March 11March 11 Editorial: Are you open to new ideas to draw closer to God? If so, consider these (February 2, 2024)

February 2, 2024


Are you open to new ideas to draw closer to God? If so, consider these

Are you someone who is open to new ideas for your life, especially as you work on answering your call to holiness?

As we approach the Lenten season, which begins on Feb. 14 this year, we believe that’s a good question to ask.

Many of you already have thoughts on how you will approach this 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at sundown on Holy Thursday, and we commend those who already have their plans for Lent in place. In deepening our relationship with God, our faith calls us to participate in the sacraments, help those in need around us, and sacrifice something that we value.

As the U.S. bishops remind us on their website, it’s a period of preparation to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection at Easter. During Lent, we seek the Lord in prayer by reading sacred Scripture; we serve by giving alms; and we practice self-control through fasting. We are called not only to abstain from luxuries during Lent, but to a true inner conversion of heart as we seek to follow Christ’s will more faithfully, the bishops note. We recall the waters of baptism in which we were also baptized into Christ’s death, died to sin and evil, and began new life in Christ.

If you’re procrastinating or looking for ideas on how to make your Lent more fruitful, we offer a few suggestions:

—Why not plan to go to confession and receive God’s healing mercy in the sacrament of reconciliation?

Starting in next week’s Feb. 9 issue of The Criterion, we will publish a list of parishes throughout the archdiocese that will offer penance services or other special times for confession during Lent. There will be many opportunities, so why not clip out the list and pick a date to avail yourself of this beautiful sacrament?

—How about volunteering at your parish or at a charitable organization that could use a helping hand at this time of year? In central and southern Indiana, there is no shortage of people who need us to be the hands and feet of Christ for them. Our faith calls us to enhance the life and dignity of every person we encounter.

We recently learned that Catholic Charities in the archdiocese served more than 400,000 people during the most recent fiscal year—150,000 more than its previous year. Those statistics remind us we must always be ready to provide for our brothers and sisters in need. Lent is a time when we should be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering, or otherwise in need. And if you’re not able to volunteer, maybe a financial donation to a charitable cause is worth considering.

—When we think of fasting during Lent, many of us will abstain from that extra cup of coffee, soft drink or alcohol; skip a meal; or stop satisfying our sweet tooth. But why not fast from ways we hurt others—by following through on promises made instead of failing to do so, by fasting from gossip intead of tearing others down, or by focusing more on our loved ones by abstaining from the use of social media.

This penitential season is also an opportune time to focus on discernment, which means attentively listening in prayer to where the Spirit wants to lead us.

And listening is a trait that should assist us in our universal call to holiness, which Pope Francis and many of our Church fathers have reminded us for centuries.

“Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church,” Pope Francis said in his 2018 apostolic exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (“Rejoice and Be Glad,” #9).

He later adds, “Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you” (#32).

May we strive to live our Lord’s call for us each day—during Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas and all seasons of life.

—Mike Krokos

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