by Parish Staff
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
If the number of people who were present for the Masses on Ash Wednesday was any indication, I would say that a lot of people have come to the realization that they are sinners and are in need of repentance; and that their presence on Ash Wednesday was a conscious act by which they were committing themselves to use the season of Lent as a time of growing their personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. I can dream, can’t I?
For in reality, the ashes placed on your foreheads on Ash Wednesday were only a reminder that we are to repent and believe in the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. These forty days of Lent can be thought of as a forty day retreat during which time we do some deep inner reflection on how we are living the life that was given to us on the day of our Baptism. It is a time to take an honest look at ourselves as to what keeps the light of Christ from shining through us, to admit the dark areas of our lives – our sinfulness, and then to begin the process of dying to self so as to empty ourselves so that the Lord Jesus can once again fill us with his love and grace. Lent should be a positive time for us.
Allow me to make a few suggestions to help you on your Lenten journey. If we look at Lent as a forty-day retreat, it makes sense that we spend more time with the Lord himself in prayer. What are you doing on Mondays that keeps you from spending time with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament? Time with Jesus in front of the Blessed Sacrament is real face time with Jesus. When we come together as a faith community of Monday evening from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. to praise our Lord present in the Eucharist, we are indeed a unified community offering to our God the honor and praise that we owe Him. Or, as St. Paul would remind us, we are the Body of Christ uniting ourselves to the Head so that he can bless us with His love. Remember that we have an inner need to praise our Lord both as individuals and as a community. It is a time to join our brothers and sisters in lifting up our minds and voices to the One who created us.
Community prayer is not a time for private devotions. If we are serious about our personal faith journey, we should spend some quiet time with our Lord each day. Find some corner in your home or in the yard or in the park or on the beach to be alone with Jesus. How about picking up your bible each day and allowing the Lord to speak to you in His Word. Purchase the “The Word Among Us For Lent” or the “Magnificat” to be your guide each day as you reflect on the Word of God. (You can find a copy in the Agape Store.) Meditate on the Stations of the Cross every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and pray the rosary afterwards with the Guadalupanas.
How making the extra sacrifice of getting out of bed a little earlier than you usually do and participate in daily Mass during Lent? There is a 6:30 a.m. Mass Monday thru Friday and a 7:30 a.m. Monday thru Thursday and a 8:00 a.m. Mass with the school children on Friday. This year you will also have the opportunity to participate in a 12 noon Mass on the Wednesdays of Lent. Beginning this Thursday at 6:00 p.m. in Works of Mercy Deacon Freddie is offering a five week class on the passion of Jesus.
Since the love of the Lord Jesus only has real value when we give it away, check and see how you can reach out to more people and share the Light of Christ with them. Reach out to the homeless by giving some of your time at the Mother Teresa Shelter or to our own Works of Mercy. You can buy a Whataburger or something from McDonald’s and give it to a homeless person on the street. Look in your closet and give some of your clothes to the poor. It is truly in giving that we are filled.
If you are going to give up something for Lent, remember that the money you save should not be spent on yourself but rather it should be given to the poor or to the church. It is good to deny ourselves. It makes us appreciate what God has given to us. As you reflect on your lives, you may discover that there is one or two people that you need to reach out to in a special way and forgive them. You may also find that there is someone in your family or among your friends that you have not spoken with in a long time. Give them some of your time. Our Lenten retreat is a time for us to empty the self of self so that we can be filled with the love of the Lord Jesus.
These are a few suggestions that may help you make a good Lenten retreat. One thing that you must do is to make your Easter Duty – go to confession if you have serious sin on your soul and receive Holy Communion before Trinity Sunday. Lent is a time for us to truly feel the embrace of the Lord Jesus and become one with Him.
Don’t forget that the real meaning of repentance is to make a turn-about with your life. Repentance is more than telling God you are sorry for your sins. It is a change in your life to be more faithful to the Lord. Keeps the words that were pronounced over you as the ashes were placed on your forehead Ash Wednesday – “Turn from sin and believe in the Good News!”
In all you do, do it with a smile on your face!
I love you,