In the earliest days of the church, Lent was lived as the time of immediate preparation for baptism, which has always been solemnly celebrated during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. The whole of Lent was a journey toward this great encounter with Christ, toward immersion in Christ and the reception of His life. We, of course, are already baptized, but often baptism does not affect as it should our daily lives. Therefore, Lent is also for us a renewal of our baptism, a time to rediscover its meaning and relive it in depth, to become again really disciples of the Lord. This means ongoing conversion of our lives, a constant process of interior change and of progress in knowledge and love of Christ. Conversion never takes place once and for all, but is a process, a journey of our whole life. While this journey should not be limited to Lent, this season certainly is a special time to focus with ever greater attention and even tenacity on our service of God, on our rejection of evil and doing of the good. A few years ago, then Pope Benedict, in his Ash Wednesday homily, addressed some of these issues. He said, “But what does conversion really mean? Conversion means to seek God, to walk with God, to follow docilely the teachings of his Son, Jesus Christ; to be converted is not an effort to fulfill oneself, because the human being is not the architect of his own destiny. We have not made ourselves. Therefore, self-fulfillment is a contradiction and is too little for us. We have a higher destiny...To be converted means, therefore, not to pursue personal success, which is something that passes but that, abandoning all human security, we follow the Lord with simplicity and trust, so that Jesus will become for each one, as St. Teresa of Calcutta liked to say, ‘my all in all’. Whoever lets himself be conquered by him is not afraid of losing his own life, because on the cross he loved us and gave himself for us. And, in fact, by losing our life out of love, we find it again.” May Lent, which begins this week, be a time of this sort of conversion for us.
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