April 1, 2009 + Lent
by Rev. Alexander Curry
from The Word, March 1959
Lent is a period of forty-day fast which the church observes after the example of our Saviour Jesus Christ; it is a time for self discipline, self denial, and dedication.
It is a time in which we are to discover our shortcomings and sins and to rectify them.
It is a period in which we should not only discipline our bodies, but in which we should prepare our hearts and souls to be worthy to receive our resurrected Saviour Jesus Christ, at the feast of the Resurrection on Easter.
Lent is a time for us to gain mastery over our desires; not only our physical appetites should be curbed, but our spiritual life should be given attention.
Lent is a time when we should undergo a spiritual experience, rather than just a time when we must forego sonic material things; Lent consists in doing something, not merely doing without something. Some people have the mistaken idea of thinking that if they refrain from eating sweets, or not attending the picture show during lent, they have made a great sacrifice, but although discipline of any kind is good for us, that fact that we have given up such a superfluous thing does not prepare us to receive our risen Christ.
We have only to turn our thoughts to the cross of Calvary, to realize the wrongness of such a sacrifice. Jesus gave His life on the cross to save us from our sins, and if His sacrifice is not to be in vain, we must use the lenten season to prepare ourselves to receive the risen Lord, in the church’s Holy Sacraments, at the feast of the Resurrection.
God gave His only Begotten Son to die for sin; the very fact He gave His Son to die for us on the cross of Calvary, shows us how great is His love. Will there be love in our hearts for our heavenly Father if Lent means only to us the giving up of some small material thing?
The cross tells us about God. Calvary is just the measure of distance God will go to encourage, to help, to save you and me. He gave His Son, He gave Himself, the cross tells what happened in Palestine, two thousand years ago, and it likewise tells what is happening here today.
Above everything else lent should be a time of love, more love of God and less love for the material things on this earth. God wants the hearts of His followers, not only for lent alone but for all time. Lent is a convenient season to begin putting away dishonesty, impurity, lying, unkindness, selfishness, or anything that stands between us and harmony with God.
Lent is a period of time in which we should examine our conscience and find what our shortcomings may be, and after finding out what is keeping us from the glory of God, to repent for our sins, and dedicate our lives anew to our risen Lord, so when we greet each other on the feast of the Resurrection, with the words “Christ is risen. He is risen Indeed” they are not only words from our mouths but meditations from our hearts, which we give anew to our Heavenly Father, who first gave so much for us, through His Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
St. Mary of Egypt, April 1
Enlightened by the grace of the Cross, thou wast seen to be a bright light of repentance, dispelling the darkness of passions, O all holy one. Thou didst appear as an angel in the flesh to holy Zosimas in the wilderness. Intercede with Christ for us, O Mary our righteous Mother.
Kontakion of St. Mary of Egypt, Tone 3
Thou who wast once obsessed with fornication, by repentance art now the Bride of Christ. Thou didst lovingly imitate the life of the Angels and annihilate demonic hosts by the Cross; thou art now a Bride in the Kingdom of heaven, O most chaste Mary.