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Bishop’s Column

A Lenten Message from our Episcopal Advisor

February 14, 2024

Dear CMA Members and Friends,

Today we begin the holy season of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The great penitential season of Lent has begun with the aim at drawing us closer to our Eucharistic Lord and helping us remove those obstacles in our lives which keep us from recognizing him with amazement and thus giving ourselves more completely to him.
Lent is a disruption in our daily routine, and well it should be. While a season of penance can be both uncomfortable and inconvenient, it promises profound fruit and immense graces by drawing us deeper into the spiritual life – the generous and self-sacrificing life of Christ.
In the liturgy for Ash Wednesday, the prayer before Communion pleads with our Heavenly Father, asking him that “as we entreat [him] through works of penance and charity, we may turn away from harmful pleasures and, cleansed from our sins, may become worthy to celebrate devoutly the Passion of [his] Son.”
Once again, the whole aim of this season is to embrace the spirit of suffering for our sins, lean into the discipline of penance — not for its own sake, but for the sake of something greater — that with clear eyes and an undivided heart, we may be more worthy of rejoicing in the Pascal Mysteries of our Salvation.
We are also halfway through a three-year Eucharistic Revival in our country. We can glean from this communion antiphon, an exhortation to draw more profoundly closer to the Eucharist. Through a spirit of sacrifice and penance, we allow our hearts to let go of things which can take the place of our Savior, turning away from harmful pleasures and cleansing us of our sins, we can thus more perfectly see Christ hidden under the veil of bread and wine. The more we see him truly present in the Eucharist, the more we will desire to draw closer to him, spend time with him, and proclaim him to the nations.
Lent can help us “fall out of love” with the enticements of the world and create the space in our hearts to “fall more deeply in love” with the Eucharistic Lord.
It is my hope that this Lent will open the space in your heart to recognize Jesus, our Eucharistic Lord, to fall more deeply in love with him and thus strengthen you to proclaim him to the ends of the earth. Entrusting you to the loving embrace of the Blessed Mother, know that you are in my prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. James D. Conley D.D., S.T.L.
Bishop of Lincoln
Episcopal Advisor