Archbishop’s Letter for Lent 2018
Our Journey with Christ into the Desert
So soon after the joyful celebrations of Christmas, the Holy Family, and Epiphany we are entering the season of Lent. Following the pattern of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, his fasting and prayer, we embark on our similar spiritual journey. The Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, self-denial, and works of charity are directed toward our spiritual renewal as daughters and sons of God. Choosing to undertake one or all of these activities is a deeply personal choice which reflects an inner desire (of the soul) to approach Jesus and experience again, as if for the first time, his love and mercy revealed on the cross of Calvary.
The penitential practices of Lent, ancient in character and rooted in scripture and tradition, ought not be simply endured or suffered. Jesus tells us in the gospel to keep these practices to ourselves, not letting our faces be sad or our left hand knowing what our right hand is doing (Matthew 6:1-18). Our Lenten observances work to restore our soul and spirit to friendship with Christ. This interior journey is one we must all make if we take our faith seriously.
Helping us with this inner journey, Dr. Barry Whitney, professor emeritus of Windsor University, is presenting a course entitled: Suffering: Where is God? Dr. Whitney, a member of our parish, is a Christian apologist, who has devoted his professional career to the question of suffering so as to offer new insights and better ways to understand God and the questions of suffering, sin, and evil in the world. [Dr. Whitney will present a second course after Easter entitled: Jesus really is who he says he is.]
Sin and evil are not popular words in the world today or among some members of the Catholic community. But both are realities in the lives of many people. When we fall into temptation we need to repent of our waywardness, to return to the path of life and to the commandments to love God and our neighbour with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. Our Lenten prayer, fasting, and works of charity help us to accomplish this return to the Lord. Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation frees us from sin and restores within us the life of grace we received in Baptism.
There will be a Lenten Penitential Service in March for the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After a brief Liturgy of the Word, there will be the opportunity for individual confession with one of several priests who will be present for this service. More than just the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation restores our relationship with God which was broken or damaged by sin. This sacrament is a wonderful healing sacrament for one’s mind and soul.
As well, on the Fridays evenings of Lent there will be the Stations of the Cross beginning at 7:00 pm followed by the celebration of Mass. [On Good Friday evening, there will only be the Stations of the Cross.] The Stations of the Cross are meditations on Jesus’ journey from his condemnation before Pontius Pilate to his being laid in the tomb. This traditional Friday Lenten prayer directs our minds and hearts to the passion of Jesus and his sacrificial death on the cross. In the Eucharistic liturgy, we make present in a real way that sacrifice and its salvific effects in the sacrament and communion we receive.
Lent is an amazing gift given to us by our loving Saviour. Let us enter into this sacred time and prepare well for the glory which can be ours through the Easter celebrations. Christ is with us on our journey; we accompany one another into the desert; the Church unites us in the Body of Christ; we die to self so that we might rise in Christ to the eternal life of heaven.