BEFORE THE CROSS | ‘Spring training’ for our relationship with God

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Rice, left, and Archbishop Robert J. Carlson stood along the fence outside of Planned Parenthood as they prayed for an end to abortion. About 1,000 Generation Life youths prayed at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis before marching in pilgrimage to pray at Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Boulevard.

As we begin February, more people probably are thinking about spring training than about Lent. But it's time to think about both, and it's a good idea to think about them together.

In one sense, "spring training" is misnomer: Training doesn't begin then, tryouts do. If a player hasn't been training in the offseason, he'll be unprepared for spring training and probably won't make the most of it.

Lent, which begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 10, is similar. If we don't think about Lent before Ash Wednesday, then we'll be unprepared and probably won't make the most of it.

Pilgrimage through Holy Week

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrated Easter Vigil Mass last year at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The liturgy began outside of the cathedral where an Easter fire was lit and the new paschal candle is blessed for the forthcoming year.

Pope Francis says Holy Week "is not primarily about pain and death, but about love and the gift of self that gives life."

Holy Week is a call to follow Jesus more closely, he said, which means going with Jesus "to the margins of existence, making the first move toward our brothers and sisters, especially those who are farthest away, those who are forgotten, those who have the greatest need for understanding, consolation and help," he explains.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Invite God to bring His love into your weakness

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

If we loved ourselves half as much as God loves us, our salvation would be assured. The readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent demonstrate God relentlessly pursues us as sinners so that He can save us.

Letters to the editor

A home run

I have to give Archbishop Robert J. Carlson credit for writing another brilliant column in the St. Louis Review (Before the Cross, Feb. 16). When the Archbishop uses the spiritual analogy of comparing Lent with baseball, he is telling the faithful God wants us to follow Him.

Without proper conditioning, baseball players can't set records, let alone make the team roster. We Catholics revere the cross as our championship trophy over sin, and our entry into heaven.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Obedience to God's will leads to happiness, eternal life

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

The Gospel for the 2nd Week of Lent features the Transfiguration of Jesus on a mountain in Palestine. However, we can't really understand the Transfiguration unless we understand the significance of obedience, in the first reading and the Gospel.

I THOUGHT YOU SHOULD KNOW | Let Jesus invest His mercy and love in you

Bishop Robert J. Hermann

The word Lent comes from an Old Saxon word, "lencten," which means springtime. Its root also is related to the German word for long. Hence, in springtime, the days are getting longer, which means more sunlight for the growing season.

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