As we begin the holy season of Lent this year, we recall that we are in the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. In his Lenten message the Holy Father brings together the virtue of Faith and the virtue of Charity. He notes that Lent gives us an opportunity “to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God, the God of Jesus Christ, and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.”
The season of Lent gives us forty days to reflect on our relationship with God. We do this through our prayer and fasting. In our prayer, whether at Mass or in private prayer, we converse with the Lord and share our needs and hopes. We give God praise and thanks for the graces we have received, and we petition God in prayer to assist us on our faith journey on earth, until we meet together in the kingdom He has prepared for us. Lent is a time for more fervent prayer on the part of all of us. Our fasting or suffering is a sign too that we share in the cross of Jesus in order to share in His victory. The deepening of our faith and prayer, leads us to action and especially to acts of charity.
Pope Benedict XVI notes: “Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it; charity is ‘walking’ in the truth. Through faith we enter into a friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated. Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master, charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice. In faith we are begotten as children of God; charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine sonship, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Faith enables us to recognize the gifts that God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful.”
As the Holy Father notes, during this season of Lent we not only deepen our faith life and relationship to God, but also it prompts us to act in charity and generosity to our neighbour, whomever that might be. In our church during Lent we direct our special efforts towards our neighbour in developing countries of our world. We support the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, which extends this outreach of charity for us throughout the world in countries needing our help.
Also during Lent, and during this special Year of Faith, we reflect on the sacraments that are so important for us. We recall our Baptism when we were given the gift of Faith, and united to Christ and to one another in the community of the Church. We share in the Holy Eucharist more frequently during Lent, knowing that this sacrament nourishes us for our Christian journey and transforms us in holiness, to act in the name of Jesus in our charity towards others.
As we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection - in which the love of God redeemed the world, may the light of Jesus shine upon us, may we deepen our understanding of our faith in Him and in His Church and its teachings. May our prayer life prompt us to action in ways of charity and love towards our families, our neighbours and our community. May this holy season be a time for us to enter with Jesus into the dynamic love for God our Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives.
Bishop Fred J. Colli
Bishop of Thunder Bay