THE SEASON OF LENT
In the Sundays previous to Lent, Holy Mother the Church gives us in
summary form which is needed to be done to have eternal life.
As we enter the Lenten season, the Church teaches us in detail what
we must specifically do to have eternal life. . .repent.
Man is a sinner and he who says he has no sin is a liar, St. John
states. For the sinner to have eternal life he must repent.
And repentance consists in three elements, prayer, fasting and good
works: "When you fast . . .When you pray . . .When you do
good. . ." Repentance is not a payment for one's sins; there
is no way man can pay for his sins because of the Dignity of the God
who has been offended. Repentance is meant to win God's mercy
so that like the unfaithful servant, God may forgive the thousand
debts that we are unable to pay for.
Repentance is not praying, fasting and performing good works in the
way and manner we want. For true repentance, we must pray,
fast and perform good works in the way and manner that Christ
had taught. And the first lesson given on Ash Wednesday is
that our prayer and fasting and good works must be performed without
the taint of any desire to please men, win the admiration of men, to
be known and seen by men, desire for publicity and votes or any
other human or worldly consideration. These must be done to
win the mercy of God and for no other reason.
Fasting in the right way must be perfected before anyone can pray
and perform good works properly. Fasting is to give up our
personal wishes and to desire only to do the will of God. Only
then can we truly pray "Your will be done." If you have not
fasted from doing your own will, your prayer will always be "My will
be done." God detests such a prayer precisely because it is
against what He has taught.
The masses during the week and the coming Sundays will further
discuss how to fast, pray and perform good works in a manner
pleasing to God.
St. Thomas of Aquinas