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Rekindle the Fire of Faith : Weekly Message for 2-22-18
Dear Friend in Christ,
Leading up to the start of the Lenten season, we always receive a number of questions asking about fasting along with other penitential practices and why we should practice them.
In his recent message for Lent this year, Pope Francis would simply say it has to do with “rekindling the fire of faith in our hearts”. Pope Francis urges us to renew our enthusiasm for the faith, using this season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as an opportunity to stoke the flame of charity in our heart.
“Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth.”
In a nutshell his message warns against the coldness of our hearts and listening to “false prophets”. Seeing the problems in the world and within ourselves, he recognizes how we all struggle with many experiences that probe to “whittle away all of [our] enthusiasm and zeal”, commenting on the theme: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12).”
He described several signs of a cold heart: “selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances.” A cold heart has no room for charity, and that it, “leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own ‘certainties’: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations.”
To combat these evils and to turn up the heat in our hearts with the fire of faith, the Pope highly encouraged the traditional Lenten penitential practices of:
- Prayer: “By devoting more time to prayer we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers.” He explained that devoting more time to prayer also helps us to find consolation in God, who is our Father and who “wants us to live life well.”
- Almsgiving: Almsgiving is a way of setting us free from greed, acknowledging that “what I possess is never mine alone.” Almsgiving is very fitting during Lent that “even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself.”
- Fasting: Lastly, he claimed that fasting provided us an opportunity for growth, “Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
“Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer…if, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.”
“May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds, by listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.”
Here at RCSpirituality, all we desire is for your relationship with God to go deeper. If that happens, then you will find all the light and strength you need to fulfill your mission in the Church and the world.
May this Lent be a privileged time for continuing to stoke the fire of faith in your hearts.
God bless you!
Lucy Honner, CRC
Director, RCSpirituality Center