This Lent I am spending time daily with Lent and Easter, Wisdom from Thomas Merton, compiled by Montaldo at the Merton Institute for Contemplative Living and published by Ligori Press. There are a number of texts in this series and all are good. But I chose to start here. The source of the reflections come form his book of essays Seasons of Celebrations.
Lent is our "Holy Spring" as Catholics and as part of the journey I have been asked to keep a Lenten Journal. This is the beginning. Thomas Merton says, "...Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten fast, is a day of happiness, a Christian feast. It cannot be otherwise, as if forms part of the great Easter cycle...Lent is not a season of punishment so much as one of healing." (pg. 2)
And so I am asked: "In what ways do you consider Lent to be a 'a season of celebration?'"
As I thought about this I remember my childhood and the Lenten practices we share as family. There was of course the standard "offering up" of CANDY. Now we seldom got candy at my house except at Christmas or Easter, but know that I could not have it still instilled in me the focus on what is important in our lives. OH! Don't forget, no ice cream. Yes, ice cream was always in the freezer! It was and is a celebration! I celebrated then as now how we did more things as family. There was evening Bible reading. Wednesday night was benediction with a short homily and Friday night was the Stations of the Cross. I really never felt punished during this season, but I was challenged more to behave in a manner that was more charitable.
Today, that challenge to celebrate is considerably more difficult for me. I don't have Mom and Dad to monitor my journey. They aren't here to nudge me in the right direction. I have to rely on my own will to "celebrate" the journey and traditions that bring us to ultimate celebration, the triumph of the cross! I am guided through Holy scripture, taken by the hand and lead to the ultimate celebration at the Resurrection, the Day that saved the world and gained for us all Eternal Salvation!
Thanks be to God!