2021, an endless Lent?



Intern in medicine, Armelle, Parisienne, landed in Lyon in September 2020 … just before the second confinement. Since her arrival, she has spent her days between her little apartment at 3e arrondissement and Croix-Rousse hospital, without having had the chance to create links there. This year, the climb to Easter will therefore have a strange taste: “I can’t realize that Lent is starting”, she confides. All the more so with the curfew, she will not be able to attend the Ash Mass.

Fasting, alms and prayer against masks, curfews and distancing: how to live Lent when everyday life already seems a form of permanent asceticism? Last year, confinement took place in the heart of Lent, creating an effect of surprise. But after a year of restrictions, some discouragement has followed astonishment.

“The deprivations are already there, no need to add more!, exclaims Sandrine Caneri, Orthodox theologian. However, how am I going to transform the deprivation imposed on me by the State into a Lenten offering? ” Karine Michel, a student at the Protestant theological faculty of Montpellier, shares the same feeling: she will not be forced into a particular effort. “I will rather try to find a regularity in my spiritual life”, she testifies.

Give up your habits, find new ways to come closer to God, live the imposed restrictions differently. ” What we are experiencing right now is not Lent, these restrictions are not a choice! “, insists Father Charles-Henri Bodin, priest in Mornant (Rhône) near Lyon, and great sportsman.

“For me, Lent is Jesus who, like a half-time coach in a rugby match, remembers us to encourage us, to tell us that the game is not over! “ All the more so in this period of restrictions, where the “match” is particularly long and painful.

What if these forty days could help us make sense of this painful shared experience? The psychoanalyst and essayist Jean-Guilhem Xerri emphasizes the sobriety experienced during Lent: “These forty days are not forced deprivation: it is an opportunity for pollution control. “ He invites everyone to take stock of the positive and negative aspects of our disrupted lifestyle. Of course, the pandemic and its anxiety-provoking climate have made us more anxious. But the confinements and the curfew have taught us to refocus on the essentials, to be less dispersed: “Our effort could be to decide to develop the positive sides, to ask myself what I want after the year that I have just lived”, continues Jean-Guilhem Xerri.

“Lent has something of a deconfinement”, dares Father Charles-Henri Bodin. “It’s a time that says to me: ‘Let go of your screens, raise your eyes and look at nature, look at your brother, look at society. Look up and love. ” “ Confident despite the surrounding uncertainty, the priest insists on surrendering to the situation instead of undergoing it: “The world after begins with the acceptance of the today. What if I accepted what I was asked to live in order to move forward? “

But, for many, Lent 2021 promises to be painfully lonely. “I miss my parish community, confirms Marie-Jeanne Labiale, parishioner of Montpellier. It’s hard to live Lent on your own. »« What am I going to do with this imposed solitude? asks Sandrine Caneri (1). This uncertain time no longer has the same consistency, I am facing myself to make this solitude a profitable time for the salvation of the world. “

“We are all companions of uncertainty, expectantly, faced with gigantic question marks: the variant, the vaccine, the return to “normal” life… ”, recalls Father Paul Legavre, responsible for the spiritual center of Manrèse in Clamart. For the Jesuit, “Society is currently living the daily life of the seriously ill”. But he wonders : “How can we not let ourselves be won over by these endless expectations which make us worried and insecure? “

To answer this question, Father Legavre takes up the antiphon of the office of lauds, sung every morning of Lent: “With our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, let us enter into the struggle of God. ” Thus, exhorts the Jesuit, “Let us place this reality in the hope that God is at work to give birth to a new world: at Easter, the resurrection wins”.

Even being alone in these difficult conditions, Lent can be lived in broad communion with other Christians. Father Bodin still draws on sports comparisons. “In Lent and in times of pandemic, it’s like rugby: you have to put your head in the fray and move forward. If I want to score a try, I won’t do it on my own. “

This year more than ever, Lent is an invitation to step out of oneself. “Easter will not be lived without the others”, insists Father Paul Legavre. The last few months have been conducive to acts of solidarity. The Jesuit invites us to turn to those who suffer more. Confronted, herself, with despair, Armelle murmurs: “Perhaps this year, my Lenten effort will be to realize that I am not the only one to suffer, and to live this shift. “

Praying, fasting, caring: for the CCFD-Terre solidaire, Lent is thus an opportunity to question our relationship with others and with Creation. Like every year, but in 2021 with perhaps more intensity and attention to all humanity stricken by a pandemic. This is the title of the Lent campaign: “We all live in the same house. “ President of CCFD-Terre solidaire, Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual breathes a breath of hope: “This time is a special moment to articulate the message of Laudato si ‘ and of Fratelli tutti : unite among brothers and sisters to live together the hope of Easter. To live the relationship with oneself, with others and with nature in the form of communion. “

Others want to take advantage of this Lent to wonder about the famous “world after”, like Benjamin Pouzin, co-founder of the Glorious group: “After all this time, people will be thirsty for community, for joy, for love. The question for Christians is: will our churches be wide open to welcome them? “ This Lent offers the opportunity to prepare the “post-Covid” Church. And Father Legavre is categorical: “Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the Easter joy, hope and charity for which Lent prepares us. “

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