My dear people,
LENT is a time of preparation for Easter.
Over the six weeks of the season we prepare by prayer, penance and fasting for the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection.
Each year we try to open our hearts just a little bit more to the physical and spiritual meaning of this event, in the midst of a world that largely sees Easter as a time for holidays.
Recently I read an article by a well known journalist who argued that we should regard each and every moment of our lives as precious.
I couldn’t agree more.
At the same time we must treasure those moments for the right reason, not because each moment brings us closer to what is regarded by some as the darkness of death, but rather because each moment brings us closer to the greatest moment of our lives, our final face to face encounter with God. Each year the feast of Easter that proclaims the resurrection of Christ, once again reassures us of this truth and confirms us in the belief that we are made to live forever.
Death indicates both continuity and change, continuity in that it is merely a reaffirmation of the Communion we already enjoy with God and others in this life, and change, in that our future heavenly life with God and others will transcend this earthly life and be the fulfilment of our ultimate destiny. Communion is the reality in which we live now before death, and Communion is also the reality in which we live after death, guaranteed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Communion with God and one another reassures us that our relationship with God and others cannot be broken by death because it transcends death.
Death is merely another step, even if an important one, on our long journey towards everlasting life.
Above all we must try to understand Communion (Koinonia), the spiritual foundation of the Second Vatican Council, and the constant message of Pope John Paul II to the world today.
This Lent I ask you all to avail yourselves of the excellent Lenten program on Communion, ‘One Light, Many Journeys’, that is the focus of our archdiocesan study.
I also ask you this Lent to pray in a special way that the hearts and minds of people will be open to the constant presence of God’s Holy Spirit, a sometimes neglected member of the Blessed Trinity.
As the ‘Lord and giver of life’ whom we proclaim in the Creed each Sunday, the Holy Spirit will open our hearts, if we so desire, to the incredible mystery of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, our special focus at this time of the Church year.
The same Holy Spirit will also help us in those moments when we are sometimes overwhelmed by the challenge of communicating the mystery of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit to a world that all too often is not listening. Nevertheless, filled with hope we also recognise the many good things that are happening in the parishes of this archdiocese and in other areas of Church life as well, often for the benefit of the larger Australian Church.
I thank priests, pastoral workers and people for this spirit-led activity.
I mention in particular the National Evangelisation Teams (NET) that are now functioning throughout Australia and overseas, the newly established Men Alive program from Emmanuel Covenant community, and the many programs coming out of Petrie parish – Catholics Returning Home, the Little Rock Scripture Program, and the Mothers’ Prayer ministry.
All these and many others throughout the archdiocese are an indication of God’s Holy Spirit working among us and I recommend them to you.
Finally, I thank all of you for what you are doing at parish level to make your community a faith-filled sign to the world of God’s Kingdom.
I wish you every grace and blessing for this important season and I pray to the Holy Spirit in the Prayer of the Church from the fourth week of the year: ‘Let our striving for God’s Kingdom not fall short through selfishness or fear – May the Universe be alive with the Spirit, and our homes the pledge of a world redeemed. Amen’.
With every best wish,
Sincerely in Christ,
ARCHBISHOP JOHN BATHERSBY
Archbishop of Brisbane