Let us benefit from Lent
Fr. IRENEUSZ SKUBIŚ
We are in Lent, in a specific mood marked by our resolutions, sacrifices and magnanimity. This is also the atmosphere of special prayer connected with the Way of the Cross and Lenten Psalms, parish retreats, confession and Easter communion. I remember the former atmosphere of this period when people were concerned about eating Lenten food and not to take part in any entertainment and parties. Today we are living in times when positive experiences are important above anything else. However, we, Christians, know how valuable moments of reflection are – also because we want to authentically enjoy life and its every moment later. During Lent we want to approach the suffering Saviour, be with him, see the sense of his Sacrifice for us, the sacrifice that is an example for all our lives. In a way, Lent summarises the whole life of Lord Jesus, with his martyr’s death on the Cross as the sacrifice of the Redemption, with the resurrection as its award. The Church teaches us this lesson in the liturgy through the missal texts and other services rooted in the Christian tradition. And so the Way of the Cross with its fourteen stations as moments of reflection and prayer reminds us of all the events during Jesus’ way to Golgotha, full of suffering, when he fell under the weight of the cross, surrounded by the derisive, laughing and cheering crowd when he felt weaker and weaker. And Jesus walked along the road for love of every man, including his torturers. His sacrifice as the Son of God was the atonement for the sins of mankind, offered to God. As God-Man he did not experience fewer fears and sufferings than each of us. In the Garden of Olives we can see his fear of what was going to happen and his request to God to take away the cup. But he agreed to take it, ‘nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine’ (Luke 22:42), i.e. he had full confidence in the great, humanly incomprehensible plan of the Father. The content of the Way of the Cross causes us to kneel before Lord Jesus and to thank him with love for his love, obedience to God and the whole gift of the Redemption. This is a great philosophy of this service that leads us to the mystery of resurrection but Jesus’ sufferings are to make Christians aware of the great love of God and the fact that we are to follow the Divine Master in suffering, torment and passion. The old service of singing Lenten Psalms has a similar expression. This is a beautiful meeting with suffering Jesus, full of loving dialogue. This service has been preserved especially in the Polish Church. Achille Ratti, who became Pope Pius XI, is said to have participated in the Lenten Psalms and to have deeply experienced their tone and chanting when he was the Papal Nuncio in Warsaw. It is good that priests do their best to celebrate these services in some wonderful musical arrangement (organs, singing of the choir, etc.). These services have been placed in the booklet ‘Agenda liturgiczna archidiecezji czestochowskiej’ [Liturgical Agenda of the Diocese of Czestochowa], which we are preparing now and which will serve parishes and priests to celebrate various services. In some parishes priests celebrate Lenten penance services that are to prepare believers to confession, contrition and examination of their consciences. We will all participate in retreats – some will take part in special spiritual exercises – that are to be our decisive and deep impulse to God’s life. Let us pray wholeheartedly for all preachers who want to revive our faith and awake our Christian hope, and let us try to yield good fruit of Lent, remembering that Lord God blesses all our efforts that aim at good.