Have you ever considered this before?
The greatest hope of Lent is the discovery that it’s not only about penance, deprivation, spiritual struggles, and rooting out sin in our lives. Those are often the things we do during Lent. But the hope of Lent lies in what God does (p. vii).
This beautiful line from author Diane M. Houdek’s new book, The Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, introduces a novel idea to the Catholic-Christian penitent who quite possibly dreads the holy season of fasting, increased prayer, and almsgiving.
It’s no surprise that we may come to dread Lent, because we open the liturgical season on Ash Wednesday by remembering that we are “dust, and to dust we shall return.” The image and concept of ashes isn’t too pleasant, reminding one of his/her mortality and ultimate death from this life.
Yet Houdek offers a simple and refreshing take on Lent, one that encourages us to journey with the heart of Pope Francis. As Houdek so aptly explains, the pontiff whose entire purpose seems to envelop God’s mercy, we, too, can and should enter into this season with the intention of allowing God to transform our hearts.
If we look at what God is doing in us, rather than the exterior practices we must do, then we just might find Lent to be surprisingly like Advent – a season in which we hope for what is to come, rather than dread the process of muddling through it to the bitter end.
The Hope of Lent offers readers daily reflections, first from Pope Francis, then from the author herself, concluding with a short prayer by the pope. The corresponding Scripture verses for the daily Mass readings are also included. Houdek even includes reflections all the way through Divine Mercy Sunday.
This is certainly a little devotional that anyone can pray, even the busy and harried who are overwhelmed and exhausted. Both men and women will glean deep insights into their interior lives by taking about 3 minutes per day to open their hearts to God’s call and mercy in their lives. What a beautiful practice to adopt during Lent, one that we can maintain throughout the year.
Because the devotional isn’t set up for a particular calendar year, but rather is written according to the liturgical calendar and thus includes all cycles of readings – A through C – the reader can use this devotional year after year and allow it to become a beloved and timeless classic on his/her bookshelf.
Text Copyright 2017 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.