Bishop Perry leads Ash Wednesday reflections

“God gives us Lent not to give up what pleases us, but to give up what displeases God.”

The quote is from Bishop Joseph Perry, retired auxiliary bishop of Chicago, who led a day of recollection on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 14) for students and staff at Sacred Heart Seminary and School of Theology.

Bishop Perry emphasized that Lent is primarily a time for spiritual growth. “Lent can come across as a somber time in which we give up some sort of pleasure for 40 days, like candy, alcohol or junk food only to pick it up again after Holy Saturday. But essentially, what we are to give up is sin, not pleasure. God wants us to tackle the important flaws that keep us from being more loving, more prayerful, more just and more compassionate…

“Lent is a time when God wants us to seriously grapple with what may have become deeply rooted attitudes and patterns in us, attitudes of superiority and pride; of narcissism, competition, impatience.”

Bishop Perry said that it is vital that people come to God in humility and allow God to speak to us in reflection. “Start with five minutes of total abandonment to God in silence,” he said. “Strip away the distractions that come between us and God. Constant busyness cancels out the very thing that we need to revitalize: hearing the voice of God.”

Bishop Perry has a long history with SHSST. He taught canon law at the seminary for many years and continues to be a frequent visitor. In 2021he was the main presenter at the annual Dehon Lecture with the topic “The Canonization of Fr. Augustus Tolton: Significance for Race Relations and Interculturality.”

In retirement, Bishop Perry serves as chairperson of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.

Click here to view photos from the morning.