Saturday 1st October 2016

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

The Time Of Lent . . . A Path To Holiness

March 11, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By MOST REV. DAVID M. O’CONNELL, CM

(Editor’s Note: Bishop David M. O’Connell heads the Diocese of Trenton, N.J. This message to his flock on how to make a good Lent is reprinted here with permission. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

When I was a boy growing up in a Catholic family, Lent was a big deal. Ash Wednesday was the beginning of a special time of the year unlike any other. My Mom, like her German mother before her, would make doughnuts on the Tuesday before — “Faschnaut Day” — clearing out kitchen cabinets and the icebox to make way for the forty days of sacrifice and penance that stretched out ahead of us. Those doughnuts were great and very different from the kind you get at doughnut chain stores today. They were sinkers . . . you could build a house with whatever was leftover!
All of us in the family had to make the “big decision” by that Tuesday…what were we going to “give up” for Lent? For my Dad it was easy: cigarettes or beer; for my Mom, some special treat she enjoyed; for us kids in the house it wasn’t so easy. Candy or desserts were usually at the top of the list. No matter what we chose, however, the point was always clear: We had to make a sacrifice during Lent and we had to stick to it until Easter! Add to that the required fasting and abstinence, and you know what? We survived. Lent didn’t kill any of us.
As with so many traditions in the Church, Lent evolved over the years. People began to emphasize more “giving” rather than “giving up.” The sober and serious tone of the forty days of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday, became lighter and less intense. Sure, the Church continued to accent the penitential nature of Lent but it did so in different ways, stressing things that were more positive rather than negative. The obligation to sacrifice something ceased to be the first or most immediate item on the lenten agenda.
I am a great believer in the “both/and” rather than the “either/or” approach to life. And, so, for me Lent is a holy season of penance when I feel called, as a Catholic, by the very nature and purpose of Lent, to both “give up” and to “give” something.
In my own prayer and reflection as bishop of the diocese, I recognize my responsibility to guide the faithful of the diocese — clergy, religious, and laity alike — in living out our Christian life in pursuit of holiness. Lent is a time to intensify the pursuit of holiness as we prepare to celebrate Christ’s own Passion, death, and Resurrection, the central mysteries of our Catholic faith. And, so, together — bishop and clergy, religious and laity — let us focus our attention on the call to holiness that is at the heart of our lenten journey and at the heart of our life’s journey.
Each weekend we profess our common belief in “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.” I discussed these “four marks of the Church” at length in my first pastoral letter as bishop. There, I reminded us of the Scripture passage that says: “As He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16).” The Church gives us the season of Lent as an aid in that process.
And here’s the motivation:
“. . .the Church’s call to holiness is rooted in Christ’s own invitation to be holy in imitation of Him. The holiness of the Church is not merely a reflection of but, rather, an identification with the very holiness of God. Can the Church be anything less than what God calls her to be in imitation of Him?” (Pastoral Letter, August 28, 2012).
That is a strong motivation to give Lent, and the growth in holiness it offers, our best shot. Yes, “giving up” something and making sacrifices are an important part of the lenten experience in the Church but if they don’t lead us to deeper holiness, a closer, life-altering identification with Jesus Christ and His Gospel, they are empty gestures. It’s like going on a diet for a while. We’ll lose some weight for sure but if we don’t make up our minds to change our eating behaviors or if we lose our motivation, the weight will only return and more.
Lent and its sacrifices should connect us on a deeper level with the Lord Jesus Christ, should lead us in a more profound way to a closer identification with Him who suffered and died on the cross for us. Giving up. Sacrifice. Every individual Catholic has to decide this Lent “what more can I do, can I give up for Him?” Lent should help us say, “With Christ, I am nailed to the cross. And the life I live is no longer my own. It is the life of Christ who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2: 19-20).
And the other part of the lenten “both/and” equation — giving something — needs to be addressed. As with sacrifice and penance, our lenten “giving” must lead us to holiness in Jesus Christ. He is the reason why we give. It is His face we see in the face of others. “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me” (Matt. 25:40).

Give Some Of Your Time

As bishop, I would like to offer a thought on something that can bring the “both/and” of Lent together for us and that is: time. Giving up my time so that I can give my time to others and grow in holiness.
As a boy, time seemed to hang heavy on my hands. I had a lot of it. I often wasted it. From what I hear from parents, that is not as true today. But as I grew into adulthood, time seemed to move more quickly and became more valuable, more precious.
Perhaps this Lent, whether we are young or old or somewhere in between, we can give some prayerful thought to “time” and how we can use it in our pursuit of holiness.
First, give time to God. Slow it all down and make time for God in prayer. Who could be more important than making time for the One who created us, who loves us as we are, who cares for us every moment of the day, who promised to be “with us all days” (Matt. 28:20), who will call us home after this life is done?
I mean, really. I can make time for just about anything else. Why can’t I find time for God? Why can’t I give up some time for Him?
1) Go to Mass. Less than 20 percent of Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton go to Mass every Saturday/Sunday. What else is so important, more important than giving up an hour or so once a week to hear God’s Word, to receive Him in the Eucharist, to bring our children and families to the Lord, to reflect on what is truly important in life, to join other Catholics in what the Second Vatican Council calls “the source and summit of the Christian life”?
It takes time but, honestly, not that much. Can I go to the gym or exercise later? Will the mall or grocery store still be there when I leave church? Will things that I need or want to do around the house disappear if I go to Mass for an hour once a week? Aren’t there several times each week when Mass is offered in my parish or another parish close by so that I can still do these other things?
Let me recommend that this Lent is a time for the decision to commit ourselves to give time to God and to get to church. Mass is not an option for the Catholic, it is an obligation and for good reason. We are faithful to other obligations. Why not give up some time to be faithful to that one? Lent is the perfect time to reconnect.
2) Personal prayer. One of the easiest things we can give up is the distractions that push God away. Prayer isn’t difficult. It is as simple as closing our eyes for a moment or two and just remembering that God is present everywhere, especially within us. God gives us everything and we are so blessed. Stop and say thanks.
We also have many challenges and concerns in life, things that even cause us suffering and heartache. Offer them to God and ask His guidance and help. We may feel alone at times. Remember that God is always with us. We sin. Ask God’s forgiveness. Go to Confession even if it’s been a long time. Why hold on to sins like they are some hidden treasure? Let go.
The old saying is on target: “Live as though everything depends upon you but pray like everything depends upon God.” Say prayers that you know. Pray in your own words. Give up a little more time for God this Lent.
Second, give time to others. Everyone is busy. Everyone has things to do. But everything that we are in life, everything that we have in life bears the “fingerprints” of someone else. Our parents; our children; our friends; our neighbors; our co-workers. Do we give them enough time? Could they use or do they really need just a little bit more time?
1) The elderly, especially elderly parents or members of the family. Would it hurt to call or visit them, to give them some time? Sometimes they just want someone to listen or to talk to them to remind them that they matter. Is our time so important that we cannot do this?
2) Our children. The world in which we live is sometimes a scary place. Our children don’t come with a set of instructions. There are forces out there willing or, worse, eager to drag them down or lead them along the wrong path. Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Relationships. Bullying. Peer-pressure. A little more love and attention — a little more time — could make all the difference. They may act like they don’t want or need us. But they do.
3) People we know who are sick or alone or struggling. How about a call or visit to them or just making the time to sit down and write them a note or letter or even an e-mail?  Are we that busy, too busy? It only takes a few minutes of our time.
4) On a larger scale, have we ever thought about giving our time as a volunteer to those with special needs? Not all our time, no, but some of it. The poor. The hungry. The homeless. The sick.  Lent may be the time to give time as a path to holiness.
The Scriptures tell us that there are two great commands: Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus Christ tells us that “the command I give you is this: Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Love takes time. Are we willing to give it up? Are we willing to give it? This Lent is the time to give an answer.

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Shocking Report Reveals Scientists Have Created the Word’s First Baby With Three-Parents

A shocking new report claims the world’s first three-parent baby (pictured above) has been born. Children born through ‘three-person IVF’ would contain some genetic material from each of three different people. There are about 50 known mitochondrial diseases (MCDs), which…Continue Reading

Donald Trump Names Rick Santorum and Other Top Pro-Life Catholics as Key Advisers

Fresh from announcing a list of pro-life leaders who are advising him on issues that matter to pro-life voters, Donald Trump has named a group of pro-life Catholic leaders as additional key advisers, including pro-life former presidential candidate Rick Santorum.…Continue Reading

Argentine bishop threatened with prosecution for condemning ‘culture of fornication’

September 20, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic archbishop of the Argentinean city of La Plata is under investigation by the country’s “discrimination” police for condemning the modern acceptance of sexual promiscuity and “unnatural” unions, according to local media sources. Archbishop…Continue Reading

First minor killed by euthanasia in Belgium after child euthanasia legalized

BELGIUM, September 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Belgium’s federal euthanasia commission confirmed Saturday the country’s first instance of child euthanasia, which became legal in 2014. Belgian media suggested the minor killed via lethal injection was 17. Some media also suggested the…Continue Reading

Donald Trump commits to defunding abortion, Planned Parenthood if elected

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump has pledged to end taxpayer funding of abortion in the United States and to defund the nation’s leading abortion provider. In a new, personally signed letter, Mr. Trump attacked “Hillary Clinton’s…Continue Reading

Pope Francis issues motu proprio harmonizing Canon Law codes

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter motu proprio on Thursday, in which he brings the basic legal instruments that govern the Latin Church and the Eastern Churches in communion with Rome more closely into accord with one another…Continue Reading

Another “Catholic” Politician trying to redefine the Catholic Faith . . . Devout Catholic™ Kaine breaks with his church on gay marriage, with media blessing

Tim Kaine has officially joined the ranks of Devout Catholic™. How do we know? Because he says he’s Catholic, yet criticizes the church. The Democratic vice presidential nominee played weekend prophet and theologian when he told activists in the Human…Continue Reading

Bishop Morlino’s Move to Ad Orientem Masses in Madison

This past weekend the Most Reverend Robert Morlino, Bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin made an announcement of great liturgical importance. Going forward His Excellency will be offering all of his Masses at the Cathedral ad orientem. Make no…Continue Reading

Longtime conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly dead at 92

phillis

Phyllis Schlafly, the iconic pro-family activist who rose to fame in the 1970s when she campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment, has died at age 92, according to the Eagle Forum, the conservative organization she founded. Schlafly had been an…Continue Reading

Soros’ Catholic useful idiots

By Robert A. Sirico – – Tuesday, August 30, 2016 A most remarkable set of documents was coughed up recently by WikiLeaks. George Soros‘ Open Society Policy Center, it turns out, made donations to two faith-based organizations to the tune…Continue Reading

Pope Francis “gratified” by UN goals that demand “universal access to sexual and reproductive health”

Pope Francis has said that he is “gratified” by UN goals that call on member states to “ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health” by 2030. The term “sexual and reproductive health”, as generally defined, includes access to contraception, including abortifacient methods, and,…Continue Reading

Psychiatrist: The Vatican’s sex ed is the most dangerous threat to youth I’ve seen in 40 years

September 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In recent years, the Catholic Church has been going through one of her most severe crises as a result of the priestly abuse of youth. The primary victims have been adolescent males.1  This worldwide scandal was…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Obama Admin Proposes Rule Prohibiting States From Defunding Planned Parenthood

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama has proposed a new rule that would essentially prohibit states from defunding the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Leading pro-life members of Congress is not happy about it. The proposed rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) could prevent states from blocking Title X funding (federal dollars for family planning services) to abortion companies like Planned Parenthood. Today, Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, joined more than 100 Members…Continue Reading

Emails Show California AG Kamala Harris Teamed Up With Planned Parenthood to Target David Daleiden

New emails show officials in the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris teamed up with the Planned Parenthood abortion business to target David Daleiden, the pro-life advocate who filmed undercover videos exposing the abortion giant selling aborted baby parts. Earlier this year, California authorities seized a laptop and hard drives containing the video footage collected during Daleiden’s 3-year investigation of Planned Parenthood’s involvement in the illegal sale of aborted baby remains, according to a…Continue Reading

Benedict XVI Admits Qualms of Conscience about Vatican II

After the German publisher Droemer Verlag first released it on 9 September 2016, much has already been deeply discussed and variously reported about Benedict XVI’s new interview-book, Benedikt XVI. Letzte Gespräche (Benedict XVI – Last Conversations) which so far has only been published in the German language. It has been shown, for example, how the former pope supports whole-heartedly Pope Francis’ papacy and how he still defends his decision to leave his Petrine office, not…Continue Reading

">We May Not Have A Church To Go To . . .

Paul Likoudis (RIP)

Calling hours will at Vedder And Scott Funeral home on Tuesday September 27th from 4pm to 7pm. 122 N Genesee Street Montour Falls NY 14865 A Mass of Christian Burial Will Be held at 11am on Wednesday September 28 with a reception to be held immediately following at St. Mary’s of the Lake Church. 905 N. Decatur Street Watkins Glen NY 14891 Dear Friends, Paul Augustine Likoudis, age 61 of Caywood, NY, passed away due…Continue Reading

Autumn 1916 . . . The Third Apparition Of The Angel Of Portugal

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY This article will consider the third and final appearance of the Angel of Portugal to the Fatima children in the autumn of 1916. This is rightly regarded as the most important of these three visitations, principally because the Angel gave the children Holy Communion, but also because of the power and…Continue Reading

Homily For The Funeral Mass of Phyllis Schlafly

By FR. BRIAN HARRISON, O.S. (Editor’s Note: Fr. Harrison concelebrated and gave the homily at the funeral Mass for Phyllis Schlafly held on September 10, at the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica. reprinted with permission.) + + + Dear Friends — Whenever Christian believers gather in God’s house to mark the passing from this life of someone…Continue Reading

Obama: God-Given Rights “Was A Radical Idea”

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY President Barack Obama affirmed this week that the Declaration of Independence recognizes that “individual human beings” have “God-given rights.” Yet, he insisted this was a “radical idea” at the time of the founding. Were he right — which he is not — history would see it as one radical idea Obama…Continue Reading

Never Trump? . . . The Case Against “Sitting Out” The Presidential Election

By BRIAN CLOWES Conclusion (Editor’s Note: To receive an electronic copy of this four-part article with footnotes, e-mail Brian Clowes at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + “When you have a binary choice, you must make a decision. It’s frankly irresponsible to stay on the sidelines right now, given where the republic is heading” — Marjorie Dannenfelser,…Continue Reading

Bibi Backs Trump — On Putin

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Since Donald Trump said that if Vladimir Putin praises him, he would return the compliment, Republican outrage has not abated. Arriving on Capitol Hill to repair ties between Trump and party elites, Gov. Mike Pence was taken straight to the woodshed. John McCain told Pence that Putin was a “thug and…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Catholic Replies

Q. Every year our bank does a company-wide campaign to raise money for United Way. There is some push-back on supporting that organization this year. What’s your take on them? — Name and State Withheld. A. United Way raises funds to support over 40 health and human services programs nationwide, and insists that no United Way funding “is provided to…Continue Reading

The Faithfulness Of Converts

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Eighth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 2 Kings 5:14-17 2 Tim. 2:8-13 Luke 17:11-19 There is an old saying that states that converts make the best Catholics. There are, of course, several reasons for this; there are also numerous exceptions to this rule that can be easily demonstrated in the lives of the saints.…Continue Reading

The Role Of The Sacred Liturgy In Developing A Catholic Conscience

By FRANCIS CARDINAL ARINZE Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Francis Cardinal Arinze of Nigeria, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, delivered this lecture at The Church Teaches Forum in Louisville, Ky., July 16, 2016. (The lecture is reprinted here with permission; all rights reserved. We are presenting it in two parts because of…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World . . . How Catholics End Up As Practical Protestants

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The Church is in the business of making Catholics, of proclaiming and calling all to the fullness of saving truth in Jesus Christ our Lord. Our mission to those who doubt or refuse some of our teachings is to call them to that fullness, whether Catholics already in our pews or Protestant brothers and sisters…Continue Reading

What Is Faith?… Is Faith Necessary For Salvation?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM For most of us who are cradle Catholics, it is not difficult to believe, since we received the theological virtue of faith in Baptism and grew up with it. Our parents and/or teachers taught us all about the Bible stories, the catechism, the sacraments. We learned to pray the Creed from an early age, and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. John Of Capistrano

By CAROLE BRESLIN In Texas there is an old building that is part of the Missions National Historical Park of the National Park Service near San Antonio, Texas. This restored mission was founded in 1731 on the San Antonio River by the Franciscans and named after the soldier saint, St. John of Capistrano. In San Juan Capistrano, Calif., the Franciscans…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… Blessed Bernardina Maria Jablonska

By CAROLE BRESLIN Some people look back on their lives and see how differently things turned out from what they had planned. A professor once told his business students that very few students work in the field they studied in college. If someone had told the young Bernardina Maria Jablonska that she would be the superior of a religious order…Continue Reading