This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. The holy season of Lent is a time for spiritual growth. It is a time for prayer and fasting; it is a time of charity toward others, especially the poor and the needy. What does it mean to grow in our spiritual lives? It means that we grow in such a way that we truly become more like Jesus in our lives. We try to put the needs of others ahead of our own. St. Paul teaches us that charity is the greatest of the three theological virtues, greater than faith and hope. When we love, our faith will be that much deeper and our hope will be that much surer. These virtues are called the theological virtues because they help us to become more like God. We are never more like God than when we love. So often people equate God with power; the power to do everything, the power to tell others what to do and then make them do it. That is not what God is like. As St John tells us, “God is love.”
This Lent is an opportunity to love more; to love God and to love our neighbor. This is who God created us to be; He created us to love just as He loves us. We do not have to look very far to see how much God loves us; we do not have to look any further than the crucifix. The suffering of Jesus says it all; His willingness to lay down His life for us shows us what it really means to love.
We all know that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a very important part of our spiritual lives and also helps us in our relationship with God and others, but we do not use this sacrament as often as we should. In an attempt to make the sacrament more convenient, the diocese is trying something new this Lent. So, on the evening of Wednesday, February 28th from 5-8 PM, ALL of the churches in the eight counties of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland will open their doors and offer the Sacrament of Penance…confession. Catholics across the Diocese are asked to invite someone who may have been away from the faith for whatever reasons to participate at this special time as an occasion to return.
Remember that during the season of Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross each Wednesday afternoon with the school children starting on Wednesday, February 21. The times will vary because of the school schedule so check the bulletin for the correct time. We also pray the Stations with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday evening at 7 PM in the church. The Stations of the Cross are a very sacred tradition in the Church and a very prayerful way to remember the sufferings and death of Jesus, which He endured for love of us.
Catholic Men’s Fellowship of Northeast Ohio is sponsoring its annual conference for men of the Cleveland diocese and surrounding communities. The theme of this year’s conference is “Experiencing Jesus in the Eucharist” The event is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, 2024, and returns to its previous location at the Holiday Inn Rockside, 6001 Rockside Road in Independence. Part of their mission is to evangelize the faithful to build a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. This conference is one way to encourage our men to do just that! I hope that you will enthusiastically support it. Key speakers include Father Thomas Blau OP, an “itinerant preacher” in the Diocese of Columbus, having led over one hundred parish missions in Ohio alone. The other is Joe Heschmeyer, a staff apologist for Catholic Answers. A popular author, blogger, and podcaster, Joe joined the apostolate in 2021. Bishop Woost is also expected to speak as well as celebrate the closing Mass. To register: www.cmfneo.com/#conference.
Today is the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. Please pray for all the women and men of the Church who are living a consecrated life and those who are discerning a consecrated life.
Prayer for those in the Consecrated Life
O God, throughout the ages, you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience. We give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration. Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you. Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.