Augustine is a treasure trove of insights, into the nature of our faith as well as into human nature. But, one of his most significant contributions to Catholic theology was his insight that evil is an absence. This was how he resolved the age old question of how an all-powerful and benevolent God could permit evil. But, Augustine’s insight also tells us something about Lent. This is why we deprive ourselves of things.
For me, the greatest deprivation of Lent is the absence of the “Alleluia” at Mass. That one word is, in its way, the central proclamation of our faith. It encapsulates the central proposition of Easter, bearing witness to the empty tomb, without which our faith is truly in vain. Its absence from our culture would leave us without so many great hymns, without Mozart’s great “Exsultate,” without Tavener’s “In Paradisum.” Its absence from the liturgy leaves a gaping hole.