Five More Lenten Symbols
This article by Diana Macalintal first appeared in Eucharistic Ministries 227, February 2003.
Unlike other seasons, Lent focuses our vision upon a different kind of symbol--the living, breathing symbols of people and actions.
They will be baptized, confirmed, and will celebrate first Communion at the next Easter Vigil. They are symbols of God’s life-giving work in the world. Their election and scrutinies are signs of God’s love for the church and God’s power over evil.
Lent highlights the penitential and baptismal characteristics of discipleship. The faithful are a powerful sign of these aspects as they gather each week to practice more fervently the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and to prepare to renew their baptismal promises at the Easter feast.
Prayer begins with listening and is a symbol of our discipleship. In Lent we retreat in prayer not to leave the world but to become more attuned to God in it--to become disciples who know their master’s voice.
Fasting is a sign of our conversion--our new “viewpoint.” We fast from food, bad habits, selfish ways, and apathy. Liturgically, we fast from alleluia’s and excess music and décor. We do this not to deprive ourselves, but to aim our thoughts upon what is essential.
Our love for the poor is our greatest lenten symbol. It is a sign that death has not won.