The Responsorial Psalm for the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year B readings) is basically what this whole Lenten Season is about: “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” We understand that Lent is about repentance and reconciliation: change and conversion. We change our lives in order to obey the Lord, because we know that those who serve Him must follow His way.
So, how do we change our hearts? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “the interior penance of the Christian can be expressed in many and various ways…above all in three forms, fasting, prayer and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.” In order to obtain forgiveness of sins and a clean heart, we should all make “efforts at reconciliation with one’s neighbor, the intercession of saints and the practice of charity which covers a multitude of sins.” These are “trinities” of conversion, belief and behavior!
Here’s an idea with which to begin: focus, attention and participation at Mass! The well-known liturgist and musician Elaine Rendler suggests a liturgical conversion: our communal prayer as a means of expressing our interior change in relation to God. She says to “encourage (no, urge, demand, offer rewards, beg, beseech) people to pray (to read!) the readings for the rest of Lent before you come to the Sunday liturgy.” She invites us (the Community) “to pray at the liturgy in song and in silence, in dialogue with the Priest, and in union with the prayer of the Priest and with us all.” This would be one way to enter into the Spirit of this Lenten season (or any season of the year)—to demand of ourselves a focus in our sung and spoken prayer together during the mass.
Whichever Mass you attend this weekend, you will have the opportunity to be drawn into the Paschal Mystery. This is why we gather weekly in praise, thanksgiving and worship. We pray for clean hearts in order to follow Christ and the Paschal way. We sing what we believe, we believe what we sing!