What is this 40 Day Lenten Season All About Folks? Part Two

03-11-2018Weekly Bulletin LetterFr. Robert Seraph Aliunzi, AJ

In Pope Francis’ Lenten message 2018, the Pope invites the entire Church to experience this time of grace – that is to celebrate the Lenten season, with joy and in the truth.

Joy, a favorite theme of Pope Francis is essentially a Christian characteristic, and in this Lenten season, the Church does not fail to remind us that joy should be present at every moment of our lives. There is a joy proper to the increasing closeness to the risen Christ. It is one and the same joy as being united to Christ: only in Him can each one of us say truthfully with St Paul: “He loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).

This should be the source of our greatest happiness, as well as the source of our strength and support. Should we have the misfortune to encounter sorrow, undergo suffering, experience misunderstanding, or even to fall into sin, we should quickly turn our thoughts to the One who always loves us and who, with His infinite love as God, overcomes in every trial, fills our emptiness, forgives all our sins and eagerly impels us towards a new path that is safe and joyful.

To renew ourselves during this Lenten season, Pope Francis has given us clear guidelines.

The Pope invites us to be careful of false prophets who lead people astray, he asked all of us to examine our hearts to see “if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets” and to learn to look at things more closely, “beneath the surface,” and recognize that what comes from God is life-giving and leaves “a good and lasting mark on our hearts.”

He calls upon us Catholics to use the season of Lent to look for signs and symptoms of being under the spell of false prophets and of living with cold, selfish and hateful hearts. Together with “the often bitter medicine of the truth” the Church – as mother and teacher – offers us “the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, (gossip and judgmental attitudes) and then to find the consolation only God offers. He is our Father and He wants us to live life well. He wants us to live as brothers and sisters.

Now remember I pointed out in my last week's article, whatever you want to give up for Lent is your personal decision but, as a parish, St. Andrew the Apostle, I proposed that we give up one thing: GOSSIP! I made this proposal and I will repeat it because gossip has ruined the reputation and dignity of many innocent people because, it is very easy for us to always see the negative in others, talk ill of others and make destructive judgments about others, especially about those we do not like. These others may be our President, our Pastor, our co-workers, our mother in law or someone closely related to us. I have no doubt that at one point or the other, all of us have fallen prey to this vice. When tempted to gossip about anyone this Lenten season, therefore, always remember that among the many people you meet every day, someone is going through a hard time. And remember too that if you have nothing good to say about somebody, just shut up!

In Christ,

Fr. Robert