This past weekend more than two hundred of our young men and women opened their hearts to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They were confirmed in the faith. Having lived their Catholic faith for the past fourteen or so years, they declared publicly that they want to follow Jesus with all their hearts. Let us pray for each one of them that they will continue to shelter and make flourish the Holy Spirit in their hearts.
All of us will be so much happier and more fulfilled if only we allowed our hearts to determine our decisions and judgments. It is unfortunate but true. We all have heart trouble. I am not implying that our physical hearts have problems. I say that at some point in our lives our hearts get broken. Even in our ordinary language the word “heart” figures in so many expressions. We call someone our “sweetheart” and we refer to the “heart of the matter.” We say that we love someone with all our hearts. We pay tribute to the immense love of Jesus by celebrating the Sacred Heart.
The Bible considers the heart to be the center of the person, the core. In the Book of Exodus we read about the Pharaoh who hardened his heart. The Prophet Isaiah often chides the People of God because they profess their loyalty to God with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. The Psalmist challenges us with these words: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts!” Through the Prophet Ezekiel, the Lord says, “I will take away your hearts of stone and give you hearts of flesh instead.”
We all know that when we set our hearts on something we will make it happen. It is out of this awareness that we have chosen the theme for this Lenten season: “Open your Heart to the Lord.” If we really open our hearts, God can achieve much in our spiritual progress. What prevents our hearts from opening?
The three gospel readings from John that are read on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent give us a clue. Just like the Samaritan woman at the well, we are complacent and therefore unable to believe in the Master. Or, like the man born blind we are unable to see until we recognize Him as the Messiah. Finally we resemble Lazarus who had been dead in the tomb for four days. Once we hear His voice, we come out of the tomb and step into fullness of life.
In order that we may see, believe and hear, the parish mission this year will help us to open our hearts. I invite you to the Lenten Mission preached by me so that you can fall in love with the Lord who fell in love with us even before we were born. Once we are in touch with the personal love of this God for us individually, prayer will be automatic. We will communicate with him just as we communicate with our spouse or friend. Once we feel His love, we will be joyful. The three sessions – given both in the morning and in the evening – will help us to prepare our hearts for Easter.
In addition to the mission, we will have silent adoration and the Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent. We can spend some time with our Eucharistic Lord as we have a heart-to-heart with Him. There will be several opportunities to go to reconciliation. Our communal celebration of penance will be on April 3rd, Monday, when several priests will be available. Our adoration chapel is open 24-hours a day and the Lord is waiting for you. Perhaps you will consider becoming a committed adorer. Lent is also a good time to attend a daily Mass. If your schedule allows, participate in the soothing prayerfulness of a weekday Mass. I invite the women of the parish to consider attending the Women’s Retreat that will take place on Thursday, March 9th.
I am sure that each one of us will look for some special act of renunciation or an extra moment of prayer. Let us make this Lent all about the heart. Let us do everything out of love for this God who loved us enough to send His Son to the cross. Let our hearts suffer with the Suffering Jesus so that we can rejoice with the Risen Lord.
As Paul reminds us on Ash Wednesday, this is the acceptable time, the day of salvation. Let us not allow this special grace to pass us by. Let us avail ourselves of every opportunity to draw closer to the Lord. Let us see, hear and believe in Him!
Let us open our hearts to the Lord!
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...