A Matter of the Heart

Post Date: April 1, 2022
Author: Laura Stephens

All our actions have consequences for ourselves and others. None of us live on an island that is separate and secluded from the effects of others. 

With the current events, we are dealing with many different emotions from fear, holy anger, injustice, and empathy just to name a few. We all are human, sinful, and weak. We will fail and so will our fellow human being. Pope Francis reminds us that we need God and His direction.

We sense our helplessness and our inadequacy. We need to be told, “Do not be afraid”. Yet human reassurance is not enough. We need the closeness of God and the certainty of his forgiveness, which alone eliminates evil, disarms resentment and restores peace to our hearts.  Let us return to God and to his forgiveness. – Pope Francis (Homily on March 25, 2022)

As many have come to understand over time, we cannot change others; but we must change ourselves with God’s help and forgiveness.

If we want the world to change, then first our hearts must change. – Pope Francis (Homily on March 25, 2022)

The above quotes are just two of the many inspiring words from Our Holy Father last Friday on the Feast of the Annunciation.  On that day, Pope Francis led the world in an Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Russia and Ukraine. He led a reflection on the meaningful words of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary and of her faithful yes to the invitation to be the Mother of the Messiah.  Pope Francis’ uplifting homily can be read here.

Let us reflect on these words from our Holy Father so that they can help us to refocus ourselves in the remaining days of Lent.

Lent is a time when we work with God’s grace to be healed, strengthened, and restored. It is time of great focus to increase our faithfulness to God and to rely on His will for our lives. Some of the key focuses during Lent are:

  • Praying daily to restore our relationship with Christ
  • Fasting from the things that pull us away from God and allowing our hearts to long for feasting on something of far more eternal value
  • Pulling from the resources God has blessed us with to share with those in need

Each of these Lenten practices call us to holy refinement. Let us not be too hard on ourselves if our Lent has not yet brought the change of heart that we need. God is not done with us. After all, He knows our weaknesses. God does not want perfection from us; rather, He wants a heart continually longing for Him and pushing forward on the path to holiness.

As the days of Lent pass by, where has our heart been pulled to? Are we relying more on God like Our Blessed Mother? Look deep within and see what God is leading us personally to refine.

Return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.Joel 2:12-13

We must look upon Christ as He took our sins upon Himself and follow in His footsteps. Jesus showed us that the way of holiness is through suffering and surrender. Let us remind ourselves that along the way of the Cross, Christ fell three times. He never gave up or quit. He slowly and painfully picked Himself back up and kept walking the perfect path of His Father’s will. He never allowed the difficulty or pain to deter or distract Himself. His perfect love kept Him going so may our love for God enable us to keep refining our heart each day.

Let us recommit ourselves to the Lenten journey God placed in our hearts and lean on His grace to help us to follow in His faithful steps.

Return to God and allow our world to be changed one heart at a time! 

References:

Homily on March 25th during the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance with the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary retrieved from https://opusdei.org/en-us/article/if-we-want-the-world-to-change-then-first-our-hearts-must-change/

Author: Laura Stephens, FF Sacrament Preparation Catechist

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