Our Lenten Journey

corss12I have been sharing with you parts of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2015.  In this posting, I share with you his thinking on the third scripture passage which he proposes for our reflection. 

“Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians 

As individuals too, we can be tempted by indifference.  Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help.  What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness? 

First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven.  Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer.  The “24 hours for the Lord’s initiative” which I hope will be observed on March 13th – 14th throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer. 

Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations.  Lent is a favorable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family. 

Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters.  If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us.  We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves. 

As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est. 31).  A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart.  Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God.  A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that leads to our brothers and sisters; and, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives freely for others.

During this Lenten Season, may we receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.

May your Lenten Journey be a source of God’s graces as you continue to travel to the joys of Easter.