At first, we want to become God's people. We are tired of being nomads in a desert, wandering without meaning. Thus, we enter into a covenant with God. We are baptized in faith, entering into a community of hope and meaning. But we are still spiritually immature. We slowly learn that the Cross, and silence, are our greatest teachers, and that Jesus is the guide of them both. Relationship (covenant), therefore, is deepened, and matured, through the realization that God's Ways (Commandments), and Jesus' Way (the Cross) are the only trustworthy ways to true happiness (beatitude/blessedness).
Finally, if we are willing to repent of our sinfulness, and receive God's Mercy, in its sheer abundance, we feel God's overwhelming Love, overwhelmingly. This is what transforms us from mere covenant keepers, and happiness seekers, into willing, and able, children of God. For, in willingness, we are enabled through grace to Love even our enemies.
"Today you are making this agreement with the LORD: he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees, and to hearken to his voice." Deuteronomy 26:16-19
Most of us were baptized as babies, and those of us who entered into the Church as adults must admit that our faith has grown ever since. The first step in meeting God is the covenantal step. We turn (conversion) from the emptiness of the world we were formerly so in love with, and begin the pilgrim journey with the Church as 'People of God' in search of His Kingdom in the ways of His Commandments, and the Way of His Son's Cross.
This first Covenantal step is the stage of learning, observance, and the grace of adherence. Like ancient Israel, it is a step toward full-fledged Christian maturity. Every Lent we re-enter God's New Covenant through the Blood of Christ in sacramental confession, renewed prayer, proper reception of the Eucharist, and the willingness to learn, observe, and adhere to the ways of God (Commandments), and the Way of Jesus (in His Cross).
"Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart." Psalm 119:1-2, 4-5, 7-8
Though we are baptized Christians, and we believe that Jesus is 'the way, the truth, and the life,' we are in the world, and we succumb to its ways all too often. Instead of being salt and light, we slowly become unsalted in the promiscuity of popular society, and fall in the darkness of the culture of death. Lent shouldn't be but one season a year! Lent should be our daily conversion in the Cross of Christ, dying to lies and selfishness, and rising to blessedness (true happiness) in the freedom only Christ can bring in the salt of Truth and the light of Life.
From the first covenantal step, we rise by experiencing our falls in the world--a world which only offers death and darkness--receiving Light and Life in the Mercy of Jesus Christ. True happiness is resurrection from death--Lent is a time to receive Life in Christ through renunciation of all worldliness in sin.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father..." Matthew 5:43-48
Covenants entered, and realizations of true happiness in, and through, the Cross of Jesus, lead to the ultimate realization. God is not just our God. Not just our source of meaning and happiness. God is our Loving Father. This means that we are not just a people, but children, His children. Covenant becomes family, happiness becomes charity, and God becomes 'abba' in the Spirit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is the height of holiness that everyone, I repeat, everyone, not just mystics, but everyone, can reach THIS LENT, through a renunciation of the world (repentance), through a confession of our sins (and the grace which leads to happiness through Christ's Cross), through a believing and spiritually receptive reception of the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ), where we receive the Lord, and we are taken up by Him to our Heavenly Father.
Through this Eucharistic reception, moreover, we are made holy in communion with our brothers and sisters in heaven, in purgatory, and on earth, loving them through our Love of Christ.
Enemies become brethren in the twinkling of an eye.
The Eucharistic Life, therefore, is our daily repentance of hating our brethren, and our daily love of our enemy, become family, in the Cross of Christ's Love.