A Note From Fr. Timothy
How to End Lent
The official last day of the liturgical season of Lent is Holy Thursday (April 14th this year). The Mass of the Lord’s Supper that evening marks the beginning of the Triduum – the three-day season through which we commemorate the Paschal mystery of Christ. As we reflect on the upcoming close of this season of Lent, we might reflect upon what it means for us and how we would respond.
There are many different responses that people have to the ending of Lent, some are healthy and others not so much. One unhealthy way that people occasionally respond is by indulging to excess in the thing(s) they had given up for Lent as their penance. Having craved ice cream or caffeine throughout the last forty days, they now try to “make up for lost time” by consuming as much as they can to the point of gluttony. This kind of attitude can quickly undo all the good habits your penance has begun in you. Our penances should help us have less undo focus on the things of this world, and more time and opportunity to focus on the things of heaven.
Another unhealthy way of responding to Lent’s closing is to not respond at all. If the beginning of the Easter season does not feel in some way substantially different from Lent, then it is likely that something was missing either from your Lenten observance or your Easter one. Our Lenten penances should affect us in some way. If we gave up something so inconsequential that it never bothered us, or we never thought about it, than we may have missed the point of the penance. And if we fail to rejoice in prayer and gratitude at the victory of Christ over sin and death at Easter, than we are probably missing something there as well.
A much better response for us would be that spirit of thanksgiving to God as we celebrate the great feasts of the Church. If you gave up particular items of food or drink, for example, rather than selfishly indulge in them, our partaking should be a recognition of God’s love for us and his desire for us to use the things of this earth for His glory and the salvation of souls. Instead of focusing on oneself, it would be better to consider others. If possible, consider inviting family and friends to dine with you as you partake of those things from which you had previously abstained. The luxuries that we have been blessed to receive in this life should not be seen as ours by right. We should see ourselves as stewards of those gifts and how we are meant to use and share them with others in accord with God’s plan.
Sometimes, we are able to recognize by the Spirit that the things which we had previously thought we could never live without, are actually not nearly as important or as necessary as we had believed. In a more mature spirit of prayer and greater devotion and reliance on God, we are able to set behind us things which now seem childish or unfulfilling, finding in faith a more perfect fulfillment.
I hope that you may prayerfully ponder how God has been at work in your lives since the beginning of Lent. And I hope that, rather than falling back or staying still, you will also reflect on how God is calling you to take that next step in your spiritual life at the beginning of Easter, and bring it to fulfillment by His grace.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski