St. Ignatius of Loyola learned to find fruit, that is, the effect or consequence of action. More important than our actions is the action of God in, with and for humans. One grows to find fruit and to offer it the more one savors one's own life and all creation. I hope my posts help you feel that finding fruit is a profitable way of living.
The first character of Lent is baptism: recalling our baptism and helping others prepare for it. The second character is a spirit of penance.1 Penanceisn’tpunitive;it’sanarrayofdisciplines weusetohelpusfocusmoreclearly on baptismandChristianlivingaccordingtoGod’smeasure andnot by human measure. First, consider with me preparing others for baptism. I will close with a comment on God’s measure.
Preparing people for baptism belongs to the community of thechurch.Thecommunity is the first minister of initiation because baptism is “the responsibility of all the baptized.”2Lent involves us all together. It is personal but never private.
Just like relationship with God is personal, it is never private:
God missions each of us to give witness to God by our deeds as well as our words and worship.
Just like spurning relationship with God or rupturing it by my sin is personal, it is never private: when my relationship with God is shallow, I am not a vibrant witness to God. JustlikeagraceGodmaygiveyou is personal, itisneverprivate: God blesses you in concrete ways so you may give more vibrant witness to God for others.
“Notprivate”isthe essence of Joel’s prophetic message we heard: callanassembly;gatherthe people, notify the congregation; assemble the elders, gather the children and the infants at the breast. Together we return to [God] with our whole heart. We accompany each other on our journey to God. Lent is a time when the community’s role is greatly important. Lent is not for loners. “During Lent, penance should not be only internal and individual but also external and social.”3
If Joel made the communal nature of penance clear,St.Paulhandedusourlentenvocation:weareambassadors.God...appeal[s]throughus, and Lent helps us shape our lives so that we make Jesus appealing to others and more appealing to one another.
We don’t make Jesus attractive if we leave out his struggles, his temptations, his fear and his sufferings and death. Temptations to picture Jesus as a non-suffering Messiah, as someone who did not count on others, measure Jesus by human standards not God’s standards.
The gospelremindedusofJesus’wordsaboutpiety—not slavish, church behavior but putting devotionintopractice. Heavenly Father, the one seeing in secret, the one who is hidden was Jesus’ point of reference. Jesus did not chartaplanhumanscanaccomplishcompletely and on their own. No. Jesus invites us to overcome ourgreattemptationtofashionChristianliving on our terms and, instead, allow God to shape our praying, our almsgiving and our fasting so we may become better ambassadors of mercy, ofpraiseandof thepaschallife Jesus calls us to rediscover in a deeper way this Lent.
Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Liturgy, 109.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 9.
Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Liturgy, 110.