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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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The Spirit of Lent: Healing hearts and division

By Rev. Joseph Krastel, C.Ss.R.
The Spirit of Lent: Seven Lenten Meditations on the Work of the Holy Spirit 

One of the great yearnings of Jesus is unity among his followers. At the Last Supper, Jesus is pictured saying: “That they all may be one, as you, Father are in me and I in you, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.” (Jn 17:21)

Christ entered a world torn by hatreds, mistrust and betrayals. The obvious effect of sin — from Adam to all future generations — can be seen in the envies, bitterness and vengeance that spoil human relationships on international, family and personal levels.

Moreover, Jesus sees the unity of his followers as a beacon to other people — “that the world may believe that you sent me.” Maybe people cannot believe in Christ because of the doctrinal, racial or personal divisions among those who claim to be his followers. Maybe our long-term grudges keep people away from Christ and the unity of Christians.

One of the most important works of the Holy Spirit is the quiet breath of forgiveness and concord. The Spirit united people in the streets of Jerusalem on Pentecost — despite many languages, they all understood Peter’s proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. The Spirit breathed away language differences so all could understand. Of course, violence and hatreds represent more serious challenges. Yet, where humans cooperate with the graces of the Spirit, ears and hearts are opened to truth, healing and forgiveness.

In the Second Eucharistic Prayer of Reconciliation (often used at Lenten Masses), the Church prays: “In this saving banquet, graciously endow us with his very Spirit, who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.” This is a startling belief, although a long-range one. The Holy Spirit can heal our memories and grudges, can shove us to forgive and cooperate.

A start to receiving the Spirit’s healing can begin in our Lenten Confession. If we prepare well for the sacrament, if we look honestly at our jealousies, our grudges and our prejudices, we begin to invite the inner house cleaning of the Spirit. As we acknowledge our sins of division to the priest, the Spirit hovers over us, offering the healing of the past and spiritual power for the future, power to forgive and accept other people.

The Acts of the Apostles notes the unity and spirit of love among the early Christians, which attracted others to the Church (Acts 2:42 ff). During Lent we can join this effort, by allowing the Spirit to bring healing and peace to our relationships with others. We can let God answer the plea of the Second Eucharistic Prayer: “Humbly we pray that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.”

Fr. Krastel professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964. He is an associate pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis, MD.

 Previous reflections:
40 Days with Christ in the desert
The dewfall of the Spirit
Peace be with you
The Spirit of daily Mass