Order of Malta


Traveling Through the Lenten Journey: A Reflection from Frá Nicola Tegoni


We are on the threshold of the most important period of our liturgy and soon we will begin our Lenten journey, a journey that opens on Ash Wednesday, when the priest will bless us by placing a little ash on our heads. The priest will accompany this ritual gesture with the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” A small gesture that holds immense meaning. This is to remind ourselves that we are nothing without God, without Him we are just dust.

It is an invitation to travel through the Lenten season by participating intensely in the Paschal mystery, to renew our commitment to following Jesus, to imitate Him, to do good, to make the “old person” in us tied to sin die and to give birth to the “new person” within us, renewed and transformed by the Grace of God.

The path that awaits us is not easy, it is not without obstacles. It is a path of penance, of prayer, of introspection of our thoughts, of attention and correction of our usual actions towards ourselves and towards others.

It is a path of change that with faith, love and humility allows us to be reborn.

Lent is forty days of penance and purification which refer to the Christian tradition according to which Jesus spent this very same time in the desert fasting, praying, and meditating. According to the Gospel, Jesus remained in spiritual retreat in the desert for forty days before starting His public life. This period of reflection, in silence, in fasting, is considered an essential moment of preparation for our own future mission. The same occurred for Saint Paul who, after his conversion, considered it essential to spend a period of time in similar retreat. We therefore consider a spiritual retreat as a significant moment for our spiritual growth and the deepening of our faith.

Today, many people from across society, driven by an internal need, have the search for “spirituality” as their primary objective in life. Since ancient times, the concept of spirituality has permeated religions and various philosophical traditions. Spirituality is associated with the inner life of an individual, it is an intimate and private personal search. It is often seen as a path, a “spiritual journey” along which one advances in stages to reach a certain objective. Every event in life is part of this journey, and significant stages or moments can be included, the practice of spiritual disciplines such as meditation, prayer, fasting, meetings with spiritual guides, the use of readings and/or sacred texts, are all means that lead to inner growth.

The spiritual is something inherent in the religious because all of us are religious beings by nature. We search for the meaning of life, we question ourselves about the being of things. Spirituality is the energy of the religious person.

In the context of the Christian faith, it is the soul that pushes us to this search. For us Christians, spirituality is “life in the Spirit.” The “Blowing Spirit”, this perfect term used in by Saint Paul in his letters to make us understand that Christian spirituality presupposes, by the Grace of God, living a life in conscious relationship with God through the Spirit and by the work of the Holy Spirit our life is enriched with valuable gifts such as love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, benevolence, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), gifts that correspond to universal values of spirituality.

And what should we do on our Lenten journey? How can we work on our interiority, how to “renew our mind to be able to discern the will of God, what is good, pleasing to Him and perfect”? (Romans 12:1-2).

I invite you to read St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans Chapter 12, carefully and with faith. It is the perfect synthesis of what being a disciple of Christ means. Let us make this decalogue our own and we will find immeasurable help in entering in the spirit of renewal and in tracing the path of the new person we want to be. Following the steps of this Letter, if we make St. Paul’s suggestions our own, we will find ourselves retracing the path of the Lord. Like a domino effect, these steps will help us achieve inner harmony, achieve balance between mind, body and spirit, and achieve spiritual well-being.

Spirituality makes us understand that there is not only a physical world. There is a spiritual world around us of which we are a part because we are human beings who also possess a spirit. We work to become aware of this world. Love towards others must help us to detach ourselves from the false attractions of this foolish physical world, to overcome our individualism, our selfishness, our pride, to abandon our “idols” which lead us to materialistic choices and distance us from the spiritual journey undertaken and from our destination who is Jesus, our true center of imitation and spirituality.

By following the inspiring pillars of faith and charity of Blessed Fra’ Gerard when he founded our beloved Order and making them the guiding principles of our life, we ensure that this personal Lenten journey of ours that we are starting, will lead us on the path of Christian perfection.


Order of Malta

American Association, U.S.A
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish House
14 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522