April 12, 2024

Lent is a time when Catholics traditionally focus for 40 days on intensified prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do this in response to Jesus’ words: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15).

The Greek word for repent is “metanoia,” which comes from the words “meta,” meaning “above,” and “nous,” meaning “mind.” True metanoia means moving beyond our limited human instincts of mere self-interest and self-protection, which often end in selfishness, bitterness, negativity or lack of empathy if we don’t get what we want.

Metanoia involves a change of mind and heart from being self-centered to practicing the virtue of magnanimity, which St. Thomas Aquinas describes as a “stretching forth of the mind to great things” (Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q 129). Lent is a time to let your mind, will and heart be stretched to seek the great things of loving service of God and others.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us rise above ourselves in mind and spirit by focusing more on God and others. Our diocesan initiative of Set Ablaze is also intended to do just that: to ask God to send the Holy Spirit upon each of us in east river South Dakota to ignite our hearts, minds and wills with his supernatural help through grace.

God’s grace allows his divine life to come alive in us like St. Paul described, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). When we receive God’s grace, we have a change of heart, mind and will and discover our true identity as beloved adopted sons and daughters of God who are unconditionally loved and in turn can allow that divine love to flow through us to others.

This is the essence of what Lifelong Catholic Missionary Discipleship Through God’s Love is all about! The more we are animated by God through the Holy Spirit, the more we live godly lives that give glory and honor to God and participate in his plan of the salvation of our souls and others.

The reset of Set Ablaze is intended to help every one of us rise above our desires and seek the good of others. We want to see fuller Masses, less duplication, increased laity empowerment under the direction of their pastor, and the freeing up of more priests from administrative duties so they can focus more on being healthy, happy and holy through more time in prayer and spiritual, pastoral, liturgical and shared ministry with other clergy. It requires us to seek and implement what is feasibly possible and reasonable in light of the challenges we all face in today’s more secular culture.
Know of my prayers for a spiritually fruitful Lent for all of you as you prepare for the upcoming changes across the diocese in the new pastorate arrangements and priest assignments.