Take a Lenten Journey
This year, Lent begins later than last year yet beckons us just as earnestly to listen and respond to God’s Word through prayer, fasting and works of charity. Each week the Sunday Readings highlight the abundant love and mercy God continually showers on humanity. The season is an invitation to set aside time to dwell in the steadfast presence of God and to recall the events and people that witness to God’s faithfulness, particularly the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As part of the Liturgical Year, this season anchors us in faith, strengthens us in hope and sustains us in lives of charity.
The Sunday Readings and Bishop Libasci’s Pastoral Letter, “A Call to Hope, A Call to Act” (January 16, 2019) will frame our Lenten Reflections this year. Each week a portion of the pastoral letter, coupled with one of the Sunday Readings, will serve as the basis for further reflection, daily prayer and acts of charity. Opening ourselves to the merciful love of God the Father, to the hope that is Christ and to the presence of the Holy Spirit will empower us to witness more clearly and consistently to our Catholic faith and to be a sure sign of hope to our world.
Ash Wedneday: March 6, 2019
Joel 2: 12-18
The prophet Joel challenges us to “rend your hearts…and return to the Lord, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.” Issued to the entire community, it is a corporate summons to repent: “Blow the trumpet in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the people, notify the congregation…” All this is to happen with the whole community acknowledging that God is gracious and merciful.
“A Call to Hope, A Call to Act” is also a corporate summons. As with all pastoral letters, Bishop Libasci message is for everyone in the diocese: priests, deacons, religious brothers and sisters, and lay people of all ages. The letter addresses the various aspects of his initiative, Restore, Renew, Proclaim the Hope that is Christ and specifies particular actions and attitudes necessary for it to bear good fruit.
The Lenten journey to Easter can only happen by choosing to step into the season. Stepping into the disciplines of Lent each day is walking a sure path with the all the saints who have gone before us. The corporate summons to repent from the prophet Joel and to hope and act from Bishop Libasci include a corporate journey that promises to restore and renew us in proclaiming the hope that is Christ.
In her book, The Hope of Lent, Diane M. Houdek points out that we might have a tendency to see that the hope of Lent has to do with our hope of getting through it. In contrast to this she says, “The greatest hope of Lent is the discovery that it’s not only about penance, deprivation, spiritual struggles, and rooting out sin in our lives. Those are often the things we do during Lent. But the hope of Lent lies in what God does.”
What hopes do you have for Lent this year?
What changes do you want to see in your life, in the world?
How will you look for what God is doing in you this Lent?
Recall an occasion when you experienced God’s love and mercy. Reflect on how this experience is an assurance of God’s fidelity and His desire to lavish forgiveness on you when you seek it.
Include an Act of Contrition or the Our Father in your daily prayer.
Ask in prayer for the grace to extend forgiveness to someone who hurt you.
Consider one way or a series of ways you and/or your family can witness to hope. Consider doing one or two of the following actions this week:
Pointing out the good/positive qualities/aspects of people and situations
Not complaining about other people or things
Advocating for a social justice issue
Take a Lenten Journey
Follow us each week for further prayerful reflection.