By Father Jacob Dankasa
Special to The Texas Catholic
Every year we commemorate the season of Lent, which culminates with the celebration of Easter. This is always a reflective season that helps us examine our spiritual lives, identify with the suffering of Jesus, and share in the glory of His resurrection at Easter. During the season of Lent many of us resolve to model our lives on the example of Christ. During Lent, Christians take up Lenten observances such as fasting, almsgiving and prayer, and many Catholics abstain from several things in order to attach themselves more closely to God. Some of us gave up certain behaviors, foods, practices and places as part of Lent. Now that Lent is over and Easter Sunday has come and gone, what next? What happens to our abstinence, those things we gave up? What happens to the renewed prayer life that we had during Lent? What happens to our acts of charity and almsgiving that we exercised during Lent? Are they going to be our new way of life, or will we abandon them and go back to our “former ways”?
I’m reflecting on this topic because I feel we all need to be reminded that Lent is a journey, a journey that leads us toward a life of ongoing transformation. Lenten disciplines shouldn’t be seen as “Lent only” rituals that are abandoned once Lent is over, only to be picked up again next Lent. Our resolve to observe certain practices during Lent is meant to help us actually practice those ways of life so that we can continue with them after Lent. We’re to rise with Christ in Easter to begin a new way of life, the one we practiced during Lent.
As followers of Christ, and as people who value and cherish the importance and the blessings of the Lenten season, let’s hold on to those things we deliberately carried out in Lent as part of our Lenten journey. Did you give up drinking for Lent? You can keep that up now that Lent is over. Did you increase your times of prayer during Lent? You can make prayer a habit as part of the “Easter People.” Did you give alms to the needy in Lent? The poor are always with us – every day and everywhere. Whatever we were able to achieve in Lent, we now know that we can do, and we can make that practice a part of our lives. If we did it during Lent, we are capable of maintaining it.
Let’s learn to use Lent as a season that leads us to living a better life in faith even beyond Lent. Let’s remember the story of the Magi in the Scriptures. When the Magi met the infant Jesus in the manger and wanted to go back home the same way they had come, they were warned in a dream not to go back the same way: “And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their country by another way” (Matthew 2:12). No one who meets Jesus, who develops a personal relationship with Jesus, should go back to the same old way of life. If we truly achieved closeness with Jesus during Lent, then we must maintain that closeness and resolve to remain an Easter people every day.
Now that Lent is over, what happens to your Lenten observances?
Father Jacob Dankasa is the pastor of Holy Family of Nazareth Catholic Church in Irving.