All That Matters

By Monsignor William McCumber
Director of the Office of Worship 

Ash Wednesday, February 22nd, marks the beginning of the season of Lent. As Catholics we’re very familiar that these next forty days are a preparation for our great celebration of Easter.
The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word lencten, which means, “spring.” Spring is a time of new life, new growth and Lent is that time in which we prepare ourselves for new life or a renewal of life spiritually. Lent is a time marked by particular outward signs or rituals, such as the reception of ashes on Ash Wednesday, the communal celebration of the Stations of Cross on Friday, parish fish fries and Lent would not be Lent if we didn’t “give up” something such as chocolate, ice cream or time on the computer, as a sign of penance.

Lent is often portrayed as a journey, from one point in time to another point in time, but it can also mean a growth in faith. This concept of journey or growth in faith is clearly evident for those who are preparing to be baptized into the Church or be fully received into the Church. We pray for those of our parishes who are in the RCIA program as well as for those who are helping to prepare them for this celebration into the Church.

For all of us the season of Lent is a penitential time during which we attempt to become more sensitive to the role of sin in our lives. Having an awareness of sin is balanced by an emphasis on the love and acceptance that God still has for us, despite the sinful condition in which we still find ourselves. This balance is aided by the practice of meditating on the Passion of Christ, His suffering, death and Resurrection. This is done in the celebration of the Stations of the Cross, and parishioners are encouraged to receive the sacrament of Penance (reconciliation) during this season of grace.

As we have mentioned, Lent is a journey, it is a journey into a deeper relationship with God who loves us unconditionally, and who sent us His only Son as a covenant of this love for us. Lent can be a very positive experience for us even if it means giving up ice cream for a short time. This is possible when we stop to reflect on what God has given up for us!

As we begin this season of Lent let us remember, “All that matters in any and every way Christ is being proclaimed.”

Read Pope Benedict XVI's Lenten Message 

Check out Lenten resources from the Office of Sacred Worship

Find your parish Mass and reconciliation times

Read Bishop Ricken's 10 Things to Remember For Lent

An Introduction to Lent 

Lent has ancient roots in the early Church --from the St. Louis Review