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‘Return to the Lord wholeheartedly’

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

March 1, 2017

In his Lenten message this year, Pope Francis writes of the urgency of responding to God’s call to conversion, encouraging us “to refuse to settle for mediocrity.” Each year, the prophet Joel introduces our Lenten journey by pleading with us: “even now, return to the Lord with your whole heart” (2:12). 

Now is the time for our diocesan family to respond to the Lord’s call to follow Him wholeheartedly.At one time or another, we can find ourselves giving witness to our Catholic faith in a half-hearted, mediocre fashion. We might not miss Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day and we may try to follow the commandments, but the investment of our whole heart and soul into our faith life is lacking. 

We can become satisfied with going through pious motions with little energy or excitement.  That’s why the holy season of Lent is an opportune time to implore God’s Spirit to clear out the clogged arteries of a self-satisfying mediocrity that give rise to sluggish hearts.

Passion and zeal were certainly evident in those who participated at our INSPIRE event in Lake Placid last September. 

With the arrival of Lent 2017, I want to invite each one of us to recommit ourselves to feed on the fruits of that experience. 

Let us yearn to give ourselves even more wholeheartedly to God and His Mystical Body, the Church.  May we in these forty days experience the joy of giving ourselves totally to Jesus and sharing that encounter with others. 
Christ-led, Christ-fed, and Hope-filled, we know that there is nothing routine or ho-hum about following Jesus.

Our parishes are currently engaged in pastoral planning endeavors, and each of us is encouraged to participate in the process.  This is a graced opportunity to deepen our relationship with Jesus and an important way to contribute to the vitality of His Body, our local faith family.

As we actively engage in the life of our parishes, we depend on the traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving to help stir into flame our faith.  Through our participation at Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Penance, as well as the special Lenten programs offered in our parishes, we are given opportunities to rise above the mediocrity about which Pope Francis writes. 

My prayer is that these next forty days prepare our local Church to passionately embrace the promises that Easter brings.  Even now, return to the Lord wholeheartedly! 

Let us pray for each other this Lent and always!  Let us together pursue the passion!

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