Lent was always a bit of a hard sell for me growing up.
Advent? I was totally on board with that! Advent Angels (those little trinkets that built up anticipation for a tirade of presents….er…I mean the birth of Jesus), gathering around the Advent wreath for nightly prayers, beautiful decorations, crèches around the house and a big one at church, all made it easy for the imagination to run wild with the season.
Lent held no pre-packaged beauty for me. The only cloth in the church was a purple swatch and a garish burlap draped over a crude cross placed in the narthex. The one event that did pique my interest was the Stations of the Cross. Participation in the Stations got our Catholic school classes out early to go and pray, followed by early dismissal. As I got older and went to college, this prayer became a shared experience with friends and an opportunity to recall memories of which version we each used growing up.
Adult life has in many ways flipped the script. Don’t misunderstand – I still appreciate Advent. But I find in my life today a more tender appreciation for Lent and what it’s come to mean to me. How I engage this desert time is a direct reflection of where I am in my own journey with Jesus, and in our journey together in the Church and world. Lent is a returning to what I know will remind me of the mystery, trials and reality of Jesus’ journey.
Lent has become a time of quietness. I am an extrovert who loves to be around people all the time. But Lent calls me to deeper relationships in quiet moments with one person at a time. Lent calls me to draw closer to the Scriptures, to remind me to rend my heart, not my possessions.
The USCCB Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development has developed a Scriptural Way of Cross. This Lent, make the effort to find some quiet time with Jesus, perhaps with friends, and reflect on the last days of his life. There are group reflections, art, prayers and questions to help you along your Lenten journey.
Genevieve Mougey, M.Div., is manager for poverty education & outreach at the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace & Human Development.