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My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

During the forty days of Lent as we begin our journey to the foot of the cross we may ask ourselves, “How can I develop a closer relationship with Christ?” “What will I sacrifice during Lent?” “What can I do that will benefit the less fortunate?” These questions are answered by the Church which asks us to pray, fast and give alms, a tradition that finds its roots in the Old Testament.

Our first call is to prayer. Lent is essentially an act of prayer spread over 40 days. Prayer sustains and nurtures our relationship with God. It is a process of listening to God’s daily call, then responding. We should strive to make our prayer life more constant and persistent. Without prayer, personal and communal, this relationship is diminished, sometimes to the point of complete silence on our part.

Fasting, a form of penance, and Jesus' second call, has been a consistent part of our Catholic tradition. By fasting and self-denial, by living lives of moderation we have more energy to devote to God's purpose and a better self-esteem that helps us to be more concerned with the well-being of others. Voluntary fasting from food creates in us a greater openness to God's Spirit and deepens our compassion for those who are forced to go without food.

The third part of the Lenten tradition is almsgiving. We are asked to reach out in charity. As we experience weakness and suffering during Lent, we will be renewed in our compassion for those who are hungry, suffering or otherwise in need. It is about more than throwing a few extra dollars in the collection plate; it is about reaching out to others and helping them without question or any thought of repayment. By doing this we enable others to experience God’s unconditional love.

Each year the Annual Ash Wednesday Collection benefits Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. Supporting the efforts of Catholic Charities not only gives us the opportunity to follow our Lenten traditions, but to put into action the Corporal Works of Mercy.

To feed the hungry: One in seven seniors in Southern Nevada struggles with hunger. Catholic Charities’ Meals on Wheels Program serves more than 2,000 isolated seniors every day. St. Vincent Lied Dining Facility serves a free meal every day of the year to hundreds of hungry men, women, and children. The Hands of Hope Community Food Pantry provides supplemental groceries to thousands of families that struggle each month to make ends meet.

To shelter the homeless: Hundreds of homeless individuals dealing with mental health and/or addiction problems are given shelter at Catholic Charities each day. Your donations will provide the necessary funds to hire much-needed case managers, who provide one-on-one assistance to individuals for a successful transition from a homeless situation to becoming self-sufficient.

To give alms: Whether struggling in poverty, with homelessness, becoming homebound, or adjusting to life as a refugee, Catholic Charities provides help, hope and transformation in the lives of more than 5,000 men, women, and children each daily in Southern Nevada because of your alms giving.

Pope Francis reminds us that “Lent is not a time to be sad, but gazing at that horizon of love and opening our hearts, allowing that these desires spring from something greater…leading to rich and varied works of mercy toward needy brothers and sisters.”

This Lent, as we strive toward self-discipline, instead of the typical “giving something up for Lent,” let us instead “do something positive” and take a sincere interest in the well-being of our sisters and brothers in need and join me in support of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada.

Remembering you in prayer, I remain

Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, D.D., J.C.D.
Bishop of Las Vegas

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