The Season of Lent – February 2017

I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:15


My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

In the beginning of this month, many of us were all about the Super Bowl-which team we hoped would win and where our allegiance would take us for future Super Bowls.  As Catholic Schools Week was celebrated just before the Super Bowl, there was a lot of chatter about the Super Bowl as I visited different schools throughout the Diocese.  My visits always began with the celebration of Mass.  At one of the schools, my question to the students during my homily was, “what is going to happen on Sunday?”  I expected the reply to be the Super Bowl.  Instead, a faith-filled young lady said, “We are going to Mass.”

I admit that I was so impressed with this reply.  And, for a brief moment, I lost my train of thought, so focused was I on a Super Bowl response!  This is the perspective which God gives us through the prophet, Isaiah:  No matter what is happening in your life, you are my priority.  I will never forget you.  This is exactly what this young student was saying to me.  No matter what is happening in her life, God is her priority.  She would not forget God because there is some other celebration to be had.  She is following God’s law.

A few weeks ago, I spoke with you about the beautiful invitation from God to follow His law.  Like the student I mentioned earlier, she prioritized her intentions as best as possible.  She gave us an example of making a firm purpose to use the day well for the intention of living as best we can in conformity with God’s law. How do we do this?  Anticipate what tasks, transactions and occasions for serving God we may meet today. To what temptations will we be exposed, such as anger, self-centered love, or some other difficulties? Carefully prepare ourselves to avoid, resist, and overcome whatever might hinder us from authentically following God’s law.

The season of Lent begins March 1.  Pope Francis says, “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord.”   During the season of Lent, let us make a holy resolution to grow in the love Jesus exemplified. St. Francis DeSales teaches us that to prepare ourselves to put this resolution into practice, we must ask our Savior to help us make the best use of the means available to us to grow in holy love, and serve Him.

Pope Francis teaches us, “Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in His Word, in the Sacraments and in our neighbor. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take.” As we carry out our responsibilities so that we keep our focus on God, all our activities; working, eating, drinking, sleeping or recreation; are done in the name of God.  To follow the law of the Lord, we need to train ourselves to pray and to receive the Sacraments often.  We should strive to practice humility, gentleness, patience, and simplicity, virtues that blossom at the foot of the Cross.

As Catholic Christians, the Super Bowl is not just a game.  We participate in the Super Bowl of life, always seeking the Kingdom of God; always seeking heaven.  Our young student proclaimed that in her response about what was happening on the Sunday of the Super Bowl, “We are going to Mass.”

May we make God our priority in all things, as God promises us, “I will never forget you.”  In the words of Pope Francis, during this Lenten season, “may the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s Word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.”  May all our efforts to seek first the Kingdom of God yield a winning team for God all the days of our life.