“I truly enjoy this holy season of increased fasting prayer and almsgiving,” Bishop Edward Malesic told the congregation at the noon Mass on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. “It’s like a retreat.”
He described Lent as an opportunity to “wash in the shower of God’s love as we draw closer to him in prayer and service. Our human limitations, mortality and sins are symbolized by the ashes placed on our heads today. But notice how quickly the ashes fade and eventually disappear. Our mortality faders into eternity and our sins disappear in God’s mercy,” he said.
“Yes, I like Lent, It is a time of renewal and growth, comfort and grace,” the bishop said.
He advised the congregation to make good use of the time during the season of Lent. Using the analogy of cleansing ourselves, the bishop noted that when we bathe or shower, we use soap and water to wash away the dirt. Lent requires us to place ourselves into the presence of God’s love to wash away our sins.
Reflecting on the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting and almsgiving – the bishop reminded the faithful that “Prayer should come from inside, it should start in the heart.” He said we should pray “not to be seen by others, but by God. Pray and you will be rewarded.”
As for fasting, he said we should “hunger for God. He fills us with his life.” Fasting and feeling hunger pangs “should remind us of our hunger for the Bread of Life,” Bishop Malesic said.
Regarding almsgiving, he said we should think about Cain’s question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer is “yes,” the bishop said. “We are obliged to take care of those in need as God cared for us, Be generous with others and God will be generous with us. Spend the days of Lent well and soar in spiritual intensity.”
He told the congregation to redirect themselves to the things of God and their Christian faith so that by the end of Lent, they might be “made clean again, like stepping out of the shower, ready to pick up our cross, carry it forward and follow Jesus.”
During the Mass, the bishop blessed ashes that were placed on the foreheads of the faithful.
He reminded the congregation to “Have a great Lent. In fact, enjoy it.”
Click here for a page filled with Lenten resources, including links to the bishop’s Sunday and daily Lenten reflections, a listing of fish fries throughout the diocese and information on the March 8 Evening of Confession.