February 25 & 26, 2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As we begin Lent this Wednesday, our Sunday readings remind us that we are stewards of the mysteries of God, charged to care for them, to live within them, and to welcome others to them. This stewardship begins with us. First we acknowledge that we have experienced the mysteries of God’s love, mercy, compassion, and healing in Christ, and, with grateful hearts, welcome and enter into the richness of these unfathomable mysteries every day. Second, as trustworthy stewards, we invite all to experience the mysteries of God that are our life in Christ who calls us, as his disciples, to make them accessible and desirous for our world.
Lent is our annual retreat of forty days in which we take time to reflect on the mysteries of God, acknowledge our failures in our stewardship of them, and seek to renew our commitment to witness to them in our daily lives. The Lenten disciplines of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are our pathways to this renewal.
Lenten fasting involves much more that dietary restrictions. It is a spiritual exercise in which we review our lives to discover what we prefer or choose over God’s mysteries. Our physical fasting leads us to a review of life so that we can make room for the transforming mysteries of God that make us holy in practical ways. An effective Lenten fast frees us from all that keeps us from living as Christ’s disciples and enables us to witness to Christ. If you find that you are uncomfortable or unable to witness to your faith, fast this Lent so that you can be free of whatever makes you hesitant to step forward in our world as a disciple of the risen Christ alive in the mysteries of God.
Lenten prayer develops our relationship with God. It involves saying prayers and opening our concerns for ourselves and others to God’s providence and care, and it involves listening as God speaks to our hearts through scripture and sacred reading, and, in meditation, to our reflective consciences. When we listen to God we discover how deeply he loves and cherishes us. Our Lenten prayer develops or strengthens a practice of daily prayer in our lives and develops our relationship with God in Christ. In our daily prayer we discover that God accepts and cares for the concerns of our lives and we also learn to accept and care for God’s concerns for us and our world. At its heart prayer is our acceptance of God’s love for us and our expression of our love for God. It is a true human experience of the mystery of God’s love.
Lenten almsgiving involves much more that contributing sacrificial offerings to noble causes like the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal and Operation Rice Bowl. While these are important expressions of our love for others in God’s name, Almsgiving is a practice of self examination in which each of us asks ourselves how generously do I commit myself to the mission of Christ and to the Gospel. Are we as generous in giving ourselves to the mission of Christ as God, who gave his only son to us as a Redeemer? In our Lenten Almsgiving we seek the generosity to commit ourselves to Christ’s mission as his disciples each day. This is a true stewardship of the Mysteries of God.
May God’s Peace be Yours,