February 2018 Four County Catholic
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In my New Year's column in January, I spoke of how "God specializes in new beginnings." As we now approach the holy season of Lent, we encounter an extraordinary opportunity to recognize our need to reform and to renew our lives in the light of the Gospel. During Lent, our penitence, discipline and sacrifice prepare us to appreciate anew that in Jesus Christ, God gave us his only begotten Son who laid down His life for us and our salvation. As we prayerfully contemplate this greatest act of love ever known to humanity, Lent offers us a new beginning as the Lord embraces our hearts and we embrace His life.
To share completely in Jesus' life, we must journey with Him to Jerusalem, to Calvary and to Resurrection. This journey requires reflection upon our own lives and the way in which we are called to serve the Lord and one another. Our Lenten observance makes us more aware of Jesus' presence in our lives and enables us to grow in faith and in love as we gather the strength to serve others.
We live in a time that calls to us as faithful disciples to respond to the urgent needs of the vulnerable, the overwhelmed, the hungry, the lonely and the immigrants and refugees risking all to find a safe and hopeful life. We are called to love. Called to charity. Called to service. It is service to those in need that is the path leading us to Christ. Lent sets us on a spiritual journey of renewal with heightened awareness of the Lord's unconditional and unyielding love for us. Lent is our fresh start to vigorously live our faith with love and charity to our family members, friends, neighbors -- in short, to everyone.
To fully share in the spiritual reawakening that is the Lenten journey, we must embrace prayer, the reception of the Sacraments - especially the Eucharist and Penance, the reading of Sacred Scripture, the Stations of the Cross, the Rosary, acts of charity and Corporal Works of Mercy, acts of self-denial and outreach to the poor and suffering. Through the Lenten experience, we are certain to more fully realize the abiding presence of God's love in our life, and our need to share His love with others. It is through this realization that we become more energized to be authentic disciples of Jesus Christ. True to our living discipleship, we find commitment to uphold the sacred dignity of every person, born and unborn, rich and poor, of every race, creed and origin. We are one family in Christ.
These revealing forty days of Lenten observance, ultimately prepare us for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, the Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection. We embark in a real sense on a spiritual pilgrimage to Easter. We relive the grace-filled occasion of the Last Supper. We experience the agony of Jesus's crucifixion and death for us on the Cross. We try to comprehend the victory of His Resurrection.
The glory of Easter awaits each of us who make the Lenten journey to the Father by walking the way of His Son, Jesus. Lent is our time to change and become more like Christ by experiencing the unyielding tenacity of His love that endures suffering and torture and His life that is truly lived and given for others. Lent is our new beginning opportunity to lead a fulfilling life by living, loving and serving as Jesus did.
The Cross is our way to holiness, our means of true solidarity with God and one another. The Cross is our only means of achieving the new life promised us through Jesus' victory over sin and death in His victorious Resurrection.
Through a well-lived Lent, may we come to the glory of Easter and may we discover new life in Christ.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael R. Cote