Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts; no self-denial without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” Excerpt from the 2014 Lenten message of our Holy Father Francis.
On March 5, 2014, Ash Wednesday, will be the beginning of Lenten season. On that day we will allow ourselves to be smeared with ashes, with dust. Why ashes on lent? Receiving the blessed ashes leads us to the solemn exhortation to remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return. It reminds us of the temporary nature of the world. Everything will end, our intelligence, strength, beauty, job, ranks, positions, career and our very own life. Life in God alone will endure. Thus the forty (40) days of lent is an invitation to undergo a spiritual retreat – an invitation to interiority and memory of the Father’s saving mystery through Jesus Christ His only begotten Son.
As a response to God’s invitation, may I admonish all BFP Christians to spend forty (40) days of lent as days of repentance and conversion. I encourage you to spend periods of recollection, retreat and spiritual enhancement among officers and personnel within your care. To sustain the above-truths, may you also observe and practice the 3 pillars of Lent which are corporal fasting, abstinence and almsgiving. First, corporal fasting is observed on Ash Wednesday and the successive Wednesdays of lent so as to focus our attention on what is necessary in life –salvation. Second, abstinence is a way of denying ourselves with things we enjoy and disciplining our wills so that we will not be slaves for our pleasures. Third, by practicing almsgiving, we are reminded that each of us is a not self-sufficient human isle. We are brothers and sisters and our devotion and mortification become empty acts if these do not lead us to greater love. Let these spiritual exercises be a fitting reminder that all of us are accountable to God.
May these Lenten observances make us feel more vividly the redeeming presence of Jesus’ Paschal Mystery. More importantly, may we all be inspired to transform our hearts to love God with all our souls. After all, without Him saving us and redeeming us, we are nothing (Jn 15:1-11).
God bless and remember how much God loves us in Jesus Christ.
REV FR (CINSP) RANDY C BALUSO, T’Ocarm
BFP Chief Chaplain