Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lent: Pilgrimages Where Are You on The Journey?

Thus far, this Lenten Season has been one of the most meaningful "Lents" that I have experienced in quite some time.  However, it is not because I have been "perfect" in my day-to-day interactions, I've actually fallen on my face several times with some of the things I decided I was going to work on.  Yet, despite this, I have been surprisingly more engaged in this year's Lenten Season and despite some set-backs, I overall still feel joyful, even after my major screw-ups!  I think it is the simple fact that the more we put into something, even when it is difficult, the more we get out of it.  Sometimes we have to do this even when we do not feel like it. For example, when I did not want to do something as a child, such as play with my other siblings, my Mother would tell me, "Do it and the feeling comes later!"  Wow, was Mom right!  This has actually become one of my mantras throughout life and I find myself telling this to my students quite often!

This being said, I think it is important as we reach the half way point through Lent to reflect on what it was we wanted to work on several weeks back at Ash Wednesday.  What did you sense that God wanted you to try to improve, to purify, to transform and heal through the Holy Spirit?  Have we taken more time to pray and quietly be with our Lord each day?  Have we been working on acts of mercy?  Have we taken up any opportunities to be more engaged in Church services, such as Mass (maybe trying to go one or twice during the week in addition to Sunday) Adoration, Stations of the Cross, perhaps your parish hosts a Lenten Retreat or does Friday Soup Nights or Fish Fries?  I think this mid-point is a time for self-reflection and renewal, we must continue to carry the Cross!  For those of us that may already feel defeated because we did not accomplish thus far in Lent what we set out to, remember, it is not about gaining merit and it is ok if we are weak and struggle, that is part of the Cross.  As St. Therese of Lisieux said, "Many souls say:  I don't have the the strength to accomplish this sacrifice.  Let them do, then, what I did:  exert a great effort.  God never refuses that first grace that gives one the courage to act; afterwards, the heart is strengthened and one advances from victory to victory." 

We can renew our commitment to Lent through what St. Therese of Lisieux called the "little way,"  we just need to put forth a renewed commitment with "great effort."  We can do very simple things throughout our day with great love and sacrifice, such as taking the time to smile at a stranger when we walk by, being kind to the grocery checker or bank teller, letting someone go in front of us in line or in the lane while driving, being more patient with a member of our family. Perhaps you can try fasting and if not from food, maybe from television, the phone, email, social networking, etc.  Perhaps these little transformed habits with great effort will stay with us after Lent, which is what Christ wants.  The Lenten Season is a gift to us.  A gift to transformation, a gift for the true self to shine and live the Gospel message, which is love itself.

In order to know more about how to live the Gospel message, we must be purified and open to receive it, this is why Lent is so profoundly important.  This is why Lent calls us to sacrifice and retreat from the busy-ness we experience normally in our daily routines.  As Christ said to his Apostles, "Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little" (Mark 6:31).  There is still time to do this, no matter where we are on this Lenten journey. 

Therefore, in words of Blessed John Paul II, let us remember that Lent is a time for transformation through love:

I exhort you in the words of Saint Paul: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5, 2). The season of Lent that we are observing is a special time of pilgrimage, a time of walking in Christ’s love. … You are remembered in my prayers; you are in my heart. We are all pilgrims on our way home to our heavenly Father. Let us walk in the way of love. Let us walk with faith. Let us walk in Christ Jesus. 
Bl. John Paul II

Peace All Good Things To You!


Franscesco Productions.  John Paul II Quotes.  Retrieved Saturday, April 2, 2011 from:

Fr. Gary Caster. (2010).   The Little Way of Lent:  Mediating in the Spirit of St. Thereses of Lisieux.  St. Anthony Messenger Press:  Cincinnati, Ohio.


  1. It is true that the feelings come later. If I thought about everything I "felt" like doing I would only do what "felt" good! Doing what is right doesn't always feel good, especially when it needs to be done.

    I like St. Therese's "little way" ...with great is always the sincere effort that is the important part because it signifies the decision to start!

    Wonderful post, thank you.

  2. I think in our "do whatever feels good" culture, we can loose the meaning of Lent and sacrafice in general. What is sad, is that we may miss out on developing good virtues. I love St. Therese's little way too, it is so helpful to reflect on. The more I read of her, the more sweet she is to my soul.

    Thanks for your comments, DG.


  3. I loved what you had to say. The part about St. Therese of Lisieux and her "little way" really stands out because most of us think everything has to be big and we set ourselves up for failure.

  4. @ Anonymous: Yes, St. Therese is such an inspiration and great reminder for us all, in especially in our day-to-day interactions, chores, etc.