Lent is a holy and beautiful season of love, forgiveness and reconciliation. We embark on a forty day of spiritual journey to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter by commemorating the Paschal Mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection.
We who are baptized followers of Jesus are called to refocus our daily lives on the important truths of our faith. We recognize our shortcomings and our need to respond more faithfully to the challenges of the Gospel. On Ash Wednesday we received the ashes in the form of a cross, reminding us that the Lenten penitential season is a journey that ends with Easter Resurrection.
Our Holy Father, in this year's Lenten message, asks that we ponder the supplication from Second Corinthians: We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20) Pope Francis urges us to reflect on the great Mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ, so that we rediscover the roots of our conversion.
Reconciliation is essential for our relationship with God. It begins with repentance, the need to turn away from sin, change the course of our lives and turn to God. It opens our hearts to God's mercy, forgiveness and salvation, made possible through the Paschal Mystery, the very foundation of Christian life. The challenge for us is to make needed changes, not only on the surface or for show, but deep down inside. Indeed, God generously offers us forgiveness and showers us with His divine love.
The pillars of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, help conversion take root in our lives. Our fasting can help us feel the physical hunger that reminds us of our need for God. Our prayer bridges a stronger relationship with God our Father and opens our hearts to know His plan for us. Through the alms we give for the least of our brothers and sisters we are giving to Christ himself. (Mt. 25:45). Indeed, Lent offers us the opportunity to free ourselves from the culture of accumulating more and instead share in a spirit of love to help others.
Let us journey together this Lenten Season and seek reconciliation with Christ. "Repent and believe in the Gospel," that we may celebrate God's gift of new life Easter brings.
Most Reverend Oscar A. Solis, D.D.
Bishop of Salt Lake City
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Islanders Affairs