April 1 marks about the half way mark along our Lenten journey. Many of us have been given opportunities to participate in parish and diocesan retreats. We are continuing weekly Stations of the Cross at the parish or Lenten Bibles Series. Some parishes are offering missions.
At my parish, St. Anthony's in Lackawanna, each Tuesday night we gather for soup and Bible Study. This year at home, instead of abstaining from a food, we as a family decided to meet once a week to recite the rosary and to study Scripture. We felt that this would help our relationship with Christ grow, more than not drinking soda or eating sweets for 40 days.
Forty days of Lent gives us the opportunity for repentance, spiritual growth and renewal by praying, fasting, almsgiving and abstinence. This is also a good time of the year to go to confession. It gives us an opportunity to grow stronger in our relationship with Jesus and to ask forgiveness for everything we have done.
Pope Francis is inviting us this Lenten season to meditate on the following Scripture, "For Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich," 2 Cor 8:9.
Pope Francis wrote some helpful thoughts on our path of personal conversion as individuals and as community. His Lenten message can be found on various websites. Pope Francis challenges us to imitate Jesus especially in serving the poor. We need only to open the Bible to learn from our Teacher.
During this Lent Pope Francis invited us to "confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it." Destitution is poverty without faith, without material, moral and spiritual support.
The pope personally, in his first year of papacy, has provided us with many examples of how we can imitate Christ, washing the feet of the prisoner and feeding the hungry are just two. If we study the lives of the saints, we can learn ways we can imitate Christ and serve the poor. If we take time to pray and listen to what the Lord is calling us to, we could discern ways the Lord wants us to serve.
Pope Francis is calling us to look at and imitate the life of Jesus, not only in our lives, but to help others witness our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the true source of all happiness in this life. Jesus Christ who became flesh to save us, loved us so much that He died on the cross for all of our sins so that we could live. Jesus came not as a powerful rich king but as a poor baby in a manger. Jesus came not to be served but to serve.
There are so many in this world who hunger and thirst to know about Jesus who has brought so much joy to our lives, Jesus, who we can go to in the midst of all that is not pretty and show us the beauty. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes as a way to live a truly happy Christian life. It is very different than what the world teaches us about what we need to be happy.