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St. Mary of Egypt

In last Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 9:17-31), the disciples were disappointed because they could not cast out a demon from a young man, but Christ did. His disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” The Lord responds, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.

The Necessity of Great Lent

In the most simplistic terms, the season of Great Lent is two things:

I. Lent is Essential:  It is a gift to us from the church. Lent is absolutely necessary, as it tends to deflate all that is phony, and false, and un-Godly in our lives.

Most often, our lives are lived in the constant pursuit of convenience and comfort; creature comforts we call them. We are continuously distracted by the pursuit of our own ambitions and agenda. Add in a daily dose of anxiety, and it becomes a pretty potent combination to overcome. Our days and nights are often used to work through the checklist we have constructed. We live lives that place us at the center of the universe, often feeling what happens to us is more important than what happens to others. This is why the church refers to Lent as the ‘saving forty days.' God, in his love and goodness, comes to save us from ourselves.

II. Lent is Joy:  Joy should not be confused with happiness, which is fleeting and most often temporary. A hospital patient recently shared his definition of happiness with me. He indicated happiness is only the space between the end of one trial, and the beginning of another. It is that small space in time, he suggested, that allows us to breathe and ‘be happy.

In the Christian understanding, joy is simply the assurance that God is in control of every detail of my life, and all that happens to me is to my benefit and for my salvation, no matter how badly I try to reject it. Joy is exclusive to Christians because of Christ’s victory on the Cross; it is through his cross that joy has come into the world.

Let us pray that this Lent will be essential for my life, and filled with joy in the Holy Spirit.

Fr Marc Vranes
Great Lent, 2017

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