Download our 3 churches newsletter for the first Sunday in Lent, 2018.
“Lent is the time for allowing one’s heart to be touched…” Pope Francis said at Mass on Ash Wednesday. “God does not tire, nor will he tire, of holding out his hand.” He encouraged us to pause, see, and return to the Father.
He offered suggestions of how to pause, including refraining from showing off, or from an attitude which gives rise to unproductive thoughts and self-pity. These lead us to forget our call to encounter others and share in their burdens. He urged an end to the desire “to control everything, know everything, destroy everything,” which stems from a lack of gratitude for our life and what we’ve been given. Lent is a good time for the “creative power of silence” in order to “leave behind the unrest and commotion that fill the soul with bitter feelings which never get us anywhere… Pause from this compulsion to a fast-paced life that scatters, divides and ultimately destroys time with family, with friends, with children, with grandparents, and time as a gift… time with God.” Francis warned about “haughty looks” and “fleeting and pejorative comments,” words stemming from a lack of “tenderness, compassion and reverence for the encounter with others, particularly those who are vulnerable, hurt and even immersed in sin and error.”
Francis urged us instead to see – to reflect on those actions which promote faith, hope and charity – to look upon the faces of the vulnerable and in need, like families who, despite hardship, still strive to make their homes “a school of love.” May we see the faces of children and youth, yearning for a future, the faces of the elderly reflecting “God’s wisdom at work,” and the faces of sick people and their carers, whose vulnerability reminds us of the value of every person. “See the remorseful faces of so many who try to repair their errors and mistakes, and who from their misfortune and suffering fight to transform their situations and move forward.” Finally, the Pope encouraged everyone to make time during Lent to “see and contemplate the face of Crucified Love… To see his face is an invitation filled with hope for this Lenten time, in order to defeat the demons of distrust, apathy and resignation.”
Pope Francis invited all to “return without fear to those outstretched, eager arms of your Father, who is rich in mercy, who awaits you. Return without fear, for this is the favorable time to come home.”
Full text can be viewed here.
“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.” (Pope Francis)
Lent begins on Wednesday, and Easter this year falls on 1 April. 45 or so days. I wonder, and let’s be honest – will we be any different by Easter Sunday? If the answer, based on pervious Lents, is more or less no, then that’s a challenge to allow ourselves to be shaken this year, and stir from that lethargy which can so easily grip our spirit.
Here are some things we can do…
* Mass On Sunday prepare at home, look at the readings, make sure you greet people, especially strangers… During the week why not attend a weekday Mass?
* Deanery Mass This year St Brigid’s hosts the Cardiff Deanery Mass when people gather from all over the city with the priests and Archbishop. Put in your diary – Wednesday 28 February at 7pm (note earlier time)
There will be Confessions available for the hour before Mass – this will replace our Penitential Service this Lent. * Confession Let the Lord speak to your heart about where you are in life. Celebrate Reconciliation at our regular times, or by appointment or before the Deanery Mass.
* Stations of the Cross Before Mass in each of our 3 Churches: Tuesdays at Christ the King, Friday at St Paul’s, Saturday at St Brigid’s, all at about 9am
* Walk With Me Reflections for each day – available in each church
* “Do You Love Me?” We now have many groups following this project already started or about to
* Holy Week Maundy Thursday this year at Christ the King; Good Friday at St Paul’s and Christ the King; Easter Vigil at St Brigid’s. More details later.
Most of all, have a spiritual spring clean. Take a good look at how you are living, your priorities, your gifts, your relationships – everything. Let’s have the courage to allow the Lord to really stir us this Lent!
One of the worst bumps on the head I ever got was going down the steps into the tomb of Lazarus about 25 years ago. We were on our second September pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and were anxious to visit Bethany, where Lazarus lived with his sisters Martha and Mary. The modern village of al-Eizariya is believed to mark the spot, and there we find a church dedicated to the family, while the adjacent Tomb itself is on ground owned by Moslems. As I went down the 20 or so steps, at the bottom I banged my head on the low roof. Ouch!
So what happened to Lazarus after his raising by Jesus? He is mentioned a few times later in the Gospels, but for the time beyond that we have to rely on tradition (or legends). The Eastern tradition tells how he went with St Paul to Cyprus, becoming first bishop of present-day Larnaka. From there, as Islam advanced westwards, his relics were taken to Constantinople (Istanbul) and later to Marseille in Provence.
At this point this tradition joins another Western one, which has Lazarus and his sisters, along with the other Marys from the Crucifixion plus a maid, put out to sea by hostile Jews. They drift across the Mediterranean until they land in Provence. The beautiful town of Les-Saintes-Maries on the edge of the Camargue lies where the group traditionally landed. From here the group scatters across southern France, except for the other Marys, who stayed and gave their name to the town. Our September pilgrims also visited some of these sites in 1993 and again in 2011.
One of the strangest parts of the Eastern legends of Lazarus tells how Lazarus never smiled during the thirty years after his resurrection. He had been traumatized, we would say today, by the sight of unredeemed souls he had seen during his four-day stay in the underworld/Hades. Well I suppose being dead would have quite an effect on you, wouldn’t it? The only exception was, when he saw someone stealing a pot, he smilingly said: “the clay steals the clay.” But I’m sure Lazarus was raised again, this time not a resuscitation like in today’s Gospel, but a rising to eternal life, through Easter, which we will all celebrate in two weeks’ time.
In just three weeks we will be celebrating Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. The last days of that week, the Sacred Triduum, lie at the centre of our Catholic year, taking us to the very roots of our faith. We should make every effort to celebrate these unique days together as one. So here are some details…
Cardiff Deanery Station Mass Thursday 6 April at St David’s College 7pm. Catholics from all over Cardiff gather with our priests and Archbishop to prepare for Holy Week.
Palm Sunday 9 April Masses at normal Sunday time, with blessing of palms at all celebrations. Chrism Mass Wednesday 12 April St David’s Cathedral 11.30am. People from all over the diocese gather with all our priests, deacons and Archbishop. Priests renew our ordination promises and the sacramental oils are blessed and consecrated.
THE SACRED TRIDUUM
Mass of the Lord’s Supper Maundy Thursday 13 April 8pm at St Brigid’s. We remember the Last Supper by celebrating the Eucharist together on the evening when it was instituted. We also give thanks for the priesthood and, inspired by the Washing of Feet we renew our commitment to service. Mass is followed by Watching at the Altar of Repose until midnight.
Commemoration of the Passion Good Friday 14 April 3pm at both St Paul’s and Christ the King. On this solemn day we remember the suffering and death of Our Lord. Please note that there will be Children’s Liturgy at both of these Services.
Easter Vigil and First Mass of Easter Saturday 15 April 8.30pm at Christ the King. The climax of Holy Week and Lent as a whole. We start outside for the blessing of the Easter fire and Paschal Candles, and move into the Church for the Exsultet, our remembering the journey of God’s People through the Old Testament, the Easter Gospel, the Baptismal Rite including the Baptism and Confirmation of James Sibbald and renewal of our own vows – and, of course our Easter Eucharist. Not to be missed…
Easter Sunday 16 April Normal Mass times.
Please take note of these dates, times and places in order to avoid confusion. Let’s make this Holy Week truly the high point of our year – together.
A new website has been set up where parishioners publish daily reflections they have written. You can visit the website here.