First Sunday of Lent

February 21, 2021

Today we celebrate the First Sunday of Lent. With the ashes barely gone, we hear once again the call of this season, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” We go with Jesus into the desert of our hearts to see the areas of temptation that the devil tricks us into believing. We enter Lent with a desire to journey through these 40 days to have our minds and hearts renewed; to experience this time of fulfillment and to once again see the Kingdom of God as our top priority. Each year the season of Lent is an opportunity to put first things first; to once again claim our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of God. Lent leads us through a series of reflections in the Sunday scriptures to prepare to renew our Baptismal Covenant with God on Easter; to allow the grace of this season of repentance to have our hearts renewed and our wills set firmly on God. We repent with our sacrifices, with more devoted prayer time, and with a sense of the needs of those less fortunate; almsgiving. May this time be grace-filled for us all. May the fruit of Lent be seen in lives that have accepted the call to “Repent and believe in the Gospel.”

What are some possibilities to consider this Lent to repent? The time-honored tradition of making sacrifices, “giving up something,” helps us to reorder our lives with God at the center. It can be as simple as fasting from favorites food to deciding to watch less TV or spending time browsing the internet, or playing on our cell phones. Instead, find a spiritual book on a topic that interests you. Maybe read the life of a favorite saint or religious figure. There are myriads of possibilities out there. In spending more time communicating with God and developing our friendship with Jesus we have Mass. Each day the scriptures are God speaking to us a powerful message. Perhaps a word or phrase will catch our attention and spark a desire to repent. Maybe the penitential psalm of Lent, Psalm 51, would be a good suggestion for us to pray. “A clean heart create in me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me.” There’s the time-honored tradition of making the “Stations of the Cross,” walking the final journey of Jesus from Pilate’s palace to Calvary, to the tomb. As we reflect on His great love for us in bearing the cross and dying to take away our sins we can find a solace of love that may be absent in our hearts this Lent. This walk can be formal, with others, or as simple as walking the “Stations” individually and pausing to meditate on what each scene might say to you. There are also booklets by the doors of Church with daily mediations. These are helpful prayer starters and good reflections for each day of the journey. The final Lenten discipline of “almsgiving,” is one we can adopt to unite ourselves and feel in more solidarity with those who are poor, vulnerable, and struggling. Lent is all about changing our hearts. “A heart renewed and humbled, O God, You will not spurn.” Whatever you choose this Lent, may it help to open your heart to the amazing grace of God calling us to rediscover His amazing Love.

Finally today, I want to encourage every parishioner to make it part of Lent to celebrate a good confession in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we heard on Ash Wednesday in the 2nd reading from St. Paul, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” If it’s been a long time since you went to confession, let this Lent be a new beginning of experiencing the power of this sacrament of God’s mercy. It is a great grace and a reminder of His unconditional love for us who are wayward sinners. Don’t let fear keep you apart from this love.

God Bless! Make it a great Lent!

Please continue praying 3 Hail Marys.

Fr. Pete