With the hope of Easter and Spring just on the horizon, Christians everywhere are now well into the Lenten season, which began with Ash Wednesday. Pope Francis, echoing the words of St. Paul (2 Cor 5:20), invites everyone to take the path toward "reconciliation with God" this Lent; in doing so, the diocese is in communion with the entire Catholic Church. The journey in Montreal began on Feb. 26 with the celebration of Ash Wednesday at a packed Mary Queen of the World Cathedral.

Lent as a Refrain

"If someone asks you what another person you know should do to improve," the answer may be quick said the Most Rev. Christian Lépine, Archbishop of the Diocese of Montreal. "But if someone asks you, 'What do you think you could do to improve yourself?'", it’s most likely to require a little more thought. We quickly pass judgments on others, but passing judgments on ourselves is not easy," said Archbishop Lépine, inviting us to live the season of Lent as an opportunity to "become a better person.”

"This is what we try to do throughout our lives, but a bit like a refrain, Lent returns to bring to us this task of becoming a human person," added the Archbishop.

If Archbishop Lépine issued this invitation, he nevertheless recalled the primary importance of God’s grace in this transformation, this "becoming": "Efforts will be made [...], but we can also count on God’s help.” All of this to prepare us for "the death and resurrection of Christ.”

"I invite you to enter this Lent with a resolute desire to love more in the manner of Jesus […] with the grace of Jesus Christ," he added.

The Three Pillars of Lent:

The Archbishop took the time to remind us of the foundations of Lent: the three pillars that guide the way of Christians towards Easter. Here are Archbishop Lépine's explanations:

Prayer: “We say: Lord, I would like to be a better person, but by myself I cannot do it. Help me. […] And the Lord acts in us to guide us, to enlighten us on what we need to change, convert and improve,” explained the Archbishop.

Fasting: "In a way, it's simple, but it's also demanding […], because what one says to God by fasting is that one could have all imaginable goods, all the foods of the earth, if God is not present in our life, we lack the essential.” He explained the symbolism of fasting, which makes it possible to "remember in our flesh that somewhere on Earth there is someone who is suffering from hunger.”

Alms: “A concrete gesture of solidarity […]. It’s a contribution, a support to charity work with the poorest. It’s a humble gesture; we do not solve all the problems of the world, but we make a concrete gesture, all together, so that the world becomes better."

Archbishop Lépine concluded by recalling the invitation made to us, as Christ’s witnesses, to communicate to the world that "it's worth living and loving, despite the struggles, problems and challenges.”

After the homily, all received the ashes and heard Christ's invitation spoken through the priests: "Convert and believe in the Gospel" in communion with the universal Church!

To listen to the message of the Archbishop of Montreal for Lent, click here!

To read Pope Francis's message for Lent 2020, click here!