"Come back to me", we read of God saying in the book of Joel. And turning back to God is what today is all about.
We have all turned away from God through sin. We receive ashes at today's Mass as a sign of our turning back to God. God calls us to be his People once again, to re-live the new life we received at our baptism, and so be ready to celebrate the passing over of Jesus from death to life at the end of Holy Week.
Throughout Lent, which begins today, we try to co-operate with God's grace, to be renewed. In this way we will be ready to participate in the great events of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.
There are a number of ways in which we can keep Lent well. One thing which we should all consider - and we in the Church of England are sometimes not very good at this - is making our confession. Celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) gives us a chance to examine ourselves, to confess our sins, and - most importantly - to encounter God's forgiving grace and receive strength to live the Christian life more fully. If you would like to make your confession, please talk to any priest.
More generally, there are three ways in which Christians have traditionally observed Lent:
- Fasting - A lot of people give something up for Lent. In doing this, we develop self-control and, with God's help, set ourselves free from dependency.
- Prayer - Lent is a good time to think about our prayer lives, to develop the habit of saying morning and evening prayers, and to try new ways of praying - for example, praying the rosary or praying with the Bible.
- Almsgiving - In being generous to others, whether with our money or our time, we share in the love which God has for all people.
We will also be running a Lent course at St Matthias'. This starts next Thursday evening. Alternatively, you might like to join our brothers and sisters at St John's on Wednesday mornings.