Just because we are human, we are all called to be holy - that is to be people of love, deep in love with God and with other. As Christians we are committed to grow in holiness by our baptism.
Lent, which begins today, is a time to remember this call to holiness and to seek renewal by God's grace to continue on our journey to perfect love. At today's Mass we are marked with ashes, a sign of repentance, acknowledging that we have all turned away from the path of holiness. As the season progresses we quite deliberately turn back to that path. We will renew our commitment to it together when we come to celebrate the Easter Vigil, making once again the promises of our baptism.
Keeping Lent is an important part of our collective Christian life. There are three traditional ways of keeping Lent:
- Fasting - We give something up as a spiritual discipline and as a sign that we depend ultimately on God alone. It's a good idea to give something up for the whole of Lent. In addition, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are particular days of fasting.
- Prayer - We make deliberate efforts to spend time with God in prayer. Lent is a good time to take a look at our prayer lives: do we set some time aside every day, even a few minutes, to be aware of God's presence?
- Almsgiving - We work for God's Kingdom by giving and working for justice. Many people like to donate to a Lent charity. In our diocese, Bishop Richard has a Lent appeal. But Christian charity isn't just about giving money. We are called to make the world better. Look, for example, at the Church Action on Poverty website.
There are many other ways of observing Lent. It is a good time to make your confession - the sacramental celebration of God's forgiveness that should be part of the life of every Christian. In our parishes there will be an opportunity to work through the Pilgrim Course module on the Lord's Prayer - 11:30am on Wednesdays at St John's, 7:30pm on Thursdays at St Matthias. This will be a good opportunity to learn more about our faith alongside other people. Finally, we'll be praying the Stations of the Cross at 6pm each Sunday at St John's - why not make this a part of your weekly timetable this Lent?