Just this past week we were blessed by the presence Fr. Emmerich Vogt who led our Parish Mission. He invited us to be more loving. He called on us to grow morally and spiritually through the healing power of the Eucharist, so we could more effectively counter the temptation of sin. He challenged us not to excuse or rationalize our shortcomings and failures, or accept our sinful habits. He also challenged us to draw upon the wisdom of Sacred Scripture and the lives of our saints and to make spiritual progress in our willingness to answer more effectively the call to discipleship.
As disciples, the Lord invites us to embrace the disciplines of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. He invites us to reach out to the poor, the sick, the elderly, and lonely in our community, and to forgive our enemies, friends, neighbors, and even family members who may have harmed us. In these and many other ways, we are challenged to follow His ways, not the ways of the world. Through these actions, we may allow Our Lord to effect a lasting transformation in our hearts and minds, and help us to provide a good example for others.
This past week we also sponsored a Lenten Penance Service. We had many visiting priests who helped make the Sacrament of Reconciliation more accessible to us. It was heartening to see so many of our parishioners avail themselves of this wonderful sacrament of spiritual healing, and of the Lord’s pardon, mercy, and forgiveness.
In addition to availing themselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as part of their Lenten experience, some of our parishioners also attend daily Mass or pray the rosary as a family each day. Many parishioners each Friday during Lent commemorate the Passion of Jesus through the “Stations of the Cross” and then join together for a communal meal. Many are participating in small groups as part of our “Living the Eucharist” program. Some also participate in a spiritual retreat or a day of recollection. Such spiritual activities help us as disciples to clearly witness our faith and assist us in our spiritual journey. They help us to more fully appreciate what Jesus has done for us. They also help us enter more fully into the Lenten spirit of sacrifice, renewal, and repentance.
The Lord in His mercy gives us the grace and time to seek renewal and conversion. He gives us the great Sacrament of Reconciliation and He gives us this season of Lent as a time of spiritual cleansing, as a time to awake from our spiritual darkness. As disciples, we are challenged to use this time wisely as we strive to respond in generous love to the call of God’s Divine Son.