The meaning of this title is very important. Lent is not just a journey to show us a different color for the priest’s vestments, in this case purple. Instead, this season is symbolic and offers us ever deeper meaning. For example: We are beautiful creations of God. This statement is true. And God is very merciful. This is also true, so true in fact, that Pope Francis declared 2016 to be a year of Mercy. Adding on, we see where Christ says that we should love others as ourselves. It is a very good self-examination for us to ask ourselves if we believe this teaching of the Lord. Do we love ourselves? Can we forgive ourselves? This type of question that we can ask ourselves can in turn influence how we love and forgive others. There is an old saying, “Hurt people hurt people. ”Yep! If I’m hurt and I cannot let it go; if I can’t forgive myself in other words, I end up in a position where I can easily hurt someone else. Now, if I can forgive myself, and in this way show love for myself, then I am in a better position to be loving to other people.
This pastor page reflection at this point has a “feel good” message to it. But it’s not complete. Let’s go deeper. Pope Francis is typically criticized for always, and maybe only, talking about Mercy. Some people say that he is watering down the faith. But is this statement really accurate? Yes, on one hand he does speak of Mercy a great deal. On the other hand, he excommunicated the Mafia, disciplined a Bishop in Germany, and has chastised much of the governmental structure of the Vatican. Does this sound like someone who cannot balance Mercy with Justice? It does not sound that way to me. Rather, it sounds like Pope Francis can balance Mercy and Justice quite well.
So what does this discussion have to do with us? Well, we should follow suit for one thing. We need to see ourselves in the most loving light. We must realize that God IS a God of Mercy, and that His Mercy is always extended toward us. And we need to accept His Mercy and receive it. He already has been merciful to us! After all, He gave us the Church and its commandments. He gave us the sacrament of confession, where His Mercy can really be experienced. However, in realizing this fact and accepting it, we will have to accept the reality that we sin, and that expressing sorrow for our sins is the primary way we can be open to His Mercy.
And that brings us to Lent. This is the primary season where we are called to recognize our sinfulness and to ask God for His forgiveness. To help us in this part of our spiritual journey, many resources are made available to us so that we leave the season of Lent with a deepened awareness of God and with a desire to draw closer to Him. So, we offer you a Lenten Mission Speaker in March. We already have organizations in the parish designed to deepen your spiritual life, like WELCOME, (formerly Christ Renews His Parish) which there are retreat weekends coming up! All ministry naturally blossoms out of real and true spiritual life. And the Ultimate aim of WELCOME, after a process of spiritual renewal with the help and support of other parishioners, ends with some freely chosen parish ministry. Sharing your own spiritual experiences, in turn, deepens your own spiritual life even more. Please do take advantage with all that our parish offers!
Peace, Fr. Walt