This time next week we will be in Lent and Pope Francis has told us in his 2018 Lenten Message: “Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.” He went on to say, “I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth.” His words are a wonderful invitation to all of us, and for all those we minister to in our parishes, teach in our schools and colleges, and those we interact with in daily life. It’s an important and essential question to ask ourselves in prayer throughout this time of Lent –What do I need to do to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly in every aspect of my life? and What do I need to do to experience this time of grace anew?
It is also important to ask ourselves how we help others to do this. We probably all struggle to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and could do with an encouraging word or smile, a promise of prayerful support, or even an invitation to pray with someone else. Lent is an invitation to “think differently” – to think differently about how we pray, about how we either do or don’t do everything as a disciple of Jesus. Therefore, another helpful question is – In what ways can I think differently about my life in order to be renewed and live wholeheartedly for God?
Two days after Lent begins, Friday 16 February, is also the day for all Catholics throughout New Zealand to observe the Day of Prayer and Penance for Victims of Abuse and Violence in New Zealand. Last year the Bishops Conference was invited with other Bishops Conferences around the world to join in a day of prayer for the victims of abuse and violence, at the suggestion of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The New Zealand Bishops decided to hold this day at the beginning of Lent. We all know that many people are the victims of violence in our society, especially many young people. Sadly, we know too that young and vulnerable people have been victims of abuse at the hands of some clergy. It is appropriate that we have a day to pray for ALL victims of violence and abuse and to acknowledge again the terrible impact of abuse by members of the Church, and all other violent and abusive acts in New Zealand. Please pray for them on Friday 16 February.
Suggestions for Prayers of the Faithful 16 February 2018
- That the cries of those who have been abused in body, mind and spirit, suffered in violent relationships and betrayed by the trust they placed in others, may call forth from us a passion for justice and reparation.
Let us pray to the Lord:
- That those who live and work with our abused and violated brothers, sisters and children may bind tangible ways to affect renewed dignity, healing and forgiveness.
Let us pray to the Lord.
With every blessing for a prayerful and Spirit filled Lent.
As the End of Life Bill starts the process of being debated in Parliament please invoke the intercession of Suzanne Aubert.