A Lenten Message from The Very Rev. Dr. Walter V. Hillebrand, TSSF Priest, Friend, and Family

By: Fr. Walter Hillebrand

02/28/20 05:00 PM
Category: General

Each one of us reflects upon our own life, coming to a deeper awareness about what we could have done better.


Beloved in Christ,

Ash Wednesday marks a significant change of season for our faith community. Lent can be understood in many ways. Many continue to go about their lives with little or no change while others prepare to create change in their lives at least until Easter.

For me, when thinking of Lent, I vividly recall that my mother would not serve any meat throughout the entire season. We were not extreme Roman Catholics, but nevertheless, my parents decided there would be no meat in our home during Lent. I clearly remember when I was about 20 years old, my sister and I went for a ride on my motorcycle to enjoy the wonderful views of the Lago Majore. After a while, we were hungry. We stopped at a small shop and the first thing we saw were sandwiches.

All of a sudden my sister, with such a frightened look on her face asked me, “Do you know what we just did?” I had no clue. She said, “We ate meat and it is Lent!” My sisters and brothers, you cannot, or maybe you can imagine, how we felt. We felt like we betrayed the world. We felt so guilty and shameful about eating meat during Lent. You probably can tell what an impression this left on me as, otherwise, I would not remember this story from so long ago.

Well, today I choose to refrain from eating meat because I am focusing on making healthier food choices and being more aware of our environment. The difference is that this is MY choice and not brought about by guilt imposed by someone else.

Here is what we could really focus on: Each one of us reflects upon our own life, coming to a deeper awareness about what we could have done better. Maybe there is something specific that comes up for you that could be addressed during Lent. We all have things done or left undone that we need to straighten out.

Some people, fast during Lent. Fasting is a well-known practice to be used on the journey of faith, thus, for awakening and enlightenment. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights. Well, first and foremost, if you have any medical condition you first must speak to your doctor before doing anything in that direction. If you decide to fast, combine it with prayers. It is a good way to grow closer to God.

Many of you have expressed interest in what your Priest is doing this year. Well, my wife and I always take Lent and all the season of the Church very seriously. First and foremost, know that Aissa and I do not want to create another life-long trauma for our children as it was created in my childhood. We do hold back with any kind of sweets like candies and especially chocolate. We choose to add something into their bedtime routine such as a reading from their Children’s bible every night.

This year, Aissa and I already have begun to eliminate sugar from our diet. So we will pay particular attention to the added sugars in any kind of food we eat. We also have grown our own pro-biotics to create a new basis for long term health. In addition to our daily spiritual practices, fasting is part of our journey which we apply during Lent. It just helps us to better feel the Spirit and listen to God’s voice. Join us if you wish. If you need guidance please let me know