Lent: A Pilgrimage of the heart
My dear brothers and sisters, by now we are settling into the familiar routines of the Lenten season. The sights, sounds, and smells of Ash Wednesday are lingering in our minds, the multifaceted preparations for Holy Week and Easter are suddenly appearing on our short-term calendars, and we find that our hearts are somewhere in-between – between the ashes and the empty tomb, between the wilderness of temptation and the joyful reunion in the upper room. Even as we are adjusting to the familiar and wonderful rhythm and flow of this holy season, we are reminded in our Ash Wednesday gospel that we have once again embarked on a pilgrimage of the heart. We are on our way to Easter, but the Lenten path at this moment leads through the wilderness.
As always, during these early Lenten moments, we discover that we are “in progress.” If ever there were a concept that we in the Ordinariate understand with full clarity, it is the idea of being in progress! For many of us, we have been “in progress,” or “in the process,” for quite some time, leaving behind decades of familiarity for a new life in a new world. For many of us, the glorious realization of our arrival in the Holy Catholic Church still captures our breath. We find that we are still overwhelmed by the graciousness of the Lord, and of his servant the Holy Father, for bringing us here. We are still enthralled by the newness of our lives, our ministries, our perspectives. But along with the realization that we have traveled through a great wilderness to get to this joyful reunion with St. Peter, we also discover that we are still traveling, still moving, still pushing forward, still “in progress.” Thus it will always be in the Season of Lent.
The words of our Savior in Matthew Chapter 6 are wonderfully clear: While we are moving forward in our faith, we are to persevere in our tasks of almsgiving, prayer, and fasting; but we are to “take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” We are to conduct our works of mercy in such ways that our left hands do not know what are right hands are doing. We are to pray in secret, so that our Father in heaven receives our undivided attention. And we are to fast in such ways that we “may not appear to be fasting.” We are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven – humbly, meekly, faithfully. We are to follow the example of the Lord Jesus, who gave us the perfect example and model of humility, simplicity, and service to others.
Let us joyfully enter this holy wilderness with our Lord. Let us spend these forty days and forty nights close to his Sacred Heart, drawing our strength, hope, and confidence from Him, knowing that these “in-between” times – these times when we continue to find ourselves “in progress” – are truly sacred moments for all of us. Let us renew ourselves in prayer, fasting, and works of mercy during this holy season.
Please know that you are all in my prayers.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson