Pastoral Letter for Lent 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Together on Ash Wednesday we commence our pilgrimage to the great Easter Mysteries of faith. We seek to have a new heart and a new spirit as we come to be converted to the death and resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.
At Easter we will renew our baptismal promises, pledging ourselves to live the faith in eternal life.
Particularly in Australia of 2008 we offer hope to our community, which can often breed elements of hopelessness, especially to the poor and vulnerable.
As Pope Benedict remind us: “The true believer aware of being a sinner aspires with their whole self; spirit, heart and body, to divine forgiveness as to a new creation that can restore joy and hope to him.”
This year our Lenten pilgrimage will be extended by a great journey to the Days in the Diocese (10-14th July) and the World Youth Day in Sydney (15-20th July). These will extend our Lenten pilgrimage because our Holy Father will be in Australia for the first time.
Together we die to ourself to live in God as disciples of Jesus with humility, patience, generosity and perseverance. We do so with prayer, fasting and works of love.
During Lent we are invited to observe silence in our churches before and after Mass, to provide each other with opportunities to reach out to the Lord in prayer. “Be still and know that I am God.”
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Way of the Cross, the Rosary, are proven ways of walking with Jesus the journey to his passion and resurrection. This year I wish to encourage all in the Archdiocese to study the Church’s Instructions on the Celebration of Mass so that we will be most united in faithfulness to the Church’s public prayer as Pope Benedict has encouraged.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal and is available in English from Saint Paul’s. During Lent parish communities could reflect on its provisions, which come into effect on Pentecost Sunday.
Two matters affect the people: after the priest’s invitation, ‘pray brethren’, we stand and respond, ‘may the Lord accept this sacrifice’, to indicate our readiness to enter into the central prayer of sacrifice. The Church reminds us also that in Australia we kneel in adoration after the ‘Holy’ until the ‘Our Father’. When coming for Communion (I suggest when one person away from receiving) each of us is to bow in adoration of the mystery we are to receive. A number of other points for ministers and servers will be circulated and placed on the diocesan website.
Denying ourselves food and pleasure is an important part of focusing our attention on God and his love for us. It helps to sharpen our concentration on the Lord’s love and on what we can be to others rather than our own needs.
Works of Love
During Lent we have a strong tradition in our parishes of contributing to Project Compassion. We who live in a land of plenty are given the opportunity to think of others who lack the abundance that we have. Similarly, we can give our time by visits to the ill or the elderly or making an effort to spend time with members of our family and those who are lonely.
Lent is always a journey of hope. I am confident that you will join with me in this pilgrimage which will bring many graces upon the Church in Melbourne to make this Lent a real pilgrimage of hope to the destination of all pilgrimages; Jesus our Easter Joy.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.