Every year during the season of Lent, the Church calls us to go into the desert as we prepare for the celebration of the greatest mystery of our faith — the death and resurrection of Jesus.
“Lent is a retreat for Catholics,” Fr. Francisco says. “It is a time for us to retreat from the bad habits in our lives and experience a change of heart, an encounter with Christ — a metanoia.”
Lent offers us a poignant opportunity to get on our knees and be prayerfully grateful for what we have, as Fr. Francisco emphasizes.
“As Catholic Americans, we have so much,” he says. “We have roofs over our heads; we have food to eat; and we have families and friends. We are wealthy in that we are not running from bombs in the streets while the people living where Jesus was born, they are running from bombs. We are truly blessed, and Lent gives us the opportunity to step back and recognize our blessings while at the same time looking deep into our hearts and increasing the level of our faithfulness to God who has given us so much.”
Throughout Lent, there are many opportunities here at St. Patrick for us to enter into the desert together and grow spiritually as we do.
Every Friday at 6 p.m., we will pray the Stations of the Cross together. Each week, different parish ministries will take turns leading the Stations. Then, after Stations, we will enjoy a simple meal together — a soup supper or a fish fry.
“The dinners give us the chance to build community with one another after we pray,” Fr. Francisco says.
On Feb. 26, 27, and 28, we will come together as a parish family for our Parish Lenten Retreat. Each evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will offer us time to grow in faith together.
Additionally, as usual, we will offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation every day except Sunday, and Fr. Francisco encourages everyone to participate. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is such a merciful gift. Christ is there, ready to dispense grace upon grace — we need only to go and participate.
On Wednesday, March 13, Fr. Francisco will offer a Mercy Wednesday. On this day, he will be available to hear confessions from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. or later, depending on the need, and Fr. Pressley will help him throughout the day. Be sure to make the time to participate, and experience the mercy of God anew this Lent.
Get involved in these many parish activities. They are bound to help each one of us grow in our relationships with one another and, more importantly, in our personal relationships with Christ. That’s what Lent — and life as a whole — is all about.
“We want to get to heaven,” Fr. Francisco says. “That is the goal of our lives. And when we participate in these kinds of activities at the parish, our souls reflect Jesus more and more. When we get to heaven, God’s not going to be interested in how many worldly possessions we have, but in how much our souls reflect Christ. These types of activities help to sanctify our souls.”
So, make it a priority to detach from bad habits and worldly possessions in an effort to grow closer to Christ this Lenten season, and embrace these many opportunities to do so. Then, when we enter into Holy Week and celebrate the glorious resurrection of Christ, we can do so with refined souls on fire for Him!