Home 9 Article 9 Lenten Reflections – What Does Lent Mean to You?

Written by

Dio Comms Team

Published on

February 26, 2021

We asked a few people to share some personal reflections on what the season of Lent means to them, and how they plan to fast, pray and give alms this year.

“I’ve never really been one to give up something during Lent (like chocolate, sweets, caffine) because I don’t tend to eat enough of those things anyway! Instead I take inspiration from Pope Francis’s Lenten practices – fast from hurting words, fast from anger, fast from pessimissm etc – and try to be more patient, to be more aware of people around me and how they might be feeling. Basically during Lent I try to be more aware of my own shortcomings and treat everyone with kindness.”

Chris Reilly, Accounts Administrator for the Diocese of Palmerston North

“What I remember most of Lent when I was a child was touching the feet of Jesus on Good Friday in the Philippines. Since coming to New Zealand, my family and I have joined with the Couples for Christ group, where we travel together to different parishes for the Stations of the Cross every Good Friday. We do it every year.”

Marcy Coralde, parisioner of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

“I attended St Joseph Māori Girl’s College in Napier, and during Lent we’d have no meat on Fridays, so we’d have creamed corn or macaroni cheese for lunch and fish & chips for dinner! I’ve always associated Lent with that. These days I encourage my kids to go without something they really enjoy, like technology or their favourite junk food. It’s a way of helping them to be mindful of the season.”

Anne-Marie Rogers, parisioner of St Brigid’s Parish Feilding

“I heard once that Ash Wednesday is the biggest day for people returning to the church. This crops into my mind each year during Lent as I reflect that everyone needs to start again or and come back from something at regular points in our lives. Many people look at New Year’s for setting resolutions or to change habits, but my reassessment time is Lent. 

Usually I take on something rather than give it up. I have not gone to an Easter mass in years because holidays with family took priority, so actually going to church over the Easter weekend is my goal this year!”

Penelope Van Der Lee, Probation Officer, Taranaki

In my career in education, and even in working for the church, I have found a lot of people are stuck. They are stuck in toxic thought patterns, recurring behaviour cycles, bound by fear and ignorance, stuck in the past. All kinds of stuck. But the Good News is that through the season of Lent, we are invited to think and pray deeply into what Jesus’ Passion has achieved. Christ is redemptive. That is the Good News! For everyone I meet, I want them to know about their redemption, because it is freely given and freely received. There is no good reason to be stuck. For me, this motivates me to take Christ out. Indeed, this is the mission and I want to continue to grow in my committment and lived reality of this redemption.

Working for the church is a challenging job. People are at the extremes of appreciating you or criticising you. This Lent I am asking for God to work in me to lay down the frustrations, before I get home, so I can be present to my wife and children. I am repenting of the times I have been distracted and not present, because I still have work stuff on my mind. To help this, I am trying to be mindful of boundaries with my phone, so I am not still in work mode when I get home, answering emails and messages that can actually wait until the next day.

I have observed all kinds of things during Lent. I have watched Lenten religious piety evapourate after we celebrate the Easter Triduum. Like watching people after the Covid lock-down return to their normal routines after vowing that they would never go back to how it was. People really are the most curious of creatures. The idea of Lent, is that it is transformative. When we begin on Ash Wednesday and acknowledge publicly that we are in need of God’s grace, we are reminded by the one conferring the ashes that we should turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel. Maybe we can be too much like the Rich Young Man, who is doing everything he can to live the Gospel, but when the litmus test is conducted, he is a big fail. It reminds me of a quote from 20th-century theologian and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno who said, “Those who believe that they believe in God, but without passion in their hearts, without anguish in mind, without uncertainty, without doubt, without an element of despair even in their consolation, believe only in the God idea, not God Himself.” To avoid this as one’s reality, one needs to have a real experience of the Living God. This encounter fills us with a desire to know, and a passion to be witness to it. That is what I pray for my brothers and sisters; that they don’t just go through religious movement, but that they experience for themselves, the love of their Creator, which compells us to deeper life in God.

Nick Wilson, Diocesan Staff, Palmerston North

Lent for me is an internal decluttering exercise, and almsgiving time. I reflect on what is ‘getting in the way’ with my relationship with Jesus/God, and try to practice new attitudes and behaviours to work towards keeping our relationship alive and well.  The outcome often calling on the Spirit to help me let go and let God.

I try to allow the gifts entrusted to me by God are used in service, thereby becoming a better version of who God has called me to be. I commit to give to all who ask especially during Lent. One year I was walking out of the Plaza and a young guy asked “Got a gold coin Miss?”  I smiled instantly and said sure.  He looked very surprised!  I often think about that experience.  How good it felt to give without judgement.

And then as I enter Holy Week and Easter, I know I am loved unconditionally and if the hopes for change that I had at the beginning of Lent didn’t reach their full potential, it’s okay.  Easter is a celebration of renewal and hope for the future, with the promise of God’s love and mercy.

Linda Darbyshire, Catholic Parish of New Plymouth

What does the season of Lent mean to you? Click here to share your own reflections!

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