“Dear children! In this time of renunciation, prayer and penance, I call you anew: go and confess your sins so that grace may open your hearts, and permit it to change you. Convert little children, open yourselves to God and to His plan for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call.” Message of February 25, 2009
On Ash Wednesday, also known as Clean Wednesday we begin Lent, the intensive season of liturgical year when we prepare for Easter. In her message of 25 February Our Lady makes us aware that Lent is the time of renunciation, prayer and penance.
In his 2009 Lent message Pope Benedict XVI says: “At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Præconium). The Pope continues by saying: “Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word …. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God. At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live… It is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God ».
The center of Our Lady’s tonight’s message is a call to confess our sins because this is the way grace opens our hearts and changes us. Jesus established the Sacrament of Reconciliation for all sinful members of the Church, for all those who fall into a grave sin and lose the grace of Jesus. Confession creates an opportunity for us to convert and to regain grace. That is why the fathers of the Church have referred to confession as «another board for salvation after the wreckage of grace».
A sincere confession always leads to a complete conversion, where the meaning of conversion is a change of one’s entire life, actions and beliefs. It is a complete shift. A shift like that happened, for example, to St. Paul , St. Augustine , St. Francis and to many other saints. Conversion leads us to denying our sinful way of life and pagan customs directing us towards our complete surrender to God, to his plan and actions, as Our Lady calls us to do. Besides the negative side related to denying, as we deny such things like food, alcohol, cigarettes, gambling and other addictions, Lent has a positive side too, which is our decision that we shall pray more, forgive more, love our fellow men more, worship Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar more, and help others more. Let us include both sides in our spiritual life in order for us to truly experience the fullness of Easter joy.
Fr. Danko Perutina