March 2019 Four County Catholic
“My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Our 40-day journey of self-reflection and sacrifice that is Lent is already well underway. It is a journey that brings us closer to Christ and will leave us changed by our encounter with Him.
In my Lenten message this year I spoke of how prayer, fasting, and almsgiving were so common to the people of Jesus’ time that He doesn’t say “if” but rather “when” –– When you give alms; When you pray; When you fast. There seems to be no doubt that we, as disciples of Christ, will engage in these practices, helping us to prepare inwardly for the great feast of our redemption –– Easter.
Our digitally connected, fast-moving world may seem to be in stark contrast with the lives of the disciples in Jesus’ day. Let us see how we might take these traditional preparation practices and apply them, in a meaningful way, to our 21st century lives.
As you may know, my motto as your Bishop is “Above All Charity”, derived from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians “Above all things, charity binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:14)
Perfect harmony. Can you think of a better way to spend your Lenten preparation?
A practical way to accomplish this might be to “fast” from engaging in negative discussions, especially on social media. As recent news events have shown us, the rush to judgment and blame can be misplaced. As was the case when the lens “widened out” on the Covington high school students at this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. Given a little time and some perspective, the world was able to see the broader, “truthful” picture. And isn’t that sometimes the case in our own lives?
The need for civility in the world is a direct reflection of the lack of civility and respect that we give to one another. I encourage you to fast from being quick to point out other people’s shortcomings.
As we experience this fasting, whether from food or a specific action, we are renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. Charity springs from deep within our Christian hearts. Saint Paul spoke of those who abide in charity as not being self-centered. True love is about willing the good of the other. It is about reaching out to those around us, recognizing their inherent dignity and helping them as a way of sharing the experience of God’s unconditional love. A smile, a kind word and a heartfelt gesture can convey this love.
Sharing our good fortune with others assists us in getting outside of ourselves and our wants and helps us to focus on the needs of others. The many ministries that you support through your contributions to the Annual Catholic Appeal, help thousands of people across our diocese. We truly are grateful that that you are able to be “Hand in Hand with All God’s Children”.
The remaining spiritual discipline of Lenten preparation is prayer. Prayer is the lifting of mind and heart to God. It keeps us connected to God. We have heard that we should pray unceasingly. Talk with God the same way you would a friend. Share the ups and downs of your life, letting Him know that you are grateful, scared, happy, overwhelmed or overjoyed. He wants you to share it all.
I pray that your time of preparation helps you renew your commitment to continue on your journey toward the day of salvation. May this Lenten season afford each of us the opportunity to encounter the Lord in one another.
Sincerely yours in Christ’s love,
Bishop of Norwich