Letter from ACN’s president card. Piacenza for Lent
The season of Lent is marked by the important symbol of ashes and by the call to conversion. What do these ashes mean? They point to the reality of death. Whether we like it or not, we all have to face up to this reality, and it is a healthy thing to do so. Contemplating death is not morbid, it is a reminder for us to live our day-to-day lives in a good and fruitful way. Death is simply the end of the time of trial. It is the moment when our freedom of action ceases, and with it the time when we can gain merit by our actions. After this comes eternity, and nothing more can be added and nothing taken away. In eternity we will be able to enjoy what we have merited in time. Many people think of death as frightening, as something not to be spoken about, but it is a reality which illuminates our earthly lives.
Time brings about change, and it is so precious precisely because it does come to an end: it’s now or never! Only during our earthly life can we gain merit for eternal life, there are no second chances after death! And so every moment can be lived as an act of love for God! Everything can be offered to Him. The smallest merit, gained in the briefest time imaginable, endures for all eternity. And if we lose these merits through sin, then provided we repent, everything can be regained. Our sins do not return, if we have confessed and gained absolution, but our merits do. This is what makes the difference between justice and the triumph of Divine Mercy.
Our merits are like a tiny point: but when God stretches that tiny point it becomes a line stretching into infinity. It is the same even with our smallest good deeds. They may be small, but they are not forgotten; they earn the reward of eternal happiness and they endure for ever. That is also why we call on the saints, even if they have found their way to God twenty centuries before us – as their merits endure eternally. And our merits also endure eternally! Of course, we cannot compare ourselves with the saints and martyrs, yet nevertheless our own small merits will last for ever, just like theirs.
When a good deed has been done, time does not claim it for itself but passes it on into eternity. How wonderful and moving is the Mercy of God! The season of Lent is a call to us to reflect on our use of time. Do you see how the thought of death can serve life? I wish you all a fruitful Lenten season, a time filled with divine love and good deeds of charity. That is how we can prepare ourselves for our own eternal life!
May God bless you and the Blessed Virgin protect you!
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza,
President of ACN