Gift of Lent
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
For Christians the time of Lent is a time of meditation, reflection, and prayer. A man who wants to be close to God must act in order not to lose his sight of God-Man who reveals to us how far we should go on the path of love.
I am still under the impression of my last year's pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We visited the places that Jesus had sanctified with his presence, we looked at the hills, which were so difficult to climb and which he had climbed to pray, to be close to God. The Holy land is the land of great density of God's presence. Remembering Jesus who lived there, who followed paths in the desert, who taught, praised God and saved the world, is important to our personal prayer. These were days of retreats that go on. The time of Lent is also a pilgrimage to the sources of our faith, it allows us to be with Jesus in a special way, to be close; and retreat leads us to the wilderness with him so that we can stand silently before God in the truth about him and about us.
Lenten retreats are organized in every Polish parish. Through the gift of retreats Christians can smooth their consciences, restore their priorities, pay their attention to the fact that there is another aim of human life apart from the material aims. The fundamental theological dictionary is as if repeated: God loves us very much, and Jesus came to save us; and if we reject sin in a conscious way we reach the aim the Gospel gives us. Naturally, there is no conversion to God without his grace, so we must ask for it and we should regret that we have not done everything according to God's will. The sacrament of penance and reconciliation, which is so important during the retreat, serves this purpose. One should evaluate one's deeds, thoughts and hearts in a careful examination of conscience, and we should ask God to cleanse our deeds, thoughts and hearts.
Retreat is to restore inner balance, to realize that we are only human and we are liable to God's judgement. I am afraid that many of us, educated, cultural people, assuming suitable positions in the social hierarchy, have guilty conscience and hands tainted with sin. This is a disease that does not only destroy a given man but also the whole social tissue. Lord Jesus can heal man from having this disease, moreover, he can give him/her strength and inner joy, and Jesus can make man return to God and brothers. Lent is connected with our special liturgical prayers - we have the Way of the Cross, Lenten Psalms, beautiful and reflective Lenten songs. We should remember that this is the time of mercy: on the one hand, we open ourselves to God's mercy and we wait for it, and on the other hand, it is the time of our mercy towards our neighbours. Let us try to do as much good as we can, and fulfil the most important commandment - the commandment of love. And we are not to seek some special actions, although we have seen many actions recently. Let us look around, see human poverty of our relatives, neighbours, let us help the old and the sick, and let us teach our children to do that. This is the best school of love. There are also situations of another poverty: a husband or a wife leaves the family and the spouse feels his/her world was falling apart. Let us try to fight for the conscience of a careless spouse and help those who are hurt. Conversion is needed everywhere, it happens to every man, every family, community or parish. Therefore, merciful Jesus comes, Jesus whom we see on the cross. This is a gift of sorrow, repentance, hope and love.
Sin has overtaken the world, the Decalogue is rejected and Satan triumphs. He said: 'Non serviam' - I will not serve God. We should reverse the situation.
- Father, I want to stand before You as a prodigal son. I want to return to You. I know that You will not reject me because You want my good, which You connected with Christ's passion and resurrection. Help me to follow the way You set for me since this is the best way, made out of love for man. And You, our Mother, with your heart pierced by the sword of sorrows, and You who are refuge of sinners, pray for us.