February 27, 2015

Editorial

Making the most of Lent as you prepare for the gift of Easter

We’re only a little over a week into Lent, and for many of us, our internal calendar is already squarely pointed toward Easter.

We cannot dismiss the fact that on April 5 we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the chief feast of all Christian traditions.

But our faith also teaches us the six weeks leading up to that great feast are a time for us as Catholics to make sure the three pillars of Lent—prayer, fasting and almsgiving—allow us spiritual growth as they help us prepare for Easter.

Is there time on the way to or from work where you can make a few minutes to pray the rosary or another form of prayer or prayers?

Can we fast not only from a favorite food or drink, but also from the gossip of talking about others at our workplaces, neighborhoods, and yes, even in our parish communities, at times?

May we make sure the hungry, homeless and those most in need are the focus of our Lenten almsgiving, and can we give to them and others freely, without expecting anything in return?

In his Lenten message to the faithful, Pope Francis said Christians should become islands of mercy in the sea of the world’s indifference.

That mercy could mean making sure the sacrament of reconciliation is included in our Lenten practices, or encouraging others—including those who haven’t visited a confessional in some time—to seek God’s healing mercy through this sacrament.

“The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life,” Pope Francis said. “The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep.”

Consoling broken hearts. Offering hope to those in darkness. Seeking lost sheep. The sacrament of reconciliation is available to Catholics in any state of life, and through the grace of going to confession, we each are forgiven through God’s abundant mercy and love.

Whether you’ve already got a plan in place or are still tweaking how your life of faith will be nurtured in the coming weeks, why not make sure taking part in the sacrament of reconciliation is a part of your Lent?

Parishes throughout central and southern Indiana have schedules where confession is regularly offered. See our list of penance services on page 15. This year, archdiocesan parishes are also again participating in “The Light is on For You,” a confession initiative on March 4 and March 18 where the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered in each parish or parish cluster.

Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, hopes that the success of “The Light is on for You” in 2014 is a sign that more Catholics are returning to the sacrament of penance.

“I hope that people are hearing this as an invitation to utilize again a dramatically underutilized sacrament in the Church,” Father Beidelman said. “My prayer is that it’s the beginning of a trend, so that people have access to this great artery of God’s mercy in their lives.”

May we, who make up the body of Christ, avail ourselves of this opportunity of grace and forgiveness.

—Mike Krokos

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