Fr. John Schork, CP
Lenten compassion encourages each of us to personally pause, to look deep inside, to ponder God’s presence (or absence) — and then to open our hearts over the 40 days to allow the nurturing love of God to sink in. We are invited to take a break from the fast pace of life, and let true Love once again enfold us. Lent speaks to the human heart of the 21st Century.
Renewal through Compassion within our Ministries and Mission
Lenten practices provide a variety of opportunities for the merciful love of God to “come alive” in the ways we touch the lives of our sisters and brothers. As we proclaim the Passion of Jesus in word and deed, in Sacraments and sacramentals, God’s Love in Jesus Crucified comes alive — especially in the special opportunities for prayer during Lent, particularly in praying the Stations of the Cross. To walk with Jesus in his ultimate “journey of love” touches even the hardest of hearts!
Jesus missioned the early Apostles in a spirit of simplicity and sharp focus. Today’s call to Jesus’ mission comes to many of us in the midst of personal lives that are complex, cluttered, and most likely all-too-busy. Our desktops, smartphones and calendars are filled with all sorts of opportunities, commitments and challenges. In our own way, we share that same call as 21st century disciples: to bring the Good News of Jesus to our needy world and its people. No small task in our large and complex world which is beset with all-too-many suffering and human tragedies! During Lent, we strive to heed that call with compassion and offer hope, comfort and healing.
Our 21st Century world has more than its share of violence, corruption, greed, prejudice, selfishness, etc. — and Lent offers us the opportunity to go back to the roots of our faith in Jesus, and then to reach out by our deeds of penance and almsgiving to renew the bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood. Our simple Lenten sacrifice of time, talent or even “treasure” such as food — such deeds speak eloquently of the Love of God at work in our world, calling us to greater unity as sisters and brothers. “Lent is more than giving up chocolate.”
Renewal through Compassion toward our environment
Jesus of Nazareth calls out to each of us during the days of Lent, inviting us to journey the highways, the sidewalks, the footpaths of our world — joining Him in proclaiming the Good News of God’s Love for all creation. Jesus’ words in Scripture these days encourage us to take a good look at our fellow human beings, at nature, at the basic goods of daily life — to treasure all as “Gift” from God. Today, Pope Francis pastorally encourages us in our “care for our common home”. Lent is a change of heart, a life of love.
Renewal through Compassion within our communities
Renewal of the basics of human life is the heart and soul of the Lenten season. We are God’s people, blessed with the gift of the many people who form our families, our neighborhoods, our schools, our work, etc. Lent helps us better treasure the uniqueness of each person, and the value of life shared within our communities. Lenten compassion helps us move beyond the judging, the hostility, the fears and suspicions that hold us back from true spiritual growth and true caring for one another. Lent inspires shared life!
Renewal through Compassion through our vocations
From the beginning of our life of faith in Baptism, we are blessed with a vocation that helps us to grow spiritually and bring about goodness and life for our sisters and brothers. The Lenten season takes us back to the roots of our vocations, and then the person of Jesus in the Holy Week celebrations encourages us to follow his example of love and sacrifice — to selflessly “bring forth life”. Lent encourages a reaching out to others, encouraging new Life in Jesus.
Renewal through Compassion in education
“Remember…repent”: words that challenge us in the very beginning of Lent. To think as a human being, to look to what has happened in times past, to let the words and example of history move us forward. Lent invites us to explore the basics of our faith, the Love of God in the Person of Jesus — and to continue growing in faith as it is lived daily. Jesus teaches us what it means to love, to give without counting the cost…what a lesson for life today…and for eternity!