An Ash Wednesday message from our provincial director, Fr. Jeffrey Kirch, C.PP.S.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, when as a Church we turn our minds both inward and outward. We go through Lent on at least two levels. We experience it as a private retreat, time that we spend with God, being attentive to God’s directions meant just for us. As Matthew says in today’s Gospel, “when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

At the same time, Lent calls us to immerse ourselves in something larger, to be a living, breathing part of the body of Christ. An important part of Lent is almsgiving, reaching out to people who are suffering. In this world, there are so many ways to do good, to be an ambassador of Christ.

We also pray together as a community. In your family, in your parish, for us Missionaries in our religious community, we gather purposefully to lift our voices in prayer. We draw strength and comfort from knowing that in the pew next to us is a person who is gazing, as we are, at the God who loves us all.

I would like to issue a special invitation to you to pray throughout Lent with the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Throughout Lent, we will share videos of our C.PP.S. priests and religious brothers praying, and we invite you to pray along. You can find these videos on our Facebook page, Missionaries of the Precious Blood Cincinnati Province.

Two days before Lent began, the Precious Blood community gathered to say goodbye to Brother Tim Hemm, C.PP.S., who ministered for decades at Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind. Brother Tim was the director of campus ministry and had a gift for inviting students to listen for God’s voice, to pray together as young adults, to find their way into an adult faith. Brother Tim could often be found in a crowd, organizing retreats and other activities on campus. He was described as a very busy person who always had time to listen to anyone who needed to talk.

Brother Tim loved the outdoors and was an accomplished hunter and fisherman. He knew how to retreat into nature when he needed to recharge. He found God indoors and outdoors and invited others to see God everywhere too.

It is a healthy way to live, to know when to be among the people of God, and when to go into your inner room and close the door. My prayer for you, for all of us, is that we find this balance during Lent, that we listen to the voice of God and follow the directions that God inevitably provides. Sometimes those come in silence, and sometimes in the verse of a hymn sung by hundreds of voices. Let us listen, let us pray, and let us act.

Missionaries of the Precious Blood