What does Lent mean to you?
Lent is a time of preparation, of taking a season to reflect and prepare for the most significant week in the Christian Life: that is Holy Week – the Passion of Christ through to the Triumph of the Resurrection.
I think Lent is less about what you give up than what you take up. Dieting over Lent is… just a diet, something for my own benefit and my own vanity, whereas taking up something, some charitable act, some devotion or prayer ritual helps others and helps me also.
For me it is a time to pray more, for me quiet contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament, and the praying of the Rosary, to dwell on Scripture more, reflect more and even repent – I only go to make my confession a few times a year, but that act of reconciliation in the early part of Holy Week is so important to me, an opportunity to come to God in openness and honesty. It takes me all of Lent to build up to that, and to seek true reconciliation and a fresh start. In some ways, 40 days isn’t enough. But the feeling after that reconciliation: to be assured of God’s love and forgiveness takes me from the depths of Peter’s denial to his forgiveness on the beach.
What could you live without?
I could live without feelings of guilt, of self-recrimination, of doubt which undermines my self-esteem. If I was able to ditch those major thorns in my flesh that things would be a lot better, and I could adjust to flourishing as a complete child of God, but I’m not sure I can let those self-accusations go fully. Yet.
What does hope look like?
Hope looks like an empty tomb, which has let it’s occupant loose because it cannot hold him. Hope looks like the promise that he would be with us always. Hope comes in the visceral presence of God in broken bread and wine outpoured which transforms the broken and those who have it all together alike, Hope is the result of being assured of his return in Glory and the opportunity we have to make this world a better place in readiness for his return.