Dear Notre Dame Family,
As we begin Lent this year there is a great deal of thinking about its special character because, as many have said and written, the pandemic has made the entire year a sort of Lenten experience: self-denial; recognition of the need for charity, and the appeal to God for our lives to return to a less fraught level.
While we have been confronted with death daily, it takes a special awareness to look beyond the numbers to the people that the statistics represent. As we receive ashes, may we pray for the grace to do this.
I am particularly struck this year by the words from today's second reading from Paul's second letter to the Corinthians:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
At Christmas we fascinate upon the incarnation as God becomes one of us. Now, as we confront the reverse process we must examine our lives and ponder: how do we become more like God?
The Church focuses us on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and we have traditions of what we "give up" for Lent. These practices are rich in their ability to transform our lives looking both inwardly and outwardly to see the world as God sees it, and to respond as a Christian ambassador. What is our role as ambassador?
I would suggest that ambassadors are bridge builders between cultures and people who often do not have much to do with each other. In this Lenten time of self-examination, how are we building bridges through our Christian example? How do we appeal to others to join us?
Although we remain masked and socially distant, we are compelled to reach out for Christ through our prayerful, generous, disciplined example. Through our Lenten disciplines let us contemplate that the engaging with a discipline is to transform us into disciples.
May God be with you in all you attempt these 40 days.