Lent: the Perfect Time to Return to Prayer

The arrival of Ash Wednesday has brought another Lent into our lives and hopefully we are ready for it. There are so many reasons in our world today for us to pray and so many people in each of our lives who are in need of our prayers. Sadly, and because of the many demands on our time and attention, there is a temptation for each of us to forego many opportunities to raise our minds and hearts to God. Prayer itself gives us the occasion of mind and heart to get a rest with God. Lent is the perfect time to return to prayer with renewed vigor, seeing it as a time to encounter Christ our Savior personally.
The practices of Lent give us many moments to pray more. The Stations of the Cross give us the opportunity to gaze on a crucifix, looking on Christ at the definite moment of Salvation. We have our rosaries which should be more available in Lent. We can leave them out so that we see them and think to pray, and pray more often; maybe someone else will see them and be reminded of the importance of prayer. There are Chapels and Churches to be visited, so many beautiful holy places here in our own Diocese. Let us all take the time and make the effort to make this a good and Holy Lent. After all, God gives us only so many Lents in our lives.
In the weeks before Lent, I was fortunate to be around so many good people and just see them as witnesses to their faith. We recently celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial for Father Colombo Bandiera at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Morgantown. The Great Church had a wonderful congregation of believing people and a large number of priests to celebrate his life. Looking out on all these good people, I saw a wonderful testament to the grace of God in our modern world. They came out to pray for Father Bandiera and to celebrate his priestly life of 64 years; in doing so, they also showed how good they are as the People of God. We are fortunate to have so many good people in our world and in this diocese. There is a witness that we must not miss of our precious and holy believers who approach the altar so often and witness to goodness right in front of us. How fortunate we are just to be near them!
I had a similar experience at the annual Catholic Charities Gala in Wheeling. I really enjoyed seeing so many generous and good people on this occasion. This past year has been one of the most successful for Catholic Charities West Virginia. The terrible flooding in Southern West Virginia last year was an occasion of so much suffering among our fellow citizens. The generosity of so many in our own Diocese combined with the help of other dioceses enabled us to respond to the needs in a phenomenal way. On the evening of the Gala, I tried to express the level of generosity and the outreach that was accomplished by so many good people working hard together. We must thank God for so many good people who reach out to others in need constantly. During the generous response to the flood, I learned a lot about the needs of others and the poverty that really exists in so many communities of our State, requiring our constant attention. I thank all of our good people, in so many communities throughout our State, who reach out and truly sow the love of God in our modern world.
During this Season of Lent, I hope for a renewed commitment to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving throughout our Diocese and across our nation. With a greater commitment to each one of these disciplines, we could accomplish so much.