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Editor’s Note: The Snow Days of Lent

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When I tell Ohioans we moved our family here from Louisiana, one of their first responses, without fail, is a look of incredulity followed by the question, “Well what do you think of this weather?” I smile and reply, “I don’t mind the cold so much, but all these gray days are a big adjustment for my southern-born soul.”

But even though the relentless gray days can be hard, Ohio winter has also come with a source of great joy for our family: Snow. And while lifelong mid-westerners may roll their eyes at the white fluffy stuff, for our four Louisiana-born children who have never seen its like, the flurries are a source of magic, leaving them with noses pressed to windows, and begging my husband
and me to let them go out and make snowballs. I, too, share in their sense of wonder when it comes to experiencing the beauty of a “real winter.”

I wonder if Lent has become, for me, a bit like Ohio winter: full of gray days of sacrifice, penance and the inevitable sadness of the Gospel stories that lead up to Christ’s crucifixion. Especially in my native city, where the joy and color of the Mardi Gras season is quickly snuffed out in favor of ashes and a focus on fasting, the move into Lent is all the more stark.

But Lent doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, it should be a chance to acknowledge the somberness of the liturgical season, while also embracing those moments of glorious “snow” that come with it. For even in Lent, there is joy in the Gospels when Jesus reminds us and shows us over and over again what we stand to inherit in the Kingdom of Heaven. He teaches us the “Our Father;” reminds us of the comfort and healing of reconciliation; and He repeats the importance of love: love of the Father, of neighbors and of parents.

The Lenten Gospel readings hold many instances of redemption, from the return of the Prodigal Son to reminders that God gives good things to those who ask it of Him.

In Matthew 7:7, Jesus tells us:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

What could be more wondrous than knowing that if we simply knock, God will open the door?

Yes, Lent is a time when we give things up and focus more intently on our prayer life, but it need not be a time of perpetual cloudiness. I pray that during this Lent, we may be reminded of the things we have come to take for granted, and again find the joy of the season’s redemption.

Jessica Rinaudo is the editor of The Catholic Telegraph. Contact her at cteditorial@catholiccincinnati.org.

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