Lent is a favourable time of preparation for Easter, a Kairos to undertake a spiritual itinerary of contemplating God's designs from a theological perspective based on a binary logic of: Slavery-Freedom / Sin-Grace / Death-life, that enters into the meaning of the revelation of God to humankind, reaffirming the victory of Christ over death, the purpose of which is to show the reasonableness of the Christian faith (1Pet 3:15).
The San Cristóbal Parish community lived the experience during an afternoon Lenten retreat held on 4 March 2023 on the theme: The spirituality of Lent and Easter, guided by Fr. Elibien Joseph, sss.
The retreat was structured in three modules following one another logically:
1. Brief context of Lent
Everything begins with a brief orientation regarding the purpose of any retreat, which opens to the impulses of the Spirit about listening to the voice of God, contemplating his will in the life of the human being, mainly the Christian. Thus, the theme mentioned above challenges retreatants to accompany Christ on his way to the cross that pertains to his mission of leading us to the fulness of life at Easter.
It became clear that the retreat is part of the dynamic of the liturgical year, which enables the human being to find himself with God and assess his journey of faith through the dynamic of entering his own life and confronting himself in the course of a journey of Forty days so that God may work in us a radical transformation, personally and as a community. Everything is the fruit of a deep experience of faith and encounter with God transcending the vital reality of being human.
2. A 1st meditation focused on “Lenten asceticism, a synodal path”, a theme proposed by Pope Francis for this year. The preamble of the retreat began by clarifying the term asceticism that suggests some Christian Practices linked to the liberation of the spirit, that is, an interior look to improve the way of living in perspective of evangelical virtue. So, the transforming logic of Lent begins from encountering Sacred Scripture, the first source of divine revelation in the text of Ezech 18:20-32 that concerns being open to let God be the protagonist of our life, to appropriate its demands and to recognise our vulnerability and miseries in order to become a new creature moulded by the dead and risen Jesus. This comes about through an openness to grace and adherence to Jesus, who led us to the summit of all Christian life by his resurrection. Therefore, Lent implies assuming an attitude of radical change in a personal and communal way of participating in the building of the Church.
3. Lectio Divina and personal commitment
Before ending the retreat with the celebration of the Eucharist, the last part focused on meditating on the passage of the Gospel in Mt 17:1-9, the text proposed for the 2nd Sunday of Lent from the perspective of “Transfiguring my life by opening to God” through deepening a sense of the traditional practices of the Church: prayer, fasting and almsgiving, especially from a perspective of confronting oneself and relating to God and the community.
There was also a period of communal eucharistic prayer in the light of spiritual and Christian renewal. Then, a dynamic was carried out, which was concluded later, at the moment of the offertory of the Eucharistic Celebration, leading each participant to make a commitment through recognising some negative aspects in the perspective of being converted, accompanying Jesus in his way of the cross to celebrate joyfully Easter.
Welcoming the opinion of several participants, it was concluded that the retreat was a propitious moment of learning, living and spiritual renewal, taking into account that Lent entails undertaking a fruitful spiritual path to acknowledge the grace of the glorification of Jesus. This implies a new way of living and being in the world shaped by the Spirit of God and concretising the synodal dynamic of purifying ourselves together, in community to build the Church and the world amid light and shadow. I wish the Eymardian family throughout the world a holy and fruitful Lenten journey in the perspective of the great celebration of Easter!
Father Elibien Joseph, sss
Community of Lima