Every year around this time, my mother would rearrange the furniture in the living room. Along with that, came the changing of the drapery. Then, she would open the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen and take out all the dishes, glasses, cups, goblets, plates, pitchers, platters, bowls, casseroles, china, and silverware for cleaning. It was as if we were preparing for the biggest banquet of the year. She called this cleansing fury spring cleaning.
Every liturgical year around this time, the Church gives us the opportunity to do our own inner spring cleaning. In fact, the word “Lent” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning spring. Lent is a prime time to rearrange our priorities, to open the cupboards of our hearts and hold our egos to the light to see those areas that need cleaned and polished. This idea of inner cleansing or conversion has always been at the heart of Lent. From the earliest times, Lent was the final leg of the journey for the catechumens preparing for baptism. It was also a time when penitents, isolated from the assembly because of their sins, would be reconciled to God and community. Both catechumen and penitent were related in that both underwent a significant conversion. As the catechumen looked forward to baptism, the penitent looked forward to reconciliation, often seen as a second baptism. Even today, the focus of Lent remains both baptismal and penitential.
It is easy to rearrange chairs and to clean dishes. Inner change is more of a challenge. Therein lies the good news. It is God who calls us to conversion, and it is God’s transforming grace that accompanies all of us on the journey of conversion. Let us pray for the courage to be open to this grace, that we might come to Easter, the biggest banquet of the liturgical year, with clean hearts and renewed spirits. Amen!
A clean heart create for me, O God and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Psalm 51