Today’s scripture readings offer fitting reflections in preparation for Lent. In the Gospel Jesus teaches us to attend to our own need for reform before trying to correct others, using the hyperbole of trying to remove the sliver in one’s neighbor’s eye while overlooking the beam in one’s own. This is reminiscent of last Sunday’s Gospel: “Stop judging and you will not be judged.” The season of Lent challenges us to focus on our need to examine our own consciences, remove the wooden beam of sin from our eyes and look clearly at the renewed person God wants each of us to be.
You may not be able to tell a book by its cover, but “every tree is known by its own fruit.” (Gospel) We all have “a store of goodness in our hearts.” Pruning away by Lenten penance whatever obscures that goodness allows us to produce the good fruit nurtured by grace that is a virtuous life. Saint Paul assures us in today’s Second Reading that devotion to the work of the Lord—a life of virtue—will never be in vain. It will bear good fruit in this life and will be rewarded with immortality in the life to come.
Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday, March 6. The regulations for fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent are found elsewhere in the bulletin as well as the schedule of Masses and services for both parishes. Students in the earlier religious education program will attend the service at 4:15 at St. Charles. Students in thelater religious education program will attend the 7:00 Mass at Notre Dame. Of course everyone is welcome to any of these Masses.
While fasting and abstinence are good Lenten penances that enhance our self-discipline, they go hand in hand with works of charity or almsgiving. The children of our diocese traditionally have their “mite boxes” in which they may put a daily offering. These proceeds now go to the Missionary Childhood Association, a papal missionary society. We have something similar for adults called Operation Rice Bowl. The idea isthat what we save by fasting or “giving something up for Lent” we can use to feed the poor. So this weekend and on Ash Wednesday you are invited to take home a “rice bowl” into which you can put these daily savings or, as I do, just write out a check at the end of Lent. These proceeds go to Catholic Relief Services, an agency of the United States Catholic Bishops. So let’s all—child or adult—make a difference as we strive to grow in holiness and charity this Lent.
Father Mark Miller has been granted a temporary leave of absence from our parishes and Notre Dame Middle School and McDonell High School to deal with some personal issues. Please pray for him and for all priests and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.