Once again the Church grants us much grace in this time of year to pray, fast and give alms to the poor as a way to grow closer to Jesus. I am granted the opportunity to cast off the chains of sin as well as the effects of sin on my life and enter into a time of prayer and fasting (not just from food.) The sacrament of Confession is offered more frequently in Lent as the Church does all it can to lead the faithful closer to Jesus. How much closer can we get to the Lord, than identifying with his forty days of fasting and prayer in the desert?
In my life as a protestant Christian, we sometimes felt that "Jesus did it all" and therefore fasting and penance were not essential in our lives. As I watched my Lutheran in-laws giving up sweets during Lent, I was thinking how useless this practice was at the time. With time and conversion I see they were right all along and I regret my pride and arrogance now. The older I get, the more I realize how much I need Lent every year and am truly thankful for the grace this season brings us to more closely identify with the Lord and ultimately be transformed. "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return"