Dear Brothers and Sisters 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. 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. 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 six seniors in Southern Nevada struggles with hunger. Catholic Charities’ Meals on Wheels Program serves more than 2,100 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.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Pepe, D.D., J.C.D.