Sunday 26 February 2017 – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Do not worry about tomorrow
For most Catholics Lent is a private time. It is a time for us to think quietly about where our life is going, to decide what we are going to give up or take on for forty days, and maybe to give a bit more time to prayer and to go to Confession. That is valuable. Any change for the better in the world begins in someone’s heart. But Lent for long was something that people did together. Everybody fasted. You could tell those who had been to Mass on Ash Wednesday because of the dark mark on their foreheads. When Lent involved strict fasting, it affected what shops sold and cooks served at meals. When churches were stripped of flowers and statues were wrapped in purple cloth, the celebration of Mass during Lent had a serious feel to it. It once was more like what Ramadan has continued to be in the life of Muslims. It changes their mealtimes, commits them to pray and fast during the day, to offer hospitality to neighbours and needy people each evening, and to look out for people who are in need. Ramadan is not in their head but in their bones; it is not private but an activity of the whole community.
Of course, in Lent some things are done in common. In many homes the Project Compassion Boxes allow everyone in the family to think about people in need and to give a little. Parish congregations also gather together at Reconciliation Services to reflect on their lives and to be assured of God’s forgiveness. The Palm Sunday marches for refugees also bring together people to pray for national conversion and for compassion to people who need protection. In today’s world it is particularly important to allow Lent to draw us beyond our personal lives to the broader world. Our society privileges individuals who compete with one another and demand rights for themselves and their groups. Each person is an island, perhaps loved and visited by God, but connected only with other people as they choose. In this world we have no responsibility to one another. People do not deserve our respect because they are human, but only if they earn it. This leaves no room for compassion for people who are vulnerable or for young people who have broken our laws.
We become compassionate only when we know we belong to one another. Lent is a time to look outwards at the world we live in. It opens our eyes to strangers, encourages us to look them in the eye as our brothers and sisters, not as problems or as things there for to be used. It is a time for looking at people who are vulnerable in the large challenges of our world. They include the movement of peoples, the needs of the environment, the effects of inequality and of changes in technology. This Lent young people caught in the justice system are in our minds and hearts at Jesuit Social Services. The response to the violent crimes of the few risk damaging the opportunities of the many to find a better life. Lent invites us to keep our left eye on our heart and on the God who stirs within us, our right eye on the world around us and on all the people who make a claim on our compassion, and both eyes together on Jesus - on the gift he is to us and on what he asks of us through his vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ
Image courtesy of Hermanoleon Clipart
01 March 2017: Ash Wednesday’s Mass Times
- 7:30am St Ignatius' Church
- 9:00am St James' Church
- 12:00 noon St Ignatius' Church
- 7:00pm St Ignatius' Church (Polish)
- 8:00pm St Ignatius' Church (Vietnamese)
06 March - 10 April 2017 (Weekly)*: St Ignatius' First Spiritual Exercises
A number of seekers came along last week to experience a "taster" of St Ignatius' First Spiritual Exercises. Ignatius created these exercises to help people who were seeking and yearning for deep inner peace. Asking for and receiving this peace can bring us in harmony with our Creator, gifting us with a profound tranquility, flowing into our daily life. With a focus on Inner Peace in Divine Love, participants were given the opportunity to meditate, pray, engage in sacred listening, journal writing and sacred conversation.
If you would like to experience these First Spiritual Exercises why not sign up for the four-week guided prayer retreat outlined on the flyer that you can download below or pick up near the church door.
*There is a two week break between the last week and the final reflective gathering.