Pope Francis calls us to draw near to Jesus during Lent

Drawing near to Jesus is something Pope Frances encourages us to do during Lent. In a Vatican Radio address on March 21, Pope Francis said Lent is a good opportunity for us “to draw near” to Jesus, “to encounter him in prayer in a heart-to-heart dialogue … to see His face in the face of a brother or a sister who is suffering.”

In this way, Pope Francis said, “we can renew within ourselves the grace of baptism, quenching our thirst at the font of the word of God and of the Holy Spirit; and thereby discovering, too, the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and instruments of peace in our daily lives.”

Near to Jesus through blessing of ashes

Following the example of Pope Francis, Sister Jean Marie Fernandez honors the blessing of ashes during the Lenten Season as a way to draw herself and others near to Jesus. In her role at St. Vincent De Paul Homeless Shelter and Drop-in Center she makes this blessing available to all.

“For me it is truly the message of Jesus the Good Shepherd who came so that ALL may have life. I am amazed at the number of persons who find great spiritual meaning and purpose through this ritual of blessing and receiving of ashes. It is truly a joy,” she said.

The inspirational words of others also cause Sr. Jean Marie to go deeper during Lent. She is particularly moved by Saint Mary Euphrasia’s belief that ”One person is of more value than the world.”

She also finds inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore, who reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Tagore wrote:
“I slept and dreamt,
that life was all joy.
I awoke and saw,
that life was but service.
I served and understood,
that service was joy.” 

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette McDermott

Jeanette is the Communications Coordinator for Sisters of the Good Shepherd Province of Mid-North America. She is a career photojournalist who has served in various capacities of print, broadcast, and corporate communications. Jeanette is devoted to creation and is particularly focused on saving pollinators and other wildlife species and their habitat. She is an ethical vegan and created the website veganstoryteller.com