We’ve been hearing a lot about sequestering this Lent. Of course we are faced with a budget sequestration forcing sizable and somewhat painful fiscal cutbacks because different authoritative groups can not decide how to use our precious resources. Additionally, the College of Cardinals will be sequestered shortly in Rome to choose a new Pope as Pope Benedict XVI surprisingly announced his retirement on February 11. So what does sequestration have to do with Lent? Let’s take a look at some synonyms for sequester: aloneness, insulation, seclusion, segregation, isolation, solitude, separateness, privacy. Seems sequestration may have a lot to do with Lent.
Originally it was a legal term referring to the act of valuable property being taken into custody and locked away for safekeeping, usually to prevent the property from being disposed of or abused before a dispute over its ownership can be resolved or a debt can be paid.
In chemistry it is the inhibition or prevention of normal ion behavior by combination with added materials. Think of the refiner’s fire. “For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' lye. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.” (Malachi 3:2)
This Lent God is seeking to take each one of us into a special place for safekeeping, pruning, and purifying so we can then be sent back out stronger and more viable than ever so we do not waste our precious gifts and talents he has bestowed upon each one of us in order to serve Him and one another; gifts that so many elements of the world seek to pilfer, splurge, squander, or exploit. Where will you allow God to sequester you? Under the safekeeping of his beautiful Mother’s mantle of humility? In his sacred, precious wounds? At the solemn yet powerful foot of the cross? In the dark and quiet garden of Gethsemane with the weary Peter, James, and John? Or will he take you out on the deep rough waters with the apostles or leave you in the belly of a whale with Jonah or the lion’s den with Daniel and Gabriel? Wherever you go, you can go with the saints who have been there before, and of course the angelic powers will always be with you.
Every Lent doesn’t always have to be a desert, but you are called to allow a little extra time for God to work in your life. Your personal lenten sequester will not produce a new Pope, but it will produce powerful fruits, especially if you allow the Holy Spirit to work as the Cardinals do. As Christians, God has already claimed ownership over us and has sent his Son to pay the debt for our sins, but he will not hold us captives against our will. We must cooperate with his graces to reap the true reward. Just remember that no matter how secluded the sequester or deep the cuts, he will never ever leave us alone. We are loved forever and always. Just let go and trust.