The Catholic Letter

Seasonal Subjects

On The Passion and Lent

We’re getting close to our celebration of Christ’s resurrection. And just before we celebrate that, we observe the much more somber historic even – The Passion.

You might call this time the highlight of lent. The climax of it all. In Jesus’ sufferings throughout life, none of them compare to the pain and loneliness He felt on the cross. And this heightened suffering is also the fulfillment of Christ’s mission. The fact that we observe it towards the end of lent is more than because of the time chronology. There’s a much deeper meaning.

Remember that lent is our traditional time to share in Christ’s sufferings during the 40 days of fasting in the desert. Christ was preparing. He was in training. The recorded temptations Christ endured were only precursors. The fasting was only a taste of what was to come...throughout His ministry and ending with His death on the cross.

This falls right in line with the reality that he who lives by the cross, shall die by the cross. Jesus’ death was the climax of His life. And during the season of lent, we should never forget what we’re really doing: we’re preparing for our own death.

We’re tempted to think that the small things (daily sacrifice, impulsive fasting, etc.) don’t matter as long as we’re ready to stand with Christ when ‘the chips are down.’ We like to think we wouldn’t repeat Peter’s denial. But no one can endure temptation at the time of death, without practicing during life.

Could you compete in a sports event without training? Of course not. Your spiritual strength needs conditioning. At the time of your death, Satan will use everything in his arsenal…and you’d better be prepared. If you couldn’t resist during life, you won’t resist at the end.

But keep in mind that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Because after lent, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ…and we remember that it restores our life.