Lent reminds us of repentance, penance, and penitence, because we have offended God. But that is not enough. If just that, then it does not yet include all of its meaning, because Lent is the most significant time of the year. The First Reading on the first day of Lent makes the difference more obvious.
The Church begins Lent with a reading from the Prophet Joel (2: 12-18). The reading takes us back to the extremely difficult times in Israel. The land was destroyed by locusts and crop failures. The future of the people is hopeless. The prophet Joel says that people have brought the disaster upon themselves because of their unfaithfulness to God. But he did not summon people into the synagogue to repent. He also did not call them to sacrifice animals in the Temple. He did not talk about public repentance, rending garments to show grief. No, the prophet Joel said: “Rend your hearts, and not your garments.”
The first challenge of Lent is to open wide our hearts in life. We rend our hearts not only in the spiritual domain but also in real life; for example, sharing bread with those in need; visiting the sick, the diseased, the homebound, those in hospitals or nursing homes.
Lent is a call to mourn for what we can do but did not. Lent is an opportunity to grieve for what we should do but did not. Lent is an opportunity to change what we ought to. Therefore, Lent is not just for penance. Lent is formation, preparation, and renewal of anything that is hindering life from uniting with God.
Therefore, Lent is an invitation for us to unite with God through the Blessed Sacrament.
Prayer of Offering to the Eucharistic Jesus
O Lord Jesus, I prostrate before the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to offer my soul, body, thoughts, words, deeds, and all the hardships of my life. God, please accept my humble offering and grant me Your Most Holy Body.
Though the covenant is biased I know it is because of Your all-encompassing love for me, though I am weak and sinful. I promise to daily thank, love, worship, and praise You.
I chastise myself to express my gratitude to You, because of my indifference and lukewarmness in the past toward the Most Precious Body and Blood in the Most Holy Sacrament. I beseech You to let me receive this sacrament, and as my penance, to earnestly visit the Most Holy Body in the tabernacle, because I have offended the Lord of heaven and earth.
O Most Holy Sacrament, O Most Divine Sacrament – may I daily thank, love, worship, and praise the Eucharistic Jesus. For You are my only hope and my inheritance. Amen.