We heard the powerful proclamations of God's Word on Ash Wednesday, "Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation," and, "if today you hear His voice harden not your hearts."
Lent is all about now, it is all about today. It is about a new resolve to give ourselves, our lives, that is our time to the Lord in faith today. Lent is a time word.
Make appointments with the Lord
It is the perfect moment, while it is still today to plan our gift of self that is, of our time, to the Lord in Lent. The best gift of self and time that we could offer would be full and active participation in the Mass every single day during Lent, especially during this Year of the Eucharist.
Regular reception of the sacrament of Penance during Lent and into the future would be a very important gift of self and of time. And perhaps in these early days of Lent we might take out our advance calendar, palm pilot, iPOD or other electronic advanced planning "gizmo" and reserve special times to express our faith in the Lord.
We might reserve the Sunday Masses which we had planned to attend during Lent, placing them in our calendar as a top priority. During this Year of the Eucharist the best thing we can do is attend Sunday Mass wholeheartedly and attentively. And then looking ahead to Holy Week we might set aside the time of Mass in our parish or at our Cathedral on Palm Sunday (which is 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral). We might set aside the time of our Holy Thursday Eucharist at our parish or the Cathedral (5:30 p.m.). We might set aside the solemn Good Friday Liturgy so that we will be sure to participate in the solemn commemoration of the Lord's Passion at our parish or at the Cathedral (3:00 p.m.).
Most importantly Lent is a journey where we walk with our catechumens and candidates, those to be baptized or received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, toward that great Easter Vigil celebration, the most important liturgical moment in the Church year. We should place in our calendar immediately, now, while it is still today, the time of the Easter Vigil celebration in our parish or at the Cathedral Church (8:00 p.m.).
Beyond these very important appointments with the Lord, we might consider the weekly Stations of the Cross or other devotions connected with the Fridays of Lent and our Friday Lenten fast from meat. Most recommended would be an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament on Friday or on Sunday before or after Mass.
Giving our time, ourselves
When we give our time, we give ourselves. We can say many things and we can think many things but all of these amount to mere appearance rather than reality if we do not give our time and ourselves.
We heard on Ash Wednesday that if we fast or if we pray we should not do so in order that the appearance of fasting and prayer will earn us praise from other human beings. The Lord is not interested in how we appear to others. The Lord is interested in reality and that means the generous gift of self and of time during Lent.
If someone is important to us we schedule our appointments to be with that person well in advance, and that is why advance calendars, palm pilots, etc., are selling so well.
Place in your calendar today
Please accept my invitation to make your Lenten appointments with the Lord in advance, while it is still "today." Please place these concrete times and places in your advanced calendar now. As Holy Week draws near we will no doubt be tempted by already full schedules to do less than we know we should. Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation. If today you hear His voice harden not your hearts. Let us plan our time to grow in holiness with the Lord right now, while it is still today.
Thank you for reading this. God bless each one of you. And may you and your loved ones receive from the Lord the gift of a truly holy Lent. Praised be Jesus Christ!
Diocese of Madison, The Catholic Herald
Offices: Bishop O'Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison
Mailing address: P.O. Box 44985, Madison, WI 53744-4985
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