Friday, February 15, 2008

Lent can be a joyful time

By MONSIGNOR JIM GEHL
Pastor, St. Bede the Venerable Parish

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to have the opportunity to write to you as we find ourselves beginning the season of Lent.

Happy Lent to you!

Yes, Happy Lent!

You might ask what do I mean by “happy?” We aren’t supposed to find joy in Lent are we? Maybe we’ve been taught to believe that we must be somber and penance is the order of the day. No doubt when we think of Lent we think of ashes and the color purple and no “alleluias.” However, if we find ourselves thinking of Lent without joy or a Lent that makes us feel less happy, possibly our understanding of Lent doesn’t bring us quite far enough.

One of my favorite quotes is “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God!” If whatever we have chosen to do for Lent make us somber or downhearted and doesn’t fill us with more joy, more happiness, maybe we need to reevaluate. Lent must bring out even more that presence of God within us and therefore the joy we experience as we draw closer to our God.

One specific suggestion is to be sure that we decide not only to “give up” something for Lent, but that we decide to do something special for Lent.

God knows we need to do penance and fasting in our lives. But let us not only focus on those items, let us also go out of our way to pray more, to visit a sick friend or relative, compliment someone, spend more quality time with the members of our own family. Whatever it’s going to take to bring more joy and love into our world, into our own homes and into our own lives, that is what we must be about!

God’s peace to you during this holy season.

MONSIGNOR JIM GEHL is pastor of St. Bede the Venerable Parish in La Cañada. Reach him at pastor@bede.org.

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