LENTEN MISSION OF A DIFFERENT KIND
This is Lanten season for us, the Christians. It is ingrained in our consciousness, that this is a time we should spend in reflection and reconciliation. We pray intensely during this period… We confess, repent for our sins… We fast, and, above all, seek forgiveness from God and seek His grace and strength to make a fresh beginning. Personally, to me, this time is the most enriching and moving time of the year… I feel the closeness to God more during this period than I feel during the rest of the year. I feel, yes, a lot humbled and human during Lent.
One of the main church activities, during Lent (apart from the traditional Way of the Cross), is Lenten Missions. Almost all the Catholic churches hold these very inspiring and revival Missions. There are special preachers (like Redemptionists) trained for years in conducting this kind of renewal Missions during Lent. These priests are invited by different churches to hold these Lenten Missions; mostly, late in the evenings, for the convenience of all people. Churches are packed to the brim, not only with people from Christian faith, but also with people from other faiths.
Last evening, I attended a Mission service held at OLPS church in Chembur. The theme was ‘Rekindling the Magic in Marriage’. The priest was outstanding! “What do priests know about marriage?” Yes, from this rude question to every sublime aspect of the marriage was dealt with by this priest in a manner, that, one would not go home without being shaken to the core…
I came home, a lot shaken and renewed, indeed!
The priest was talking about being faithful to one’s spouse in health and sickness. He shared an experience he had, some years ago. As part of their commitment to religious service, the Redemptionist priests visit houses of all parish members and personally encourage and invite them to attend Lenten Missions.
The priest narrated to us, the incident…
I had gone to invite a family in our parish. An elderly man opened the door. He welcomed me, but gently said, “Father, please be seated. I need ten minutes to feed my paralytic wife. I will join you after feeding her.”
After ten minutes, the elderly man came and said to me, gracefully, “Yes father, what can I do for you?”
“You see, I have come to invite you to attend the Lanten Missions in our church,” I explained to the elderly man.
“You know father, I would love to attend the Missions;” the elderly man confessed with a smile, “but, I cannot leave my wife alone, you see… She needs me.”
I was moved to my bones seeing this elderly couple and hearing this man. I told him, with all my honesty, “You do not need to attend any Lenten Mission… You are already attending a greater mission in life!”
The elderly man was faithful to his wife in her sickness… He was faithful to his marriage vow… He was showing me how to be faithful to one’s ‘marriage mission’ till death did the couple apart. I met Jesus in person, in that house!
To me, this is true spirituality. Being aware of one’s mission and being faithful to it… yes, till the curtain falls!
Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar