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“Austere and penitential” Lent

I’m a couple of days late in posting this, but even with the lag I think it’s too important to just skip.  From AsiaNews:

Following the example of St. Paul, Lent should be marked by a more frequent listening to the word of God, “by more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential style of life, it should be an encouragement to conversion and sincere love for our brothers, especially those who are most poor and in need.” In the Pauline Year, the life of the Apostle of the Gentiles was offered by Benedict XVI as a model of how the Christian should live Lent, in today’s celebration of Ash Wednesday at the ancient Roman basilica of Santa Sabina.

“St. Paul,” he continued, “recognizes that everything in him is the work of divine grace, but he does not forget that one must cooperate freely with the gift of new life received in Baptism. In the text of chapter 6 of the Letter to the Romans, which will be proclaimed during the Easter vigil, he writes, ‘Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness’ (6:12-13). We find contained in these words the program for Lent according to its intrinsic baptismal perspective. On the one hand, it affirms Christ’s victory over sin, which took place once and for all with his death and resurrection; on the other, we are urged not to give our members up to sin, meaning not to concede, so to speak, room for sin to make a comeback.

Great things can happen during Lent.  It’s up to us whether we’re willing to cooperate with the Grace God is offering us.

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