Photo: Composite by Terry Peloquin
Father Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC (left), Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC (middle), and Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC.
Rekindle Your Love for God
By Dan Valenti (Feb 17, 2012)
Lent, which begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, ushers in the liturgical season of penitence prior to Easter. The practices of Lent (self-denial, prayer, fasting, almsgiving) contain an aspect of self-mortification that, while it doesn't fit well in a materialistic culture driven by consumerism, is required for spiritual growth.
For some, Lent has a "bad rap," being associated with gloom and prohibition. However, as several of the Marian Fathers attest, Lent actually is a season of fulfillment and joy, since it contains many special opportunities for spiritual growth.
"For me, Lent is a time of many blessings, renewal, and conversion," says Fr. Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC, who serves the Marians' mission in the Philippines. "It is also a time of silence and wilderness, in which we can reflect on the mystery of the cross. We can also explore the discovery and meaning of suffering."
Father Mariusz says that through such practices as fasting and prayer, we "can make some serious decisions about detachment from what is not of God. This means that Lent can be a time of putting things right, reconciling with God and our neighbors." Finally, he says, "Lent is a time for experiencing God's love and mercy, which bring true joy and spiritual freedom."
For Marian Vocation Director Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, "Lent is about reliving the 'honeymoon experience' with God. It is meant to bring us back to our first falling in love with Him. Just as in any relationship, over time, familiarity can fall into routine, and we can experience dissipation of the initial flame. Thus, every year, we are given an opportunity to rekindle the romance with God."
Father Donald says this happens as a result of "going deeper into prayer and stripping our lives of those things that have gotten in the way of our love for God, even good things. Penance during the season of Lent is meant to redirect our hearts to the love of God and help us realize, once again, that we are deeply loved by Jesus Christ."
When asked for his thoughts on Lent, Father Angelo Casimiro, MIC, journeys back seven years. "Lent 2004 was memorable for me," Father Angelo says. "During this time, Mel Gibson released his film "The Passion of the Christ." The movie had a profound effect on me, so much that I ended up seeing it several times in the movie theater. Lent is about meditating on what Jesus did for us by going through His Passion and death on the cross.
"The film brought this home for me — how much Jesus loves me. Lent shouldn't necessarily be about dwelling on the good things we can give up, like chocolate and such, but about what we can do for Jesus, especially when it comes to spiritual and corporal works of mercy."