Lent Approaches

Dear beloved in Christ,

We are about to enter together another season of Lent—praise God. I have always loved this special season of grace and conversion, mainly because I know I need it, but also for the blessings it brings. I’m sure you have found the same to be true. As we open our heart to greater intimacy through prayer, deeper purification through self-denial and progress in love through works of charity, we feel better, we live better and we experience the joy and peace of soul that always increase as we become more like Jesus.

Even though we may struggle as we take up this way of penance, especially the “sacrifice” and “self-denial” part, we know that if we generously take up this cross with Jesus, He will share with us the fruits of His resurrection. I would love, for example, to rise to a greater humility of heart, where I can forget myself more and more, and be only about God and His wonderful will. I desire and pray for this humility, because I find myself so weak when it comes to living the life Jesus teaches us in the Gospel. Humility will help me lean more upon the Lord and His strength, allowing me to do the wiser and more loving things I previously thought impossible.

Without at first realizing it, the desire for a more humble heart will mean asking for the grace to grow in prayer, for prayer is the first and most important exercise of humility. Prayer is the cry of a child that knows it will be heard, that knows it is loved. May we all yearn for that child-likeness that is completely comfortable with dependence and unwavering in trustful surrender to God. How much different all our lives will be when we are humble like Jesus.    

We are so wonderfully made by the Lord and even more wonderfully redeemed—we are the masterpiece of God’s creation and the cherished object of salvation. This is why Lent is also a season of Hope, as we yield our unfinished selves to the Potter’s able hands. This heavenly Potter likes to use many different instruments to form the cherished vessels that we are. Sacraments, relationships, situations and circumstances—all the daily stuff of life can serve to give our life that Christ-like shape that will be uniquely ours for all eternity. All the vessels God makes will be noble and beautiful, but not in the same way.

The Stations of the Cross that we relive each Lent will be a powerful reminder of how much we have been loved by Jesus our Savior, the One who has wept over us, was scourged and wounded for us, crucified and died for us. In Lent we pray to allow this tremendous, redeeming love to have it’s way, to unleash its power to transform us. The various practices we take up during this sacred time are then simply our willing response to the One who has loved us first.

Be assured of my special prayers for you and your families this Lent, and I thank you in advance for all your prayers for me. May our Lady, the Mother of God, keep us all close to her son Jesus, our living Hope.

God love you,

Fr. Steven

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