February 15, 2016
My Dear People of God,
“Repent and believe in the Gospel.” These are words from one of the formulas used by the Church to administer ashes on Ash Wednesday.
During this holy season we recognize our need to turn away from the hold that sin has on our lives and turn toward God in a spirit of contrition and hopefulness. Our contrition or sorrow is the result of recognizing the wonder of God’s love for us; a love which we ourselves return inconsistently. Our hopefulness is the result of our awareness of the gift of mercy manifested in the Lord’s words and deeds.
The opening words from the first reading for Ash Wednesday, sets us on our journey through Lent describing the nature of our response or attitude:
“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart … rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God ...”
This is not an isolated or individualistic journey. While each of us embrace the invitation to return to the Lord; to repent and believe in the solitude of our own hearts, we respond communally praying with and for one another. This truth is reflected in the words from the Prophet Joel:
“Call an assembly! Gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, to the house of the Lord, your God, and cry out to the Lord!”
This sense of entering the season of Lent, with its time for prayer and penitential practice, praying for each other was reflected in the spirit with which Pope Francis began his role as universal pastor. His simple request was “Pray for me.”
Let all of us remember to pray for each other during this time when we open ourselves to receive God’s grace in preparation for Easter.
Wishing you God’s blessing, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend David R. Choby
Bishop of Nashville