To live Lent with Holiness

The arrival of Lent, in the context of our journey towards holiness, offers a unique opportunity to reflect on the meaning and importance of this period of spiritual preparation in Christian and missionary life. Lent is a time of penance, conversion, and spiritual growth, during which the faithful are called to make an inner journey of purification and drawing closer to God.

How can we live Lent more deeply and authentically in the light of our quest for holiness in the spirit of our Founder, St. Anthony Mary Claret?

Lent is forty days of spiritual preparation for Easter, during which Christians devote themselves to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This time reflects the forty days that Jesus spent in the desert, tempted by Satan, before beginning his public ministry. It is a time of purification and renewal of our relationship with God and other people.

In the context of our seeking holiness, Lent takes on a special significance. It is a time to take a balance of our spiritual life, to identify areas in which we need to grow and to commit ourselves to take those steps necessary to bring us closer to God and his plan of love for us. During Lent, we engage in spiritual practices such as more intense prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, which help us break the chains of sin and grow in holiness. We also focus on listening to God’s Word and reflecting on his will for our lives.

St A. Maria Claret wrote that “holiness of the soul consists simply in striving for two things, namely the effort to know God’s will and the effort to do it once known”.

Holiness of soul, it seems, is an elusive ideal, reserved for a chosen few. However, if we look closer, we discover that it is rather the result of our daily efforts – two simple but essential actions: striving to know God’s will and striving to do it.

So the first step on the way to holiness is the desire to know God’s will. This is not just an intellectual understanding, but a deep relationship with God that leads to reading his plans for our lives. Prayer, the study of Sacred Scripture, and reflection on the teaching of the Church: all these help us to get closer to what God has prepared for us.

Knowing God’s will requires patience and openness to his revelation in our lives. Sometimes this may mean seeking guidance in life’s situations, other times it may mean listening in silence, waiting for clear inspiration. But it is always a process that leads us towards an ever deeper relationship with God.

However, knowing God’s will is only half the way. The other half is the effort to realize it. This is often a more difficult task because it requires consistency, discipline, and courage. Doing God’s will means making difficult decisions, being guided by moral principles, and living according to the Gospel.

Doing God’s will also means making daily choices – choices of love, choices of service, choices that bring spiritual growth. These are acts of humility and devotion that form our soul and lead us toward holiness.

The holiness of the soul is not reserved for the elite. It is a path that each of us can follow if we make the effort to know and do God’s will.

Pope Paul VI, on the occasion of the 1973 General Chapter on the definition of a missionary, said: “You see here, designed for you, a whole program on how to attain holiness, based on the courageous decision to deny oneself, the fruit of a fruitful life drawn from the Gospel. It indicates to you – through expressions that allude to the work of St Paul – the good towards which your personal and community life must tend, and that is to follow and imitate Christ through individual forms of charity that are always active” (Documentos Capitulares CMF [Barcelona 1973], pp. 12-13.

Living Lent with holiness then means fully embracing this time of grace and conversion. It means being open to the Holy Spirit who guides us on our inner journey and helps us to grow in faith, hope, and charity. It also means being in solidarity with those most in need, recognizing that our penance and fasting must be accompanied by a commitment to social justice and the welfare of others. Lent is a precious time in the spiritual life of Christians, a time that helps us prepare for the celebration of Easter and grow in holiness. In the context of our quest for holiness, it is a time to reflect on our relationship with God and to commit ourselves to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ more faithfully.

May this year’s Lent be for us a time of true conversion and spiritual renewal, and bring us ever closer to the holiness to which we are called as children of God.

                                                                                                Fr. Krzysztof Gierat, CMF

    General Postulator