Oxymorons are fun. Who has not been “clearly misunderstood”? Who has not tasted something “awfully good”? Matching oxymorons with Lent may be “true fiction.” But let me remind you that the most significant oxymoron, the one on which we base our faith and our eternal salvation is “life-giving death.”
The Paschal Mystery—Christ’s death and resurrection—is Lent’s theme, its purpose, its culmination. Ash Wednesday begins with a “crash landing” of purple and deserts and no snacks. We wonder if losing weight is the reason we forego sweets, and we realize that that’s a “definite maybe.” If we search our hearts, we “find missing” the period of prayer that should be included in our daily schedules, and so we resolve with “optimistic pessimism” to attend weekly Stations. The Passion Narrative read year after year may be “old news,” but it’s still the supreme Good News. We join our voices with the “small crowd” yelling “Hosanna!” Then there’s the “deafening silence” of the sealed tomb. The ending of Lent’s journey is an “open secret.” We all know that Christ’s victory on the first Easter Sunday is our victory too. Although a “bittersweet” time, the forty days that we try to follow Our Lord more closely help us to die to ourselves to live for God.