Discipline in our Lenten Journey
By Fr. Tirso Villaverde
St. Thomas of Canterbury, Chicago
As Holy Week approaches later this month bringing with it the official end to Lent, it is never too late to look back at this holy season and reflect on our Lenten journey. For one, how well have we done? If we gave something up for Lent, how many times did we fall into the temptation of indulging in whatever it was that we gave up? It is absolutely normal for anyone of us to falter at least once. The idea behind abstaining from meat on Fridays or even giving something up for Lent is a matter of discipline. We are in the process of training our bodies to focus on matters that are more spiritual rather than material, physical, or earthly. As in any other training routine, we must expect that we will be tempted to have those moments when we would rather not deal with the discipline.
Yet, Lent is so much more than just a matter of giving things up. In reality, it really did not matter whether we chose to give something up during Lent or even decided to do something extra. The real test of the Lenten journey is to answer for ourselves this one simple question, "Am I becoming a holier person during these days of Lent?"
Everything about the season of Lent directs the Christian mind to that one simple issue of becoming a holier person. If giving up chocolate for forty days has not made us holier, perhaps that is not what we needed to do. If doing more acts of charity has not made us holier, perhaps we have missed the whole point to the training exercise of Lent.
Contrary to what may think, though, a holy person is not a perfect person. Holiness does not necessarily imply the absence of sin. A holy person still recognizes one's weaknesses and imperfections and failings. A holy person admits that he or she has not yet reached the final goal of one's spiritual journey. Yet, no matter how many mistakes one makes, a person growing in holiness trusts in Divine Providence for grace.
However, a holy person seeks to become closer to God and to grow deeper in one's relationship with God and with the faith community of which he or she is a part. The closer a person is to God, it comes naturally that he or she becomes a kinder person, a gentler person, more patient and loving. A holy person becomes less critical of other people because a holy person is developing the ability to see the presence of God in every other human being. Furthermore, the closer one is to God the more he or she is dedicated to making God's way of life one's own way of life. Connected to this, a holy person seeks to be more involved with the faith community of the church because he or she knows that is where God can be found.
These are the things we Christians must take note of especially during these last days of Lent. As we enter the holiest days of our faith, none of it will really impact us if we ourselves are not becoming holier people.
Again, the Lenten journey will have a true and lasting impact on us if we are able to answer that simple question, "Am I a holier person now compared to before the start of Lent?" Even in these last days of Lent, it becomes imperative that every follower of Jesus focus on that simple fact. Otherwise, the holiest days of the Christian faith will take place but we may not see how truly transformed we have become by the death and resurrection of the Savior.
Tour of the Holy Land hosted by Fr. Tirso, Oct. 20-24
The Tour of the Holy Land will be hosted by Fr. Tirso S. Villaverde, Jr. for 10 days from Oct. 20-29. The tour includes a Roundtrip air from Chicago,$700 gov.t taxes/airline fuel surcharges, First Class hotels, Breakfast & Dinner daily, comprehensive sightseeing, porterage & Entrance Feew. Total coast is $3659. For a detailed brochure, contact Fr. Tirso Villaverde, Jr. at 773-878-5507 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't miss this trip of a lifetime!