As we continue to move forward with this year’s Lenten journey, we are thankful for your unending support for our ministries at the Retreat Center.
The familiar Lenten phrase, “ashes to Easter” got me thinking. We missed our ashes this year. Ash Wednesday was just another stay at home day. Instead of ashes, we all wear our COVID masks.
Recently I was at a shopping center and had a strange Lenten experience. I noticed, seemingly for the first time, that everyone was masked-up. It struck me that when everyone does something together that they had not done before it gives us a new sense of how we are all connected in a deeper way. I began to see the other shoppers and even the clerks as real people, like myself. All of us have the same thing in common—trying to stay safe and to protect one another. All of us have lives to live, jobs to do, friends and family to love. All of us have suffered through the difficulties of this past year together. All of us have hopes and dreams of better times ahead. We are down deep, a community—wounded, blessed, weak and strong. A community of hope and trust.
The symbol of ashes at the beginning of Lent is meant to remind of that profound truth. We all come from the same place, ashes. And all of us return to where we began. These days the masks we wear on our faces for protection are not meant to hide our identity. Rather, they establish our common bond as the worldwide family of God. This year, perhaps more than ever before, we know that in our vulnerability we are all brothers and sisters, dependent on God for the gifts of life and love.
So if community in suffering has been our Lent, Easter is even more profoundly an experience of community in the Risen Lord. That, of course, is the Gospel message of the Cross. “If we die with the Lord, we shall rise with the Lord!”
Here at Christ the King Passionist Retreat Center we are dedicated to this Easter proclamation. Wherever there is the Cross, there is the promise of God’s powerful presence, with compassion and love. Over this past year we have experienced in dramatic ways how the Lord enters into our lives and sustains us in hard times. We have been richly blessed by God and also by you, our dear friends. Despite the physical distancing we have found new ways to stay connected as a Christ the King family of faith. We pray that this Blessed Easter season will be a celebration of heartfelt thanksgiving for God’s blessings to all of us. We rise from ashes to new life in communion with our God.
As you celebrate this Easter season, please prayerfully consider making a generous gift to Christ the King. You can also make your donation online at www.christthekingretreatcenter.org.
We look forward to when we can be together again. God bless you always.
Fr. Jim Strommer, CP
Director of Ministry