February 19, 2021


Use Lent as a time of conversion, to draw closer to the Lord

We have begun the season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in our Church.

And like the end of the Lenten season in 2020, we continue facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the celebration of Mass is available at parishes throughout central and southern Indiana, social distancing is still the norm. Keeping 6 feet apart and wearing masks is part of our new normal throughout society—even while attending church.

Many parishes have every other pew marked off to ensure social distancing, choirs are absent from the celebration, and a sign of peace is currently not a part of the liturgy as well.

But we still have the greatest gift of our faith—the reception of the Eucharist—available to those of us who are able in person to take part in the holy Mass. And one prayer for this liturgical season should be that one day soon—God willing—we are able to all come together again as a community of faith without restrictions because of the effects of the coronavirus.

This Lenten season will obviously be different than others, but that should not prevent us from using the next six-plus weeks to grow in our lives of faith.

One thing we believe is well worth the effort during Lent—and any other time of the year for that matter—is fine-tuning our witness as missionary disciples.

Many of us have already had seeds planted of how to make the most of this liturgical season—from increasing our prayer life to attending Mass more often.

We can also take part in weekly Stations of the Cross at area parishes or listen to them at www.archindy.org/Lent2021, or do more spiritual reading.

Volunteering to help the least of our brothers and sisters may be more challenging because of the pandemic, but it’s worth checking your parish bulletin, or visiting websites for food pantries and other organizations to see if they need a helping hand.

Like the leper in the Gospel of St. Mark from last Sunday’s liturgy, we can be made “clean” of our transgressions in life and be witnesses of faith, hope and love if we ask God to help cure us of the illnesses we battle not only this Lent, but day in and day out—be they spiritual, physical or emotional.

There are influences in society that will try to weaken our moral compass, and we must remember Lent is an opportune time to fast from those influences that lead us into darkness.

Is fasting from social media platforms that seem to use their posts and messages to constantly criticize others possible? Can getting caught up in gossip at work or with friends cease? Are we willing to fast from the harsh opinions we have of those who think differently than we do?

Considering the state of our country and world these days, we realize doing this will by no means be easy. Anger and vitriol are the messages that are prevalent in Washington these days, but we must not let the words and actions of others result in us becoming bitter.

We must remember, we are all imperfect human beings, albeit made in the image and likeness of God, and our faith offers the sacrament of reconciliation, which Pope Francis said should be part of Lent.

The Holy Father’s Lenten message, released on Feb. 12, said Lent is “a time for renewing faith, hope and love” through the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And by going to confession.

The pope said receiving the sacrament will assist us in our relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“By receiving forgiveness in the sacrament that lies at the heart of our process of conversion, we in turn can spread forgiveness to others,” he said. “Having received forgiveness ourselves, we can offer it through our willingness to enter into attentive dialogue with others and to give comfort to those experiencing sorrow and pain.”

Lent should be a time of conversion. May we use this season to free us from the stain of our sins, and to draw us closer to our Lord.

—Mike Krokos

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