by Lesle Knop
The big 4-0 is coming to an end. Lent 2015 will soon be a memory.
How did you do? Did you make it through the desert? Did you keep your promises? Did you have the fortitude to be Christ-like — pray, give alms and fast? I confess that I barely kept all my Lenten intentions two weeks, let alone 40 days.
If being a Christian steward means being perfect, then I am not one. I need forgiveness every single day of my life.
And the crucifix is our reminder of God’s love and forgiveness. It is our blessed assurance.
Today, Good Friday, along with millions of other Catholics throughout the world, we reflect on the Lord’s passion and death on the cross.
Simplicity and sacrifice during Lent help us to recall the 40 days that Jesus Christ spent in prayer in the desert before beginning his ministry; the ancient Israelites’ escape from the Egyptians and their 40 years in the desert before reaching the Promised Land; Moses’ fast before receiving The Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai and his 40 days on the mountain when the Israelites worshiped a golden calf; and that Jonah gave the people of Nineveh 40 days to repent.
The church connects us through Scripture, liturgy and church traditions. Some of these traditions of our faith are simple acts that we can do at home. Last Sunday, Palm Sunday, was the last Sunday of Lent. Did you weave or braid your palms? I braid and display our palms behind a cross near the front door to give to our pastor to burn to make ashes for next year’s Ash Wednesday.
Another of the church’s traditions is to cover holy icons and statues in purple cloth during these last few days of Lent so that, when they are uncovered on Easter Sunday, they become an even more powerful symbol of joy. We can do this at home as well: Remove flowers and decorations, cover our holy objects, and bring them out on Easter Sunday in celebration that Christ is risen.
Every Lent, I try to observe traditions, to spend time in the desert, to be disciplined, but I fail again and again. Temptation is powerful.
Pope Francis writes: “What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love of God can do this!”
Becoming a Christian steward is realized when we attempt true sacrifice. Even if we fail, how comforting it is to be assured of God’s never-ending love and forgiveness.