Dear Sisters and Brothers –
Hard though it is to believe, Lent awaits us. On Wednesday, we will enter into that season that invites us to remember our baptisms and to grow in awareness of the ways we need to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
I believe a few things about Lent. First is that it is not arbitrarily forty days. Noah and his family were inside the ark for forty days and forty nights, and that experience changed them. Moses led the people from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land, and they wandered the desert for forty years; that journey changed them. Jesus was led by the Spirit, after his baptism, into the desert where he fasted for forty days and was then tested. Jesus’ journey changed him. Our Lenten journey will last forty days and is intended to change us.
Second is that the Church has given us three time-honored practices to use during Lent. Those practices are praying, fasting, and almsgiving. When we give up our own need to control and direct, when we let the Spirit work freely in us through these practices, those practices and that Spirit will change us in important and life-giving ways.
Third is that these Lenten practices (i.e. praying, fasting, and almsgiving) are simply time-honored ways to deepen awareness in us. That awareness touches on the three temptations that Christ experienced in the desert: we become aware of what not only feeds us, but genuinely satisfies us; we become aware that we are worth so much more than what we do; and we become aware that God doesn’t put us to the test and we don’t need to put God to the test either. Together, these insights make for the living of a truly human life.
Fourth is that this awareness, cultivated through our Lenten practices, will foster two important virtues in us — gratitude and hope. If entered into with generosity and expectation that the Spirit will act in us, our Lenten practice will make us more aware of all God’s blessings in our life, and hence more grateful. And our praying, fasting, and almsgiving will allow us to experience Easter hope and enter more deeply into that Easter mystery of the seed that falls into the ground (dies) and yields new life.
To help you in your Lenten journey, we will again provide you the Little Black Book, with its short reflections, to help your daily prayer. On page 4 of this bulletin, you will find links to three Jesuit-sponsored websites that offer daily reflections. And for your fasting and almsgiving, we will have annual Rice Bowls, in which you can collect the money you would normally spend on your daily coffee for donation to Catholic Relief Services.
Let us ask God for the grace to be generous this Lent, so that God may be even more generous to us.
On another note, I want to acknowledge the hard work and great success of the Pasta & Bingo committee last week. About 150 parishioners and guests gathered for delicious homemade lasagna, fun companionship, and great prizes. Please say a prayer of gratitude for them and for those who donated the many prizes. It’s always a gift to come together and play, and I’m so grateful to those who made this outstanding event possible.
Oremus pro invicem.