The Catholic Sentinel’s staff reached out over the past few weeks to Catholics around the archdiocese, asking about people’s thoughts on Lent. The wonderful answers gave me with so many new ideas about how I might come closer to God and do a better job praying during Lent this liturgical season.

Trudie Atkinson in Eugene said this Lent she would read Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli Tutti.” during Lent. I plan to as well.

In “Fratelli Tutti,” Pope Francis quotes St. Francis’ to call to brotherhood. There is even a chapter on “A better kind of politics.” Sneaking a peak, I see that Pope Francis writes, “Politicians should ask themselves: ‘How much love did I put into my work?’ ‘What did I do for the progress of our people?’ ‘What mark did I leave on the life of society?’ ‘What real bonds did I create?’ ‘What positive forces did I unleash?’ ‘How much social peace did I sow?’ ‘What good did I achieve in the position that was entrusted to me?’”

Because we live in a democracy where we all have voices — and that is true even when our candidate does not win — these are questions we, as American citizens, should also ask of ourselves.

In fact, they are questions each one of us as parents, neighbors, parishioners and co-workers should ask.

We really are in this together. Our citizenship, like our daily lives, is not about identifying enemies, but about recognizing Christ in the other. Politics is deformed by hate and fear. Those emotions make ugly not only the objects of our hatred and fear, but also those doing the hating and fearing.

The first chapter of “Fratelli Tutti” is titled “Dark clouds over a closed world.” Pope Francis ends with a chapter titled “An appeal” and two prayers. Reading it, praying on it and taking the pope’s words to heart is surely constitutes a worthwhile Lenten exercise.