Brrr!!! In the wee hours of a bitingly cold Carnival Sunday morning, 17-year-old Joshua made his way home on foot from the National Panorama Finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah. Still on a high from the scintillating performance that his band had just rendered, he was glad for the chilly morning air to ease the adrenaline flow, cool his thoughts and calm his mind. As tired as he was, he was equally grateful that Holy Mass at his church began at half-past nine on a Sunday. Joshua would surely be able to catch some z’s before going to church. Missing Mass was never an option at their home – oh nah, nah, nah! His parents always insisted that they did all that the Church required of them.
As he pondered this weekly spiritual obligation, his mind rolled on to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. He remembered all that his Grandpa Carlton had told him about how different Lent was in Trinidad some 30 or 40 years ago. At that time there was no calypso played on the radio for the 40-day period; imagine, one could not even sing a calypso or do anything that recalled Carnival! And boy oh boy, Good Friday was a day when people wore mournful faces and dressed in funeral colours for service. My, how things had changed!
It was an age-old tradition at the school where Joshua was a CAPE student that there would be time on Ash Wednesday when the boys would be able to participate in the liturgy of the day. He always looked forward to that because at that point he would solidify in his mind exactly how he was going to celebrate Lent. “Celebrate Lent”? How his Grandpa Carlton would smile ruefully and shake his head at that phrase! As far as Grandpa Carlton was concerned Lent should be a rigorous and austere time which prepared you for the joy of Easter. That is why Lent existed, and, according to Grandpa Carlton, this certainly couldn’t be a time of year that people eagerly anticipated.
However, Joshua truly looked forward to the spiritual journey that he would make for Lent. There was never a year when his parents had not encouraged all of their offspring to embark on some little act of prayer, self-denial and almsgiving for Lent. Some things had always been a Lenten staple at their home: family attendance at weekly Stations of the Cross, no meat on Wednesdays or Fridays, the Holy Thursday journey to Siparia to feed the poor.
Thinking about the annual trip to Siparia evoked the memory of when Joshua went to Mount St Benedict and on a Nine Church Pilgrimage with his First Communion and Confirmation classes, respectively. Those two Lenten outings were as much fun for him as they were prayerfully inspiring. Equally, in primary school every year there would be a weekly collection of money for the poor and to be sent to missionaries abroad!
Joshua continued his homeward journey and reflected on how much his 2014 Lenten experience had advanced his spiritual maturity. He had particularly enjoyed the week of Lenten mission in his parish, and for him the Reconciliation service was the highlight of the week! Admitting sin and seeking reconciliation are key to Lent, and definitely provide the perfect opportunity to develop a deeper and closer relationship with Jesus.
Joshua also firmly believed that the sacrifices he made for Lent 2014 contributed to how well he had done in his CXC exams. He had committed to giving up playing games on his PS3 as a form of penitence. That wasn’t at all easy, but it paid off both spiritually as well as academically!
As Joshua neared his home, he sharpened his resolve to make Lent 2015 even more enriching. He considered himself mature enough to include the Lenten spiritual discipline of a daily bible reading and meditation, to draw himself even nearer to God. As he opened the gate leading to his yard, and climbed the stairs to his home, he smiled and thought to himself, “Yes, Lent is really one of the best seasons!” and, unlocking the door and heading straight for his bed, he started to hum, “Return to the Lord, return, O Israel; He calls to you…”
- http://whatsinthebible.com/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-lent (“How to Talk to Kids About Lent” by Lisa Strnad)
- http://www.iccreligiouseducation.com/lent.cfm (“Lent” by Sr Digna Vela)
– Gail Bernard, Archdiocesan Catechetical Office