For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son… John 3:16
It is hard to believe, that Lent is just around the corner! Many of us feel like we have just caught our breath after celebrating Christmas, especially for those in Rome, where the Christmas Tree and huge Crib stayed until 2nd February, and now here we are at the door of Ash Wednesday. In this year of an early Lent and of the Year of Mercy, we are invited by Pope Francis to live this season more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy. (Misericordiae Vultus, 17).
How intensively do we really want to live this Season? Surely, we must not waste any moment, so that we can dedicate enough time for prayers, and immerse ourselves in attentive listening to the Word of God and the voice of Prophets, as well as listening to the teaching of Pope Francis for this Lent, making it spiritually fruitful.
We are called to recognize our own need of God’s mercy and believe with gratitude that for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that we may have life. Also, we need to identify and reconcile our weaknesses and sins, and choose willingly to sin no more. This purification will help us to rediscover the Crucified Jesus, and His love and forgiveness for us. This closer relationship with Him, will certainly help us to deepen or even find our lost love and ways to love again, to love truly.
This Lenten Season is a time of conversion and a time to deepen one’s faith and to live with greater love through demonstrating the corporal and spiritual works of mercy in our daily life, our everyday actions, in our homes, communities and in environment. In these special actions, we shall not neglect anyone…, especially our own Sisters, family members, and neighbors, who often need help in body and spirit.
Our Holy Father Francis in his Lenten Message writes: "In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, and visited; in the spiritual works of mercy - counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer - we touch more directly our own sinfulness.” The works of mercy gain graces for those who practice them. Therefore, by doing works of mercy we are doing God’s will, and our Lord has promised that He will also give us what we need. (cf. Lk 11:9).
These charitable activities of mercy mentioned above - simple, concrete, direct, alive, and daily - invite us to live this season of Lent in the Jubilee Year in closeness with the suffering Christ, and with compassion for others; they motivate us and help us to become true images of God’s holiness and perfection, and to grow in likeness of the Merciful Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
By opening the door of our heart to God and by helping others to experience God’s loving presence, we also help ourselves. By this, we sanctify ourselves and experience God’s healing and challenging love.
Dear Sisters, mercy is a special virtue, it is a spontaneous fruit of charity (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas), but requires pure intention followed by concrete action. I invite each one of you to live this Lent with a merciful heart, opened to God’s initiatives and to freely give yourself to others with enthusiasm. I also wish that each Sister will celebrate and experience God’s mercy herself in this time of grace.
With prayer to the Blessed Mother of Mercy and our beloved Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti,
Sr. Izabela Swierad, SAC