Fasting is an important part of Lent, as well as a useful tool for growing in virtue in general. Before we look into how fasting helps us on our Christian journey, let’s first reflect on how the Catholic Church understands and deals with human suffering.
In Catholicism we have a concept called “redemptive suffering.” What this means is that, in actively and willfully joining our sufferings to the Cross, we cooperate with Jesus in our own (and others’) redemption, effectively making us co-redeemers. Non-Catholics tend to have a problem with this concept, citing 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human.” The argument here is that since Jesus is the “one” mediator, there can be no others and certainly not our imperfect selves. However, Catholics understand this differently and it begins with language. In Latin, the prefix “co-” means “with,” not “equal to.” Therefore, when we say we are co-redeemers and that we co-operate in our redemption, we mean that we are participating with Jesus’ saving work, but in a subordinate way. With this understanding, we clearly do not take away from Jesus’ position as the one mediator between God and man, yet still enable ourselves to actually participate in the saving work required to get us to heaven.READ MORE
My brothers and sisters, our readings today are so rich and full but before I jump into our reflection beginning with our well-known and powerful first reading of Moses and the burning bush, let us pause and ask God that we too will encounter our Lord as Moses did. To warn you though, you might find this homily a stronger homily than others, and like Moses, it might make you a little uncomfortable, but I would not be doing what I’m called to do as your pastor if I don’t.READ MORE
Last week, in our reflection on virtue, we examined the Cardinal Virtues which primarily order our relationship with one another. This week, we will spend some time looking more closely at the Theological Virtues.
The three Theological Virtues are those that order man to God, allowing him to participate in God’s own Trinitarian, divine life. They provide the foundation for the Christian’s entire moral life because they guide, direct, and give life to all other virtues. These virtues are gifts given to us by God freely and it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to accept and use them. The three Theological Virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity.READ MORE
As we continue our Lenten journey, focusing on our personal growth in virtue, we should seek to understand what virtue is and how we can practically apply it in our lives to replace sin. There are countless virtues, as any act that allows you to turn away from sin, while turning toward the love of God and the love of your neighbor, is a virtuous act. Virtues like patience, chastity, humility, and gentleness may come to mind and they would all be correct. However, every virtue you can imagine is rooted in seven virtues — the four Human or Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological Virtues. This week, we will reflect on the four Human/Cardinal Virtues.READ MORE
Most of us are likely aware that Lent is a time for increased fasting, praying, and almsgiving as we imitate Jesus in preparation for the saving work completed through his Passion and Crucifixion. In order to prepare himself for what was to come, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days. He fasted and endured relentless temptations by Satan who promised Him all sorts of worldly delights if He would simply give in to him (Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11). In denying Himself gratification during this period of temptation, Jesus was spiritually strengthened and fortified. Recognizing these same benefits for us, the Church prescribes us an annual Lenten journey to spiritually fortify us and allow us to participate in our own redemption as we continue on this pathway towards salvation.READ MORE
Now is the time of renovations! As I hope you are aware, the plans for renovating the Parish Center are beginning and we are forming a consulting and design committee (see the back cover for more info). The actual construction will begin once we receive enough funds from the Together Let Us Go Forth diocesan campaign.READ MORE
Ready or not, the season of Lent begins Wednesday. Yes, we celebrate Ash Wednesday in a couple of days. Are you ready, do you know how you are going to draw closer to our Lord this season? What you’re going to give up or take on this Lent? Perhaps you’re thinking, whoa I can’t believe the season is upon me already, so maybe I’ll just do what I’ve done before. Well, before you think about falling into that pattern of doing what you’ve always done, let us first think about what the purpose of lent is and reflect on what Jesus says in our Gospel today. Have you ever thought about what the purpose of Lent might be? Maybe you’re thinking, well it is to prepare for Easter. Yes, you’re right, then what is the purpose of Easter? As you know, during Holy Week and Easter we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Easter and the Resurrection is the source of our salvation, the source of the forgiveness of our sins. A couple of weeks ago, St. Paul in the second reading said, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is in vain; you are still stuck in your sins”. Jesus took all the sins of humanity, past, present, and future, to the Cross, and by his Death and Resurrection, then we have the forgiveness of our sins, that is, we don’t have to be stuck in our sins. Therefore, if the purpose of Lent is to prepare us for Easter, then it should be said, that the purpose of Lent is to help make the Death and Resurrection of Jesus effective in our lives, which will lead us to grow in our discipleship of following Jesus more closely. Have you thought about that- the purpose of Lent is to help you grow in holiness and follow Jesus more closely? Many people tend to give up something, usually something small, during Lent, and then look forward to taking it up again, sometimes over-indulging after Easter. If that has been you, think about if have you met the goal of growing closer to God by doing that? It is OK to give up something, even something small, but we must do it for the purpose it is intended. The purpose is to grow and strengthen your self-discipline so that the discipline can then be applied to another area of need in our lives. But ideally, the purpose of Lent is to begin something that will help bring about a lasting change in us away from sin and closer to God. Now let’s look at the Gospel for a few ideas.READ MORE