We have completed five weeks of Lent and now move together into Holy Week. I hope that these weeks have been blessed ones for you, and that the days ahead will touch your hearts in life-giving ways.
As I look back over the days of Lent, I am acutely mindful of how enriched I have been by the faith and generosity of the people of our diocese whom I have met in the course of my pastoral rounds. Clearly and consistently they have demonstrated to me that they have taken seriously Lent’s call to conversion. They have done this not by telling me about their Lenten practices or their habits of prayer. Rather they have done it by their generous service to others and by the joyful spirit in which they have offered such gifts.
I have written about many — not all — of them in recent columns: servants of the sick and dying, women and men who encourage and support our cherished young people, folks who share their professional expertise and special talents to help us become better stewards, our generous pastoral leaders — ordained and lay — who spend themselves in service to the communities in their care.
Such individuals speak little about what such service costs them or of the toll that these efforts can sometimes take on their time and energy. They are more inclined to speak about the needs of others or to deflect recognition to coworkers in their efforts. But to be in touch with them day in and day out is to understand a little better what Jesus meant when he said, "By their fruits you will know them." I am quite sure that he meant not only the fruit of their work in the lives of others but also the fruits of their work in the growth and deepening of their own spirits. I pray that by God’s grace the memories of my experience with these good people will help me to understand a little better the great mysteries of Holy Week. Somehow I know that what I have been privileged to observe in them through these weeks of Lent — their dying a little to self so that others might live more fully — is deeply rooted in and is a fruit of the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.
Let me close with a few suggestions:
1) Think about the ways in which the Lord has spoken to your heart directly or through others during Lent.
2) Spend some time thinking and praying about what gift of new life you would ask for this Easter.
3) Participate as best you can in the beautiful liturgies of Holy Week.
Peace to all.