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Preface I of Lent
For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)
Lent means heading spiritually into the desert with Jesus as a preparation for his public ministry. Our Lord entered the desert just after his Baptism in the Jordan, and he was moved to go there by the Holy Spirit. Baptism and the Spirit spark something in Our Lord, just as they sparked something in us.
The spiritual meaning of Lent
The Holy Spirit inspires us to spiritually go into the desert too every Lent, and reminds us where and when we’ve lost sight of the Paschal mysteries that changed our life profoundly and forever. The liturgy takes special shape during this season; it a time of prayer and penance, but also a time of a seemingly dark ending turning blindingly bright to those who have faith.
“For by your gracious gift each year your faithful await the sacred paschal feasts with the joy of minds made pure, so that, more eagerly intent on prayer and on the works of charity, and participating in the mysteries by which they have been reborn, they may be led to the fullness of grace that you bestow on your sons and daughters.”
This preface states an expectation that we should meet during Lent: to purify our minds, to pray, to perform works of charity, and to participate in the mysteries of our rebirth as sons and daughters of God.
We have an edge over the first disciples: we know this drama has a happy ending. Even when we know how the story ends we’re not indifferent or unchanged by going back to the drama that led up to it. Lent is a time to relive the Paschal mysteries—Our Lord’s Passion, death, and Resurrection,—and renew our appreciation for them.
Lent’s forty days represent Our Lord’s time in the desert before beginning his public ministry. He lived, it is believed, for thirty quiet and private years in Nazareth, and then, in a burst of a few years, went out to the known world, preached the Gospel for the forgiveness of sins, founded his Church, and sealed his ministry with his blood and his glory to continue throughout history.
In Lent our work is long, arduous, and often quiet and solitary. People don’t throw Lent parties; they seek reconciliation. They make a little spiritual desert amid their daily chores and responsibilities in order to see their attachments and anything that might distract them from the mysteries fulfilled in these days that they became a part of through Baptism and in which they continue to participate through a sacramental life.
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to keep purifying our minds and hearts in our little desert in order to relish even more the mysteries of our redemption this Lent and beyond.
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