WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR LENT?
For two-thousand years, the 40 days leading up to Easter have been a time of Prayer, Fasting, and almsgiving for those who dare to be called Christian. So, just what are you doing for Lent?
Lent isn’t about forfeiting as much as it’s about formation.
We renounce to be reborn.
We let go to reach out to those who are so much in need.
We break away from our everyday way of life to become aware of all we have blindly walked past.
Lent is not about working our way to salvation. It is about living out our salvation.
We all know the "giving up" mentality that can sometimes preoccupy the real purpose found at the heart of this sacrificing season of Lenten Love. We might focus more on giving up something than recognizing what Pope Francis reminds us: "We are called to walk on the path of conversion. But conversion is not a once and for all done deal. It is a lifelong journey. We must remember that we are a work in progress. We need to keep in mind and heart the challenge put before us on Ash Wednesday: Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
Our diocese and parish is offering many opportunities to experience such a way of faithfulness during Lent (check out our own bulletin www.stfparish.com or www.dioceseofcleveland.com). Particularly this week, Wednesday (12th) from 5:00-8:00 p.m., every parish in the Diocese will be open to welcome people back home through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lent is about deep-down personal conversion. A. Sertillanges writes, “Conversion means a willingness to see the truth of things and conform one’s conduct toward it.” The truth is that we do sin, and sin wounds our relationships with God and one another." In preparing for Lent this year, pray for the grace to recognize what lies at the root of your most frequent sins. Chances are that underneath it all there is a longing for authentic relationships because something real is missing in your life. "Giving up chocolate for forty days will not get to the root of the problem. The work of conversion — out of love, turning away from sin — will ask a change in your life..." So, whether driving home or passing by any Roman Catholic Church this Wednesday, no matter how long it has been or how comfortable you may feel about going to Confession, why not let Jesus share with you a perfect way of knowing His love?
By now most are aware of the strife coming upon the people of the Ukraine. Watching Russian troops move onto Ukraine soil, Rev. Vsevolod Shevchuk (Fr. Sal) of our neighboring parish, Holy Ghost Ukranian Catholic Church, desperately prays with his wife and son for a peaceful resolution between his homeland and its neighbor. “People in Ukraine are afraid basically that Russia is going to invade and take over our country and we will be occupied and that concerns me very much...Some people in Ukraine have been protesting for three months. This is true but not because they don’t like each other, they don’t like the government...we are as one country and no matter where you live, east or west, no matter what religion you are, we all feel strong love for our land and our country...we are just begging the world to protect us in that difficult situation,” he said. All this brings relevance to our Holy Father's words, "In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope.” May we continue to lift them up in prayerful hope, that they may know Christ's healing.
So, what am I doing for Lent? Well, most Lenten sacrifices should be something private between "you" and God, but something that has life giving effects on others. Even though modern forms of communications can be a great way to connect with others, they can be a tremendous distraction and disturbing preoccupation. In an updating of its message of self-denial and moderation for the 21st century, the Church called on the faithful to avoid modern modes of communication on every Friday before Easter. Renouncing texting (and the like) might help people to "detox from the virtual world and get back in touch with themselves and others," said Monsignor Benito Cocchi, the bishop of Modena in northern Italy, who launched the campaign. Giving up texting is not only an act of self-denial, it also carries with it an obligation to find other ways of reaching out to human life. To help me appreciate the presence of real human contact over technological/pseudo-ones, I am going to give up texting throughout Lent (if you do not do this already, you are probably ahead of the game). If you are tied to that smartphone, gaming, or even the internet more than you were five years ago, why not consider joining me in some form of "turning it off" so you can turn a little closer to Christ. If you cannot seem to do it, then why not supplement with Lenten apps, websites, and spiritual writings. Ann Voskamp, a nondenominational Christian writer offers: "Let the things of this world fall away so the soul can fall in love with God. God only comes to fill the empty places and kenosis is necessary – to empty the soul to know the filling of God."
May this Lent lead our parish closer to Christ's Easter Glory.
Pax, Fr. Bline