shepardscare2013The Church again calls us to this season of Lent. As catechumens and candidates for full communion prepare for the Easter sacraments, Christ is also asking us to experience a new conversion in our lives, to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.

That is why the ashes were daubed on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday. These 40 days will be filled with prayer, fasting and almsgiving as well as the Sacrament of Penance in our lives. Thus we will “repent and believe in the Gospel”.

Last week, just before Ash Wednesday, I joined with my ordination classmates to bury a dear friend and priest confrere, Father Roger Pierre. He was a wonderful priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. As pastor of St. Richard’s Parish in Richfield, Minn., he ministered to my mother before her death. He served Christ and the Church faithfully for almost 50 years. These last years he also endured the effects of Parkinson’s disease and cancer in his own body. By all accounts at his funeral, he was ready to meet God.

While concelebrating his funeral Mass, my eyes fixed on Father Roger’s casket, I found myself asking, “What is still keeping me from God in my life? What is still getting in the way of my love for God and my love for my neighbor? Where do I still need conversion in my life?”

We know not the hour

These disturbing Lenten questions helped me know how very gracious and loving God is, allowing us yet another Lent to prepare ourselves to meet God face to face, permitting us yet another opportunity to be converted in our hearts.

None of us knows how much time we still have here on this earth, so each day, each Lent, is another graced opportunity to prepare ourselves at last to “gaze in the loveliness of the Lord”. May this season of Lent help us “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” so that when Easter comes we may embrace Jesus Christ: “[We] want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death.” (Philippians 3:10; New Revised Standard Bible translation).

+John F. Kinney
Bishop of Saint Cloud