Home Catechetical Corner Fourth Sunday of Lent: The search for grace in our Lenten season

Fourth Sunday of Lent: The search for grace in our Lenten season

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Students from St. Martin of Tours School in Amityville, N.Y., sing with the children's choir during a Mass marking the opening of "Celebrate Catholic Schools Week" at St. Martin of Tours Church Jan. 26, 2020. The hymn "Amazing Grace" reminds me that because of Jesus' loving sacrifice that we will celebrate at the end of this Lenten season, I am a beloved child of God -- sins and all. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Do you have a favorite song? You know, one to which you remember all the words, no matter how long ago you first heard it?

I thought about that the other day when I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a meme that a friend of mine had posted. The meme featured the words, “Why is it that I can remember the lyrics to a song from 20 years ago but can’t remember why I walked into the kitchen?”

I immediately started laughing because the words were so true.

But then I also thought about the fact that while I may know all the lyrics, I might not have really listened to the words and fully grasped the overall concept or meaning of the song.

For some of them, I wish I had paid a little bit closer attention to the message of the song. But then there are others that had I truly heard them would have provided a needed lift.

The songs that we sing at church can fall prey to our lack of attention, sometimes, too. Each of them was written with a very specific meaning behind them and message to convey.

But as with those popular hits of our generation, we have been singing them so often and for such a long time that perhaps we are just reciting the words and not taking in the overarching meaning of what we’re singing.

I was recently reminded of that at Sunday Mass when we sang one of those songs. The song was “Amazing Grace.” I have heard the song so many times — both in church and many other places, so I’m not exactly sure why this time was different.

But, for some reason, I found myself really being drawn in by the first line: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

It was the word “grace” in particular that stood out to me. I’m not sure why it caught my attention. But it did and continued to stick with me for the next few days. Being as it was the season of Lent, I started to think about grace in that context of those 40 days.

Maybe it was because I was disappointed in myself. Yes, this wretch was failing to fulfill my Lenten promises as we neared the end of the season.

After all, whatever I was challenging myself to do for these 40 days certainly paled in comparison to Christ’s sacrifice. And yet, here I was failing to live up to my rather simple, in the scheme of things, promises.

But then I thought of that word again: grace. Where was the grace in my Lenten season? Why was I not granting it to myself? Certainly I was fulfilling the purpose of these 40 days in some way, even if not the way I had planned.

And, after all, if Christ believes I am worth dying for, certainly I can offer myself some grace for what I see as my shortcomings and stumbles.

That is exactly what that timeworn and beautiful song reminds me to do. It reminds me that because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice that we will celebrate at the end of this Lenten season, I am a beloved child of God — sins and all. For that, I should offer myself the sweet sound of amazing grace.

By Susan Hines-Brigger, Catholic News Service

Susan Hines-Brigger is a mother of four, ranging in age from 23 to 11. She is also an executive editor of St. Anthony Messenger magazine.