In the readings for the first Sunday of Lent, we hear it proclaimed that although we live in a world marred by sin, and that because of original sin man, falls prey to the devil’s tempting, Jesus Christ came to save us. It is through Him that we know the goodness of Salvation.
We read in Matthew’s Gospel about how, after His Baptism and before He began His public ministry, Jesus retreated to the desert. There, he spent time fasting, praying, and drawing closer to the Father while at the same time resisting every temptation the devil threw at Him. Effectively, Jesus put the devil in His place — then, bound eternally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, He began to preach and teach and reveal Himself to the world.
As we begin our Lenten journey — our own 40 days in the desert, as it were — we ought to keep this Scripture in mind. It is the time for us to draw closer to the Trinity through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving while, at the same time, recognizing our own sinful weakness and repenting accordingly.
“The prayers and Scripture readings and devotions of the Lenten season help us to have a continuing conversion in our relationship with Christ,” Fr. Troha says. “It is a time for Catholics who have left the faith to come back to the faith. It is a time for Catholics who are not married in Church to get married in Church. Lent is a season of tremendous grace for each one of us. We don’t want to miss out on any opportunities for growing in our faith that the Holy Spirit gives us during Lent.”
This year, the opportunities to grow in our faith abound here at Immaculate Conception and around the Diocese of Cleveland. At Immaculate Conception, we will pray the Stations of the Cross every Wednesday at noon and every Friday at 7 p.m. Following Stations on Fridays, we will celebrate Mass together.
In addition, every parish in the diocese will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5 to 7 p.m. for what is being called the Diocesan Evening of Confession. Come take part in this merciful sacrament either here at Immaculate Conception or at any other parish around the diocese that evening. Additionally, Fr. Troha and Fr. McNeil will join the priests of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church for a communal penance service — consider joining them. The mercy of God is endless, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation offers us access to its plethora of graces. In a particular way, Lent as a season beckons us there. Find time to make Reconciliation a priority this Lent.
What’s more, on four Tuesdays during Lent, we will host a series of speakers who will give talks bound to deepen our love and understanding of what it means to live the faith. The talks will be held on Feb. 20, Feb. 27, March 5, and March 12 at 6:30 p.m., in St. Joseph Hall. Make time to be there. You will be sure to walk away edified and encouraged in your faith.
Indeed, even with so much going on, Fr. Troha encourages us to “think small” as we proceed through Lent.
“By that, I mean we should do a few things as well as we can, rather than trying to do everything that our parish and other parishes offer us,” he says. “Choose to come to a weekday Mass once a week. Choose to come to Stations of the Cross on Wednesday afternoon or Friday evening. Choose to come to Confession at least once during the Lenten season. Choose to fast at least one day a week, as well as on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Start early, even before Lent begins, to think about what you will be doing as an individual and as a family this Lent.”
The purpose of Lent is to bring us closer to Christ, as we prepare for the celebration of the Great Paschal Mystery at Easter and the season of Easter that follows. That does not mean doing it all — but it does mean doing it intentionally. Enter into the season of Lent with the goal of growing closer to Christ through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and choose what to do accordingly. In your decision to live Lent with purpose, you will undoubtedly emerge anew, joyfully praising God for the graces He bestows through the Paschal Mystery of His passion, death, and resurrection!