With Ash Wednesday this past week, we have begun the grace-filled season of Lent. While the Collect (Opening Prayer) for each Sunday in Ordinary Time is prayed at Masses throughout that week, weekdays in Lent have their own Collects assigned to them. The Collect for the First Sunday of Lent helps us to set the goal for our observance of Lent:
Grant, almighty God,
through the yearly observances of holy Lent,
that we may grow in understanding
of the riches hidden in Christ
and by worthy conduct pursue their effects.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The prayer begins by setting this Lent within the context of a lifetime of penitential seasons, noting that we observe Lent on a yearly basis. Yearly observance of Lent is not merely a repeat of the same liturgical season, but an opportunity to continue our lifelong growth in faith. Understanding is a gradual process that takes place over time, a process of continual conversion. The yearly observation of Lent provides the opportunity for continued growth.
As noted in the prayer, Lent is a holy season. To be holy means to be dedicated or set aside for God. Lent is a time that is specially set aside for us to focus on growing in our understanding of the riches hidden in Christ. Faith is what allows us to see what is hidden, so when we grow in faith, we grow in understanding. When we approach the Sacraments with the eyes of faith, we see what is hidden: the grace that transforms us through the
Christ spent forty days of prayer and fasting in the desert, hidden from the world, but in intimate conversation with God the Father. We pray that through our observances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during these forty days of holy Lent, we may deepen our faith and understanding, and bear the fruit of conducting ourselves in a way that is worthy of the grace given to us in the Sacraments.
Take this Collect to prayer with you this week, and ask for the grace to make your observance of Lent—a dedicated time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving—fruitful.
God bless you,