But what dies all that really mean? Archbishop Sheen said once "there are no plains in the spiritual life; you are either getting better or you are getting worse. If you are the same as you were last year, then you arr worse." Lent follows Lent and do we really grapple with what it means to be a follower of Jesus? Most of the time, if we hare honest the answer is now; we plod on; the seasons come and the seasons go and we stay the same. Lent, however, gives us an opt out of this 'never ending circle'. We have a chance to look at ourselves and say 'look, I need to do more'. Lent is a fantastic challenge and. with God's grace, it can bring us great heavenly rewards.
So what have we to do: nothing except what the the Church says: pray, fast and give alms. As long as you have been going to Church you have heard sermons on these things, and all sounds very nice and tidy - say a few extra prayers or go to Mass a bit more. Give up sweets or drink or maybe meat on Friday. Give to the poor with the money we save. Heard it all before! We sanitize these great gifts to such an extent that we hardly notice we are doing them.
We should feel Lent! What is one of the most exaggerated understatements recorded; when the evangelist says (not in this Gospel) that after forty days in the desert with no food.....Jesus was hungry. I'd say he was crippled over and bent with hunger. There is a drama in Lent, that if tapped into can do wonders for the soul. But we have to push our the boundaries much more. In former times people were compelled by the penalty of sin to fast and abstain. The Church has granted us great freedom to choose our penance. In this freedom most do not take up the challenge. If we do, however, and respond with generosity how much more will the Lord support us.
Jesus left the desert and proclaimed the Kingdom; may the Lord grant us the grace to battle temptation and so emerge from this Lent radiant in the glory of the Cross.