Dear Sacred Heart Family,
This week we celebrate the last week of Ordinary Time and start getting ready for Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and Lent at the same time our hearts fall under the tragedy of war breaking out in Europe for the first time in 77 years. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks well to this moment, “…every tree is known by its fruit.” Luke 6:44
There are no better words for us to look back at these past months since the celebration of Jesus’ birth and also prepare ourselves for the disciplines of Lent. What fruit have we born in our families, with our friends, with our world? Have we honored our New Year’s resolutions, or have we given up already? Have I kept up my prayer life with God before meals, before bed or before I begin my day? These days ahead we begin our Lenten promises—what am I willing to give up for Lent? Or, as many people now ask, what am I willing to do for Lent, for God and others? The heart of our Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and alms are that we bear better fruit, bear sweeter fruit, that we become a better person, we become the person God made us to be. If giving up chocolate or sweets will do that, then by all means do that, but if we are even halfway serious about doing Lent well, then perhaps we need to make a more meaningful sacrifice this Lent. I believe there is one person who can guide us best in Lent and that it is Mary, more specifically the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
You may remember that when Mary appeared to the children of Fatima, she came as the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she asked them to do what we do in Lent, pray more, and make acts of penance. She specifically asked them (and us) to pray the rosary and that could be a good practice to add to your life this Lent. She also asked that we pray for the conversion of Russia, which we know from this week, is needed more than ever. As we do that, we must adhere to Jesus’ words to us this week to be careful of hypocrisy, as if all our problems with war in the world are only with Russia as our country’s Special Operation Forces participated in militaristic actions in 134 countries last year (most dedicated to combating anti-terrorism). So, as we pray and work for an end to war, this prayer must include all of us.
Our Blessed Mother of the Immaculate Heart, of all love, is our best guide in these days and weeks ahead as we dedicate ourselves to prayer, fasting, penance, and almsgiving to the poor that we may become the best of who we are, become better than we were before, and to truly be a light for the world trapped in darkness that others may know us by our fruits.
With a heart for Mission,