WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Pope's Message for Lent Helps us Through Papal Transition
God is good and that he is leading the Church. He is the unseen head of the Church and that his goodness will demand an amazing Pope for our times.
Of course, the traditional practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that we hear about in the Gospel today, Ash Wednesday, are very important to help us all believe in charity so to call it forth.
These are not just traditional forms of Lenten penance, but three gifts which so coherently and perfectly respond to the three wounds that we have.
Sin has caused a treble wound of a break in the relationship between God, others, and ourselves. Prayer mends the relationship with God; almsgiving the relationship with others; fasting with our own being, especially our flesh.
In this sense the Gospel for Ash Wednesday is perfect for every year because it is the unchanging spiritual program for every Lent.
We won't ever change out of the ways that we are broken or the ways in which we personally and collectively need to repent. However, every year the Holy Spirit asks of us something new. The Lenten message of the Holy Father is always the place to look for what is unique to this year's Lent. So - the Holy Father has given us a spiritual program of papal transition.
I suggest we follow it.
These are the two things that will bring us through Lent this year from the Holy Father's message: faith and charity. This Pope has been the Pontiff of faith, hope, and charity, as he has written a major encyclical about each of the theological virtues.
Here are the Holy Father's words for us this Lent about faith and charity:
"The relationship between these two virtues resembles that between the two fundamental sacraments of the Church: Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism (sacramentum fidei) precedes the Eucharist (sacramentum caritatis), but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith ("knowing that one is loved by God"), but has to arrive at the truth of charity ("knowing how to love God and neighbor"), which remains for ever, as the fulfillment of all the virtues (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).
"Dear brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent, as we prepare to celebrate the event of the Cross and Resurrection - in which the love of God redeemed the world and shone its light upon history - I express my wish that all of you may spend this precious time rekindling your faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother and sister that we encounter in our lives. For this intention, I raise my prayer to God, and I invoke the Lord's blessing upon each individual and upon every community!"
Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is currently based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom. He is a speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Visit his homily blog http://medleyminute.blogspot.com or his blog on sexual ethics http://loveandresponsibility.org
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Lent, Pope, Message, Benedict XVI, Papal, Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving
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