It’s been over a month since I last blogged. During the interim period of time, I have prepared for and endured abdominal surgery and its aftermath to close an ostomy, and spent time in Vancouver and now in Nanaimo in recovery. The surgery was a success for which I give thanks to God. In the meantime, Lent has arrived and I find myself contemplating new beginnings.
Lent is an ideal time to evaluate and to renew our relationship with Jesus. That requires us to take the “worldly” test once again. Lent is a good time to do this as it recommends that we detach ourselves from the everyday by praying, by fasting and by giving alms. This helps us to shift our focus from us to Jesus and to others. We are tempted, of course, to minimize the experience by going through the motions without any real self examination. If we already have a developed prayer life, we will be open to the grace that we all need to thwart the efforts of the enemy. Fasting, of whatever legitimate nature, helps us to underscore the importance of our relationship with Jesus who gave so much for each of us that we might entertain the hope of everlasting life. Sharing our material blessings or our time with others emphasises the love we have for Jesus and for those less fortunate.
My own faith community of St Joseph’s, Vanderhoof, has elected this lent to reach out to inactive Catholics through a process called “Awakening Faith”. The process hinges on an invitation to our inactive brothers and sisters to re-engage and in the process to come alive as they begin again to share with us the good news. For those actively involved in the process it is a type of alms giving focusing on time rather than money. The process involves “small group” work as we meet in small groups to consider selected topics. The hope is that those who participate will connect initially at the small group level and then gradually can be connected through programs and ministries to the larger faith community where they can be nourished by the Word and by the Eucharist.
As you survey your own faith neighborhood this lent, meditate on how you can best bring others to Jesus. A good starting point is to do the self examination required to determine how much progress you are making in emulating Jesus in your day to day life. The Holy Spirit stands by to fortify you that you might witness more effectively to the reason for your hope. People are attracted to Christians whose joy lights up the terrain they occupy. Getting people’s undivided attention is often the first step in sharing your faith with them.
As you work your way through your Lenten observances, may the Holy Spirit enhance that experience by strengthening your resolve to move closer to Jesus not only this lent but every day of your life. There are many who need to experience the loving and compassionate presence of our Savior and each of us is called to help bring these souls into communion with their Creator.