Spring (March-April) 2021 - Doing Lent in the Time of Covid
"Doing Lent in the time of COVID"
Lent begins on Monday, the 15th of March, exactly one year since we entered the world of COVID-19. I thought the following could serve as a meditation to help us focus on this, our second, Holy Lenten Season during the pandemic.
The Forty Days is a season of grace that helps us prepare to celebrate the Feast of Feasts (Pascha or Easter) the Christian Passover. It is our annual retreat in preparation for the Resurrection. Forty days is one-tenth of a year, a tithe of our year given over to the Lord. The Forty Days is a time for remembering what Christ accomplished for us by his death and Resurrection. Lent is our retreat from the world, our pilgrimage to the empty tomb and new life.
During our retreat, we set aside other pursuits to seek the Lord in repentance and humility. Our sincere desire is to be more fully conformed to the will of Christ in every area of our lives. The Old Testament readings at Compline, Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, Vespers and other services remind us of our spiritual history – our historical relationship with God. Our divine services call us to take the high-road to self-awareness, contrition and repentance. We hear this call, especially at the Akathist Hymn on Friday. The first high-road to repentance is the humble acknowledgement of our transgressions. To acknowledge sin helps us to stop sinning. Receiving the Sacrament of Confession is an essential part of our Lenten journey. We have this opportunity at every Lenten service.
The second high-road is to forgive those who trespass against us, forget the wrongs done to us, and refrain from unrighteous anger. The third high-road is to pray with fervent and faith-filled prayer, knowing that God will hear us if we seek Him diligently. The fourth high-road to repentance is almsgiving. Freely God has given to us. He calls us to give freely to others, especially those who lack basic necessities, for the measure we give will be the measure we receive. We can focus our charity on those who are most in need during this time of the pandemic. Our outreach to the homeless at the Boston Rescue Mission is one example where we can make a difference. Consider sponsoring a meal or preparing food for them. The 'Food For Hungry People' alms box in our home is an excellent way to remember the needy daily.
Another road to repentance is fasting – self-denial – discipline about what and when we eat. Self-control becomes key for correcting faults and avoiding sin. Are we ready to seek the Lord in this Lenten season, with humility, with fasting, with fervent prayer, and with almsgiving? Ask God to lead us in this time of retreat, to free us from distractions, and to strengthen us in reforming your life.
Despite our COVID precautions, we can attend services in person or online, we can pray together or at home, we can fast, we can give alms, we can repent, we can prepare, we can do Lent.
Blessings, Fr. +Timothy
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