Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lent: The Season of Hope

The liturgical season of Lent started today.  From the outside, Lent might seem like that dreary time of year before spring when you have to give up something you like and remember to not eat meat on Fridays.  But for me, Lent is the Season of Hope.  It is one of my favorite liturgical seasons (I’d say favorite, but you really can’t beat Easter for a good time) and is a great source of inspiration and growth each year: I have been looking forward to Lent starting for weeks.

But why season of hope?   

During lent, we can increase hope in first God, and then ourselves.  Jesus is the center of this season; it is during this time each year that we prepare ourselves for The Resurrection: by remembering Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter and by preparing ourselves for our own resurrection with Jesus in concrete ways. During Lent, we contemplate the life and death of Jesus.  There are many somber, painful, and sad moments during Lent, but even these, or really, especially these moments give us hope- because we can look up and see the Resurrection.  We can see the wonders of God and all the reasons to hope in Him.  We are able to refocus our lives centering on the Resurrection and remember our reason for living: Eternal Life.   We hope in Jesus Christ and we hope in Eternal Life, that is why we live.

Once we have increased our hope in Jesus and His Resurrection, and by consequence our own hope of Eternal Life, we can increase hope in ourselves.  If we really try during Lent, we can find that we are able to change our lives: we are able to give our lives to Jesus.  We can do more, try harder, and even change a little.  We can learn and grow and that gives us hope to learn and grow more.  6 weeks is not overwhelming, like a New Year’s Resolution: this year I will change this forever.  It’s just 6 weeks to try something new, give more, live without.  But at the end of these “just 6 weeks” we can find that we have changed our habits into something better, or that we enjoy giving more, or that we can live without- and it’s not so hard, in fact, it’s good.  We can also learn that we really love chocolate cake and now we can indulge with a true appreciation of just how much we enjoy it.  When Easter is celebrated, we can be filled with hope that we changed ourselves- just a little bit- for the better during this Lent.  And that gives us hope to continue, and this hope grows so we can continue to become the person that God created us to be. 

Lent comes every year the same, every year is a new chance to add something to our lives- even if we add by taking away.  Every year gives us hope in Jesus, in Eternal Life, and in ourselves to be and to do what God is asking us in this life. 

At the beginning of Lent today, I am filled with hope.  I know that many of my ideas of how I will spend Lent will not work out the way I think, and I will change differently than the ideals in my head, but I also know that I will emerge at Easter full of Hope: in Jesus and in life.  And this hope does not disappoint.

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