Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The season of Lent is an extraordinary moment of grace the Church is called to live every year in preparation for the Sacred Triduum. These Lenten weeks of prayer and fasting and works of charity are all pointed to the solemn holy days of the Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Friday of His Passion and Death on the Cross and then the exultant moments of proclaiming His Resurrection at the Easter Vigil and Easter Day.
What we will celebrate on those days shapes and informs what we seek to become by conversion, prayer and penance in the Lenten season. At the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ is forgiveness and reconciliation. In fact the message of the Cross is the message that love, God’s love for us, the Son’s love in human form, that love is poured forth as the greatest act of forgiveness the world can ever know. God forgives us through His Son’s death, a death that brings about the reconciliation of all humankind to God. Praised be Jesus Christ! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!
As we enter into the season of Lent with our eyes fixed on Jesus, I would like us all to pray for forgiveness of our own sins and pray for the conversion of the hearts and lives of us all so that we may belong more deeply to Christ, to His Church and to one another. As we examine our consciences and as we see ourselves in the light that shines forth from the Cross, I pray we may all receive the forgiveness that only a merciful Father can give us through His Son and through the Church. I pray that we all will seek the healing of our hearts and reconciliation with God that the Church offers through the great sacrament of merciful love, the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.
And I pray that, as we are forgiven by God, we may also forgive one another and be reconciled with one another so that, as the one Body of His Church, we may celebrate the Easter sacraments worthily and with great joy. Sister Mary Hughes, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Amityville, wisely shared these thoughts with consecrated women: “Forgiveness never pretends that all was well…Neither does forgiving mean that one does not speak. Make no mistake. It is wrong to have so many fractured relationships in the Church and in our world”. She is right! Forgiveness and reconciliation are sorely needed in our Church and in our world. If God forgives us, we too must forgive one another. You know those whom you must forgive. You know those with whom you must be reconciled. Are they in your family? In the Church? In your neighborhood? Near or far away? Now is the time for forgiveness, now is the time for salvation.
On the Cross Jesus cried out to the Father, “Forgive them”. That cry was for each and every one of us. This Lent He will whisper that same cry to each one of us: “Forgive them”. As He healed a fractured world and a torn humanity making us one with God and one another, I pray we too might help heal any and every fracture in our lives by imitating Him, forgiving one another from a sincere heart, and reconciling ourselves with one another so that His cross might be not only our hope but the hope for all humankind.
Devotedly yours in Christ,
Bishop of Rockville Centre