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Bishop Vincent’s column from Autumn 2020 Catholic Outlook Magazine

23 March 2020
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.

 

“The Lord has turned all our sunsets into sunrise.” – Clement of Alexandria.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Every year on Ash Wednesday, we disciples of Jesus undertake a path of conversion as individuals and as a community.

We go on pilgrimage heading towards Easter Sunday, where in the beautiful words of Clement of Alexandria, Jesus turns all our ‘sunsets into sunrise’.

As we live out this mystery of our dying and rising with Christ, we prepare with prayer, fasting and works of love.

For prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with God. We meet Jesus and listen to him speaking in our hearts. This Lent, let’s renew ourselves through more active participation in the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, reflection on the Scriptures and personal prayer. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus, our brother.

Fasting sharpens our vision and our readiness in mind and heart to love God and others, rather than ourselves. As a community we fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. On other days, discipline in eating and drinking trains us for our journey with Christ, who spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and penance.

Works of love are the fruit of prayer and penance. Pope Francis encourages us to acquire a new awareness of those who are trapped in the destitution of poverty. In a world where so many are comfortable, Francis challenges us to be alert to healing the wounds of all those – near and far away – who suffer the material destitution of lacking basic rights like food, water and work.

Let’s also heal the wounds of our planet, as it is convulsed by so much savage environmental destruction. The call of Pope Francis in Laudato Si for ecological conversion has never been more relevant and urgent.

Christ’s love know no boundaries!  ‘Launch out in the deep!’

Let’s rejoice that God loves us so tenderly and accept his challenge to become joyous heralds of his mercy, compassion and hope.

Parishes, communities and individuals in our Diocese of Parramatta might especially consider what can be done to walk more closely with people in their suffering, especially through strongly supporting the wonderful work of Caritas through their annual Lenten Project Compassion.

May this Lent and Easter 2020, for all of us, be a time of transforming prayer, personal spiritual growth and solidarity with all those in need of Christ’s compassion.

May the Risen Christ continue to turn all our sunsets “into sunrise”.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv

Bishop of Parramatta

 

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