By Brother Scott Slattum
Order of Friars Minor
As Catholics, we sometimes enter the season of Lent with a sense of somberness and woe. After all, this is a time of fasting, prayer and giving alms as we reflect on the suffering and death of Christ.
“For those of us grieving the loss of someone dear, Lent offers boundless hope.”
When we view Lent through that lens alone, though, we only get part of the experience. In reality, there are two natures of Lent, and Christ challenges us to experience them both in their fullness. First, we need to remember that Lent is ultimately about our baptism. Through Baptism, we were freed from sin and reborn as sons and daughters of God. Through Lent, we repent from sin and return as prodigal sons and daughters to a rejoicing Heavenly Father.
As strange as it may sound to our modern ears, to early believers the word “sin” in the Bible implied hope. It meant faithful followers of Christ had the chance to repent, change the situation, and be made new. They were not defined by their past sins, but rather could move forward into lives of love. Like these early believers, Lent gives us the opportunity to reflect on the sinfulness in our own lives and find healing and love.
The second part of Lent invites us to focus on the suffering and death of Jesus. The traditional Lenten devotion of the Stations of the Cross offers us a meaningful way to prayerfully reflect on Jesus’ suffering and death, and, ultimately, His resurrection. It also reminds us that we are called to hand our own struggles over to God and allow our Heavenly Father to transform them so they may become a source of healing for others. During Lent, we are invited to unite our suffering with Christ’s so it can become redemptive.
For those of us grieving the loss of someone dear, Lent offers boundless hope—the hope of mercy, the hope of healing and the hope of eternal life in the arms of our loving Father by reminding us of our own baptism. The Catholic Funeral Rite remind us of that same hope for our loved ones who have died, “In the waters of baptism [we] died with Christ and rose with him to new life. May [we] now share with him eternal glory.” (OCF, 160)
In the end, Lent is a time to remember that our life with all its cares and joys is temporary. Every one of us will die and stand before our God. Our actions go before us. Our Lord stands beside us.
I wish you the joy, hope and love of the Lenten season.
If you would like to learn more, please contact your parish or Catholic Cemeteries and Funeral Homes directly at (602) 267-3962.