|Pastoral letter for Lent 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I invite you to join with me in a journey to God and to our brothers and sisters, so that we may grow as Christians and humbly bear witness to God's power in our lives.
"This is a favourable time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments. This journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter." (Benedict XVI, Lenten Message 2012)
Prayer is listening and speaking to God. I recommend:
- silence in our churches is essential to prayer as a haven for reflection;
- that we keep our churches as places of prayer for converse with God;
- that we try to participate in the great prayer of the Mass very regularly during Lent, even daily;
- personal prayer, whether in Eucharistic adoration, reading and reflection on Scripture, or prayer with the family, will help us keep the spirit of this holy season.
Similarly, in silence and fasting we train our body and spirit. I recommend:
- that we limit the amount of food we eat and drink to make our mind and heart more focussed on God and others;
- acts of self-denial;
- contribution to Project Compassion;
- spending time with the sick or elderly.
"Embracing Christ bears fruit in a life structured by the three theological virtues: it means approaching the Lord "sincere in heart and filled with faith, keeping firm "in the hope we profess", and ever mindful of living a life of "love and good works" together with our brothers and sisters." The fruit of prayer and penance is responsibility towards others and working for their welfare. (Benedict XVI)
Saint Paul encourages us to seek "the ways which lead to peace and the ways in which we can support one another" (Romans 14:19) and reminds us as members of the body of Christ that "each part should be equally concerned for all the others".
Concern for one another means acknowledging the good that the Lord is doing in them and giving thanks for the wonders of the grace that God continuously accomplishes in his children.
May this season of Lent help us to discover God's love in prayer, grow through penance and fasting, and genuine service of our brothers and sisters.
With prayerful good wishes for you and for those preparing for Baptism and entry into communion with us at Easter,
Yours sincerely in Christ,
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne