Seasonal Reflection:  Lent, 2018

Reflecting on Peace

No greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for a friend

John 15:13

As always, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday this year, but much more unusually, it also begins on Valentine’s Day. This might seem contradictory, until we think more deeply about what each day signifies, and that is LOVE. We might not think of Ash Wednesday as a celebration of love the way we think of Valentine’s Day, but when we read the verse from the Gospel of St. John quoted above and recognize it as the beginning of the season that leads us to Christ’s crucifixion, what greater love is there?

Pope Francis, in his 2018 Lenten Message, also makes the connection to love. His message is built on another Gospel verse: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Mt 24:12). These words of Jesus forewarn his listeners of a time very much like our own when trials and tribulations, false prophets, “snake charmers,” and “charlatans” mislead people, and hearts grow cold.

Pope Francis reminds us that Lent is an invitation to conversion. It is a time to check the temperature of our hearts. Is it cooling due to self-absorption, pessimism, or greed? Is it cooling to others and creation? Is a cold heart leading us to violence against people and nations because they don’t conform to our way of doing things? Is it allowing us to abuse and exploit nature for profit over people, wildlife, and all natural resources?

Lent, starting with Ash Wednesday, should be a kind of Valentine. It is a time to give our hearts to one another as Jesus gave His Heart to us. Lent is a special opportunity to sacrifice so that others may know their dignity as the children of God.

And how are we to do this? Again we can turn to Pope Francis who answers in a way we are all familiar: through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Prayer warms our hearts and offers God’s consolation. Almsgiving directs our hearts to others, especially the poor, and unites us with them and with God who is both the ultimate giver and receiver. Fasting enables us to empathize with the hungry and to experience our own hunger for God.

Let’s make this Lent a Valentine not just for a day, but for a season. Let’s express our love as Jesus would have us do, not only with roses and chocolates for family and friends, but with humility and generosity to strangers and enemies, as well.




I find myself heartbroken 
by the hatred I see all around me. 
So I ask that I may never forget :

That I never forget the truth of Your gospel, that storing up riches here, withholding from others out of some misguided sense of superiority or right to judge, that treating any one of Your children as unworthy to come to Your table is not the Christian love You came to teach us.

That when I see actions or hear words that mean harm to the 'other', never to stand still or be quiet in the face of injustice, cruelty, racism, to call out behavior that seeks to harm my neighbor. Always to see in each face the potential of a child of God no matter how I might disagree with their manner or actions. To protect those who are being shunned, criticized, or even threatened because they are considered different.

That I take every opportunity to let the wonders of Your creation heal and uplift me. Knowing that something as simple as sunshine on my face, sand and waves under my feet, regal treetop canopies, a bird in flight or the beauty of horses galloping across a field can be proof of Your love for Your world.

That I always, always remember that color, creed, faith or none, accent, sex, age, language, dress, orientation, hairstyle, home, or financial status has not one thing to do with the worth of anyone to You, and to follow your example.

That above all the chaos and upset in this world, You gave us the greatest Gift the world has ever known. You loved us then, and love us now, that much. May we all continue to grow and journey toward the greatest we can be for You, and because of You.

That I always do my very best to be a light for Your world, to honor and respect each individual I meet, no matter our differences. That I grow into the person You wish me to be. 


excerpted from May I remember... by Kimberly J. Edwards


Suggested Actions

  • *  Read the complete Lenten Message of Pope Francis at

    *  Educate yourself on any one of the social justice issues of our time by additional reading of scripture, religious and secular writings, and bring that issue to prayer.

    *  Warm your heart through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Pray for ways to move outside yourself. Give materially and through service. Fast, whether from certain food or drink, from certain behavior like gossiping or denigrating others, or simply from something like excessive texting. Sit with, listen to, and talk with someone who needs your presence more than a written word.

    *  Join the 36th Good Friday Way of the Cross organized by Pax Christi Metro New York on March 30th, starting at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, E. 47th St. between 1st & 2nd Aves. at 8:30 AM. Each Station will reflect on a different way Jesus calls us to active nonviolence.

    - Stay on top of things through PCMNY’s e-mail action alert network, website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and activities

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