Thursday 20th June 2019

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

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

Politics breeds evasion, abstraction, and euphemism. A politician is someone who can discuss abortion for hours without using the word KILL.

If capital punishment is inadmissible, how is excommunication (the spiritual version of capital punishment) admissible if its consequence is eternal death?

Load More...

Vatican’s doctrinal office expected to release document on gender theory

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s doctrinal office is preparing a document which will address Church teaching and the anthropology of the human person in the context of so-called gender theory, according to a Vatican…Continue Reading

Illinois bishops oppose abortion law, disagree on Communion for pro-choice lawmakers

Baltimore, Md., Jun 14, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- While two Illinois bishops are unified in their strong opposition to the state’s new abortion law, they differ on the question of prohibiting to receive Holy Communion the Catholic state legislators…Continue Reading

‘The Decalogue’ for Nuncios (Pope Francis’ Full Address to Meeting of Papal Representatives)

The following is a ZENIT working full English translation of the discourse Pope Francis prepared and delivered today, June 13, 2019, to all the Papal Representatives, meeting in the Vatican from June 12 – 15,  2019: **** Dear Brethren, I’m…Continue Reading

Vatican rejects idea that people can ‘choose one’s gender’

The Vatican on Monday released an official document that rejects the idea that a transgender person has the right to “choose one’s gender,” according to reports. The Washington Post reported that the Catholic Church said in the document that the right to…Continue Reading

Cardinal Pell awaits verdict after prosecutor stumbles in appeal hearing

June 7, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The two-day hearing in Cardinal George Pell’s appeal before the Victorian Court of Appeal against his conviction for alleged child sex abuse in Melbourne, Australia, in the 1990s ended Thursday with a positive impression for the defense.…Continue Reading

Archdiocese of Saint Paul-Minneapolis announces synod

St. Paul, Minn., Jun 7, 2019 / 06:04 pm (CNA).- Minnesota’s largest diocese will hold a synod— a meeting designed to help the bishop shepherd his local flock— during Pentecost Weekend 2021, Archbishop Bernard Hebda announced yesterday. It will be the…Continue Reading

Jerry Falwell, Jr., Rev. Kevin Cusick and the Satanic War Against Sex

Some entity or other doesn’t want me writing. First, my carpal tunnel has flared up something fierce. It hurts me to pet the beagles, much less to peel them off the dirty plates they’re licking inside the dishwasher. My favorite…Continue Reading

Biden Buckles, Flips on Hyde Amendment Under Pressure From Democrats

Former Vice President Joe Biden reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment Thursday after facing intense backlash from within his own party. Biden, while speaking in Atlanta, first reaffirmed his support for Roe v. Wade

Biden names pro-LGBT ‘Equality Act’ as top priority if elected

COLUMBUS, Ohio, June 3, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Passing the radical pro-LGBT and pro-abortion Equality Act “will be the first thing I ask to be done” if elected president, Joe Biden said at the annual Human Rights Campaign gala Saturday. The…Continue Reading

Pontifical university bans top scholar who accused Pope Francis of heresy in open letter

ROME, May 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the English-speaking world’s greatest living scholars of Classical philosophy was told he has been barred from all Pontifical Universities after he signed an Open Letter along with a number of prominent clergymen and scholars…Continue Reading

Pope Francis responds to heresy accusation, China concerns

Pope425

Vatican City, May 29, 2019 / 10:05 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said he reacted “with a sense of humor” to the accusation of heresy made against him earlier this month. “It does not hurt me at all. Hypocrisy and lies…Continue Reading

Parish priest assails Catholic prep school’s decision to allow same-sex union announcements

The pastor of a Catholic parish in the Washington suburbs has publicly slammed the decision this month by Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School to allow announcements of same-sex unions in its magazine for graduates, calling it a scandal that was a…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  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 150 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

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

Archbishop Viganò clarifies points arising from new interview

ROME, June 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In the wake of two recent pieces in the Washington Post relating to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, an article and an extended interview (the first the archbishop has granted since his initial allegations concerning Pope Francis), renewed insinuations and smears have been directed at the former diplomat of the Holy See. In his June 10 interview, the archbishop claims that the actions so far taken against McCarrick are chiefly…Continue Reading

Pope backs carbon pricing to stem global warming and appeals to deniers

Carbon pricing, via taxes or emissions trading schemes, is used by many governments to make energy consumers pay for the costs of using the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming * Pope Francis tells top energy executives to act now * Pontiff urges world to heed scientific findings

U.S Bishops Approve the Revised Passage on the Death Penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults

BALTIMORE— The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved the revised passage on the death penalty for the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. The full body of bishops approved the revised passage by a vote of 194 to 8 with 3 abstentions at their Spring General Assembly taking place in Baltimore, June 11-14. On August 2, 2018, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released the Holy Father’s revision to the teaching on the…Continue Reading

Democrats Fail to Get Enough Votes to Force Americans to Fund Abortions

House Democrats failed to garner enough support Monday for a measure to force American taxpayers to pay for abortions. The Washington Examiner reports the amendment came from a group of progressive Democrats who want to remove the Hyde Amendment from a Congressional spending bill. The Hyde Amendment prohibits taxpayer funding of abortions in Medicaid. The Democrats pushing the measure were U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts, Barbara Lee, of California, Pramila Jayapal, of Washington, Diana DeGette,…Continue Reading

Cdl Burke, Bp Schneider issue ‘declaration of truths’ to correct rampant ‘doctrinal confusion’ in Church

ROME, June 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, together with several other bishops, have issued a public declaration of truths of the faith to remedy the “almost universal doctrinal confusion and disorientation” endangering the spiritual health and eternal salvation of souls in the Church today

Advertisement(2)

Where Did The Zombie Apocalypse Come From?

By ARTHUR HIPPLER (Editor’s Note: Dr. Hippler is chairman of the religion department and teaches religion in the Upper School at Providence Academy, Plymouth, Minn.) + + + Am I the only one who has noticed the proliferation of movies and television shows about zombies? Casual browsing on Netflix reveals not only the longtime series…Continue Reading

God’s In Charge

By Fr. MICHAEL P. ORSI (Editor’s Note: A priest of the Diocese of Camden, N.J., Fr. Michael P. Orsi currently serves as parochial vicar at St. Agnes Parish in Naples, Fla. He is host of Action for Life TV, a weekly cable television series devoted to pro-life issues, and his writings appear in numerous publications…Continue Reading

A Book Review . . . Mediocrity Vs. The Golden Mean

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization, by Fr. George W. Rutler; 145 pages, EWTN Publishing. Available from Sophia Institute, www.sophiainstitute.com, in both print and electronic editions. Grace and Truth: Twenty Steps to Embracing Virtue and Saving Civilization, comes from televised talks which Fr. Rutler did for…Continue Reading

Floral Artist… Heads Back To U.S. Supreme Court To Protect Her Freedom

OLYMPIA — Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing floral artist Barronelle Stutzman of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take her case after the Washington Supreme Court ruled against her on June 6. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the state High Court’s previous ruling against Stutzman and ordered it to reconsider…Continue Reading

Canada And The Erosion Of Conscience

By DONALD DeMARCO Pro-abortionists have consistently argued that a woman should have the freedom to follow her conscience. Granted that this notion of conscience is incomplete since it may not be properly formed, nonetheless it gave pro-life people the assurance that this right to one’s conscience would protect doctors who are opposed to abortion from…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Barbarians Have Won

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Deacon Toner has contributed numerous columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, and The Wanderer. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. This is a two-part article. Part one appeared in last week’s issue.) IV. The Church has long taught lex orandi, lex credendi (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church,…Continue Reading

God’s Greatest Gift To Us

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Solemnity Of Corpus Christi (YR C) Readings: Gen. 14:18-20 1 Cor. 11:23-26 Luke 9:11b-17 The Holy Eucharist is the greatest gift and the greatest treasure we possess on Earth. God has given us many great gifts, but the Eucharist is God Himself! It is such a marvelous mystery that the whole universe cannot contain God, but…Continue Reading

Latest From Fr. Cusick . . . Modesty: A Woman’s Voice

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK For readers following “the tweet hated round the world” story, more on the aftermath in this week’s column. Being removed a degree from Twitter after deactivating my personal account, and looking back at comments on the social media platform, is like being dead. People talk about me in the third person: “We miss him,” “Hope…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Commenting on the Vatican accord last year to give the Communist regime in Red China a say in the naming of new Catholic bishops, Fr. George Rutler of the Church of St. Michael in New York City offered these trenchant comments in a recent bulletin: “While the Holy See invokes two thousand years of diplomatic experience, China beats…Continue Reading

The Barbarians Have Won

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Deacon Toner has contributed numerous columns to The Catholic Thing, Crisis Magazine, and The Wanderer. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte, N.C. This is a two-part article.) + + + Précis: Known as barbarians or heathens, the powerful enemies of the Church are both internal and external. There are many…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Joseph Of Anchieta

By CAROLE BRESLIN At the delta of the Benevente River on the coast of Brazil lies the city of Anchieta. With a population of 30,000, it is about 200 miles northeast of Rio de Janeiro. Famous for its long sandy beaches, Anchieta houses the Espirito Santo state government offices which overlook the Atlantic Ocean. More than four centuries old, this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Marcellin Joseph Benedict Champagnat

By CAROLE BRESLIN The end of the 18th century in France was a time of persecution for the Catholic Church with many priests and religious driven from convents and rectories, and others put to death. As more and more priests were martyred, the Church searched for good young men to replace them. In the history of the Church, there have…Continue Reading