Some years ago, in a former parish, I was involved in publishing a pamphlet entitled 40-3-50. 40 was the number of days of Lent, 3 was the Triduum (Holy Thursday till Easter) and the 50 is the number of days of the Easter season finishing with Pentecost.
As we begin Lent this coming Wednesday, we are entering a season where each one of us have a wonderful opportunity to prepare for the greatest feast of the year, Easter. The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus is the most important happening in our world and central to our happiness and wellbeing. The six weeks of Lent help us in our preparation to celebrate this outstanding event. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday are seen as one day. We then spend 50 days reflecting and plumbing the depths of this event that has changed our lives and gives meaning to everything.
At the Easter vigil here at St Thomas’ this year two people will be baptised, four others will be received into full communion into the Catholic Church and two people, who have been baptised Catholic will complete their initiation by receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time and receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
Pope Francis in his Lenten letter suggests that during this Lent we keep our eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified. “Let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you go to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you of your guilt.” He also reminds us that the experience of mercy is only possible in a face to face relationship with the crucified and risen Lord…in a heartfelt dialogue between friends.” This Lenten season let us focus on our daily practise of prayer. This could consist in a daily reading of the gospel and use it as a source of our prayer. You can buy a copy of “Day By Day” booklet which has the daily reading for Lent and Holy Week £1.00 in the Narthex. For almsgiving we have a Family Fast day on Friday March 6th, the money we save goes to the work of Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and their special Lenten project. I also suggest that we again support the work of Fr Freddie in South Sudan. Our fasting during this season enables us to be more attuned to Jesus and open to his presence in our lives.
Grant O Lord that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.