Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Today is the day
by Bishop Thomas Daly
(From the February 18, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)
Many of us have GPS devices in our cars or cell phones which help us get around town. Generally, they are helpful, although there have been problems; people who followed every instruction as to where to turn ended up driving down a pier that was mistaken for a bridge and landed in the water somewhere near Seattle.
The popularity of these devices has grown because many of us have had the experience of getting lost while driving. A wrong turn in one place, followed by another a few miles later, and then a third, leaves us driving in circles, desperately looking for a sign pointing back to the highway that will get us back where we belong.
The same thing happens to us as Christians. We need a sign that will guide us back to authentic discipleship. Lent is that sign.
In Genesis, God, looking for Adam and Eve, asks, “Where are you?” During Lent, the Lord is asking us the same question. Where am I in my relationship with Jesus and his Church? Lent is a special season of grace in the life of the Church, the time to ask questions and find honest answers.
The Scripture passages for the Ash Wednesday Mass are appropriate to begin our Lenten prayer. In the first reading, the prophet Joel calls people to community penance, a reminder to us that this is not a season just for private reflection, but also a graced-filled opportunity for our families, schools, and towns to grow in holiness.
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that they, like us, like to put off the difficult work of reconciliation until tomorrow – and then the tomorrow after that – much like dreaded chores or homework. But what if tomorrow never comes? Today is the day to hear the hard questions and start to give the honest answers.
Finally, the Gospel from St. Matthew points out three ancient paths we use in Lent.
There is fasting, when we give up certain foods. This helps us realize how trapped we are in self-gratification. Fasting is difficult to start, but as it becomes easier, we realize and appreciate the difference between what we want and what we need.
Almsgiving reminds us that we have a responsibility to others.
The third path is that of deeper prayer.
It might be simpler to remember the importance of the season of Lent with just one word: ASH.
A is for “almsgiving.” We have compassion for the less fortunate and respond to their needs with generosity and charity. S is for “sacrifice,” the foundation for our fasting. We deprive ourselves of human pleasure and comfort to remind ourselves that our happiness is ultimately found in God alone. And we give and share our blessings to be in solidarity with the poor. H is “holiness” that is nurtured by prayer, especially the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Confession. Remember that Pope Francis has declared this year to be an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. And to be holy is to be in communion with Jesus and to make him the center of our lives.
As we enter into this Lenten season, let us pray for Christians throughout the world, especially the Catholic people of Eastern Washington, that together we may experience a renewal, a springtime in our relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
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