In Lent, I am pushed out of my normal routine and invited to engage the world in a new way. In community, Lenten rituals mold my heart and mind, reminding me of what I want to do, but so often neglect.
In his 2023 Message for Lent, Pope Francis reflects on penance and the meaning of the transfiguration for our lives. He points out that Jesus does not travel to Mount Tabor alone but takes with him three disciples to be witnesses. They are invited to share this experience of grace. “For it is in togetherness that we follow Jesus.”
Pope Francis states, “Lenten penance is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the way of the cross.” He acknowledged that this is hard, and we often fail. Just as the disciples struggled, so too we are called to intentionally commit—and recommit—to “deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation…to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity.” This journey “requires effort, sacrifice and concentration.”
Pope Francis reminds us we have support on this important journey together. As Peter, James, and John ascended the mountain with Jesus, they heard the voice from the cloud say, “Listen to him” (Mt 17:5). Here is the key, Pope Francis exclaims. “It is very clear: we need to listen to Jesus. Lent is a time of grace to the extent that we listen to him as he speaks to us.” He goes on, “And how does he speak to us? First, in the word of God…May that word not fall on deaf ears…In addition to the Scriptures, the Lord speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, especially in the faces and the stories of those who are in need.”
Every Lent, The Basilica holds a pledge drive for our St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) Ministry. The Basilica SVdP Ministry is a unique dimension of our parish community. Blessed by the generosity of our parishioners, we have funds to help parishioners and neighbors struggling with a variety of basic needs such as housing, transportation, and food.
The Basilica St. Vincent de Paul ministry has many different programs and opportunities for service. But all of the outreach is rooted in the fundamental desire to hear Jesus through the voices of those in need—to grow closer to the loving and forgiving heart of God.
Together, we listen to Jesus through voices of college students struggling with homelessness. We listen to Jesus through voices of people returning to our neighborhoods after leaving prison. We listen to Jesus as we sit with families seeking asylum, facing deportation, or fearing homelessness. We listen to Jesus as we speak with those who come to receive sandwiches every day at the Rectory. Relationships are developed. Comfort and healing are invited.
Together, as we hear the voice of God through our brothers and sisters in need, we remember the disciples on Mt. Tabor. Pope Francis reminds us, “Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid.’” Let us walk together see, act, listen, and be open to being transformed. Let us listen to God together.
Director of Christian Life