Skip to main content


Called to Conversion: Why We Look Forward to Lent

I have a long way to go in this Way of following Jesus

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.


CHESAPEAKE,VA (Catholic Online) - When I was a young man I was part of the Steubenville miracle, the renewal of the College of Steubenville and its metamorphosis into the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The Lord used a wonderful Franciscan Friar named Fr Michael Scanlan to accomplish that work. I had the privilege of calling him my friend.

At his side during those early days was a group of priests, who shared his deep faith and helped him to build. They stood with him as he did spiritual warfare, suffered, prayed and persevered in the work. Like Fr Michael, they had the courage to do the hard work which early days of such efforts always require.

I thought of two of those priests this Sunday as I listened to the words St Paul wrote to the Corinthians in what is often referred to as the Hymn of charity. It was the second reading at the Sunday Liturgy. (1 Cor. 12:31 - 13:13) One of those priests was a Passionist named Fr Philip Bebie, CP. Another a Franciscan friar named Fr. David Tickerhoof, TOR.

Fr Phillip prepared my wife Laurine and I for the Sacrament of Marriage. We will celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. Fr Phillip had a tremendous influence on us both. He was a holy, humble, happy and very human priest - whose love for the Lord and devotion to Our Lady shone through in every area of his life.

He lived, suffered and died, as a witness of the power of cruciform love. I believe he is one of our contemporary saints who is not (yet) canonized. I dedicated one of my early books to him. I will forever be grateful to the Lord for this treasure of a priest who revealed Christ the High Priest to me at such a vital time of formation.

During our marriage preparation, Fr Phillip once said to me "Keith, I know how much you love Lolly (her nickname back then). I also know that married love, which participates in God's love, matures, grows through the seasons of life and has as its intimate goal your mutual holiness and heaven. Marriage is about becoming a saint. You two will help one another grow into the Image and likeness of Jesus".

He then read these words aloud to the both of us from St Paul:  "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Finally - and this is what I remembered specifically this past Sunday - he directed me, "Keith, as your married life unfolds, and you continue to love your wife "as Christ loves the Church" (Eph. 5:25) and raise your children, I want you to return to those words regularly. Where the text says "love" - I want you to substitute your name and make an examination of conscience."

He continued, "pausing at each expression of the virtues which are the manifestation of love being made perfect, I want you to ask yourself this question - and answer it with honesty before the Lord -  How Am I doing?"

Well, thirty eight years later, after Laurine and I have lived our vocation to Christian marriage in the heart of the Church, raised five children and now have six grandchildren, I still hear those words of that saintly priest and realize - I have a long way to go in this Way of following Jesus and becoming like Him.

Realizing the need to continue progressing in my response to the Lord's invitation to love as He loves (John 13:34), I was also reminded of Fr David Tickerhoof, TOR. Fr David was a gregarious and holy man whose love for the Lord was infectious. I lost track of him over the years but recently discovered online that he is a missionary in South Dakota. I was not surprised.

Back in those early Steubenville days, about a week before Ash Wednesday, Fr David would tell me "I am looking forward to Lent." The comment perplexed me. I thought it was strange. "Why would anyone look forward to Lent", I wondered. In my 20 year old mind, mistakenly thinking as most 20 year olds do that I knew everything, I would dismiss the comment as some sort of odd piety. 

Yet, Fr David had the wisdom borne only of age, experience and longevity in walking the Way of the Lord. I now echo the words I once thought so odd, "I am looking forward to Lent" and younger folks think I am odd. Ah, the seasons of life and love!

Lent is an invitation to ask the question Fr Phillip recommended, "How am I doing?" - and to be brutally honest before the Lord in my answer. Then, it is an invitation to get to work from the inside out. Lent is a gift given to us by the Lord, but we have to unwrap it and apply its remedial and healing prescriptions. We will soon have that chance.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.

Keywords: Lent, 40 Days, Love, self discipline, penance, repentance, priesthood, ascesis, fasting, penance, Deacon Keith Fournier



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Francis Xavier
    1 year ago

    How about the live we are called to live during lent?

  2. Victor Rodrigues
    1 year ago

    Beautiful article. I'm doing to use some of the points in my next talk at the Faith Formation class.

    Victor Rodrigues (Mumbai, India)

  3. Tom McGuire
    1 year ago

    YES

  4. abey
    1 year ago

    Better said as looking forward to the days, in the saintly way of Penance & Fasting in remembrance of the sacrifice of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ & to His words "Pick up your crosses & follow me".

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:12-22
do not forget, I say, that you were at that time separate from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
His saving help is near for those who fear him, his glory will ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
'See that you have your belts done up and your lamps lit. Be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

October 21 Saint of the Day

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. ... Read More