We stand a week closer to Holy Week now. I hope these days of Lent have been good for your spirit — that they have somehow drawn you closer to God and neighbor.
If you have been trying to turn away from sin and believe more deeply in the Gospel, I hope that you will renew your efforts to join the church in our common call to prayer, fasting and almsgiving during this holy time.
If you have been slow to catch the spirit of the season, or if your initial enthusiasm for it has diminished with the passage of time, I hope that you will not be discouraged. The Lord well understands our weakness and knows that we do not always persevere in our choices. God’s gifts are always available to us — even at the 11th hour, if our hearts are but open to receive them.
I have been reminded of God’s fidelity and generosity in a variety of ways in recent days. For example, on Friday and Saturday I spent a good deal of time with Catholic school teachers, catechists, and women and men in youth ministry. The gatherings focused on the catechetical dimension of their respective ministries. As I understand it, the core emphasis of the sessions was that these generous people — by their very presence and by all they say and do –communicate a faith message to the people to whom they offer ministry.
During the sessions, I noted the attentiveness and spirited participation of those present. To me, that response symbolized both their commitment to the work at hand and their desire to grow in their ability to do the ministry entrusted to them. That’s encouraging to me. I assume that, like myself, they have challenging days and don’t always feel at the top of their games. I was inspired by them and considered myself among the immediate beneficiaries of their Lenten sacrifice.
At this writing I think of other events yet to come that I am sure will nourish my spirit no less than did the gatherings with the teachers and other ministers.
This evening I’ll have some conversation and prayer with University of Rochester students who will be baptized or enter into full communion with the church at the Easter Vigil. I can’t imagine not coming away from that gathering with a buoyed spirit.
The same is true of a weekend visit to the communities that make up the Holy Family Catholic Community in the Genesee Valley. The folks at Dansville, Cohocton, Wayland and Perkinsville have invested much time and energy to form this new parish, and that sacrificial endeavor continues. It will be a great pleasure to pray with them for God’s continued blessings on it all.
Finally, I look forward to a day of prayer during Holy Week with many of the priests of our diocese. To gather with them at any time is an encouraging gift, but that is especially true at such a blessed and privileged time of the year. Such gatherings remind me of how generous these men are, even in the face of many challenges and difficulties. It is wonderful to have the privilege of a day that reminds me of such generosity.
In all of these events, you and all of the people of our diocese are in my prayers. I ask for your prayers as well.
Peace to all.