February 11, 2015 – Excerpted from Put Out Into the Deep, Bishop DiMarzio’s column in The Tablet:
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Next Wednesday, Feb. 18, we begin the season of Lent, the time when we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Easter Mystery. It is a time of preparation which over the centuries has taken many different forms.
In the Message for Lent that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has issued this year, he has taken the theme: “Make your hearts firm.” (Jas 5:8) The season of Lent is the time when we are asked to firm up our faith, when we are to give special attention to training our will so that we can love God all the more. The phrase “make your hearts firm” has special meaning to me because five-and-a-half years ago I underwent quadruple bypass surgery. One of the wonderful gifts one receives following this surgery is a red heart-shaped pillow which is needed to hold tight to your chest whenever you cough since you do feel that you are coming apart. Quadruple bypass surgery entails breaking the sternum, commonly called the breastbone, for the surgery. It takes many months for that bone to heal and to this day I still feel the wires which were put in place to keep it together.
The pillow has a special meaning, as it is called the “Brave Heart Pillow.” Yes, your heart must be brave to undergo that type of operation. And so it is with Lent, we have that brave heart, for without brave hearts we will have wills that are weak and we will not be allowed to follow the will of God. As Pope Francis says in his Lenten Message, “As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions of self-sufficiency, I would invite you all to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A head which lets itself be pieced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.”
Read the full text of the Bishop’s column on The Tablet website.