What Challenges Us During Lent?


by Cheryl MaryTeresa Teeling, OSSM
Our Most Sorrowful Mother Community, Portland, OR


What do we feel that perhaps really challenges us when we go deeper into our own lives during Lent? We can certainly feel disturbed by our own sins when meditating on the Stations of the Cross and the sufferings of Jesus, knowing that we have sinned and He has done THIS, this ultimate Gift of Sacrifice for our salvation! How do we feel about suffering and sacrifice in our own lives? Do we think that we are willing to suffer, to make sacrifices, to join Jesus and bear our crosses and do whatever He asks of us? Or do we secretly pray that it not be THAT sort of suffering and then inject several scenarios that we fear the most?     We somehow want to retain a sort of control over suffering, over our lives, our death even. What control do we really have? Our egos imagine much in attempts to be little gods. What if we shift our fear and our imagined control over to something simpler? What about an attitude of radical and complete surrender! Suffering is inevitable and fear is useless. Surrendering; becoming paradoxically powerless, (as we are) requires an act of Faith, exactly the key that God is waiting for us to use. Faith is a Gift from God, it’s free for the praying, the asking. It does, however, require a bit of practice, if for no other reason than to convince us that it really works!     How many times does Jesus keep saying, “O ye of little Faith!” when we resort to everything else… and fail? No one likes suffering, and God doesn’t either. We don’t really understand or know why He allows it, but we can see by the example of Jesus, that it is an act of Divine Love. Suffering somehow puts an end to itself as we move through it and the Power of God uses it to bring about His Holy Will which is Love and Mercy for us. God invites us to not just be resigned to suffering, and even death, when we say we accept His Will. He invites us to participate in His plan of Salvation. By Faith, we are able to surrender ourselves and thereby become a willing sacrifice to God, a true follower of Jesus. Surrender is a challenge! Yet when we turn our attitude from control to surrender, we go beyond those fears, that desire for control. We become simpler when we surrender.     By Faith we can see beyond, we see God is in control and everything is His Love and Tender Mercy. In surrender, we can give ourselves as a gift to God and be free of our useless efforts to try to “work out something else.” Simplicity, openness, Faith through surrender, is what God desires from us. This is part of why He allows suffering and pain and death; His act of Divine Love invites us to walk with Jesus through these things and participate in The Gift. Let us pray for the Graces to arise to the Challenges we find in the Season of Lent.     Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us… that we may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ. Amen.