Fr. Robert Bolser, CSV, retired last year as associate pastor of St. Thomas More Catholic Community in Henderson and moved back to the Viatorian Province Center in Arlington Heights. He reflected at Mass recently about God’s unconditional love guiding his long ministry, which spans more than 50 years, including 30 years as a religious brother.
Here, he offers a short Lenten reflection, including a more contemporary look at this sacred season.
“At this time of year I often get nostalgic for Lent in the church of yore, when the smell of incense wafted through the air. Purple was the color of the day; it was the color of the vestments of the priests and it covered the statues, the cover of the bulletins.
“I miss the days of collecting for ‘pagan babies,’ sacrificing something for the 40 days, eating fish on Fridays , of course, except St Patrick’s , and St Joseph’s days. We heard condemning sermons, and were told that we were sinners in no uncertain terms. There were no weddings or baptisms during lent. The environment was a good deal more somber. The focus seemed to be on the evil and the sin we were wallowing in.
“Now I would not like going back to those dark days in the life of our church, though I do miss the aroma of incense. In many ways, beginning with the ashes, we still use many of these signs and symbols, but as symbols of conversion, and hope.
Let’s look at Isaiah 58:6-7:
‘This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: Releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke, setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless, clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.’
“I believe that the signs and symbols we use to remind us of Lent, come to remind us that Lent does call us to reform, it calls entire community, to a conversion of heart.”
Your Light Shall Break Forth Like the Dawn.