Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Lent is like "Spring Cleaning" for the soul

By Father Pat O'Hagan, SSCC, pastor
Holy Spirit, Hemet

The following is taken from a homily Father Pat O'Hagan presented during an Ash Wednesday Mass at Holy Spirit, Hemet.

We have entered in this beautiful season of Lent, with this message: Repent. The whole season of lent is turning ourselves to God. There needs to be a conversion. We are given three pillars for lent; prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

The church also gives us some advice. These are not to be done to seek praise and respect from our friends, neighbors, and those who see us. These are between ourselves and God.

I like to look at Lent as a kind of Spring-cleaning. We have things in our closet that we have had for years and years. We have them because we have grown an attachment to them. It pains us to let them go. There are things in our spiritual lives that we should have thrown out years ago, but it pains us to let it go.

I know when it comes to throwing away books. I have the greatest intention of cleaning out my library. But after I open third book I say, I can use this. I have been carrying that book for 50 years and have not read it once. So, too, in our spiritual lives, there are things that we are carrying with us that we really don’t need.

The great spiritual writer Edward Hays has put out a book on the whole process of prayer during the season of Lent. It is very much like the picture we have [at Holy Spirit, Hemet] with the mountain in back and Jesus praying before he goes up the mountain. When we read of the mountain in the scriptures, we refer to the presence of God.

Edwards Hays centers his book as if we were hikers on a climb. We are hikers going up the mountain. Each Sunday of Lent we realize it is getting more and more difficult to climb the mountain, so we have to let things go. We only take the basics with us.

That should be the way we approach lent.

There needs to be a cleansing of the heart by the time we reach Good Friday. We need to die to ourselves, die to those things that we have carried for years. So we can rise with the true Christ and his teachings.

We can sum up the entire teaching of lent with the words we use when we place the cross of ashes on your forehead, “Repent and Live the Gospel.” When we live the Gospel as pilgrims, we travel lightly through the world.

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