Today I want today a word about the importance of prayer, in Lent:
It’s one of the 3 remedies for sin we focus on in Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
In Lent we go with Jesus into the desert, as He went into the desert for 40 days.
We go into Lent as a means to Easter:
Easter manifests the “New Man” having put the “old man” of sin to death.
Lent, therefore is about a transformation -using the three remedies.
There is a risk, however, that we seek this transformation as an act of will power:
I see that I need to change, and to DECIDE to change.
That would make our fasting more like dieting -maybe a good thing, but not really a Christian thing.
The transformation we seek, however, it not about MY willpower,
Rather, it’s about HIM becoming active in me: and that requires PRAYER.
We, today, live is a busy noisy world – a world lacking peace.
A world full of distractions, with mobile phones, TV and so forth.
While many people see the problems this leaves us with, most of us struggle to resolve those problems.
To find peace amidst this noise, it’s not enough to try and remove the CAUSES of NOISE.
We need to look BEYOND to that which gives us PEACE.
We need to LOOK beyond to HIM, a person not a thing, that gives us peace.
Prayer is defined as the ‘raising of the heart and mind to God’ (Catechism 2559, St John Damascene).
To gaze upon Him transforms us,
To gaze upon Him orients our whole being back to our origin: back to our goal.
This isn’t just about stillness, it isn’t just about mindfulness, it isn’t the ABSENCE of something
-true peace comes from the PRESENCE of the “One Thing Necessary” (as the Lord called Himself, Lk 10:42).
Prayer is about encountering the Lord, being with the Lord.
And the transformation we seek in Lent depends on it.
Let me, in particular, commend to you coming to the Lord Jesus in the Tabernacle.
It’s a beautiful thing, all through the week, for me to come into the church at random moments and find parishioners in here alone, praying.
Here, in the church, the Lord is before us in the Tabernacle.
Here in the Eucharist, we can be especially close to Him
-so, building a routine of coming into the church when you’re out doing your shopping or whatever is a precious thing.
Next Friday-Saturday we have our 24 hours of Adoration.
The Lord will be, not just present in the Tabernacle, but Exposed on the altar for us to gaze upon.
There are many special graces available at such a time, so COME!
A final word on prayer in Lent:
It can be hard to carry our cross, our Lenten cross.
If we carry our cross ALONE it can feel miserable and hard.
It IS miserable and hard if we carry it alone -but when it is part of our prayer it becomes something else:
It becomes a moment of UNION with the Lord:
A moment of spiritual JOY, even while it is a physical lack of PLEASURE.
Peter, James and John gazed upon the Lord on the mountaintop.
Peter, James and John had a precious moment of prayer that was given to strengthen them through the horror of the Crucifixion that lay ahead.
Prayer, in Lent, is that vital part of the triple-package that transforms us in this season.
Let us, too, gaze upon the Lord.