What comes to mind when you think about Lent? Ashes. Sacrifice. Crucifixion. Penance. Fasting. Sin. Joy? St. Benedict told his monks that during Lent they should look forward to Easter “with joy and spiritual longing.”
True joy is a deep down conviction that all is well and all will be well despite how we feel or what is going on around us. Joy is the permanent possession of every believer gifted to us at our Baptism, not some passing delight that comes and goes by chance. The season of Lent reminds us that we are called to be a joyful people and encourages us to keep moving ahead, to stay or get back on the path, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We do this with joyful, hopeful hearts through prayer, fasting and good works.
I know that Jesus has taken possession of me, that God lives within me, that perfect joy is only possible if I give my life completely over to Jesus. But do I do that? No.
Sure, there are times that I have experienced the freedom that comes with being a child of God. But then I push Jesus away, I forget, I am afraid, I get lazy, I sin. Lent is the perfect time to reflect on all this and make adjustments in our prayer and in our relationships so that Jesus, once again, can take center stage in our lives. Do not be afraid to take the first step.
We stand on the shoulders of a glorious assembly of holy women and men who have gone before us, and we are supported and inspired by the modern day saints who surround us. We are not in this alone — they will help us and we will help each other to live as joyful children of God in the glorious light of Jesus our King.