Dear Friends in Christ
Forty Days now separate us from Easter. The central purpose of Lent is: to prepare us with purified hearts and lives for a renewed celebration of the Resurrection. Having begun Lent with open and generous hearts, we now have to try and sustain our efforts to pray more, deny ourselves, and show charity towards others. Last week I suggested that we see this Lent 2017 - our Diocesan Centenary Year - as a time of preparation for our Parish Mission in October. There are Prayer Cards available this weekend with a prayer asking for the grace to live our Catholic Faith fully and well. This is the same prayer we used for the last Parish Mission in 2005 and is a simple summary of what we are about as Catholics. I also want to suggest that as part of living charity towards our neighbour, we might reach-out to those who have become distant from Christ and His Church. So, in the first instance we could pray for those - family members or neighbours - who have lapsed from their Faith. We might invite them to come home to the Church by a kind and encouraging word. If there is someone in our street or neighbourhood whom we know to be lapsed, we might think of delivering to them the Prayer Card and/or a Newsletter so that they can be kept in touch with the life of our Parish Family. We can often, by simple means, be the way back for someone who is perhaps just waiting to be reminded of how much Christ and His Church is waiting for them. There are some really helpful resources available and there is one website in particular that I could recommend: catholicscomehome.org.
One of the main intentions of this Centenary Year is that we would renew with fresh vigour, the outreach to bring others into the fold of the Catholic Church. This is the intention of the Stewards of the Gospel programme that has been launched in the Diocese and it is also the task of each one us that, we become missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. If we can live Lent with this desire, then we will be doing a great work for God and for the Church.
Lastly, pray for all those who are preparing for Reception into the Church this Easter; this Sunday afternoon several hundreds - including those from our own Parish - will be presented to the Bishop during the Rite of Election as they enter the final phase of their preparation for the Easter Sacraments. May God bless each of us as we engage in the spiritual warfare of Lent, so that we can celebrate a joyful Eastertide!
Msgr Kevin Hale