My understanding of, and attitude towards, the season of Lent has changed so much over the years. I used to go through Lent carrying a heavy, joy-crushing guilt- Jesus is making His way to the Cross and it’s because of ME and MY sins. I would rack my brain for the Lenten sacrifice that would root out the badness in me and would, therefore, prove my love for my suffering Jesus, that would show Him that I am worthy of His love.
In the past few years, however, I have begun to walk through Lent completely overwhelmed by HIS love and HIS mercy- the driving forces which led Him to the Cross.
I am so small and His mercy expands beyond comprehension.
I don’t deserve this love, this mercy; I don’t deserve this God who became man and suffered so that I will never suffer alone, and died a truly horrific human death so that He could conquer Death and give me life, everlasting Life.
I don’t deserve Him, but I am so grateful for Him, in my littleness. I am learning, ever so slowly, to trust in His goodness, which calls to the inherent goodness in me as His little child. This love, this mercy, this gratitude, fill me with an uncrushable joy. Joy has become a yearly theme for me during Lent. Joy transforms what it means to Sacrifice. I don’t have to fast or add new spiritual exercises because of MY guilt, MY defects; I fast and work to form new habits of prayer because of HIS love which inspires MY love. He wants to be close to me, and I will try to grow ever closer to Him.
“Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1541)
With a spirit of littleness, Lent is no longer a Pass/Fail test of my spiritual stamina, but a course in the School of Love where I learn what it means to love and be forgiven and get up again and again when I fall. And I’m learning to unquestioningly accept the gift of joy with open hands and an open heart.
“The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more.” -St. Therese
I picture myself beneath the Cross, hand in hand with Our Lady and St. Therese and St. Faustina- each of us little in our own way, and that littleness makes us receptive to Jesus’ boundless Mercy and Love. Won’t you join us here this Lent? Come, be little with us, and let us learn to love here, together.
Learn more about St. Therese’s Little Way and the Divine Mercy message shared by St. Faustina and how they are connected by the theme of Spiritual Childhood here.