Archbishop Don's Ash Wednesday Message


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

This year we enter the season of Lent with many people feeling like the world is coming apart at the seams. To some degree it has felt that way the last two Ash Wednesdays, but this year, it is even more acute. The pandemic has worn us down and had negative repercussions in 10,000 ways. The polarization in our society, which we feel also in the church, has worsened considerably in recent months. Over the past year, the church has been called to task as never before. And the invasion of the Ukraine has brought great grief and discouragement. The earth does not seem very stable beneath our feet.  

Lent is a season where we come to the Lord empty handed, where we come bringing our needs, our struggles, and the burdens of our lives, our families, our communities, and our world, bringing them into the presence of the crucified and risen Lord. We come before God as a wounded people, a people with problems bigger than we can manage. There is room for all of that, and for all of us, in the season of Lent. Every year on Ash Wednesday we hear the same invitation from the prophet Joel: “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, ...and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness.”  

Lent is a season of transformation, a season for the reordering of our lives. In the language of the desert fathers of the 3rd century, it is a furnace of transformation, a place where God changes the world beginning with our hearts and minds. This year, Pope Francis has asked us to make Ash Wednesday a day of fasting and prayer for peace in the Ukraine; a day to be close to the sufferings of the Ukrainian people; and to implore of God the end of the war. Let us respond generously.

Through this season of Lent, let us be deeply attentive to the sufferings of others, and ask for the eyes to see where we ourselves are being called to address that suffering, or to accompany those who are heavy burdened. Let us see the face of the crucified Lord in our sisters and brothers, and respond with compassion. And let us not lose hope. Our God is a God who shows us the face of boundless mercy in the midst of the trials and tribulations of life, and who walks with us most intimately there. So, dear people of the Archdiocese, If we feel the brokenness of the world around us, or feel it internally; if we feel disoriented, struggling, carrying heavy burdens; if the world, and the church itself, seems to be deeply wounded; if our prayer is a dry longing and our hope is strained... Do not despair. Do not despair. As we enter the season of Lent, let us entrust ourselves to the Lord once again. God is at work in our midst. God is with us, encouraging us to begin again, to be faithful, to love, to seek justice, to give of ourselves fully. God loves us, loves our broken world, and wants to allow his body to be given anew for the redemption of the world. We are that body. Let us embrace our calling and live this moment as well as we can, by the grace of God. Wishing you all a blessed season of Lent. 

Watch video message HERE

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