Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
It is around this time of year, when the sun starts hanging around a little later in the evening, that, after having spent a winter in the quiet and comfort of our homes, we begin to turn our gaze back to the outside. With thoughts of Spring, you might go out to the garage to find the camping equipment or the mountain bike that has been sitting in storage only to realize what a lot of junk gets accumulated throughout the year. It sometimes gets hard to walk between it let alone find a place to park your car.
It’s for this reason that the annual tradition of Spring Cleaning takes place. We gather our family and take a day out of the weekend and we scrub and shine and sort out all the stuff we don’t need and either set it aside for garbage, recycling or a garage sale. In the Church year we have a very similar season which we celebrate the beginning of today. It is the season of Lent. Lent offers us the opportunity to look inside our hearts and to clean out the junk and the cobwebs that have accumulated there, all those things that keep us from truly appreciating God’s love for us before the great feast of Easter arrives.
Like the family cleaning day, we gather during this season as a faith community and pray for insight into the state of our lives and in gratitude for God’s forgiveness. The reflective nature of Lent is also very well suited to a personal, more individual approach. Through traditional practices such as fasting and abstaining from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, by doing good works and perhaps setting aside something of comfort in order to stir our conscience and allow the Spirit room to be at home in our hearts.
Today, Ash Wednesday, we will receive the external sign of ashes on our foreheads. As we look around the church, we will be reminded by this sign on our neighbor’s foreheads that we are brothers and sisters in a community of faith and that together we share that very special gift of baptism. The journey of this season invites each of us to let that external sign of ashes become a sign on our hearts which will allow our baptismal call to bear abundant fruit.
The season of Lent also helps us to look beyond our own selves and to keep in mind the needs of others. Through the organization of Development and Peace, the social justice arm of the Canadian Catholic Church, we are invited by this year’s campaign, “Share the Journey”, to educate ourselves and be in solidarity with those people around the world who have been forcibly displaced from their homes by conflict, environmental crisis and economic pressure. For 50 years Development and Peace has been educating and raising funds to support social justice projects on behalf of the Church, I encourage you, once again, to support their efforts and contribute to your parish’s collection on Solidarity Sunday, April 17, 2019.
May the peace of this season be yours and may God bless and keep you in his care.