Bishop Rhoades Visits Communion and Liberation Group in Honor of Father Luigi Giussani

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The following homily was delivered by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during Mass on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the St. Thomas More Chapel at the University of Notre Dame:

Today, as you know, is the 18th anniversary of Father Giussani’s death and I am glad to celebrate this Mass in his memory with you, members of the Communion and Liberation community this evening. Normally I am reminded every year of this anniversary because Feb. 22 is the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter. But today it falls on Ash Wednesday. Father Giussani saw Lent as “a sacramental time,” as “the sacramental instrument” for fostering conversion, “a time destined by God to give us a greater impetus of transformation. And Father Giussani spoke of the transforming power of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, helping us in our ongoing conversion to the Lord.

There are two formulas that can be used in the austere rite of the imposition of ashes today. I usually alternate formulas each year. I used the first formula last year, the formula that highlights our mortality: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” I’ll use the second formula when I impose ashes at this Mass: “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” This formula highlights conversion. In fact, it’s an appeal to conversion, to turn away from sin. Literally, the word convert, metanoia, means to change direction. Lent invites to change direction, to turn away from the things in our life that distance us from God. It is a turning away from sin.

Our conversion to the Lord took place at the beginning of our Christian life when we were baptized, but it is something that needs to happen and be renewed throughout our life. That’s why it’s good that the Church gives us the annual season of Lent, a time of repentance and con