THE SECRET TO A GREAT LENT
When a helping hand is “giving alms” – a selfless gesture of true generosity.
How Can I Make My Lenten Resolutions Truly Meaningful?
On our Lenten Journey we are called to fast, pray and give alms in preparation for Our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection. Fasting, praying and almsgiving… we know what they mean, or do we? This Lent, I’ve challenged myself to move beyond conventional thinking about the Lenten season and consider the “secret” of having the best Lenten season ever. It’s something that is before each of us all the time, yet it’s incredibly easy to loose sight of.
The Forgotten Partner
Fr. Anthony Giambrone feels that almsgiving is the forgotten partner in our Lenten resolutions. He writes that “Works of mercy hold the key, for they animate our acts with love.” He concludes by saying that “Charity is the supernatural secret of this season.” But where do we find this CHARITY? And how do we make ACTS OF MERCY bring our love into our actions for others?
The Secret is Generosity
St. Gregory of Nazianzen writes: “Resolve to imitate God’s generosity, and no one will be poor. Let us not labor to heap up and hoard riches while others remain in need. Is it not God who asks you now in your turn to show yourself generous above all other creatures? Because we have received from him so many wonderful gifts, will we not be ashamed to refuse him this one thing only, our generosity?”
Photo Credit: Colleen McNerney
The secret then, is GENEROSITY in giving of ourselves, just as God has given everything to us. Far more than our monetary resources, true generosity demands the love and mercy of the Father, who showed his generosity in the gift of Christ Jesus… incarnate. One who knows us, loves us and sacrificed himself for us. Can we truly be any less generous?
(Deacon Tim McNerney, at The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.)
During his recent homily in Glasgow, the Holy Father addressed the bishops with these words:
Have a care also for your deacons, whose ministry of service is associated in a particular way with that of the order of bishops. Be a father and a guide in holiness for them, encouraging them to grow in knowledge and wisdom in carrying out the mission of herald to which they have been called.
Words of encouragement and guidance from Pope Benedict… confirmation of our call to vocation and ministry!
A colleague at WNBF radio told me about the shooting at the American Civic Association minutes after the first police radio reports were transmitted. I’ve covered a lot of news stories over the years and yet my first reaction was, “Are you kidding?” But the brutal truth came out quite quickly. Many dead and several injured, at a place that’s offered help for immigrants and held ethnic festivals for decades. We listened to the radio reports as we prepared for a Lenten Fish dinner at Holy Family Parish. Having no answers…yet lots of speculation on everything…I offered the only advice I could. Pray. Pray for everyone. The victims, the shooter, the first responders. Pray. Deacon Ed Blaine of St. James Church in Johnson City, was on retreat with other members of the Council of Churches staff in Windsor. He soon found himself at the Catholic Charities of Broome County office, just blocks away from the shooting scene.
The Chaplain’s Corps had been activated and he was one of four who helped the families waiting for word on their loved ones. “It was not an easy task. Catholic Charities did a great job. The city did a great job of handling the families,” he said. “They were about as compassionate as they could be. “We grieve our own community being attacked because it was an attack on the community,” Blaine said. “And we grieve for the loss of certain types of innocence, because such tragedies never happen here.” Mary Pat Hyland, a member of St. Ambrose Church in Endicott, found out about the shootings on the internet. She has taught Irish classes and performed with Irish dance groups at the Civic Association. “The Civic Association not only has helped immigrants in terms of preparing them to become citizens here, but it has also also been a place where we’ve celebrated our ethnicity.”
Hyland narrated the Passion reading at her parish on Palm Sunday. “At the same time there were images in my mind flashing of what these people were going through. It just really got to me,” she said. “But at the same time, because of the Gospel, it brought me peace. Even though it’s a dramatic, horrible story, at the same time it brings me peace because you know God’s love is always with us.” Jesus taught us to love our neighbors. In Broome County this week, our neighbors were everyone in the community. Shocked, confused and hurting neighbors of different faiths who came together in prayer on Sunday night. Now the healing will begin.
Deacon Tom Picciano