Cardinal Dolan’s column in Catholic New York’s last issue laid it out quite plainly. The topic, sin and how to handle it, was an uncomfortable one to be sure.
The cardinal listened on Ash Wednesday when a woman approached him at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and said, “This world is messed up. The people with whom I live and work are messed up. My family is dysfunctional. And I’m messed up!
Everything goes wrong!”
Many of us, if we’re being honest, have much in common with that woman. The cardinal’s response that day might have surprised her. “You’re right,” he said. “We’re all messed up. And we call that sin.”
Add to that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has isolated us from one another for the past year and left us largely to our own devices, where temptation can be common.
The pandemic has also made us unsure about basic decisions, like whether and how we can be with others, where and when we can travel, and how far we can safely extend ourselves without being vulnerable. Even formerly snap decisions like family birthday celebrations now frequently give us a long pause.
Yes, as the cardinal said, Lent is the right time to deal with our sins. We have these 40 days, now more than half past, to repent of our sins and journey on a new path.
Whether you are living alone or in a home with others, you can use the remaining time to go “from a mess to mercy,” as Cardinal Dolan said.
We would point out some suggestions to our fellow pilgrims for our Lenten journey. The Church wisely gives the faithful a road map to follow with days set aside for acts of fasting and abstinence to reflect a spirit of penance in our daily lives.
In fact, Msgr. Joseph LaMorte, the vicar general and moderator of the curia, in his Lenten letter to priests of the archdiocese published in Catholic New York last month, reminded us that all Fridays during the year are designated as days of penance during which we are encouraged to practice self-denial out of gratitude for the suffering and death Jesus accepted for us.
We also would like to make a pitch for parishioners to participate in Reconciliation Monday, March 29, offered in cooperation with the other downstate dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre. Confessions are available in local parishes from 3 to 9 p.m. that day. What a great time to experience the sacramental graces of absolution from sin, especially if it has been a long time since you have taken advantage of the opportunity.
Just as time away from others, or with only limited numbers, can be a burden, it can also be a blessing. It can be spiritually fruitful if you devote some time in prayer and contemplation.
To help you, we offer some spiritual reading for your consideration and benefit from Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco. His newly published book, “Beneath the Cross,” based on the bishop’s Seven Last Words meditation at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Good Friday 2020, transports readers to the foot of the cross, where men and women Jesus has healed and forgiven find themselves united. A review offered by Father Richard Veras is on Page 20 of this issue.
Blessings to our readers as you continue your Lenten journey.