marks the beginning of Lent, a season of forty days
observed by most Christians. It is a time in which
Catholic Christians prepare for the celebration of the
Paschal Triduum - the Three Days of the Christian
Passover. We will commemorate the passion, death, and
resurrection of the Lord on Holy Thursday, Good Friday,
and the Easter Vigil, respectively.
We are preparing to renew
our commitment to follow our Lord Jesus Christ through the
ministry of the Church. Our catechumens (those who have
never been baptized) and candidates for full communion
with the Catholic Church (those who were baptized in
another Christian denomination) are preparing to be
received into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil.
Those who are already members of the Catholic Church are
preparing to renew their baptismal promises on Easter
Lent is a penitential
season. The purpose of penance is to soberly examine our
lives in light of the love of God. God has loved you
before you could return love to God. God believes in your
potential even when you have doubted His existence. God
never gives up on you even when you were tempted to give
up on yourself. You are special to God. You are His child.
You have a dignity that no one can take away from you
because they did not give it to you. How have we chosen to
respond to this great Gift?
When we respond to God's
invitation to live in fellowship with Him, it is done with
confidence that God will never reject us. God loves us as
we are now. However, it is precisely due to God's love for
us that He does not want to leave us as we are now. Jesus
teaches us what it means to be truly human. By His grace,
we can give up those things that lead us away from God so
that we can be free to live as His children and reach out
in love toward others.
God is reaching out to us
with His steadfast love. "Steadfast love" is the
definition of the Hebrew word for "mercy." This
love can heal the wounds of our sins. Repentance is not a
negative concept. We are changing our minds about those
actions that have alienated us from God and others. We are
turning toward our Saving God, who restores us to our true
identity as His children and helps us to live in a right
relationship with Him and with one another.
God will not restore us
to our true identity as His children without our
cooperation. The Office of Campus Ministry and Community
Service has many liturgical, formative, and service
activities that can assist you during this season. Take
advantage of them.
other articles by Father Ray