• March 29, 2017

Lent: A Time to Soften our Hearts

By Fr Alexandre Morard

Lent is here again - we have planned our days of fasting, prayer time and Stations of the Cross and made our list of good res­o­lu­tions. We want to mark in our phys­ical bodies our desire to be con­verted, let­ting go of the “old man” in order to become a new cre­ation.

Ash Wednesday is behind us, and we realize that we are far from achieving the goals we have set for growing in charity. We have two options: either to redouble the efforts of our will to over­come our weak­nesses and once and for all become the “good and faithful ser­vants” of Christ; or to indulge in lazi­ness and sink down into being the” bad and unfaithful ser­vant.”

Yet per­haps there is a third option: to wel­come what seems an apparent failure as a way to redis­cover the deepest meaning of Lent! The failure of our “agenda” of con­ver­sion is almost nec­es­sary: "Oh happy sin that has earned us such a glo­rious Redeemer" (Easter Vigil liturgy). Our con­ver­sion is at stake pre­cisely when we fall: will I use my freedom to choose my own agenda (that of my will or that of lazi­ness)? Or will I use my freedom to wel­come His mercy? It is in this moment of rec­og­nizing myself as a sinner that I can open myself up to God’s mercy.

The pur­pose of Lent is not to impose on us arbi­trary external obli­ga­tions, in order for us to increase our virtues and become the elite righ­teous (this would make us like the Pharisees). It’s true that exer­cising our will to grow in virtue is nec­es­sary, but the pur­pose of Lent is above all to soften our hearts. To soften them so that we can be open the reality of the Holy Spirit and expe­ri­ence a hunger and a thirst for com­mu­nion with God.

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