We begin to count the forty days of Lent today, the First Sunday of Lent. We begin today because today is the first time the entire community has been able to gather together. Lent will come to an end at sunset on April 9th, when we begin celebrating the Easter Triduum.
In Sacred Scripture, periods of trial and testing are often associated with the number forty. For example, the Israelites spent forty years in the desert, Moses spent forty days and forty nights on Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, it rained for forty days and nights to cause the flood at the time of Noah, and Jesus spent forty days and forty nights fasting in the desert before being tempted by Satan.
Lent is a time of trial and testing. As members of the baptized, we realize that we have not always lived up to our baptismal promises. Our actions and attitudes do not always reflect Gospel values. During Lent we spend forty days and nights listening more attentively to the word of God and spending more time in fervent prayer. We do this in order to reorient our lives to Christ as we prepare to renew our baptismal promises on Easter Sunday. I encourage you to enter fully into this season.
I am very excited about our parish Lenten Video Project which was introduced at Masses last weekend and on Ash Wednesday. This is truly an “outside the box” project for an individual parish. I am so grateful for our parish staff who have worked diligently on the project in order to help make this a great Lent for our parish community. Lent is intended to be a parish-wide retreat to prepare for Easter. That is why we have many communal activities throughout the season. It is also why we all observe the same day, Friday, to abstain from meat; we all do this penance with each other as a community.
The Lenten Video Project is intended to help build community as we make our Lenten journey together. Members of our parish staff will be sharing their reflections on ways to relate to God, ourselves, and others. We will get to know the members of our staff better. We will also experience the deep spiritual lives of the members of our staff who have dedicated themselves to serve the needs of our parishioners. I guarantee that you will be moved spiritually by their testimony. I feel so blessed to be a member of our St. Isidore staff!
Lent is also a time for the entire parish to accompany our Catechumens and Candidates for Full Communion with the Catholic Church as they prepare for the Easter Sacraments on Holy Saturday. More on that next week!