Season of Lent: At crucial time this year
Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday, March 5. During this penitential season, we Catholics focus on prayer, fasting, and works of charity (almsgiving) in preparation for the glorious feast of Easter.
For many reasons, Lent seems to come at an especially crucial time this year. The United States finds itself at the brink of war. We still fear violence from terrorists at any time. The struggling economy causes people to suffer from unemployment, cuts in services, and rising prices. The Catholic Church still faces internal and external conflicts due to the sexual abuse scandals.
Prayer. We certainly need to get down on our knees and pray: for our world, for our church, for our governments, for all of us.
Pope John Paul II has asked all Catholics to pray for peace on Ash Wednesday. I suggest we pray for peace every single day during Lent. Perhaps our prayers will bring the power of heaven down to earth to cause world leaders to work even harder for a peaceful solution to global conflicts.
"We need to explore every possible path to avoid war, which always brings with it grief and grave consequences for all," Pope John Paul II said on March 2. He sent Cardinal Pio Laghi, former nuncio to the U.S. and a longtime friend of the Bush family, to confer with the president in Washington March 3. Let's hope President Bush listens to the message from the Holy Father.
Besides personal prayer, during Lent we might consider attending daily Mass, participating in a retreat or renewal mission at a parish, or visiting a church which offers adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. There are many ways to pray. For some ideas, read The Catholic Herald each week for information on diocesan and parish programs and resources.
Fasting. Fasting from food during Lent is a traditional practice. This year, perhaps we could see our fasting as a way to be in solidarity with the poor and hungry people in our country and throughout the world. Besides fasting from food, we could also fast from drinking, watching television, or doing other things we enjoy and spend time in prayer or charitable work.
Almsgiving. The money we save from fasting could be given to others. There are so many worthwhile church and community needs. Some suggestions are Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Charities, and the Propagation of the Faith. Our own Diocesan Services Appeal (DSA) is launched in Lent. Contributing to the DSA is an excellent way to serve the needs of the church in our entire diocese.
We can't solve all the problems in the church and in the world, but we can start by praying, fasting, and charitable giving during Lent this year.
Mary C. Uhler, editor
Stand up for what is morally right
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To the editor:
The Nov. 11, 2002 issue of Time magazine featured a special report with an impressive array of living color photos showing human life from conception to birth. Time makes no apologies using the word "life" regarding the marvelous photos of what persons with a pro-choice mentality would refer to as only the "product of conception" or a mere "glob of tissue."
The Time feature story begins with a description of a 33-year-old mother staring wide-eyed at a video monitor where she can see a head with a mouth, two eyes, arms and tiny hands, legs ending with toes.
In contrast, the ultra sound monitor is used by the abortionist to assess the age of the growing infant, which determines the cost for the abortion. Therefore, the abortionist uses the ultra sound monitor basically to destroy a human life.
More and more doctors are refusing to perform abortions as advances in technology reveal the marvelous life developing in the first 12 weeks in the mother's womb.
We must stand up for what is morally right. Abortion is murder. What will you and I do to stand up and be counted as the lives of preborn babies are daily threatened by the violence of abortion? For we know, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
Mildred Churchill, Janesville
We must speak up, avert war
To the editor:
The Bush administration, in zeal to exercise power past the point of abuse with a preemptive war against Iraq, seems to be counting on the ever-apathetic nature of the American citizenry. It is our constitutional duty as citizens to speak up and right the wrongs of our government. With President Bush's record of the last two years, it seems obvious that the public is past due to participate.
In the strongest language yet from the Holy See, Cardinal Angelo Sodano has told a group of journalists, "We are against this war," adding that whatever arguments are made for a strike on Iraq, "it is certainly not a defensive war." He further stated that this war plan is way beyond the scope of the church's "just war" teaching; adding that this war would be unjust and immoral, as he asked the question, "Why?"
What more, may I ask, do Catholics need to hear? The Gospel demands that we be the working mechanism of Jesus' teachings that it is our duty to follow the teaching of Christ, even if it means a nonviolent confrontation with the state. Pope John XXIII, famous for his encyclical "Pacem in Terris," stated that "prayer without action is heresy." It is now time to act.
In the desire of peace,
Joe Hovel, Conover, Wis.