LENT 2015: Lent isn’t just about fast and abstinence and penance

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

I’m sure that all of us are aware that since last Wednesday, we have begun a new season in the church’s year. We had been celebrating what we call the ordinary Sundays of the year, and had completed six weeks. But now there’s this break, and we have a new season beginning, and most of us think of it as the 40 days of Lent. But actually, it’s 90 days, this season, not just 40.

Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio washes feet of shelter residents during 2008 Mass at church in Buenos AiresBut it isn’t all [about] fast and abstinence and penance. In fact, the most important part is what happens after the 40 days, at Easter, when Jesus is raised from the dead and then shares with us his new life. And then it goes on for seven weeks as we prepare for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. And so really, this season now is the season of Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.

And so as we enter into the season, I think it’s very important not just to think of it as this time of penance. That’s very important, but that’s only a means to an end. See, what’s really important, and what we’re preparing for, is a renewal of our baptism. Maybe some of you noticed when you came into church and dipped your hand in the baptismal font in the back, there’s no water there; it’s dry. See, we’re preparing now to bless new water at Easter, the new water that gives us the life of Christ….

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