“I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.” Those were the words of Pope Francis in his message for Lent 2014. He recalls that true adherence to the Gospel should have a real, felt impact on our lives. It is not just a lifestyle or fashion. It is sacrificial.
Lent, with its annual call to repentance, almsgiving and abstention, is meant to be sacrificial, though not for its own sake. Lent is about recalling the ultimate sacrifice — the passion and death of Jesus Christ. During this 40 days we are asked by the church to prepare ourselves spiritually, psychologically and even physically to allow God’s grace to work more deeply into our hearts.
During this month of March, coinciding with the first weeks of Lent, Novalis has several titles that bring to mind the real sacrifices required by Christianity if we are to be true disciples.
In The People’s Revolution, Scarboro Missionary Charles Gervais recounts in vivid, sometimes hair-raising description, the courageous example of the Filipino people during the ousting from power of dictator Ferdinand Marcos some 30 years ago. In these engaging stories, we see a community rooted in the Gospel and committed to living in solidarity with the poor. This, during a time of great upheaval and violence when to be a true Christian meant to be ready to die for justice.
Clothed in the Word of God: Canadian Saints, Blesseds and Venerables, recounts the stories of each man and woman recognized formally by the church for lives of heroic virtue given for their faith in the history of this country. Written by Fr. Rémi Bourdon with Pierre Guénette with the sponsorship of the Quebec diocese of Saint-Jean-Longeuil, it is the first collection to bring all the Canadian saints into one volume.
Then there is Pope John Paul II: A Saint for Canada, written by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB. Fr. Rosica, current chief executive officer of Salt+Light Television and former head of the World Youth Day 2002 event in Toronto, was uniquely positioned to understand better than any other Canadian how this holy man gave every drop of his life to his flock. His charity truly had a high price.
All of these titles offer models of true sacrifice for us to ponder as we work our way through this month. May their insights help you in your own spiritual quest.