Bishop's Lenten Message

2014 Diocesan Lenten Message

Dear People of the Diocese,

This coming Wednesday we will begin the liturgical season of Lent. ln his Lenten message for 2014, Pope Francis offers us some helpful thoughts regarding our path of conversion during this Lenten season. His insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich." (2 Cor. 8:9). "Christ's poverty that enriches us" the Pope explains, "is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God's infinite mercy to us." The Pope describes this poverty as "... the greatest treasure of all ..." and he invites us to imitate Christ in confronting the poverty of our brothers and sisters by touching it, making it our own and taking practical steps to alleviate it. He states: "Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty."

In today's gospel reading we heard Jesus teaching the people that we cannot serve two masters and that we must strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The second reading presented a similar message stating that we are called to be: "... servants of Christ and stewards of God's mysteries."With Pope Francis, these scripture passages invite us to take seriously our call to follow the example of Christ in living open handed poverty of spirit, offering ourselves in loving service, especially to those who are most in need.

Traditionally, Lenten self-denial involves prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These three activities complement and support one another. With prayer we open ourselves to the Lord's wisdom and guidance, allowing Him to enlighten us as to His will and accepting from Him the fortitude needed to be faithful in carrying out His will. Through fasting we deny ourselves not only those things which are sinful but also those "lesser goods" that, although not sinful or bad in or of themselves, hinder us from achieving/carrying out those "greater goods" that the Lord so desires for us. By almsgiving we share the fruit of our prayer and fasting, gifting to God and others those treasures discovered in prayer and made available through fasting.

ln the closing paragraph of his Lenten message, Pope Francis asks that we pray for him and he prays: "...that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey." lf we will recommit ourselves today to the daily practise of these three Lenten activities of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we will be ready this coming Wednesday to undertake a fruitful Lenten journey, a journey of sharing in the poverty of Christ, a journey in which we will be enriched and bywhich we will enrich those most in need of the Lord's love.

Asking that you join with me in praying for God's blessings upon our Pope and upon each one of us during this Lenten season and always, I remain,

Yours in Christ,

+Peter Hundt

Bishop of Corner Brook and Labrador