Our family from New Orleans embraces Lent in grand style. Schools are closed for a week during Mardi Gras. Parades are held throughout the week with people on floats, wearing masks, tossing beads to huge crowds. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French) is in full swing, but after the party the masks come off. We are now entering into the the most holy of holidays for Christians, Lent. We are to be in an attitude of repentance, and a solemn state of mind. Our churches will reflect this by not having flowers displayed during Lent. No Gloria or alleluias are sung during this season because it is a time of great loss (The Passion of Christ). On the fifth Sunday of Lent, sacred images are draped in purple as a remembrance of our sense of contrition. During this time we are called to prayer, penance, and almsgiving. We celebrate Lent in remembrance of Jesus being tempted for forty days in the desert by Satan. Forty is a significant number, because it represents testing, ending in victory. The most important element of Lent is drawing us closer to Jesus through the Passion.
I struggle with giving up certain foods for Lent. This year I’m praying that I can get past a week of what I’m sacrificing. In the past, fasting came naturally, and many times I could fast for up 10 days. Now, just one day is a huge challenge. I remember that when I fasted, if I got past the third day, I knew that I’d gotten over the hurdle, and it felt natural to continue with the fast. I am asking God to help me with fasting during Lent. There are so many vices that I need to rid myself of that I can only accomplish this through the grace of God. Last year I gave up bread and sweets, but fell short. Lent is a time of a deeper knowledge of God, and I pray that my sacrifice will honor Him.
I will be distributing the ashes at the 6:15 A.M. Mass, making the sign of the cross while saying, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
We have dinner reservation at a popular steak house on Valentine’s Day, a conundrum brought on by the convergence of Lent and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day. We are to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, but I guess our husbands kind of forgot. Our reservations are at 5:30 for two reasons: some of us are old, and that was the only time available.
Mike will be receiving a new pair of socks with a red background as his gift for Valentine’s. As you can, tell I am not the romantic one in the family. I’m a true believer of “it’s the thought that counts.”
1 John 4:19 New International Version (NIV)
19 We love because he first loved us.
What a perfect order,” We love because he first loved us.” We need Jesus to navigate us into what true love is all about. Valentine’s Day is meant for expressing our love, Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith and only He can fulfill the void in our heart.
Dear Lord, I thank you for the love you have for us; allow us to be in your presence during this holy season of Lent. Teach us to love as you love. Amen