‘Compassionate of heart, gentle in word, gracious in awareness, courageous in thought, generous in love.’ (John O’Donohue)

This week we are invited to be gracious in awareness and compassionate of heart. We are the anxious parent awaiting the return of the prodigal child. We are the disciple who wants to be servant. We are the stone that the builders rejected. We are the little mustard seed. We are the shepherd that goes in search of the lost one.

The season of Lent is synonymous with prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It reflects the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness in prayer and fasting. It was at the end of these forty days that Jesus was tempted by the devil. Jesus, fortified by a tangible awareness of God’s presence and deeply attuned to the Word of God, withstands the devious manoeuvrings of the tempter. Saint Patrick speaks of a similar awareness of God’s presence surrounding him to protect and to guide. Can we arise today and each day to hear Jesus saying ‘Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart’?

Lent, derived from the Old English word lencten, means ‘springtime’. All around us we see signs of new life: the trees are beginning to green after the harsh winter; the fragile daffodils are bursting forth through the hard ground; the days are beginning to lengthen. The season of Lent always holds the promise of hope, the potential of new life and the gift of renewal. It is the promise of the stone rejected by the builders. It is the potential of the tiny mustard seed. It is the renewal offered by the prodigal father and the searching shepherd.

Lent invites us into a journey of transformation. It’s the transformation that Jesus experienced in those forty days. It is what D.H. Lawrence expresses in his poem ‘Shadows’:

And if, in the changing phases of man’s life

I fall in sickness and in misery

my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead

and strength is gone, and my life

is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of oblivion, and snatches of renewal

odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers

such as my life has not brought before, new blossoms for me

then must I know that still

I am in the hands of the unknown God,

he is breaking me down to his oblivion

to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.

READ: Shadows – D.H. Lawrence

WATCH: The Deer’s Cry – The Breastplate of St Patrick – Sung by Rita Connolly

CONSIDER: Getting actively involved with the Trócaire Lenten Campaign