BY REV. RAY ATWOOD, SACRED HEART CATHOLIC CHURCH

Listen, Let Go, Laugh

 Lent is a time to deepen our appreciation for repentance, conversion, renewal, and spiritual growth. This year is my nineteenth Lent as a priest, and I have come to appreciate its significance through the years. We are to take seriously the Lord’s command to repent from sin and proclaim the Gospel.

This Lent I challenge you to do three things: (1) Listen; (2) let go; and (3) laugh. First, we need to listen. Many conversations today are not conversations at all. They are monologues. We wait patiently until the other person is through talking and then we speak. But we have not heard the other person. Or we listen but interrupt the other person’s train of thought. Our Lady listened intently: to an angel in Nazareth, the angels at Bethlehem, to shepherds and wise men from the East; to her Son preach the Gospel; to the crowds condemn Him to death and jeer at Him as he died. She listened and grew. Listening is risky. It takes time. It can be a burden as other “dump” their problems on you. But listening is an act of love. We let the person share his/herself, and let God speak through the other person. Lent is a time to spend listening to God’s Word. We might be surprised at what He has to say.

Lent is not just about listening. It’s about letting go. Of what? How about sin, for starters? We have so much baggage – past hurts, slights, sins, weaknesses, injuries, and so on. It’s a time to forgive and ask forgiveness. When we a repent of sin, confess our sins, and seek God’s forgiveness, we are free from the shackles of sin.

Finally, Lent is about laughing. Yes, there is joy in repentance and renewal. The Gospels don’t tell us that Jesus laughed or smiled, but they do say that He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21). One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy (Gal. 5:22). When we enter into the Lenten Season we find true joy and satisfaction because we know deep down that God is present in a new and refreshing way.

Lent is no laughing matter, but laughter itself is a sign that the Holy Spirit is alive in us, as He was with Jesus in the desert.

This Lent may these three actions reflect a fruitful Lenten experience.