In 1956, a few hundred Catholic teachers and catechists gathered at Mt. Carmel High School on Hoover Street in Los Angeles for workshops and teaching on religious education. Today, this gathering is called the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and brings together 40,000 Catholics from around the world for fellowship, worship, and learning. I had the blessing and the privilege of being this year's keynote speaker for the event.
I opened that morning by reading from a "Lenten Letter" written by Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He had this reflection on both Lent and the current economic crisis:
According to the calendar, Ash Wednesday occurs this week and we begin another Lent. Except for this year. Lent actually began in 2007 for many thousands of families all across the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and we have been in a long and protracted season of Lent ever since. In what sense?