Responding to the 4th Sunday of Lent

A social-media posting this week read:

‘I did not know how much I was going to give up this Lent.’


In the past days

  • we may have lost, or at least known threats to, our peace of mind and sense of security.
  • we are, many of us, confined to our homes for self-protection or the protection of others – some of us, many of us 24/7
  • we are, many of us, working in ever-more stressful situations – health care facilities, schools, supermarkets and in the community – trying to give of our best, but tired and exposed and troubled.
  • we are careful, anxious for family and friends, and the more vulnerable members of the communities we are part of (real and virtual)
  • we may have found our health compromised; we may have and may yet face the death of loved ones
  • we are disappointed at things lost or now not to be – at least for a while (weddings, baptisms, holidays, family gatherings)
  • we have lost our hoped for ‘present’, our planned for ‘here and now’

But let us not just lose those things…

Let us allow the loss of them to be not just our experiences of the consequences of an international health crisis, – things done to us.

Let us make them things we experience and endure and then of ourselves make them things we ‘give up’ to the Lord.

We let go even of some good things, that we might know still better the good thing, the only fully and true good, which is our God.

Through our sadness and fear, the hurt and disappointment, if we still turn to Christ we learn of what is not passing. We learn of our being loved; home, held with him; precious in his sight,

Bright sadness is the true message and gift of Lent. Little by little we begin to understand, or rather to feel, that this sadness is indeed “bright,” that a mysterious transformation is about to take place in us.  It is as if we were reaching a place to which the noises and the fuss of life, of the street, of all that which usually fills our days and even nights, have no access–a place where they have no power.  All that which seemed so tremendously important to us as to fill our mind, that state of anxiety which has virtually become our second nature, disappear somewhere and we begin to feel free, light and happy.  It is not the noisy and superficial happiness which comes and goes twenty times a day and is so fragile and fugitive; it is a deep happiness which comes not from a single and particular reason but from our soul having, in the words of Dostoevsky, touched “another world.”  And that which it has touched is made up of light and peace and joy, of an inexpressible trust.  

Alexander Schmemann

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 22 (23)

1     A Psalm of David.

      The Lord is my shepherd;
      there is nothing I shall want.
2     Fresh and green are the pastures
      where he gives me repose.
      Near restful waters he leads me;
3     he revives my soul.

      He guides me along the right path,
      for the sake of his name.
4     Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
      no evil would I fear, for you are with me.
      Your crook and your staff will give me comfort.

5     You have prepared a table before me
      in the sight of my foes.
      My head you have anointed with oil;
      my cup is overflowing.

6     Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
      all the days of my life.
      In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
      for length of days unending.


  • Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
  • Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
  • Alexander Schmemann from The Great Lent.
  • Photo (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Chartres Cathedral. France.

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