"For to me life is Christ and death is gain" (Phil 1:21)

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Draw Near to Jesus Christ this Lent

We advance through the joyful season of Lent, which is a time of retreat for Catholics. That means a retreat from the sins or distractions that keep us from drawing nearer to the One we love. Jesus grants three of his apostles in this Sunday’s Mass a vision of him as they retreated “up a high mountain by themselves.” There is no doubt that they would remember this scene of the Transfiguration for many years after. The reality of retreating from sin and drawing close to Jesus would be their apostolic way of operating each day. Here is a quote for consideration from a Dominican friar, Fr. Cessario, O.P. Lent affords a privileged moment of interior renewal. Christians are told to expect that Christ himself will strengthen them from both within and without. The traditional disciplines of Lent— Prayer, fasting, almsgiving—encourage us to modify our outward behaviors. None of these practices is an end in itself. All penitential practices are ordered toward a renewal of the inner man. So, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven…’”(Mt 5:20). Righteousness points to our entire moral composure. Because of Christ’s life-bringing death on the cross, grace is able to transform the whole person. When we are properly disposed to receive it, this grace of Christ touches every part of us. We then experience the full dimensions of the graced interiority that makes us righteous. The warning that Christ delivers shows that the Christian life aims at more than the observance of a set of even divinely authenticated ethical guidelines. During the Lenten season rather, we are invited to draw close to the Person of Jesus Christ. This joyful encounter of friendship affords a source of moral energy. We discover within ourselves the wherewithal to do all that Christ has commanded. Our righteousness then exceeds that of any ethical expectation, even a religious one.

(Reflection based on Matthew 5:20-26, Father Romanus Cessario, O.P.)

May God bless you and your families this Lent!

In Christ, Fr. Anthony