My friends know that I am a huge fan of makeup. The fact is that I own a huge stash of products from several makeup lines. It's one of my vices.
Last night, while I was preparing my wardrobe for today, I wondered if I should look dour, with little to no makeup, and wear somber clothes. After all, this is Lent. However, reading today's Gospel account made me think otherwise.
 And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.  But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face;  That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.Lent is a solemn liturgical season. The Church reminds us that we need to practice penance, make sacrifices and devote ourselves to prayer. However, even in this season of penance, there is a sense of joy. Just because we are engaging in acts of mortification, that does not necessarily mean that we have to look sour and dour.
With that in mind, I decided to break out some cheerful mineral makeup colors (including purple eyeshadow and apricot lip color), wear a bright lilac blouse and get my hair done. I figured that I should at least find some tangible way of matching my makeup and wardrobe to the liturgical season (although my best friend thinks I am a liturgical geek for doing so). Some may call this vanity in the face of penance; however, I think that it actually fits in wtih the image that Jesus presents to us in today's Gospel account from St. Matthew. My late mother used to tell me that the worse I feel, the better I should look. No one needs to see us practicing acts of penance. We are not doing these for "show"; we are doing them out of love. And the ash that my parochial vicar traced over my made-up forehead? That is my visible sign of the invisible bond of unity that binds me to my fellow Catholics.
We are called to be penitent, but, not dour. If we went around throughout these 40 days of Lent looking mournful and sullen, then we have missed the point of this holy season. Yes, we need to have sorrow for our sins, but, we should find joy in the fact that God, in his merciful love, gives us this time to repent and make amends. Reconciliation brings joy because through this atonement, we are on our way to becoming one again with God.
In today's second reading, St. Paul challenges us to be ambassadors of Christ. As ambassadors, we are called to represent Christ and His Church. There is joy in the message of Christ; that is why it is called the Good News. Even the call for penance is Good News because it gives us the chance for purification, to shed that which leads us away from Christ so that we can belong entirely to Him.
So, be cheerful this Lent. Practice your particular Lenten regimen with the joyful hope that you are engaging in something that will help you strengthen your relationship with God. I, for one, already have my wardrobe of purple eyeshadows and liners ready to coordinate with my violet outfits. But, more importantly, I will try my best to interiorly live out my Lenten regimen so that I can actively engage in the Paschal Mystery with unbounded joy.