The Pastor's Column

Fr. Lara's Lines

First Sunday of Lent

When Jesus began his public ministry, he had a clear message: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” In fact, that is the same message we heard on Ash Wednesday, a message of repentance and conversion. Repentance and conversion are not easy for us to achieve. It takes a lot of energy and discipline to really change one’s heart. Jesus knew it and he gave us an example to follow. Jesus goes to the desert and remains there for forty days. He suffered in his human nature; he was even tempted by the devil. But he had the strength and discipline to suffer for the sins of humankind. In the same way, these forty days of Lent are an opportunity for us to strengthen our spiritual life. Discipline and self- control can be achieved when Jesus walks with us. Let us ask Jesus to be our companion on the way during this Lenten season.

The Church, in her great wisdom, invites us to observe some spiritual practices during Lent: fasting, praying, and almsgiving. These practices can be done throughout the year, but they have a more special meaning during the penitential Lenten season.

Some people might confuse fasting with dieting; however, the purpose of fasting is completely different. For Christians, fasting is a spiritual practice that unites them to the fasting of Jesus in the desert. Abstaining from certain foods is a small sacrifice that helps us recognize who we are as well as our dependence on God. We also abstain from doing specific things. Just like fasting, or abstinence from food, abstinence from other things is a common practice during Lent. Catholics usually talk about what they give up for Lent. It would be easy to give up something we do not like, but that would defeat the purpose. We should make a small sacrifice this Lent to give up something more significant. Sometimes a better practice is to do something for Lent. I encourage you to do acts of love and kindness during this Lenten season.

Jesus encourages us to pray without ceasing. Prayer is the raising of the heart and the mind to God. Prayer should be a daily activity for Christians since through prayer we unite ourselves to Jesus. Many parishioners who have a wonderful prayer life. Our spiritual life is strengthened by praying the rosary, reading the bible, attending or watching Mass, doing devotions, or meditating on the mysteries of our faith. This Lenten season, I invite you to work on your prayer life. You might want to pick up new daily prayer habits or work on being more intentional in your prayer routine. Quality time in prayer is more valuable than quantity. Jesus spent forty days in the desert praying to God the Father even when he was tempted. Let us follow the example of Jesus this Lenten season.

A third Lenten practice encouraged by the Church is almsgiving. This is a form of detachment from the things we possess. Jesus was tempted by the devil who offered him all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus knew that the kingdom of God is more valuable than the kingdoms of the world. He was able to be detached from the things of this world to be attached to the things of God. Through almsgiving we practice detachment from the things of this world and help those who are in need. This practice could be difficult from some people, especially because it requires giving up our own possessions, our time, or our talent. Let us share something with others this Lenten season. This spiritual practice will help us to prioritize the things of God over the things of this world.

Stations of the Cross
Praying the stations of the Cross is a beautiful Lenten devotion. In past years, we would gather for soup and stations, a time to share a simple meal and pray the stations. Because of COVID-19, this year looks different, but we are still gathering in church to meditate on the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The 8th graders led the stations on the first Friday of Lent, we appreciate their willingness to do so.

Fr. Lara

Live the Liturgy

Throughout history God has given His people signs. Our season of Lent offers us God’s sign that it is time to stop the ordinary routines of our lives, create some desert space, and listen more attentively for God to reveal His presence. We are asked to unplug from our attachments, compulsions, obsessions, addictions, routines, and busyness to clear the slate and take stock in who we have become. We are asked to remember the ancient sign of God’s covenant with humanity in which He vowed to nurture, sustain, and protect the relationship He has with His people. Once we slow down a bit and clear away some of the clutter, we can see how the journey of our life is unfolding. We can see what brings us in and out of tune with God’s love and how we can better imitate God’s loving fidelity in our relationship with Him. Even though some good solid self-denial is the order of the day, greater happiness and wholeness will be the fruit of our labors. Pleasant journey through the desert!