February 18, 2021
by Director of Mission, Mr Geoff Brodie
Our liturgical calendar marked this Wednesday as Ash Wednesday. The Missal includes this note:
Today we commence the Season of Lent, a time of preparation for the great feast of Easter. During Lent, we give special attention to prayer (attending to quality more so than quantity), fasting (emptying ourselves that we may be filled with the life and love of Christ) and good deeds (not to win admiration for ourselves but to help others). Though it has a penitential character, Lent is a joyful season as we anticipate the resurrection of the Lord.
This note reminds us again of two liturgical dimensions of our faith in Jesus. First, there is the horizontal dimension, experienced as we move through the days, weeks, months, and years. This chronological experience of time leads us gently through a cycle of feasts, seasons and moments, inviting us to integrate the drama of our lives with the life of Jesus. Secondly, there is the vertical dimension. A liturgical experience transcends the hurts and joys of our past, the challenges of the present and our hopes for the future, to unite them in our friendship with the Trinitarian God.
This is not such a remote proposal. Consider our deepest friendships. With our friends we encounter the world, have adventurers, face difficulties, and look to the future. Together, we get on with the business of living in the here and now. (The horizontal dimension) But the fact of our friend and our friendship, (the trinity of our relationships: me, friend and our friendship!!) provokes an experience of a higher responsibility from which we understand our past, judge the present and make choices about the future we seek to create, all for the sake of the friendship. As our friendships deepen, how we understand and judge our past, present and future may be radically renewed and enriched. This is the vertical dimension.
Lent is a privileged invitation into the vertical dimension of the liturgical experience. Though we were unable to celebrate Ash Wednesday as a community through a shared liturgy, Lent is a Season and the invitation remains. As we seek to enrich our living through prayer, fasting and good works, lets us actively seek to deepen our friendship with God, whose friendship allows us to fulfill our capacity to love without limit and share in God’s blessed eternal life. Through liturgy we return to enrich the lives of everyone we encounter in the horizontal dimension, for we return as ambassadors of Christ! (Rom 5:20)