Lent is approaching. Are you ready?

Michael Podrebarac is the archdiocesan consultant for the liturgy office.

by Michael Podrebarac

In the old liturgical calendar, this Sunday begins what is called Septuagesima, a two and a half week period of preparation for Lent.

While revisions to the calendar following the Second Vatican Council did not retain this pre-Lent period, Lent still begins in two and a half weeks.

Are you ready?

More often than not, we don’t think about “preparing” for Lent, because after all, Lent is the liturgical season during which we prepare for Easter, isn’t it?

Yes and no. Yes, Lent prepares us to celebrate Easter. We spend penitential time making sacrifices and praying so that we can rise with Christ in his resurrection on Easter Sunday and during the Easter season.

In this sense, Lent is very similar to Advent, the season that gives us the opportunity to prepare ourselves to celebrate Christmas and to welcome the Child Jesus back into our hearts.

But Advent also stands on its own, so to speak, pointing our minds to when Christ will return in glory. And Lent, like Advent, is also autonomous. We don’t celebrate Lent just so we can celebrate Easter. We observe the season of Lent so that we can direct our minds to be more Christlike.

And so I ask again: Are you ready?

Forty days is a long time, almost six weeks. Lent is a time to form new habits, habits that will take us well beyond the solemn 50 days of commemorating Christ’s resurrection from the dead, if we let them.

What we are doing this Lent should mean that when we get to next Lent, we don’t have to start from where we started this year. We should be a good 40 days beyond where we were the year before.

For some, Lent could be like a great marathon race, from ashes to an empty tomb, from death to life. Fair enough. All the more reason for us to take some time to prepare before starting this race.

No one in a good frame of mind would ever seriously think about running a race before training. Failure to do so would surely result in much pain and much discouragement.

No one would ever want such physical frustration and torment. Nor should anyone ever want such frustration in the spiritual life.

How’s your prayer life going? Your ability to deny yourself? Your concern for your neighbor?

The strong should plan to get stronger. The less strong should know that this is the perfect time to move forward.

The stronger ones will want to loosen up a few so they can try a higher level of discipleship than before. The less strong will want to warm up.

For those feeling completely out of shape during Lent, there’s no better time to start than the present. Start a daily conversation with God. Examine your conscience. Let go of something and rework its place in your life so that after Easter things don’t fall back into rest mode.

Call it Septuagesima – or just call it getting ready for Lent. But get ready, because this race is one where everyone really can be a winner!

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