Lent not about ‘things,’ but conversion journey

Each year, we are invited to journey with the church and each other on this 40-day retreat of Lent.

Some people might view this penitential season as burdensome, perhaps saying something such as, "Oh here we go again, weeks of deprivation of our favorite treats or drinks."

Others might treat these weeks in a more positive tone, perhaps commenting, "Oh good, I can catch up with friends at the parish fish-fry," or "I can maybe shed a few pounds with my fasting."

In my family, Lent meant having my favorite hot sandwich, tuna melts on Friday nights. I remember the crusty buns with hot Velveeta cheese dripping out. My mom could stretch two cans of tuna to feed a family of nine.

Lent also meant praying the rosary together after supper. Of course, it meant the terrible deprivation of shutting off the TV during a favorite program such as Emergency 911. But we would wait until Dad’s favorite program (Lawrence Welk on Saturday night) was over.

Often, we can get so wrapped up with the ‘things’ we do for Lent that we miss the underlying point of Lent. Lent is intended to be a part of our lifelong journey of conversion.

Pope Francis, in his Lenten 2017 message, provides a view that Lent is a gift. He presents his thoughts as the "gift of God’s word" and on "the other person as a gift."

"The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God," he states. "When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters."

This Lent, I’ll follow my familiar routine, giving something up, and getting to a couple fish fries. I also follow Pope Francis’ suggestions. I am going to pay special attention to God’s word, as his gift, and try to be mindful of the gift that is the other person.

One thing won’t be routine. I’ll never find the perfect tuna melt, one like my mom’s.


Father William L’Heureux is pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Silver Creek, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Genoa and Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Krakow.

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