Merton on the purpose of Lent

10Feb05

“The purpose of Lent is not only expiation, to satisfy the divine justice, but above all a preparation to rejoice in God’s love. And this preparation consists in receiving the gift of God’s mercy – a gift which we receive in so far as we open our hearts to it, casting out what cannot remain in the same room with mercy.

Now one of the things we must cast out first of all is fear. Fear narrows the little entrance of our heart. It shrinks up our capacity to love. It freezes up our power to give ourselves. If we were terrified of God as an inexorable judge, we would not confidently await God’s mercy, or approach God trustfully in prayer. Our peace, our joy in Lent are a guarantee of grace.”

– Thomas Merton, in ‘Seasons of Celebration’, from Sojourners, SojoMail

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