Simplifying Lent, Pope Francis Style
Hosea was an 8th-century BC prophet in Israel who spoke with brutal honesty about God’s awareness of the peril and consequences of sin. But he also portrayed this very same God as one who is abundantly compassionate: a “forgiving husband,” a “loving parent,” and a “healing physician.” John Michael Talbot and Gregory Norbert put the wisdom of Hosea into song through the beautiful hymn, “Come Back to Me.” The song, which is quite popular in churches during Lent, reminds us that God has revealed the destructive nature of sin and calls every human person back to Him. The perfect timing of Lent helps us to prepare and understand the depth of God’s love for us through embracing the life of Jesus. Pope Francis simply reminds us:
“These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus: to listen to the word of God, and to put it into practice. This is the Christian life – nothing more. Simple, simple. Maybe we’ve made it a little difficult with many explanations that no one understands, but the Christian life is thus; listening to the Word of God and practicing it.”
The “upward,” “inward,” and “outward” model of reflection is one that supports the Holy Father’s advice. As described in the Lenten edition of “The Word Among Us,” each of the three dimensions have a uniquely related question that we can ask of ourselves for the remaining days of Lent:
UPWARD: “Can I make it a point as I pray to quiet my heart and try to sense God’s love?”
INWARD: “Will I try to forgive people today, or will I let resentment get the upper hand?”
OUTWARD: “Can I become just a bit more loving toward other people today?”
In March, there are many events that we can consume ourselves with to help the last phase of Winter runs its course in our lives. The Brier, March Madness, Roll Up the Rim, St. Patrick’s Day are awesome events to embrace. However, a complementary attitude of less self-reliance and attachment, with focused attention to the most basic tasks that God asks of us is a great way to come back to Him. In this way, by Easter, we can abide in an even deeper relationship with our unconditionally loving, and patient creator.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our ThoughtExchange in February. We look forward to revealing the general themes arising from the voice of our students, staff, and parents to our communities, and incorporating this information into our planning for 2018 – 2019.
Best to you through your Lenten Journeys.
Superintendent of Schools