2018 Lenten Message from Bishop Burbidge

2018 Lenten Message

Video Transcript (print version):

In unsettling times, St. Therese of Calcutta was once asked by a reporter, "What has to change?" She looked back to the reporter and answered the question in three words — ‘you and I.’ She’s right. We have to change.

That is the special invitation given to us in this sacred season of Lent. In our faith we call it conversion, a radical transformation of the way we live at every level, the ability to acknowledge in our lives that which is not of God, so we can leave the darkness of sin and walk in the light of Christ.

How blessed we are that, in this sacred season, Jesus has given us three time-tested disciplines in the Gospel of Matthew to help us with the process of conversion: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Perhaps I can offer a practical suggestion for each one.

Prayer. No matter how much we want to change, no matter how strong our desire or commitment, we can never do it alone. We are completely reliant on the grace and strength of God, gifts that we find in fervent prayer. As we begin these sacred days I suggest to you to pray with these three psalms: Psalm 18, 31, and 51. As you pray those psalms, listen to what Jesus is saying to you during this Lenten journey.

Fasting. Sometimes you will hear it's not really necessary to give up anything for Lent, so long as you do more good works. But really it's not "either/or," it's "both." Of course we have to do more good works of mercy, but why did the Saints always talk about the need for fasting? Because it reminds us that nothing in this world can ever satisfy our hunger or quench our thirst except Christ in whom we find the genuine joy and serenity for which we are longing.

Almsgiving. We are all so blessed. Aren't we? So many gifts God has bestowed upon us. And we know the purpose of those gifts: to give glory to God and to serve one another, especially our brothers in need. I was blessed earlier this morning to celebrate Mass in one of our Catholic high schools. After the closing prayer, I blessed the Catholic Relief Services rice bowls that will be distributed throughout our high schools and elementary schools. These bowls allow our students (and all of us) to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout world who are experiencing hunger and extreme poverty every day.

Dear friends, in our desire to give alms never be deceived into thinking "what possibly could my offering do to solve the problems of hunger and poverty?" Remember what Jesus taught us: No gift is too small. If it comes from your heart, the Lord will use it in miraculous ways.

So, at this time in our lives, as we look at our world, our nation, our Church, and our communities, what needs to change?

Saint Theresa of Calcutta had it right.

You and I, we need to change. And with the grace of God through prayer, fasting and almsgiving we will.

I wish you a lenten season filled with amazing graces and abundant blessings.