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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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Wednesday

The Spirit of Lent: Peace be with you

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

As Christ walked through the locked door on Easter night, the apostles felt a little apprehensive. What had happened to all their bravery, as they strapped on their swords at the Last Supper? Surely, Jesus would chide them for running away when he was arrested.

To their surprise, the Risen Lord said: “Peace be with you!” As he showed them the wounds of the crucifixion, the apostles were stunned that he had come to heal them. Christ’s peace seeped into their discouraged hearts and guilty souls.

And, beyond the healing of the apostles, Christ began a way for the Church to breathe peace into people’s guilty consciences. The Gospel of John tells us, “He breathed on them and said: ‘Receive the Holy Spirit; whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; whose sins you do not forgive, they are not forgiven.’” (Jn 20:22)

In the past 2,000 years, the gentle Spirit of Peace has swept through the souls of millions of sinners. As ministers of the sacrament have said, “and I absolve you from your sins,” peace, the Spirit of Peace, has penetrated their hesitant and surprised hearts. Gone are shame and confusion; the Spirit has breathed forgiveness and vigor into their hearts.

For 1,200 years, Catholics have talked about and fulfilled their “Easter Duty.” That is, they confessed their sins and received the Holy Eucharist in the weeks before or after Easter. This practice has added vitality and holiness to the whole Church. These Catholics allowed the Spirit to blow away the dust and cobwebs of sin in their lives.

Sometimes, as we recite the Creed, we rush by the words, “I believe in the holy Catholic Church.” Of course, this refers to the holiness of Christ, the head of the Church. But, through the cleansing breath of the Spirit, ordinary Catholics have added their own cleared consciences to the holiness of the Church.

Finally, millions of Catholics, especially members of religious communities and their associates, have made Reconciliation a method of spiritual growth. Through systematic looks at various areas of their personalities as they prepare for confession, they have used this sacrament to make progress in curbing their tempers, developing their chastity or handling distractions during their prayer. The advice of a regular confessor has enabled the Spirit to help them brush aside discouragement, grow beyond repeated, past sins and to grow in the image of Jesus.

“Peace be with you.” May your Lenten confession bring you this precious activity of the 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