A lot of us struggle with how to integrate the Word of Christ and our faith into a meaningful witness to our friends and family and neighbors. My “Letters to Liam” are an attempt to help with that. They’re the result of reflections done after meditating on the Scriptures, letters of genuine concern that flow from faith in the midst of life lived—with all its ups and downs—on this earth. The one to whom I’m writing, “Liam,” is a literary creation, a conflation of many young people I know. The name means “warrior,” “of strong will.” He is a college student, 21, intelligent, hard-working, charismatic, experimenting in many ways. He was raised in Christ, but there was a lot of trouble and some dysfunction in his family. He is challenged by the Word of Christ and by the influence of his peers and the world. A lot of the names and events described in these pastoral letter/sermons for the Sundays in Lent are either fictionalized, a conflation, or have been significantly revised to protect the identities of those involved. —Rev. Lance A. O’Donnell

We inherently understand “just suffering.” A little boy who slaps his sister doesn’t like it, but understands when his parents discipline him. It’s the “unjust suffering” that troubles, and there is a special temptation for believers because it seems that God himself is unjust. Liam has experienced a lot of suffering, much of it out of his control. In the readings for the 3rd Sunday in Lent God calls us to some hard realities… and to either a living faith or a joyless subsistence.