“Be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and put on the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)
We all know from our own experience how pressing are the demands — and how incessant are the distractions — of daily life, and how deadly can be this constant friction with the modern-day atmosphere of materialism, sensuality, and worldliness. These enemies of our salvation not only wear away at our spiritual fervor, but even prevent us from applying ourselves adequately to matters of basic religious instruction.
The Church’s remedy for this is the annual Lenten Mission. A missionary comes to instruct us and lead us in religious exercises during a number of consecutive days, forcefully preaching the stark truths of salvation: The end of man, our need of grace, the conditions for the worthy reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, the responsibilities of Holy Matrimony, the duties of parents and children toward each other, and of employers and the employed.
We live in unprecedentedly dangerous times, every day passing face to face with extraordinary spiritual perils, from false shepherds within the Church no less than from the dissolute and irreligious Sirens without. We need the extraordinary aids and protection which only come by the missionary’s preaching, to enlighten our minds, to elevate and move our wills.
It is no exaggeration to say that, in the ordinary course of Divine Providence, a mission is the greatest grace that God can confer upon any community of the faithful. “There is nothing,” says St. Alphonsus, “that is better adapted than missions or retreats to enlighten the minds of men, to purify corrupt hearts, and to lead all to the exercise of a truly Christian life.”
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