What is your plan for Lent?

02-16-2020Pastor's CornerRev. Robert J. Deehan, V.F.

We will be celebrating the season of Lent in just a week and a half, beginning with Ash Wednesday, February 26. Have you thought much about what you plan to do for Lent? Traditionally, we reflect on what Jesus came to do for us. By suffering and dying on the Cross, Jesus has taken upon himself our sins and the sins of the world, which expresses God's great mercy and forgiveness. In Lent, we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises at Easter by coming to terms with the ways we have not always renounced evil and sin, and have not put God at the center of our lives. We haven't always nurtured the gift of our Baptism. Consequently, in Lent, we take on some spiritual disciplines like prayer, fasting and almsgiving, in order to root out sinful habits and renew God's divine life (grace) within us, which was first given at Baptism. We make more of an effort to participate at Mass each week – or even, every day. We plan a regimen to pray daily. We look for ways to reach out to those in need whom God has placed on our path.

Bishop Robert Barron writes about the meaning of Baptism quoting the great theologian, Gregory of Nazianzen: " 'Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . . It is called 'gift' because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; 'grace' since it is given even to the guilty.' Jesus said, 'It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.' Baptism is the sacramental ratification of that choice. And this is why we speak of Baptism as justifying us and washing away our sin. We are—all of us—born into a deeply dysfunctional world, a world conditioned by millennia of selfishness, cruelty, injustice, stupidity, and fear. This has created a poisonous atmosphere that conditions all of our thoughts and motives and actions. Do you see why the stress on grace is so important?

Baptism is the moment when the Holy Spirit draws us out of this fallen world and into a new world, the very life of the Trinity. That's why Baptism involves being born again, lifted up, enlightened, transformed, saved— and why the Church speaks of the baptized as a 'new creature.'" (Daily Gospel Reflection – Jan. 12, 2020 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.) How will you allow the Baptismal grace you first received long ago be rekindled this Lent so that you can renew your Baptismal promises at Easter with conviction? Start by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) followed by frequent reception of Holy Communion. Strengthened by the powerful graces offered in these Sacraments and your Lenten spiritual disciplines, you will reflect more perfectly the image of Christ into whom you were baptized… as a 'new creature.'" At Easter, don't be surprised if someone stops and says to you, "There's something different about you!"