“Lent came quickly!” How often have we said or heard these words? No matter how fast it seems to come, Paul Jarzembowski in his new book, Hope from the Ashes: Insights and Resources for Welcoming Lenten Visitors, notes that, “Lent serves as an opportunity for our personal renewal toward holiness –to assess and reform our habits and routines, to mend relationships with God and others” (29).
Our focus, though, is not simply on ourselves and our growth in holiness. The Lenten season offers us the opportunity to welcome and accompany others, especially those who join our faith communities, particularly on Ash Wednesday. Jarzembowski offers that “Ash Wednesday is like a laboratory for learning the ‘art of accompaniment’ (Evangelii Gaudium, 169)” (184).
To accompany others takes time, patience, and compassion. Lent offers us that time. Prayer and fasting help us practice patience. Almsgiving, which includes our valuable time, helps us grow in compassion –suffering with others. Lent is journeying together, which is what being synodal is about. Many are isolated and alone; we are called to accompany them into deeper life in Christ in and through the Church.
May our Lenten journey together lead us to an Easter of deeper personal holiness and greater accompaniment of all.
May the Charity of Christ urge us on!
In God, the Infinite Love,