Any slight opportunity to rest, make merry or simply spend time with loved ones is one that is jumped at, especially during holidays. The end of the Lenten Season that started on Ash Wednesday is drawing close and we are now on the final stretch of these forty days of preparation for the Easter Celebrations, which happens to be the biggest celebration in the Christian calendar. The mysteries of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ will be recalled.
The movie, The Passion of Christ is famous during this season, as Christians seek to reconnect with their savior, who sacrificed His life for the salvation of mankind, and re-examine how to begin again in their Christian life and devotion. The forty days of Lent remind us of the period of time that Jesus spent in the wilderness preparing for his public life;and the forty days of the people of Israel in the Desert before reaching the Holy Land in their journey back from Egypt. Lent is a journey, like the journey of our lives. It is a journey back home, where we belong.
Somebody said that we can go anywhere as long as we have a place to come back to, a place we can call home. The constant teaching of Pope Francis is based on this ideal: the Church is the place where souls can return looking for the caress of a Mother, for forgiveness, for reassurance when everything seems to be lost. The Church has always been referred to as a beacon of moral reference in the society, where lost souls can seek reconnection with their spiritual origins. We can always come back to our Mother who is the Church, because the Church is the body of Christ, of which we are her members.
Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, starts with the imposition of ashes and a reminder from the priest who makes the sign of the Cross on our foreheads: remember that you are dust and to dust you will return. “Returning to dust” means to recall that we are only creatures. It is a call to humility, to rediscover our nothingness, to empty ourselves of our pride and vanity, in order to make room for God in our poor hearts.
The key back to the house where we belong, the Heart of God, is humility. These few lines written down by St Josemaría help us to make an examination of our conscience and find light for the penance purification that we are seeking during Lent, and always:
Prayer is the humility of the man who acknowledges his profound wretchedness and the greatness of God. He addresses and adores God as one who expects everything from Him and nothing from himself.
Faith is the humility of the mind which renounces its own judgement and surrenders to the verdict and authority of the Church.
Obedience is the humility of the will which subjects itself to the will of another, for God’s sake.
Chastity is the humility of the flesh, which subjects itself to the spirit.
Exterior mortification is the humility of the senses.
Penance is the humility of all the passions, immolated to the Lord.
Humility is truth on the road of the ascetic struggle. (Furrow, 259)