Lent from different perspectives

Lent is my favourite season in the liturgical calendar. Many people prefer Advent because the season is filled with anticipation and good memories such as decorating our homes with fancy Christmas decorations, going carolling, and partaking in feasts.

Mar 11, 2022

Lent is my favourite season in the liturgical calendar. Many people prefer Advent because the season is filled with anticipation and good memories such as decorating our homes with fancy Christmas decorations, going carolling, and partaking in feasts. However, I prefer the season of Lent simply because it is a season rich in meaning and in God’s love for us. Holy Week in particular, is a time when I enjoy participating in the traditions and rituals of the Paschal Triduum.

Starting Lent with a medical scare
Lent began on a chaotic note for me this year. The chaos began on the Sunday before Lent at a soup kitchen where I volunteer. On occasional Sundays, a medical doctor would administer medical treatment to the homeless and marginalised folks who come to the centre. On that particular Sunday, one of the volunteers on duty exhibited symptoms of COVID-19. The doctor immediately tested the volunteer and his results turned out to be positive. He was sent home immediately. During the same medical session, an elderly lady who sought medical treatment at the centre exhibited similar symptoms and was also tested positive for COVID-19 by the doctor.

Seeing the volunteer and elderly lady with full-blown symptoms of flu, fever and cough created uncertainty in me. Fear tried convincing me that I could have contracted the virus as I had spoken to them (albeit at a distance) and had held the items that they had touched. Even though I was in close contact with them, I was not listed as close contact in the MySejahtera app. Nevertheless, I took it upon myself to go on a self-imposed five-day quarantine, just to be safe. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to go to church for the Ash Wednesday Mass, and had to participate online instead. I used blessed ashes from last year to cross my forehead during the online Mass.

On the last day of quarantine, I went for a PCR test at the clinic and the results were negative.

Flocking back to church
Despite not being able to participate physically at Mass, I was told that the turnout at the Ash Wednesday Mass in my parish, Cathedral of St John the Evangelist was overwhelming. This is a healthy sign that the flock is returning to church. I am glad that in spite of the high number of COVID-19 cases being reported since mid-February (more than 20,000 cases daily), the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur has not suspended Masses. When physical Masses resumed on October 16, 2021 in Kuala Lumpur, much effort had to be made by members of the clergy and lay leaders in urging the flock to return to church. Therefore, if there is another bout of Mass suspensions, it would probably be the last nail in the coffin driving the flock away from church. I hope that all of us will be able to continue participating physically at Masses because the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, and there is no substitute for receiving the Eucharist sacramentally.

Information overload
Now that Lent has begun, there are numerous online programmes to prepare us spiritually during this holy season. The Kuala Lumpur Archdiocesan Office for Human Development has organised a weekly online programme every Sunday evening, focusing on a different theme each week from its Lenten Campaign. At parish level, St John’s Charismatic Fellowship is having a weekly online talk, “Seven Last Words of Jesus” by parish priest, Fr Gerard Theraviam. Fr Gerard also has a talk on the Gospel of Luke which can be viewed via YouTube. Many other parishes, ministries and members of the clergy also have their own Lenten programmes. As much as I would like to support all these programmes by attending most of it, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information available. Although most of these programmes are available on YouTube for viewers to re-watch whenever they have the time, I don’t think I am able to view all of them. Instead of attempting to follow all these programmes with limited time on my hands, perhaps it is better to light my oil lamp, play some Taize music, and sit still in the presence of God.

Lenten pursuits
One of my Lenten resolutions is to read a book written by Pope Benedict XVI titled, “Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection”. The book was first printed in March 2011 and written on the book flap is this description: “This is a book for Christians – Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, as well as other believers and non-believers.

Benedict brings to his study the vast learning of a brilliant scholar, the passionate searching of a great mind, and the deep compassion of a pastor’s heart. In the end, he dares readers to grapple with the meaning of Jesus’ life, teaching, death and resurrection.” With such a description, I’m eager to discover the brilliance of Pope Benedict XVI in each page as he explains the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This book is the second in a three-book series, all written by Pope Benedict XVI. The first book is titled, “Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration” and the third book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infant Narratives”.

Now that we are in the second week of Lent, we have another four weeks to go before Palm Sunday on April 10. With the book by Pope Benedict XVI, I hope to spend the remaining weeks of Lent by reflecting on the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. That behind the blood, gore and suffering of His Passion, is a great story of obedience and sacrifice. And Jesus endured it all because of His love for humankind. Indeed, there is no greater love.

(Julie Lim Seet Yin believes that a satisfied life measured by one’s heart, mind and soul is better than a successful life measured by worldly yardsticks. She works for a Japanese bank and is responsible for its Public Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. She can be reached at: [email protected])

Total Comments:0