Message from the Provincial for the Lent 2024

NEPCM post header Lent WP

In the message from the Provincial, F. Marek Sobczak for the Lent 2024 we can read: “Lent is, for us, such a reset to get rid of the devil’s presence in our lives. To get rid of our failures, weaknesses, wrongdoings, and shortcuts. It is a time to turn around and become holy as we were holy during our Baptism”. 

[Newsletter No. 2/24] An Arab fable tells of a traveler startled by seeing a camel’s nose thrust in at the tent’s door where he was sleeping. “It’s frigid outside,” said the camel, “I only want to get my nose in.” The nose was allowed in, then the neck, and finally, the whole body.

Soon, the traveler began to be inconvenienced by such an ungainly companion in a room not large enough for both. “If you are inconvenienced,” said the camel, “you may leave; as for myself, I shall stay where I am.”

“Give but an inch,” says Anglican bishop Lancelot Andrews, “and the devil will take an ell; if he can get in an arm, he will makeshift to shove in his whole body.”

This happens in our lives much too often. In our busy lives, we compromise with the devil by allowing him to tempt us. And then we fall to the devil’s temptation quite often. And finally, we allow the evil spirit to enter our hearts and dwell within us.  The Holy Time of Lent is an excellent opportunity to eliminate it.

How often did our cell phone or computer freeze, get stuck, or become unresponsive? What did we do in such a situation? We had to restart or even do the reset of the equipment to make it work again.

Lent is, for us, such a reset to get rid of the devil’s presence in our lives. To get rid of our failures, weaknesses, wrongdoings, and shortcuts. It is a time to turn around and become holy as we were holy during our Baptism.

You may find it hard to believe, but I remember that my grandmother did not eat meat, cold cuts, sweets, and cakes, nor drank milk, coffee, sodas, or alcohol throughout Lent. On the other hand, she prayed a lot and went to Church for Lenten services such as the Stations and Lamentations.

According to historical sources, many early Christians rejected the pleasures of this world, the comforts of life, or good food by fasting 290 days a year. Their goal was to live in God, to sacrifice themselves to increase God’s glory.

In the Old Testament Book of Daniel 9:3, we read: “So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, fasting and sackcloth and ashes.”

The author reminds us that Lent is a time of prayer, petition, fasting, and repentance. And the purpose of Lent is to get closer to God, who wants to be closer to us.

During Lent the Church tries to lead us to a metanoia or true “repentance” and renewal of life through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, self-control, and practice of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

The Superior General, Father Gregory Gay, in one of his letters writes: “The Church offers us a precious gift: the season of Lent.  It is a sacred space, a time beckoning us to pause, draw back from life’s daily grind, and drink more deeply of Jesus’ story of our salvation: his life, passion, and resurrection. Simply put, Lent is a time of sabbatical for the soul.

As a people claimed by Christ and committed to the charism of St. Vincent de Paul, this holy season can help us better live out our Catholic faith and the Vincentian way. Like Vincent, our identity is rooted in Christ. These forty days of Lent are not only a time for prayer, penance, and almsgiving, but also for reflection, connection, and action”.

Referring again to modern achievements of technology in this digital age we may say that “We’re all connected” through all kinds of electronic media. How true it is. Our faith and charism challenge us to connect Jesus’ command to love God and serve our neighbor more profoundly. Lent calls us to examine the presence of the suffering Christ in the world more clearly so that we might understand their plight and be Christ to them.

Make your Lent a time for personal reflection on where you stand as a Vincentian in accepting the Gospel challenges in thought, word, and deed. Assess your relationships with the people you serve and the people who still wait for your help or services. Connect them with the love of God.

Examine whether you can make any positive contribution to other people’s lives.

Convert your Lent into a time for spiritual growth and Vincentian maturity.

Take up the fight daily against the evil within and around us, and never give up. Jesus has assured us that the Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us to achieve final victory through Jesus Christ.

In other words – get rid of your own evil and live in holiness of God’s love. This is what Lent is all about.

Marek Sobczak, C.M.

This story was first published in the Provincial's Newsletter February 2024 edition which you can find in our Library along with all previous Newsletters.

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