A beautiful characteristic of our Church is its seasons. They are like the movements of a great symphony, gracefully flowing from one to the other, bringing the emotion and meaning of the music to the listener. For the Church, the flow of its seasons is similar. From the joy of the Lord’s Nativity at the Christmas season to the hope of eternal life at Easter time, the Church’s seasons help bring the presence of the Holy Trinity to life in ways that keep the flame of faith burning within our hearts.
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent, a season of prayer and repentance, a time to for us to seek a conversion of heart leading us to turn away from sin and remain faithful to the Gospel. It is also a time of preparation for the celebration of the paschal mystery -- of Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection and ascension.
In order to prepare for Lent, the Lord calls us to enter into the three spiritual exercises of increased prayer, greater fasting and more generous almsgiving that are directed toward growing our relationships, especially our relationship with him. This Lent, we pray in a very special way for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, for the repose of the souls of those who have died and for their families, for healing and recovery for those sickened by the virus, for the medical community that it receives the strength needed to persevere and for the success of the vaccine programs. We pray that our social distancing and mask wearing will not be necessary for much longer. But we continue to practice charity toward our neighbors by acting in safe ways during this pandemic.
To help with our prayer, I have prepared a daily Lenten reflection calendar that I hope will provide meaningful insight and focus for reflection as we journey together through the season. You will find my daily reflection series on the diocesan website and my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
This year, as we journey through the season of Lent to the three days that unfold for us the unity of Christ’s paschal mystery, let us be faithful to the Gospel and give serious attention to how we might encounter others as Jesus did with a deeper compassion and self-sacrificing love for one another. Let us remember the words of St. John Chrysostom who once said, “No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” And at the end of this Lent, may we be ready to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. After all, despite our sinfulness, Jesus came back to us — and wants to walk with us always.
May God bless you and those you love.