This week, we enter the season of Lent. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on the Wednesday of Holy Week.

It is not about the sacrifices I can make for six weeks. It is not about giving up Netflix or chocolate or about going meatless altogether or going for daily mass or help out at a soup kitchen. If we let ourselves think of Lent only as a time of sacrifice, an “ordeal” to be endured, are we missing out on a full understanding of the season. Surely this isn’t all that Lent should mean for us as Catholic Christians?

Lent offers us all a very special opportunity to grow in our relationship with God and to deepen our commitment to a way of life as his followers, rooted in our baptism.

In the Opening Prayer before the readings this weekend, we pray: “Grant, almighty God, through the yearly observances of holy Lent, that we may grow in understanding of the riches hidden in Christ and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.” And the first Preface (the prayer that introduces the Eucharistic Prayer) of Lent in The Roman Missal calls it a “gracious gift” and speaks of the joy of the faithful as they “await the sacred paschal feasts”. For me, these words help provide a key to a deeper awareness of the meaning and purpose of Lent.

When I look at the season through this frame of reference, it becomes clear that Lent is essentially a season of grace, a time of being invited by God to experience his deep love for me in an intensely personal way and to live out that love in my life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, trying wherever and however I can to build a society based on his teachings. A world that is more loving and just, where there is truth and integrity, love and compassion, freedom, and peace.

May God bless us all as we walk with him each day and grow in intimacy with him in the weeks ahead.

Written by Evelyn Ng, Lectors Ministry