February 8, 2024 at 7:00 a.m.

This Lent, commit to making strides in your spiritual life!

This season is a good time to review our progress in moving from our “old self” into the “new person.”
Father Thomas Morrette
Father Thomas Morrette

By Father Thomas Morrette | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

At the beginning of Lent, we hear stark words when the priest or deacon places ashes on our foreheads: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel” (Mk 1.15). This reminds us that following Christ inevitably leads us into a battle with sin and temptation, with selfishness, and with the materialism and hedonism of our times.

Contemporary culture ignores the reality of sin, often makes fun of it, and it minimizes its destructive consequences. The secular world broadcasts this media message every day: “Everyone should decide for themselves what’s right or wrong. No one, and no institution, should tell you what to do.” Jesus Himself was non-judgmental. All Jesus cared about was that we love (“love,” here, meaning how we feel at any given moment).

Yet most of us know that sin is the world’s most destructive reality. In its many forms and degrees, it brings guilt, shame and a propensity for sinning more and more into the sinner’s life. It pushes people further and further away from God and stokes our inner rebellion. We know that “a virtuous life is a happy life,” however, we can easily get seduced into believing the world’s rationalizations.

Christians must constantly remind themselves of the destructive power of sin. Christians have to work hard to strengthen their resolve to steer clear of sin to maintain their peace and integrity. Believers have to continually make an unshakable choice against “the gospel of the world” in order to fully embrace the Gospel of Christ.

Every day, we can see how sin has infiltrated our world. We see the hedonism, violence, selfishness and godlessness that destroys concord and peace around us. We should also see how sin may have found a home in our own hearts, no matter how dedicated we are to Christ. We need to make objective assessments to be clear as to how we’re doing as followers of Christ. Catholics are especially blessed to have recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where God’s mercy and grace are always available to us.  That sacrament also delivers countless invisible graces for improvement and change.

Keep in mind that Christian life is a lifelong journey of inner conversion and transformation. Integrity of life is not usually achieved in a single blast of enlightenment, forgiveness and grace! Freedom from addictions, bitterness, bad habits and despair usually takes time and consistent effort; it requires sustained and worthy participation in the sacraments and, most often, the guidance of others who can help pull us out of brokenness. The path to spiritual freedom begins with a determined choice and a plan. The overall plan, however, is achieved by daily effort, patience, acts of re-commitment, and continual reliance on God for grace to elevate us and empower us. And, it involves the refusal to give up!

The season of Lent is a good time to review our progress in moving from our “old self” into the “new person” God has called us to be. It’s a good time to resurrect a plan for holiness long abandoned, to deepen a plan already begun, to determine where obstacles undermine success, and to go forward. Lent is all about taking mini-steps up the mountain!

St. Pope John Paul II wrote: “In this life, conversion is a goal which is never fully attained. On the path which the disciple is called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, conversion is a lifelong task.” 

So, this Lent, use this season for your benefit and growth. Commit, once again, to making strides in your spiritual life. Remember the goal! — attaining true love of God and neighbor and the peace, joy and security of living like Jesus. Consider using the traditional means for making progress that the Church offers us at this time — prayer, fasting, almsgiving and practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Use these tools time and time again. Progress may be slow and unstable. But persevere. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nor are we.

Father Morrette is pastor at The Catholic Community of Our Lady of Victory in Troy, Our Lady of the Snow Mission in Grafton and Christ Sun of Justice Parish in Troy.


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