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Lent summons us to come back to the Lord

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

Feb. 14, 2018

In his Lenten message this year, Pope Francis invites us to reflect on what happens when our love grows cold.  What happens when the love which is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many? 

The Holy Father offers for our reflection the startling image from Dante’s Inferno of “the devil seated on a throne of ice, in frozen and loveless isolation.”

Here in the North Country, we are certainly no strangers to cold and ice!  We are very much conscious of the dangers that these elements can bring if you and I don’t take them seriously. 

We know, too, how much, in the midst of frigid temperatures and their hazards, the care and concern of another can make such a difference.

This “heart-warming” image is one we can carry with us this Lenten season, especially since Ash Wednesday this year falls on a day popularly set aside to celebrate love alive, St. Valentine’s Day. 

In his Lenten letter, Pope Francis shows how we can stir such love into flame through the traditional Lenten practices of Prayer, Almsgiving, and Fasting.

Prayer invites us to greater introspection and is a means to root out self-absorption. 

Almsgiving takes this a step further by seeking to set us free from greed and helping us to regard our neighbor as a brother or sister.

Finally, the Pope sees Fasting as not only a way to connect with those struggling in the world community, but as a means to weaken our tendency to violence as we “hunger and thirst for life in God.”

This message of Pope Francis coincides with our own Diocesan effort this Lent to help Catholics better understand the Church’s Social Teaching and its Key Principles. 

Using the Prayer of St. Francis as our model, I invite our local Church to consider what it means when we pray: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace…” 

Through articles in the North Country Catholic and on our Diocesan website, www.rcdony.org, as well as bulletin announcements and other online resources, our parish communities will have the opportunity to study and reflect further upon “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching.” 

Central to this teaching are the Life and Dignity of the Human Person and the Call to Solidarity.
As the Holy Father, concludes his letter, he writes these words which I would like to make as my own invitation to you this Lent: “If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God!  He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew. Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.”

A blessed Lent to you and your families! 

Let us keep one another in prayer and love anew!

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