Lent is a time for ‘Spring cleaning’ in our souls. We move the furniture in our life, take down the curtains, wash the windows and create space by removing what clutters our daily lives. It is not just a matter of getting rid of mess. It is rearranging things, finding ways to create more room, a better space. We see ourselves differently and make more room for God.
During the holy season of Lent we open our hearts and minds to a fresh, deeper, fuller awareness of God within us, around us: a deeper awareness of God's will for us. We are each called to spend extra time in prayer and to confess our sins honestly to Christ in the Sacrament of Penance.
Lent reminds us forcefully that we will be judged at our death and must give an account of our life.
Yet death is such a taboo subject in our culture. Some treat it as a ’problem’ that can be 'solved' and legislated about. But Lent reminds us we must ponder deeply its stark reality.
During our life on earth we struggle to protect our future with bank accounts, credit cards and investments. We protect the future with health plans, life insurance, social security and retirement plans. There is nothing wrong with that. But the statistic on death has not changed. It is still one per person.
There comes a moment when no amount of cash or plastic or investment protects us. We die. No human support goes with us to the grave. Human companionship stops at the tomb, and we enter alone, except that the Lord goes with us. Because of his dying and rising to new life, the Lord is with us at death, through death, and takes us to the other side to share in the transformed life which God has prepared for us.
This is why we could wear ashes on our forehead for four weeks and say "dust to dust" without being morbid. We were entering into the dying and rising of Christ.
So this Lent please fast, pray, and give alms. When we reduce our intake of food we discover what it is like for so many in our world to go hungry all day. We reflect more deeply about life… and death. When we pray more intensely, our mind opens up to wider horizons. When we give things away and support Project Compassion, we create more space in our lives, more room for God, and we realise how much we depend on God .
And during this Lent of 2018 we have a special duty. At every Mass we pray ‘through my fault, through my most grievous fault’, and the recent Royal Commission has indeed highlighted the evil and sins that have done so much damage to children, families and all of the Body of Christ.
I urge each of you this Lent and beyond to pray and act for healing for all victims. I commit our Church once again to the sacred vocation of ensuring such terrible evils are never again inflicted on Christ’s ‘little ones”.
Yes, let us pray for the grace of repentance. Christ’s message is demanding, but let us never forget, it is our Good News and salvation!
Listen to Christ Jesus as he cries out to each of our hearts, this Lent 2018:
Do not be greedy.
Be lavish in giving your goods to others.
Live the generosity of God.
Do not be violent.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Do not be spiteful.
Be merciful as your heavenly father is merciful.
Do not be frightened.
I am with you all days, even to the end of time.
Come to me all you who find life weary and burdensome,
and I will refresh you.
As we prepare to celebrate the Sacred Triduum - the dying and rising of Christ ... and our dying and rising with him … let us all: “Repent and believe the good news!”
+ Denis J Hart
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE