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.