Lent 2018

Lent is for Healing.

This week we begin the practice of Lent in the Church with the celebration of Ash Wednesday.
At Saint Andrew Parish, our theme for the 40 days of Lent is “Healing the Wounds of Injustice” which corresponds with the traditional mantra during Lent – Pray, Fast, Give. The connection between our theme and the traditional mantra is made when we ask the question “Why do we pray?” and “Why do we fast” and “Why do we give?”
When I teach the RCIA classes for adults entering the Catholic Church, I frequently get questions about practices such as fasting and abstaining from meat on Fridays. Why would we do this? It almost seems contradictory when we profess that God created the world “good” and then we go about the business of neglecting ourselves from that goodness. “Why would we deny ourselves?” “What is good in that?” These are great questions. They help clarify the Church’s teaching and also reveal an innate bias rooted in a poor interpretation of our cherished beliefs and practices.
If instead we start from the point of view that yes, the world is created good, but we have participated in God’s creation in unjust ways, we find better reasons for practices such as 40 days of praying, fasting, and giving alms. When we give something up, it isn’t because we enjoy suffering or seek agony. That is misplaced at best and sadistic at worst. Instead, our sacrifice is our participation in restorative justice for the world. To seek the benefit of others is in itself a greater good than the good of pleasure or indulgence.
When we are aligned with our deepest values we pray so that we will have the strength to take action. When we take action by fasting, we remind ourselves of the struggle necessary for justice to flourish. When we give alms rooted in love, we take steps for God’s justice to be made real.
With the help of the Social Concerns Commission at Saint Andrew, every week of Lent, we will focus on one ministry from our parish that works to heal the injustices of the world. We invite you to reflect upon these ministries and to pray about how God can help to keep these ministries in your heart. We then invite you to respond from your heart by sacrificing something from your week. That extra latte or treat that you would normally have. By surrendering that which is excess in our lives, we will all have more that we can give to support those in need. Thus, our prayer (Pray), leads to action (Fast), which leads to justice (Give).
Near the end of Lent, we will focus on our own personal healing through sacramental sign as we prepare ourselves and challenge ourselves to enter into God’s restorative love through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In the fullness of this 40-day journey, our hope is that we will take steps toward greater healing and prepare us for the great joy of Easter.
I hope you will join me and others from the parish in this Lenten journey as we pray, fast, and give so as to participate in Christ’s healing the world’s injustice.
-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate
A week by week schedule of our Lenten theme:
Greater Chicago Food Depository (Regional Justice)February 17 & 18
Ministries to Uganda (International Justice)February 24 & 25
St. Mary of the Lake Pantries (Local Justice)March 3 & 4
Catholic Extension Society (National Justice)March 10 & 11
Sacrament of Reconciliation (Personal Justice) March 17 & 18

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