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Bishop Daniel Felton: Lent a time to be ‘filled to the brim’ with God’s love, goodness, and mercy

I hope that you had a Mardi Gras of great feasting. As we enter the 40 days of Lent, Mardi Gras reminds us of the lavishness of God’s love, the abundance of God’s goodness, and the bounty of God’s mercy. Mardi Gras also reminds us that Lent is not so much what we are going to do for God as it is what God wants to do in and through us. 

Bishop Daniel Felton
Bishop Daniel Felton
Believe in the Good News

Only when we have experienced the lavishness of God’s unconditional love for us can we be a Lenten people of almsgiving. Filled with God’s love to the brim, we seek to share that lavish love with others. God uses us during Lent to bring his love to the poor, the marginal, the neglected, the lonely, the hurting, the abused, the forgotten, and to all those who believe that they are unlovable. 

Only when we have experienced the abundance of God’s goodness can we be a people of Lenten prayer. Filled to the brim with God’s abundant goodness, we pray for those who are depressed, carrying a heavy cross, overwhelmed by life’s challenges, and for those who believe that they are so bad that they can never know God’s goodness. 

I would encourage you during Lent not only to pray for others but with others. In the moment, ask the person before you if you can say a pray with them. For your brief prayer, just acknowledge God as the source of goodness, pray for the intention of the other, and conclude with a sentence of your confidence that God is good. The prayer is simple but can have a profound impact on those who have asked for your prayers. In the end, it is not about us but about how God wants to use us to reach out with his prayer for those in need of his goodness. 

Only when we have experienced the bounty of God’s mercy can we be a people of Lenten fasting. Filled to the brim with God’s bountiful mercy, God uses us to invite others into his divine mercy, especially those who desire to fast from their temptations, anger, resentments, impatience, sins, addictions, and for those who believe that God will never forgive them for what they have done. 

Remember, it all begins with a Mardi Gras of great feasting. Nemo dat quod non habet — you cannot give what you do not have. At the beginning of Lent, remember that you are lavishly loved as a son or daughter of God, that God wants to share with you the abundance of his goodness and the bounty of his mercy. And then, and only then, remember Lent is not so much about what you are going to do for God as it is about what God wants to do in and through you. 

As Lent begins, I would also like to invite you to be a part of our Let’s Listen endeavor. If you have yet to be a part of a Let’s Listen session, I would encourage you to do so. You can also fill out the Let’s Listen page in this issue of the Northern Cross, or go online at www.dioceseduluth.org/letslisten

The Let’s Listen experience seeks to invite us to share where we are hurting and in need of healing and where we are healthy and hopeful in our personal life, the life of our parish or experience of the church, and in our civic communities. The sessions held so far have been a profound experience of God talking in and through us as we simply listen to one another to discern how we can bring alive in this moment and time his lavish love, abundant goodness, and bountiful mercy. 

Finally, as Lent begins, please pray for those who are preparing to be baptized or received in the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. During this time of final preparations, they are counting on us to pray for them, fast for them, and to share our almsgivings with them, so that through us they may filled to the brim with God’s lavish love, abundant goodness, and bountiful mercy. 

Bishop Daniel Felton is the tenth bishop of Duluth.