Fasting from Anger and Divisiveness; Praying the Rosary; Expressing Gratitude.
On March 13 we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome. His official Papal Inauguration took place on March 19, 2013, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. During his homily that day Pope Francis spoke of St. Joseph as the “custos,” the protector of Jesus and Mary and he asked all of us to be the “custodes” or protectors of everyone and everything entrusted to us.
On November 24, 2013, only eight months after his inauguration Pope Francis issued his first Apostolic Exhortation entitled Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of Gospel. With this document Pope Francis offered a clear road map for the future of the Catholic Church as he saw it.
At the heart of this roadmap is our joined mission to proclaim the Gospel as an antidote to all the ills in our world marked by anger and division and as a recipe for being the best custodes or protectors of one another and our world.
One of the main themes that threads this document and is truly the mark of Pope Francis’ pontificate is the theme of true joy. This is the kind of joy rooted in the experience sof God’s love for us and in the assurance of our salvation in Jesus Christ. He writes: “There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.”
In a homily Pope Francis preached on May 23, 2016, he stated poignantly that “the Christian identity card is joy, the Gospel’s joy, the joy of having been chosen by Jesus, saved by Jesus, regenerated by Jesus.”
During this third week of Lent and in celebration of Pope Francis’ anniversary let’s mend our heart by fasting from anger and divisiveness; bend our knees by praying the Rosary; and lend our hands in expressions of gratitude.
- Mending our Hearts by Fasting from Anger and Divisiveness
- Anger and divisiveness are omnipresent in our world today. Many people thrive on these sentiments, and some even promote them. Anger and divisiveness rather than joy and harmony have become the hallmark of our private and public lives to the detriment of our society and even our church.
- Embracing joy and harmony, while choosing to fast from hatred and divisiveness is not only physically healthy but mentally, emotionally and spiritually enriching. And after all, this is our only possible response to the mystery of God becoming one of us so that we may become more like God.
- This week let’s resist the voices that preach divisiveness and the powers that tell us to hate and let’s embrace the Gospel values of joy and harmony.
- Bending our Knees while Praying the Rosary
- Lending our Hands in Expressions of Gratitude
- Granted, there are many reasons to be sad and weep for our world. But maybe this week we can focus on all the reasons we should be grateful and allow ourselves to celebrate the many blessings bestowed on us.
- Once we have become more attune to the many blessings of everyday life, we can learn to savor them and allow for a deep sense of gratitude to take hold.
- This week let’s express heartfelt gratitude to our family, our friends, our God. This is not about mere pleasantries of politeness, rather this is about genuine appreciation. Profound gratitude may even inspire us to act with kindness or to return a favor.
And please remember to be patient with yourself and others. Lent is neither an endurance test nor a time to prove our Christian heroism. Rather, Lent is a time to slow down and ponder what is essential to our faith and thus to our life as Christians. So please pace yourselves. Give yourself and others the necessary space. And above all be patient with yourself and others.
Johan van Parys
Director of Liturgy & Sacred Arts