"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross." Philippians 2:1-8
My brothers and sisters, most blessed and holy day,
Lent is upon us and during this time, we journey together on this sacred pilgrimage to the heart of Jesus Christ. Lent is a mysterious time of reflection and awakening. There is nothing ordinary about Lent and this time can be profoundly life-giving. I often compare Lent to the moments before dawn. The darkness surrounds us and we wait, contemplate, prepare, and pray. The world silently regenerates in anticipation of the rising sun.
During this sacred time, I invite you to Journey to the Heart of Christ to seek and find the heart of Christ. Lent is the opportunity to go deeper in faith. Lent provides the context for interior discernment and greater knowing of Christ. In my personal prayers, I keep the image of the beloved disciple John leaning against the chest of our Savior. Leaning against Christ and listening to his heartbeat. I hold this image during times of joy and pain. Let us long to be at the heart of Jesus Christ.
To assist on your walk through Lent, we offer a list of various prayers, devotions, and action (online and in person, see below). I would also like to encourage you to take time to review the Presiding Bishop’s message andresources to Walk In Love: Practices for a Jesus Centered Life.
In addition to these resources, I encourage you to try any or all of the following:
Pray together with your family, friend or a loved one. This may sound challenging, but one day a week, gather the entire family and say a prayer. It could be one of gratitude, to bless one another’s day. Maybe you can set a time to text a friend at a specific day and hour and let them know you are praying for them. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus prayed constantly. Jesus sought God’s heart relentlessly. Let us strive to be like him.
For one hour during the day, stop reading your emails or searching through social media. During that time, read the Bible, commit to silence or listen to sacred music. Read theLives of the Saintsor a book about Jesus. Extend that time the following week.
Skip the Sunday sports’ practices and tell the coach that you have a commitment to church. Make God, not the world, your priority one Sunday a month. Bring the entire family.
Make a commitment to pray. Whether it is on your knees or sitting on the bed, close your eyes and pray. Each day offer one prayer of gratitude for the gifts in your life.
Use your smartphone to take a picture of where you see Jesus in your daily life.It can be a place, a person or something with deep meaning. Post on our social media accounts and tag us in it (#WhereDoYouSeeJesus, #diopalove) so we can find it and share it with others.
Make a commitment you will go to the Ash Wednesday service at your church.
Make a commitment to take one person with you to Easter services. It could be a wild, unexpected and mysterious invitation. Ask, ask again, follow and do it.
More importantly, I encourage you to reflect daily on Jesus Christ. How is He present in your life? How do His life and words move you to be like Him? Where do you see Jesus in the world?
Our spiritual and diocesan pilgrimage is transformative. Never lose sight that your spiritual journey is both holy and beautiful. As we journey through Lent, let’s enter into the walk to Calvary and hold sight of the resurrection. Lean against the chest of our savior Jesus Christ and listen, really listen to His heartbeat. Listen to where He is leading you.
You are in my prayers and are deeply loved.
The Rt. Rev. Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez
XVI Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania