Bishop's Interview: This Lent may we be changed, converted and moved to recognize the presence of Jesus

Bishop Joe Vásquez distributes ashes during the noon Mass at St. Mary Cathedral on Ash Wednesday of 2014. (Photo by Arlen Nydam, www.nydamphoto.com)

Editor: Bishop ... Lent is here. How do we prepare ourselves for the Passion and Resurrection of Christ?
Bishop Vásquez:
Lent is truly a wonderful time in the church. Lent is about conversion because as we know conversion is a life-long process that never ends. As humans we are all in need of conversion. Thankfully, we have the season of Lent each year to awaken and renew our faith. Lent is a time to turn our attention to the Lord who is calling us to be faithful. To do this we must open our hearts to God’s grace and mercy. During Lent cooperating with God, we can work on correcting those bad habits or vices that distract us from God. 
We can also work on being more generous with our time and resources. It can be as simple as spending more time sitting down at the dinner table with our family, or visiting an elderly neighbor down the street, or giving extra money to a worthy organization. It’s not just about writing a check, but it’s about getting involved and supporting and helping those who are in need. When we spend time with those who are sick, or lonely, or hungry, we connect with them and we begin to better understand their situation. This can be a very life-changing experience because through them, we encounter Christ. And those encounters help us to offer more compassion and understanding to those in need.
Through the prayers and sacrifices we make during Lent, God is changing our hearts; so when we come to Holy Week and Easter Sunday, we can celebrate with great joy how God’s life has been poured into us. 
Editor: What is your prayer as we begin this holy season?
Bishop Vásquez:
I pray that all of us will be changed, converted and moved to recognize the presence of Jesus, especially in the poor, the sick, the hungry and the suffering in our world. As we draw closer to Holy Week, I pray Christ will be revealed to us as the suffering one; the one who carried the cross; the one who carried our pains; the one who died out of love for humanity. May we begin to see Jesus Christ especially in our suffering brothers and sisters and respond lovingly to their needs.