In the Traditional Latin Liturgy the Church liturgically reminds us to get ready for Lent during the three weeks before Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday of Lent. Already, the vestments are violet, and the Gloria and Alleluias are suppressed. Last week we marked the seventieth day before Easter, or Septuagesima Sunday, whereas, this Sunday marks the sixtieth day before Easter, or Sexagesima Sunday. This holy time is given to us by the Church to prepare for a fruitful Lent. We should all give much thought to what our Lenten practices will be. This is an important and serious matter. The salvation of our souls depends upon it. Yes, there is a Savior, but what have I done to receive Him into my life? What have I done to open my heart to His saving grace? Where do I stand in the great struggle between good and evil? Am I firmly with the Lord or moving into opposition to Him?
The Gospel of Luke reminds us about the entire process in the parable of the sower and the seed. God sows abundant seeds, that is, graces for our benefit. These graces are lavish. They are extravagant because God’s Love is extravagant. God created us to come to Him and gives us countless opportunities to respond to His love. He ceaselessly, continually, consistently, reaches out to us, willing that we respond to Him in the time of our lives. And we have only so much time. Perhaps, this may be our last Lent? Yet, we can resist. We can oppose Him and His plan. We can freely choose to turn away from His Way, Truth, and Life. In the parable, Jesus compares us to the soil. We must be like good soil, accepting the seed of God’s grace, and letting it bear in us abundant fruit. All resistance on our part must be put aside.
How can I be better soil for the Lord’s seeds? Prayer, Penance, Charity are the standard means by which God increases His life in us. Penance frees us from sin and even the tendency to sin, Prayer opens our hearts to God as friends, and Charity opens our hearts to see God in others and love as He loves us. We all fall short in many ways. We can become satisfied with the status quo of our souls. We can become complacent. We can even become attached to all that is contrary to the growth of God’s life in us. But we should not give up or despair.
St. Paul reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient for us. Holiness is not an impossible dream, though we cannot save our own souls; only by the power of God’s grace is salvation possible to those who respond in faith. St. Ignatius tells us that His love and grace will always be enough for us. Let us prepare for the best Lent ever. You will be glad that you did.
Yours in the Lord,
Fr. Mark G. Mazza