The webpage of the Youth Ministry of the Irish Province of Augustinians


When I was a child Lent was all about giving things up.  This giving up of things, unfortunately, became an end in itself which created to my childish mind the idea that the more miserable you were, the better you were doing it.

Patently, this doesn't make sense for Christians who live their lives knowing that Christ is risen.  Ours are to be lives of joy and lives of hope.  Lent, as one expression of Christian living is also about joy and hope.

I think that the focus we give to Lent provides the key to the challenge of making Lent joyful.  As Christians we live our lives in the light of the resurrection and awaiting the return of the Lord.  Our focus, therefore, is on the future.  Penance, Christian penance, is about the future.  It is about how we want to live and the direction we wish our lives to go in.  Recalling what has happened in the past is about learning.  We learn from our mistakes; we identify patterns in our behaviour; and we notice how far we may have wandered from our values, ideals and dreams.  As we look back we try to see what we need to avoid in the future.

This makes the whole conception of penance something that is much more necessary and invigorating than it has been for many people in the past.  The stress is to be placed on the desire not to sin again rather than on simply listing what was sinful in the past.

As we walk towards Easter we do so knowing that Easter has already happened.  Our penance is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to our core Christian values.  It is the return to these values that will provide us with the most realistic possibility of breaking the chains of habit and settling for second best for ourselves.

And we should never forget that we are not alone in this undertaking.  We are supported and helped by a loving Father who wants the best for us.


Article posted on 14th of March 2013

Click here for a printable version of this page
Web Analytics