Archbishop's Lenten Pastoral Message 2010
The season of Lent my dear people is a season for prayer and fasting. It leads us into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ enabling us to focus on Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. Lent belongs to the spiritual rhythm of the Church, and year after year it leads us back to the very centre of our faith, Jesus Christ. Knowing how short this life is for all Lent encourages us each year to enter into a closer relationship with Jesus in order to know Him better. The key to such knowledge is prayer, and Lent this year is focussed in a special way on prayer that we will explore in a national gathering 7-10 July named, ‘Pray 2010’. The gathering will allow us to listen to a variety of speakers, men and women from Australia and different parts of the world, who are experts on prayer, and who will teach us its importance. They will explain to us how Jesus prayed, how they pray, and how we can learn to pray by focussing on Jesus and listening to them.
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus is our absolute key to faith. Faith without prayer is a contradiction in terms, and from the very beginning of creation prayer has changed both the world and ourselves. As Paul the apostle explained in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “For everyone who is in Christ, the old creation has gone, and now the new one is here” Jesus came to the old world as a helpless child in a manger, and then at the rather young age of 30 obeyed His Father’s will that He preach good news to the world. He completed that good news for our benefit not only by His words but most importantly by His death and resurrection. Each of us therefore is a new person because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The foundation of His good news always was prayer. He prayed at His baptism in the Jordan, prayed over sick and suffering people during His mission, prayed for the success of His apostles, and on occasions even left sick and suffering people behind in order to pray. Prayer was the language of relationship with His Father. Only through prayer was He able to understand the will of His father and grasp the nature of His mission. Towards the end of His earthly life He prayed also in the garden of Gethsemane, asking for the courage to do His Father’s will. Condemned to death, He prayed for those people ridiculing and tormenting Him, and for the criminals crucified with him. In His very last breath He prayed to be with His father knowing that He had fulfilled His Father’s will. However His lifelong prayer which He shared with His apostles and us was prayer for a new world and a new people, including each and every one of us. His prayer was answered by His Father with resurrection. Today in our frantically busy world what we need above all is prayer, prayer that will help us understand the good news of Jesus, prayer that will give us a new world and a new creation, prayer that will make us new people, and finally prayer that will give us the courage of Jesus to take the good news of God out to all people, no matter what the cost.
As we well know, the season of Lent is a special time for prayer and fasting, so let us not neglect it. However let us make an extra effort this Lent to participate in our great prayer of the Church, the Mass. For those of us who are not able to do so let us seek moments when we can say simple prayers of gratitude and praise to our all loving God. In Brisbane a small group of people meet regularly at the heart of the city simply to pray the prayer of Jesus – the Our Father. Just by their simple prayers they do so much good that will only be realised when they meet God face to face. If we try hard enough to pray, our entire lives will themselves become living prayers. This year let us do all we can to participate, even if only in some small way, in our great gathering of “Pray 2010”. If we do so and listen to the speakers with open hearts and minds we will never regret it. However, before we participate in this national gathering in July let us make sure that we have done all that is possible in this time of Lent to get ready for Easter and the resurrection of Jesus, and for the national gathering soon to follow. Let this Lent become a magnificent preparation for our Archdiocesan gathering that will be held from the 7th to 10th July. May Mary the Mother of Jesus and Blessed Mary MacKillop our patron, pray that God’s holy spirit will make this Lent a spiritual powerhouse for all. Let us become a praying Archdiocese filled with new people and a new Archdiocese, exactly as Jesus desired. May God bless you all.
Archbishop John Bathersby
1st Sunday of Advent, 21 February, 2010