We enter this Lent in a very different way than we are used to; although we had hoped for a return to the traditions and services, God has another plan. While it may be difficult to see now, we can be assured it is a more perfect plan and one from which He will bring forth many blessings.
The beginning of Lent traditionally means going to church and receiving ashes, as well as making the promise and the commitment that we will sanctify this holy time. Whether or not we can receive ashes or if we find them distributed very differently, it does not alter our response to the Lenten call to make this a time of conversion and sanctification.
While Ash Wednesday ushers in the Lenten season, it is not the ashes that will make our Lent more or less holy. Ashes merely remind us of the dust from which God made us and that each of us is called to repent and believe in the Gospel. What makes Lent holy and spiritually enriching is our commitment to grow in faith, to care and love for our neighbor, and to reaffirm our desire to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
The Lenten season, through the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, refocuses our attention to our lifelong journey of conversion. We are to spend these 40 days seeking through our prayer, sacrifice, and giving, how God is calling us to make this world a better place.
Let us acknowledge all our merciful and loving God has done for us. In grateful recognition, let us do our part to cooperate with the sanctifying graces given us to be Christ in the world.
My hope and my prayer, for each of you, your families, and parish communities, is all will experience this Lent as a genuinely holy time, despite all that we are facing. I know we anxiously await the day when we can return to celebrate together our faith, our beloved Sacraments, our spirit of community, and our loving God. As we wait, let us make Lent be a time of sanctification, of conversion, of molding us into better people, so in turn, we can affect change in our world, making it a better place. May God bless all of you with a very blessed Lenten season.
The Fall River Office of Faith Formation launched a wonderful Lenten website offering various materials and resources. With encouragement to approach Lent differently this year, the Office of Faith Formation provides opportunities for families, parishes, and individuals to be moved by the Spirit over the next 40 plus days. Live more deeply the pillars of Lent — prayer, fasting, and almsgiving — through a series of challenges. Take time, especially now as Lent begins, to explore the wide variety of resources shared under the Lenten Resource page. As I have said many times, if we use this time to grow in faith, hope, and love, we will be renewed and emerge better people. I pray we all use this Lent as a time of reflection, renewal, and conversion. I genuinely believe that when we change, we can be instruments for building a better world.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha