Thus Lent begins. God desires conversion of heart; our Lenten practices are directed to that goal or end. At the same time, the three penances commended by Jesus are done for others who have less than we have ourselves; at any angle, penance has some communal character connected with it, cf. the prophet Joel. We live in a culture that privatizes religion. God is a separate if not remote part of our lives; God is spiritual and therefore not tangible, immanent, or incarnate. Lent is our drawing close to God, to suffering, and to transformation.