My recent preparation for Lent has brought me to reflect on chapter 58:1-14 of the book of the prophet of Isaiah. In doing so, a particular thought comes to mind… This Lent, instead of afflicting ourselves with misery, maybe we can attempt to relieve the misery of the afflicted. So often during Lent we can practice self-denial in attempt to omit our vices, but how often during Lent do we focus on the virtues in order to grow in love? Is not this the ultimate goal of self-denial, to grow in love, to be filled with love, to fall deeper in love with our Beloved? Surely, I am not saying to eliminate altogether the tradition and wisdom included in the practice of penance, self-denial, and exterior mortification (for this can also help us to grow in virtue and freedom from sin), but what I am saying is one goal of lent is to grow in our love of God, which can come about through interior mortification. In effect, we become more our truly ourselves, namely, who Christ has destined us to be, who he desires us to be, who he created us to be. Self-denial should lead to Self-gift, that is, that we become a greater ‘gift of self’ to others. May the words and wisdom of St. Francis help us to grow in Love this Lent… “My brothers, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, so that he who gives himself completely to you may receive you totally.”
+ Br. Roch Mary Greiner, CFR
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