By Teresa Rocha
A few weeks ago, the Lenten season began for many of us as we went back inside our churches once again. With this observance, many may bring their cultural and family traditions into the season. Within these 40 days we are reflecting on and journeying with each other as we contemplate Jesus’ time in the desert, His passion and death.
Lent began with Ash Wednesday, but this year’s introductory rites were different because only a few could participate as a community in the parochial activities due to COVID-19 restrictions. Only a limited number of people were allowed inside our churches. Many had to begin their Lenten journey at home. However this did not stop many of the faithful from remembering Lent’s importance in the life of the family, their communities, and our Church. We are reminded that Lent is a time for sacrifice, a time to repent and to believe in the Gospel, a time where we are reminded once again that we are dust and that our human bodies will return to the earth. We are reminded that our soul has a special calling.
When Jesus was lead to the desert, he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (Matt 4:1) in order to prepare himself for the fulfilment of God’s promise of salvation. When Jesus took Peter, James, and John to a high mountain He was transfigured (Matt 17:1), manifesting God’s approval of this lamb. Jesus showed his disciples that they were called to a higher purpose. Lent is a reminder that our journey on earth must have a higher purpose and that we need to allow God to transform our lives here on earth, so that we may share the eternal with Him.
During the trying and constrained times of this Lenten Season we are compelled to find creative ways to live faithfully and to recognize that God is among us even through these uncertain and uncharted waters we find ourselves in. In our families and communities, we are called to find new ways to seek God and be in communion with our Church. Through the gifts of various types of technological advancements families and communities have opportunities to pray the Rosary, attend Mass, faith share, break open God’s word, and connect with loved ones even when we cannot be physically present with them at this time.
This has not been an easy journey for many. The loss of jobs, diminished incomes, isolation, care giving issues, the challenge of meeting basic necessities to sustain life, and concerns for avoiding infection from the virus that has wrought global havoc for us all has presented unprecedented challenges. It is during these times that we must find ways to keep our faith by nurturing virtues like patience, understanding, and reconciliation. We are also reminded of the need for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. During this season of Lent let us recall this time of the particular desert we find ourselves in and recall the words of Pope Francis: “During the Lent Season the Holy Spirit drives us, too, like Jesus into the desert.” (Mk 1:12-15). Our Bishop Alberto Rojas also reminds us in his Lenten reflection “reflect and look in your hearts and give time to repent and change.”
This is a time for soul searching and life changing. Personally we are called to continue to search deeper into our hearts and to examine those attitudes or habits that need to be changed. In our families what habits can we change or improve on that we can be better centers for sharing the faith and living the Gospel? How can we collaborate with community efforts to feed the hungry, comfort the sick, reach out to the marginalized, thereby transforming our society with these contributions for Christ?
During this Lenten season we find ourselves in uncertain times and each in the particular desert we have been led to. Let us look to Jesus who gave us the examples of perseverance, patience, love, and forebearance. Let us seek to reconcile ourselves with God, family and community. Let us pray for ourselves and each other as we journey together on this uncertain course. AMEN!
Teresa Rocha is the High Desert and San Bernardino Vicariate Coordinator for the Office of Catechetical Ministry.