My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads this Wednesday, we begin the forty day season of Lent. We bear those ashes with humility and in truth to show God and the world that we are sinners in need of repentance. We also bear those ashes with faith and trust in the mercy and forgiveness of God.
While Lent is a time of repentance marked by deepened prayer, penance and almsgiving, it is also a time of renewal. What begins with ashes and repentance ends with new life and joy as we celebrate Christ’s triumph at Easter.
To experience that joy, we first pause, pray and properly prioritize our lives in light of the Gospel. So many things compete for our time, attention and energies. The discipline of Lent offers us a new start -- a welcome and necessary time to get back to the basics and rediscover the spiritual joys of our faith.
In addition to fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstaining from meat on those days and all the Fridays of Lent, I encourage you to consider daily Mass this Lent and a daily, prayerful reading of Scripture. If you don’t currently pray the Rosary, give it a try. Like the Stations of the Cross, a prayerful reflection upon the mysteries of Christ’s birth, ministry, passion, death and resurrection will bring you a new and deepened awareness of God’s goodness and love for you.
I also encourage you to make a good confession. Pope Francis has said that when he goes to confession it is not only to heal some wrongdoing but also to heal his heart and soul in the embrace of the Father’s infinite mercy. The Holy Father urges us not to be afraid of confession. Christ and His peace await us there. As in past years, I have asked that all parishes, in addition to their weekend schedule, hold confessions each Tuesday evening of Lent.
During Lent we not only discover again God’s love for us, we strive better to reflect that love in our lives. Your sacrifices for those in need are an essential part of Lent and the Christian life. Those sacrifices bring us a joy well beyond the value of what we forgo because they bring us closer to Christ.
Let us pray that through a good Lent, we may all be renewed in our faith and that our lives, parishes and diocese may give glory to God and be a beacon of hope, light and love to all.
With every prayerful best wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester