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Rev. Mark Connolly

Fr. MarkLent for most Catholics is a special time. No matter how far removed they might be from their studies of Lent, most Catholics know that the forty days of Lent remind them of giving up something that is a sacrifice, acts of self-denial, acts that are geared to remind them of Christ.

Lent is sacred and spiritual for every Christian. This is the season that reminds us of the great sacrifice of Christ for each one of us. Centuries ago Jesus Christ went through an agony, a scourging, a crowning and a crucifixion. The tragedy of Good Friday led to the triumph of Easter Sunday.

The acts of self-denial, the acts of sacrifice we make during this season helps us identify with the sacrifices of Christ. Uniting our sacrifice with that of Christ, uniting our pain with his, Lent is set aside just to remind us of these factors.

Lent is not just a season we reflect upon and apply only to ourselves. Our acts of self-denial, our acts of sacrifices not only are directed to Christ, but to our neighbor. Christ himself told us wherever two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them. If you go back to the life of Father Damien, the Leper Priest, you might recall his whole life was to identify himself with Christ and this he did working with the lepers of Molokai.

If you study the life of Mother Teresa, the pattern is the same. Whatever sacrifices she makes are identified with Christ. And she finds Christ in the poor people of Calcutta.

The whole thrust of the season of Lent is to increase one's spirituality. To make one more aware of the great events that took place centuries ago. Just think of this. The Eucharist that has nourished hundreds of million, the body and blood of Christ that is the core of our Christian belief, is recalled and re-presented for us during the season of Lent. The death of Christ on Good Friday, the worlds greatest act of Love, is represented to us during this Lent. The victory of Christ over death, the words of Christ reminding us that he is the resurrection and the life and that we will share in His victory and life, these are the lessons and teachings of Lent.

We all know that anything worthwhile in life demands a sacrifice. The Love of Christ, the victories of Christ, to merit or to earn these, we have to sacrifice.

Everyone reading this article has experienced some sort of an agony, a scourging, a crucifixion. It might be the agony of a mental illness, it might be the scourging of some physical illness. You, in this year, might be going through a crucifixion of a different kind. Lent reminds you that Christ has already been where you are. Lent reminds you that if you identify your suffering with the suffering of Christ your cross will become lighter. Lent reminds you not only of the suffering of Christ, but of the love of Christ. The more you realize the sacredness of this season, the more you offer your suffering in union with the suffering of Christ, the more you identify with Christ, the more spiritual you become, the more sacred your Lent becomes.

A Hymn to God the Father

Wilt Thou forive that sin
where I begun,
Which was my sin,
though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin
through which I run,
And do run still,
though still I do deplore?

When Thou hast done,
Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin
which I have won
others to sin?
And made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin
which I did shun
A year or two,
But wallowed in a score?

When Thou hast done,
Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear,
that when I have spun
My last thread,
I shall perish
on the shore;

But swear by Thy self,
that at my death
Thy Son
Shall shine
as he shines now
and heretofore;
And, having done that,
Thou hast done,
I fear no more.

John Donne (1573-1631)

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