Back to the Basic

We are now in the third day of Lent and I can already feel it settling inside my soul. The bareness of Lent, the reduced noise, the tempered day, and the discipline is not something that is quite inviting, but having gone 24 times through the season, I begin to see its value.

The bareness of Lent is best seen in the sanctuary of the chapel where the sacristan removes the regal decors and the remaining flamboyance of the previous feasts. It is just bare cold stone and a few necessary things. It represents the way we remember who we truly are without the many layers of coatings we use to hide our true selves. It is the removal of all those layers of grime and sin that has accumulated over time, to reveal the marble that is God’s workpiece.

Silence could be deafening because once you remove the noise outside, you take notice of the noise inside you. We make a lot of noise. We Bosconians are known for our boisterous laugh and high spirits. But there are other levels of noise than those in the wavelengths perceptible by the human ear. There is the noise of daily life, things that are not necessary and useful but we do them anyway without knowing why. There is the noise of society, those prejudices and stereotyping we take part in because it is common. There are many more outside the person and shared by many. Taking notice of them and lowering their volume makes us aware of the more noise inside.

The noise inside is more difficult to face. When the mind is too preoccupied of other things it loses track of what is essential, and when the heart starts to explode in a volcanic eruption of suppressed emotions and of issues and traumas we are too afraid to face, who can bear it? The noise inside us needs more effort to quiet down. A real effort at focusing and discipline is the key.

And here comes the real value of Lent, it invites us to practice focus and discipline, values the world undervalues. Like a tool that needs to be sharpened, the human will is sharpened by self-discipline after a year of abuse and misuse. They say practice makes perfect, if so, then Lent is that practice of following Christ more faithfully through self-discipline. Don Bosco is right after all. We don’t need to do extraordinary penance, for going back to the basic, what is already there to discipline is enough penance for us to please the Lord as we traverse the road to perfection.


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