Pastor’s Corner for the First Sunday of Lent, Year B, by Fr. Bruce Botha SJ

There is no denying that Lent is a rather sombre season. It is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. For some, there is even a desire to take on penitential practices.


There will be no flowers to decorate the church, and Lenten penitential purple will seldom be relieved by other liturgical colours. This sombre tone is also reflected in the liturgy, as there are no joyful glorias, no alleluias sung by the congregation. The music is more subdued, and for these weeks of Lent we will leave the church in silence. It feels unnatural, our stifled spirits want to break free from these sober restraints. The liturgy will keep us in a prolonged tension between our usual rejoicing and the shadow of the cross. We will long to cry out on Easter Saturday “He is risen from the dead, alleluia, alleluia! But not yet. We need to wait for Easter, for the son to rise again. Then our rejoicing will glorious.


The spiritual practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving are all designed to help us become less selfish and self-centred, and more Christ-like and other-centred. Prayer is spending time with the beloved, so that we can know him and thus become more like him. It also requires us to sacrifice time we may spend on other things so that we can take up this priority activity. Fasting is not only from food, but from the things of the world, such as social media, TV, hanging out with friends. Almsgiving helps us to detach from worldly things, and to make us re-evaluate our relationship with material possessions and the other things that we use to define ourselves.


The opening prayer for the Ash Wednesday mass says:


Father in heaven, the light of your truth bestows sight

to the darkness of sinful eyes.

May this season of repentance bring us the blessing of your forgiveness

and the gift of your light. Amen



Fr Bruce Botha SJ