Latest Posts

Post Library


Days of Hope, Mystery, and… Chocolate?

Fr Rich AndreFr. Rich Andre, CSP
February 16, 2024

Far too many Catholics associate the season of Lent solely with its “bookend” days. Lent is so much more than the personal imperfections we confront on Ash Wednesday, or the horror of crucifixion on Good Friday. Lent is, first and foremost, a season about relationships. Our relationship with God. Our relationships with our friends and acquaintances in the local community. Our relationships with unknown people throughout the world who are affected by our economic, political, and spiritual choices.

So, it’s perfectly OK to wish people “Happy Lent!” Lent is a season of growth, of renewal, of resolving to improve our relationships with God and the people mentioned above. Yes, Lent asks us to confront our failings, and to ask for God’s help… but Lent should also celebrate how we already reflect Christ’s sacrificial love in all of our relationships, too. (After all, the main point of Good Friday is God’s love, not the crucifixion.) Lent is a season to sink more deeply into the grace and mercy of God.

Some people call the first four days of this season the “porch” of Lent. Before we rush headlong into choosing what we’re going to “give up” or “take on” for Lent, it’s beneficial to pause on the threshold of this season. It’s a time to take stock on our relationships… and prayerfully contemplate:

  • What could be strengthened in me?
  • Where am I especially in need of God’s grace?

May the answers to these questions guide us in choosing our disciplines for Lent 2024. (Unless chocolate is holding us back in our relationships with God, maybe we don’t need to give up chocolate this year!)

In this upcoming week of Lent, let us journey into the desert with Jesus. And may we remember: even in the desert…

… the starkness provides its own kind of beauty, and
… we are not alone, for
… God is present.

Paulist Fr. Ricky Manalo reflects these realities in his simple Lenten hymn, “Beyond the Days”:

Beyond the days of hope and mystery
we see a light of faith renewed,
and in our longing we thirst for guidance
to walk with you day by day.

Not on bread alone
are we to walk on this journey.
Speak the words that give life
to the yearnings of our hearts.

In your hands, O God,
we feel the touch of your guidance.
Keep us safe in your care:
may your gentleness be there.

On our Lenten path
we see the dawn of a new day.
Be our vision of hope;
be the promise of our lives.