The holy season of Lent has begun amid the unrelenting cold and snow of a brutal New England winter. Yet, the transition from winter to spring weather that we will (hopefully) experience during Lent is a fitting analogy for what Lent is meant to accomplish within each of us.
Lent is traditionally marked by the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Prayer leads to a deeper relationship with the Lord; fasting leads to deeper self-mastery over the appetites; almsgiving leads to deeper charity towards those in most need. All three penitential practices are meant to help us grow in imitation of the charity of Christ which is always about self-giving.
Like winter, the human heart can at times be cold and harsh, closed to the love of God and the needs of others. This is why Pope Francis continues to call us to go out of ourselves to serve those in need. In his Lenten message, the Pope challenges us to overcome what he calls a “globalization of indifference.”
When we grow in our relationship with God through prayer, the cold heart begins to thaw. When we fast, we become aware of both the physical and spiritual hunger that exists in the world. When we give alms, we share God’s love. Lent, therefore, is the ideal time to overcome the globalization of indifference; but that indifference must first be overcome in our own hearts.
In the coming weeks, the snow will melt and the warmth will return. Indeed, this is what Lent is meant to accomplish in our hearts as well.