*Fr George Adimike*
Lent is 40 days designated by the Church to prepare her children for the annual Easter and eternal Easter in heaven. It is a period when Christians are walked through the desert experience of Jesus Christ in his salvific project. Being that events in the life and ministry of Christ possess exemplary value, the Church proposes these 40 days of prayer, fasting and practical charity to her children so that in reliving the experience of Christ, they immerse themselves in the mystery of their salvation. By so doing, they learn the essentials in the journey of life, and conform their lives as such. Lent, therefore, is a school of holiness and pedagogy of Christian discipleship. Though there is an emphasis on sacrifices, penances and almsgiving, it is not aimed at laying new burdens of formal obligations on Christians. Instead, the Church hopes to dispose the faithful to more openness to the Spirit that helps them clarify and assign correct values to the created order. In other words, it is a liturgical program that seeks to help Christians become better attuned to the spiritual realities in order to quicken their drive towards communion with God.
Lent offers an opportunity for spiritual stocktaking when all energies are focused internally to evaluate one’s life journey. Daily noise and situational hubris make concentrating on the essentials tough, considering human nature. In fact, due to inattentiveness to details and sheer exaggerations in responding to the animalist instincts that pull one to anger, hate, revenge, greed, envy, lust and avarice, our lives take a wrong path and fall into moral errors. In succumbing to the proclivities dictated by the unhealed and the unredeemed Adamic nature, one’s life story contains many aspects of which one might not be proud. Since everyone appreciates good life, lent helps one evaluate their life story written by every decision, response, action and inaction for possible revision and correction.
Lent offers the faithful the opportunity to correct and construct their lives following the Christian imperatives by reining in free radicals of vices and channelling the instincts to produce branches of virtues. Otherwise, vices characterize one’s life. In reality, having the end in view, lent is the time to cultivate good life, apply grace meaningfully, and grow in virtues. It is a time of pruning the vices that litter the garden of our lives. It is a deepening of our encounter with Christ in a free decision to always be with him. It is a glimpse into Christ’s wilderness experience, by which stripped and unloaded of all ephemeral baggage, one encounters the Lord in simplicity, purity and confidence.
Fr George Adimike