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In his Lenten message this year, Pope Benedict XVI has offered us an inspiring challenge: Live our baptism as an act that shapes our entire existence. 

By allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God, particularly by reflecting prayerfully on the familiar Gospel stories of the Sundays of Lent, this “shaping” can begin to form.

On the First Sunday of Lent we accompany Jesus into the desert where He is tempted. 

We know well the particular temptations that haunt us.  In order for us to live out our baptismal call, we must be aware of our own weaknesses and sinfulness, and that, when all is said and done, we rely ultimately on the grace of God.

Christian faith implies following the example of Jesus and, in union with Him, conquering the evils of our day.
In the Transfiguration scene, Jesus leads us up the high mountain.  Anticipating the resurrection, He lifts our vision to the glories yet to come.  The Father invites us to listen to Him above the noises of everyday living.
In the Gospel story of the Samaritan woman at the well, we are made aware of Jesus’ passion that every person receive the gift of the life-giving waters of His Spirit. 

As the Holy Father tells us, “Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it finds rest in God.”

“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus asks the man born blind. We make his response our own: “Lord, I believe!” 

Jesus opens our eyes, scattering the darkness in life, calling us to be children of the light.

We make that same affirmation of faith with Martha, at the raising of her brother, Lazarus.  “Yes, Lord I believe.”

God created us for resurrection and eternal life.  This truth gives meaning to our lives, hope for tomorrow.
As we enter this Lenten period of forty days, I invite you to spend time with these Gospel stories. 

Perhaps family members can take turns reading a portion of the story and then share how God is speaking to you through that event of Jesus’ life.

Please participate in your parish’s special Lenten activities.  Whether it’s learning about what it means to be a family of faith by studying Matthew’s Gospel, through the Lenten Longings program, spending more time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, going to daily Mass, or some other Lenten discipline, resolve to make Lent 2011 a time that fosters your spiritual growth and continuing conversion.

I pray that this Lent be a time for you to learn, live, and celebrate your Catholic faith with renewed vigor and confident hope.

God’s blessings for a fruitful Lent!

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