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What Is Your Attitude This Lent?

February 22, 2023 | During Mass on Ash Wednesday at the Pastoral Center Chapel in St. Petersburg, Bishop Gregory Parkes shared a message for all who are starting their Lenten Journey. Read, view, or listen to his homily below.


Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

We know that our attitude has a lot to do with success. So whatever situation or thing that you might be dealing with, having a positive attitude can help us to set ourselves up for success, whether it's work, or school, family, relationships, marriage, our health, and so forth. I know I experienced this reality when I had my surgery on my leg last June. I was told and I quickly realized that if I had a positive attitude about the whole thing, that I would really be setting myself up for success through the recovery period and the rehab and ultimately coming to learn how to use a new leg. So, I can testify that having a positive attitude, I think, really helped me out in that whole journey and that whole process. I think the same can be said for the season of Lent, how we enter into the season of Lent and our attitude about it.

It is a penitential season and we do offer sacrifice. We might choose to give something up to refrain from something or even in a very positive and proactive way, do something, make an extra special effort to be kinder to others, to be more forgiving, to be more charitable to those in need, and so forth. We could look at this season as being a burden, something to be dreaded, because of everything I have to give up, the abstinence on Fridays, fasting today and on Good Friday, and all of those kinds of things.

But I think if we have a positive attitude as we enter into this holy season, we will set ourselves up to have a successful Lent, and to use this time truly, to grow in our relationship with God, and with one another.

We come together today to receive ashes on our foreheads. It's good to remind ourselves that even though this is a very public expression, that we're not somehow presenting ourselves as being saints, as being holy people, as being better than anybody else. It's quite the opposite. The ashes on our foreheads are, first of all, a reminder of our mortality, that our time here in this world is finite, it's limited and so we should use each day as an opportunity to be kind and loving, merciful towards others, to engage in prayer with our God, and so forth.

It's also a reminder to us and a sign that we are sinners, and that we are in need of God's mercy and of His forgiveness in our lives. He's there to offer that to us whenever we choose to ask Him for His mercy, and forgiveness. So today, in addition to what other preparations you might be making to enter into and celebrate this season of Lent, perhaps reflect for a few moments on your attitude towards Lent. What is it going to be for you? Is it going to be something that is transformational in your spiritual life? Or is it just going to be a 40-day period of following rules and regulations, fasting, and giving things up? Or is there a higher purpose, a higher end to all of those things?

Be assured of my prayers and let us keep one another in prayer during this holy time. Amen.