A Lenten Reflection from Fr. Christopher Murphy, Chaplain

In the second part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri depicts purgatory as a mountain. Ascending the mountain are the souls on their way to heaven. Before they reach paradise, however, the souls have to endure a laborious and at times seemingly impossible climb.

The image comes to mind when considering Lent. We know at the outset where we are headed: Easter, springtime, the final days of school! That’s the good news. Before we reach that destiny, though, we have a final stretch of rain, cold, gray skies, bare trees, and plenty of work to do. Add, on top of that, our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This spirituality isn’t for the faint of heart! Practiced fully, Lent is like Cross Fit for the soul (a different kind of cross, of course).

The journey is not all blood, sweat, and tears. I used to hike the White Mountains with my family. Some of those trails were tough! Along the way, though, the bonds of love that knit us together as a family were quietly strengthened. In Lent, too, we find gifts along the way: more silence, less “stuff,” opportunities for self-donation and community – especially in our parishes.

We recognize a similar pattern in the Stations of the Cross. Along that terrible way of sorrow, Christ meets his Mother and St. Veronica who comfort him. He meets the reluctant Simon of Cyrene who helps bear his burden. He offers conversion and hope to the good thief. It is not a journey for the faint of heart, but it is a journey brimming with grace and love. May the same be true for our Lent!