.

BELOW is an Examination of Conscience to help you get started.  Remember, penance always comes after the absolution, when you’re in a state of grace.  Penance is that experience of restitution of the damage of our sins. It’s our Purgatory of joy.   But we must be honest about our sins first, confess them, and move on to do God’s work. Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life.  We can deny no truth.

Act of Contrition

Oh my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended You,
And I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of Heaven
and the pains of Hell,
But most of all because they offend You, my God,
Who are good and deserving of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace,
to do penance,
and to amend my live. Amen

Fr Amaro Saumell  began his religious education at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, later attending St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California for his graduate work.  A late vocation priest, he brings to the priesthood his love of life and a wealth of creativity (visit his website at Fr Amaro’s Home Page).  In July of 1992, Father Amaro was ordained to the priesthood and is the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Church in Crestline, California. 

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