A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit with in me.
Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervour sustain me. (Responsorial Ps 50, Ash Wednesday)
A meaningful Lent
I think of two images to describe Lent: just as the harsh winter weather kills off old vegetation and cleans up the soil for seeds to be planted and green shoots to spring up; and just as between now and Easter nature will come alive again, so too, in Lent we work on ourselves that we may be at our Christian best as family members, neighbours, colleagues and citizens in the years ahead.
The 2022 season of sport lies ahead. These first months for athletes and team members involve the discipline of training, in order to sharpen skills, to attain fitness and to develop teamwork. The discipline is needed if there is to be the joy of participation. We have the discipline of Lent that we might be at our best, in gratitude to God and in appreciation of the blessings of family, community and country.
As parish communities this Lent we put a focus on inviting all to return to participation in the fullness of parish life. Gradually, carefully all activities can resume. It will do us good to be together again.
A wish I have is that in our churches choirs will come back strong. They give life and joy to our worship. Also, may the Sign of Peace return, not yet as a handshake but as a smile, a bow, or a hand gesture of recognition and fellowship.
I suggest some simple things for this Lent:
Check that you are happy with the time you give:
- to daily prayer and Sunday Eucharist
- to keeping your faith fresh and strong
- to participation in parish activities,
- to being involved in some voluntary service to others
- God Our Father asks us to have a special care for those who are poor or in some other need. Also, remember the Trócaire Lenten campaign.
A Christian Sunday
Sunday is special for every Christian community: 1) the first day of creation Gen1:1-5, 2) the Day of Christ’s Resurrection, and 3) the Day of the Coming of the Holy Spirit. This Lent can we reflect on how we live Sunday as Christian communities? For you and your loved ones is there in your Sunday:
- a place for quiet prayerful reflection to count our blessings and renew your trust in God
- a place for gathering to celebrate Mass in response to his invitation “do this in memory of me”
- a place for a day of rest away from the busyness and pressures of the everyday.
Sunday is also a day for people, for family, neighbours and friends. Have you a pattern of regular good contact with others? Has Covid taught us that people are the true treasure in our lives? It is all too easy in today’s world to not have time for the people around us every day.
The Sunday Gospels of Lent
This year our Lenten Sunday Gospels are from St Luke. The second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel is that of the Transfiguration and focuses on the incredible mystery that in Jesus, God has come among us, “This is my Son, the Chosen One. Listen to him.”.
The fourth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel is that of the Prodigal Son, – God’s mercy is there for everyone, ”this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found”. To return to God is to be forgiven and to realise that God the Father never stopped loving you, your place in God’s family is assured.
The Synodal Pathway
Since last Autumn throughout Ireland there has been much talk of a “Synodal Pathway for Ireland” and of a “Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023”. Because of Covid very little has been possible until now. Activities will be happening in our parishes and pastoral areas during Lent.
The Church is a family. Vital to every family is that the voices of all family members are heard. How can the Church be open to hearing many more voices, not just ‘once off’ but in an ongoing way as a pilgrim people journeying together to God? Journeying together, all voices encouraged, all voices matter. Together listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and in our celebration of the Eucharist. Pope Francis asks that this be the way of the Church worldwide. To know more about the “Synodal Pathway” see our diocesan website (google, ‘diocese of Kerry synodal pathway’), and the National Website of the Synod (www.synod.ie).
A Prayer for Peace
“My heart aches greatly at the worsening situation in Ukraine
I would like to appeal to those with political responsibility to examine their consciences seriously before God, who is the God of peace and not of war; who is the Father of all, not just of some, who wants us to be sisters and brothers, and not enemies. …..
May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war.” Pope Francis Feb 23rd
These words were spoken by Pope Francis at his customary Wednesday audience on the first day of the war. He invited us to pray and fast for peace during Lent. All of us hoped that Russia would not start a war with Ukraine. I invite you to include this vital prayer intention in all your Lenten prayers and practices in the weeks ahead.
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all people on earth.
Lord make us an instrument of your peace.
+ Ray Browne
Diocese of Kerry