Lent: Time to build relationship with God
February 3, 2005
Dear Friends in Christ,
Since 1903 this local Church of the Diocese of Sioux City - its priests, religious and laity - have been privileged to receive a letter from its bishop at the beginning of Lent. In addition, the rules of fasting and abstinence are published for us as well as the list of particular charities and collections that are to be taken up during this holy season of Lent, the Sacred Triduum and Easter time that runs from Feb. 9, Ash Wednesday until May 15, Pentecost Sunday.
The Church in its liturgical prayers year-round is constantly praying in
In the Gospel of the first Sunday of Lent we discover the core element of sin: it's a fraud. And its main perpetrator is a master of deceit. If the core element of sin is fraud, then sin cannot begin inside of anyone. No it begins outside of everyone, proposed as a "good", and that proposal is what we call temptation. Just as Jesus went to the desert to face his temptations so must each of us use this time of Lent to face our temptations. We must bring ourselves to see our temptations as a test of our loyalty to God, our Father. Each temptation is a test to our character and nothing else. Each temptation presents the same simple question from God. "Do you love me more than everything else?" And if from that we commit sin that is our answer to God.
During Lent we speak of fasting, abstinence, prayer and almsgiving. We need to keep in mind that these are not the point of Lent. They are to be the tools we use to focus on the real point of Lent - to put aside all things and devote ourselves to concentrating on our relationship with God and the temptations in our lives that harm that relationship.
As we enter this special time we remain a "vacant see" - anticipating the new appointment by our Holy Father of a good shepherd as bishop of our wonderful diocese. As your Diocesan Administrator I want to write to you and invite you into this significant time - to be reflective, to renew yourselves, to become more repentant, and to grow in holiness. In doing this we will truly answer rightly the simple question from God, "Do you love me more than everything else?"
I also write with gratitude for your continuing faithfulness to God's teachings; your reverence in celebrating the sacraments; your continuous generosity toward those in need; your welcoming to new-comers to our Church and those who have been alienated; and above all your prayers for me in serving you as your Diocesan Administrator. You continue to be in my prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Roger J. Augustine