Pastoral Message – March 6, 2022
Happy Lenten season! Blessings and peace be with you. May our loving God continue to bless and guide us during this special penitential time of reflection and renewal.
We began our Lenten Season on Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes to remind us to: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). Receiving ashes signifies repentance as the prophets proclaimed in the scriptures: “I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes” (Daniel 9:3). “O daughter of my people, dress in sackcloth, roll in the ashes…” (Jeremiah 6:26). Therefore, receiving ashes reminds us to acknowledge our sins and return to God. Traditionally, blessing of the ashes are taken from the burning of palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations. The season of Lent consists of 40 days, not counting Sundays. The number 40 represents Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert praying and fasting before he began His public ministry (Matthew 4:2). Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday.
In Luke’s Gospel today, the devil tempts Jesus to use his power to appease his hunger, he offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him, and he tempts Jesus to put God’s promise of protection to the test. In each case, Jesus resists, citing words from Scripture to rebuke the devil’s temptation. As we look at our Christian life, we are being tempted every day such as temptations to power, temptations to fame, temptation to violence, temptations to alcohol, temptations to sexual pleasure, etc. We have failed confronting these temptations many times because we have not lived and cited the Word of God in our life. Therefore, Jesus teaches and shows us today, if we bond on His Living Word, we will stand firm.
As we begin our Lenten season, let us be mindful that our Lenten practices are meant to strengthen us in holiness, to draw us close to God, to give us the grace and virtues that we need to resist temptations in our life. Lent is the time to reflect on who we are, what we are doing, and what kinds of temptations we get trapped in. How does it affect ourselves, our family, and our society?
This Lent focus on the MORE, the more penances we can do, and the more services we can do. Let focus on the BETTER, the better things we can do NOW: better prayers, better devotions to God, better communication with your family members and friends. And as we recognize our mistakes, we should come to God and ask him for forgiveness. Surely, God will have his arms wide open to embrace and welcome us home.
On a final and practical note, here are some things that one can practice during the Lenten season:
- Make a commitment to read the Sunday scriptures before Sunday Mass.
- Make a conscious effort to pray with your family, if you are not already doing so.
- Teach your children to say grace before meals and say a prayer before bedtime.
- Organize and/or clean your home more thoroughly than normal: it can be a good spiritual exercise by going to confession.
- Try to avoid texting, using your phone or IPad when in conversation or in the company of others.
- Give to a charitable organization, financially or by donating items you don’t use anymore.
- Practice kindness by saying kind or encouraging words to family members, friends, and colleagues.
- Avoid gossiping and say only good things that people really need to hear: things that help build up and not tear down.
- Use no foul language, but only language such as is good for needed edification, that you may impart grace to those who hear.
- Maybe try a new devotion or spiritual practice: The Rosary; The Divine Mercy Chaplet; Lectio Divina etc.
Yep, we can do these things this Lenten season, and in doing them, we can live our Christian life more spiritually each day. Have a blessed Lent!
Blessings and peace!