Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.
Tomorrow is the beginning of the holy season of Lent.
How can we allow this Lenten season to be a season of transformative grace for our lives, and the lives of those that we Love?
In grace, trust, and joyous suffering.
"Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, Be holy because I am holy." 1 Peter 1:10-16
God 'so Loved the world' that He sent His Only Beloved Son to save all men and women in the holiness of Love. Love, as defined perfectly from His Cross. As 'God is Love,' God desires us to become Love, through His Love for us, in Jesus Christ.
Holiness is perfection; perfection is Love.
Love ultimately looks like the Cross. The Cross is about self-sacrifice for others. Lent is a grace filled opportunity to turn toward God and become a little disciple of self-sacrificial gifts of Love--for God, through charity toward others; for God, through self-sacrificial self-denials in all things that do not glorify the Lord.
But all this can only be done through grace. And grace can only be received, willingly, through a repentant heart, a prayerful existence (one day at a time), and, for Catholics, through the sacramental life, centered on the Eucharistic Lord.
Grace awaits us, now, in the Love of God, found in Jesus. Will we turn to Him and receive?
"Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm." Psalm 98:1-4
We often mistrust worldly influences for very good reasons. Yet, simultaneously, in our mixed up sinfulness, we often mistrust God for very unsound, irrational reasons. The devil likes to tempt us to blame God for all the injustices we face.
He's quite good at it!
Lent is a grace filled season meant for singing 'to the Lord a new song,' inspired by mediation on the Life, Suffering, death, and Resurrection, of Jesus. Lent is a gift in preparation for Easter Sunday, the definitive victory over sin and death. Resurrection, moreover, is found only in the Cross. And the Cross is spiritual battle with the devil and demons--those malevolent spirits who seek to tempt us to see God as merciless.
"Jesus said, 'Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.” Mark 10:28-31
Lent is the season in which our cross becomes the Divine instrument of our perfection. God sends us a sliver of Jesus' suffering so that we are ennobled as 'images of God' and as the 'Body of Christ.' Yes, it is true that suffering is an unfortunate form of evil which has resulted from original sin.
But Love which conquers suffering, in overcoming it in willfully obeying the Will of the Father, this is the wondrous and life-changing gift of the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
And that is exactly what Lent is all about.