Bishop's Lenten Message 2021
At the beginning of Lent last year, we had no idea what the year ahead would bring. By the end of that penitential season, our churches were closed: and we had to find new ways of proclaiming the Resurrection. As always, we did the best we could with what we had available: and the power of the Spirit enabled us to celebrate Easter in different ways. For many people, it was just as deep and, in the midst of deprivation, for some even deeper.
For Christians, the disruption of routines is an opportunity to renew our vocation of discerning between what is passing and what is enduring in our walk of faith. This renewal is at the heart of the observance of Lent, under whatever circumstances we must do it.
A few years ago, the first word of advice that Pope Francis gave to a group of new bishops was: “Become holy!” It echoed the words of his predecessor, St John Paul II, to all Catholics at the beginning of the third millennium: “Since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens ‘do you wish to receive Baptism?’ means at the same time to ask them ‘do you wish to become holy?’”
It is a journey of ‘becoming’ which will not be achieved fully until we see God face to face. It is not mere superficial piety, but a willingness to let the Lord into the ‘private room’ of my heart, to begin freeing me to go out from there and discover his presence in practising love, forgiveness and service for and with everyone he brings into my life.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop of Bathurst