The Season of Lent is a time for examining our spiritual life and faith practice. We identify the ways in which we need to grow to be more faithful to Christ, to others, by turning away from sin and undertaking spiritual practices of holy detachment. Lent invites us to pray more frequently, give alms, and undertake fasting which can instil a “graced self-discipline”. This self-discipline helps us to avoid the sins that draw us away from the love of neighbour and God.
Pope Francis in his 2019 Lenten Message states, “Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will.” Furthermore, he pointed to the unchecked sinfulness that can become cyclical and unremitting in our lives, “that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself.” These attachments can gradually overpower each one of us so that we find ourselves engulfed by the “unbridled pursuit of comfort”.
St. Ignatius of Loyola addressed such attachments in the Christian spiritual life through the foundational principle of indifference or more commonly known as holy detachment. In the Spiritual Exercise #23 he states, “Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for human beings to help them in attaining the end for which they are created. From this, it follows that I should use these things to the extent that they help me toward my end, and rid myself of them to the extent that they hinder me. To do this, I must make myself indifferent to all created things … I ought to desire and elect only the thing which is more conducive to the end for which I am created.”
As we journey through this Season of Lent, our spiritual and penitential practices can open us to the grace of a holy detachment in our life, to surrender our control and our desires to God. Let us pray for the courage to rid ourselves of those things which hinder our relationship with God, to be more responsible for the care of the created world, and most especially the sacred dignity of our brothers and sisters. Through this grace, the Lord will prepare our hearts to fully receive Him and celebrate the gift of the Resurrection this Easter.
Most Reverend W. T. McGrattan, D.D., Bishop of Calgary March 2019
We all face moments of discouragement, doubt and anxiety when life presents challenges that seem overwhelming. Unfortunately, at such times, the virtue of hope can be misunderstood and greatly underestimated. Some believe it is merely a positive attitude or being optimistic. The secular world suggests that hope is found in the things of this world thinking that they will bring happiness.
Pope Francis reminded the Church that true hope is not built on human words or assurances but on God’s Word and His promise of salvation and eternal life. In his General Audience of February 1, 2017, he defined Christian hope as “… having the certainty that I am walking toward something that is, not something that I hope may be. Christian hope is the expectation of something that has already been fulfilled and which will certainly be fulfilled for each one of us.”
Hope is the unshakable trust that the promises of God will be fulfilled. This unshakeable hope is what the Church must rediscover now, hope in what God has done for us in His Son Jesus Christ, through His life, death, resurrection and ascension. Like the faith received and lived in the Church, hope is not a human attitude, but it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, a gift of grace.
In the Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul prays, “… that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, …” (Ephesians 1: 17-18)
May this prayer echo in the Church in these most challenging of times to inspire us to place our hope in the noblest and beautiful truths of our Faith. Through the Holy Spirit, may we trust His purification and renewal by embracing Christ more faithfully and living in hope.
Most Reverend William T. McGrattan, D.D. Bishop of Calgary
Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical charity designated Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018 as Red Wednesday in Canada: a day dedicated to drawing attention to persecuted Christians throughout the world.
Currently, 200 million of the world's Christians are unable to freely live out their faith. They suffer from oppression or persecution. To raise awareness of this oppression, the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) #RedWednesday is an initiative aimed at highlighting the persecution and injustice suffered by Christians, while promoting respect and tolerance between people of different faith traditions.
Thank you to everyone who helped make Red Wednesday 2018 such a success. Over 50 parishes, schools and religious communities in the Diocese of Calgary helped bring attention to the persecution of Christians across the globe.
If you are interested in assisting with the coordination of Red Wednesday 2019, please contact Theodoric or Kimberly at the Diocese of Calgary: 403-218-5501.
Pastoral Centre #RedWednesday - Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
#RedWednesday prayer at Ascension Catholic Parish in Calgary.
#RedWednesday prayer service at St. Gerard, Calgary.