During Lent the Bishop has asked us to think about how we are disciples of the Lord, and particularly how we can live that discipleship more faithfully and fruitfully as individuals called by God into relationship with him. In his recent pastoral letter Bishop Patrick suggested three ways we might focus on our discipleship this Lent: (1) By building a pattern of prayer into our daily lives, and seeking through awareness of the Lord’s loving presence to follow him more closely each day. (2) By knowing ourselves as being in need of God’s loving mercy, and accepting his healing and love in our lives by making a good Confession this Lent. (3) By striving for holiness of life in the every day situations in which we find ourselves. Below are some resources that might be of help in seeking to renew and deepen our discipleship of Jesus this Lent.
Bishop Patrick’s Suggestions for Lent
Knowing and noticing Christ
Discipleship always flows from a fruitful encounter with the Lord, and a desire and commitment to spend time with him in prayer. To that end one thing we might do this Lent, tying in well with Jesus’ injunction on Ash Wednesday to pray, fast and give alms, is seek to build into our daily lives a pattern of prayer. Time spent with God each morning and evening, to be with him, ask his help and advice, and commend to his merciful love the events of the day and the people we’ve met along the way. Below is a simple morning and night prayer structure, based on the Lent Resource Pack provided by the diocese, that might be of use.
Download: Morning and Night Prayers
Making a Good Confession
To share God’s mercy and healing we first have to be grateful recipients of it ourselves. Bishop Patrick asks us that this Lent we take the time to make a good Confession. No matter how long it has been since our last Confession God waits for us in the sacrament to offer us his healing and forgiveness. Confessions are heard in our Churches on the following days:
Monday: After 7.00pm Mass @ Saint Joseph’s
Wednesday: 7.00pm to 7.25pm @ Saint Teresa’s
Saturday: 10.30am @ Saint Philip Neri. After the 6.00pm Vigil Mass @ Saint Philip Neri. After the 6.00pm Vigil Mass @ Saint Bernadette’s
There will also be a reconciliation service at some point towards the end of Lent, the date of which is to be confirmed.
Below is an examination of conscience from the Diocese Lent Resource Pack that might be of use to you, especially if it’s been a while.
Download: Examination of Conscience
Bishop Patrick commended to us all Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, on the call to holiness in today’s word. He suggested that this might be good spiritual reading for the season of Lent, perhaps reading just a few paragraphs each day. The full text can be accessed for free online here: Gaudete et Exsultate
The Lenten Disciplines
During Lent we are asked to have a serious look at our prayer life, and make a positive decision as to how to deepen our relationship with the Lord. Pick something achievable, but be intentional about it. Perhaps attending Mass during the week, or committing to a regular time of prayer as a family, or starting each day with an Our Father. Whatever you decide to do, make it something that you can realistically incorporate into your daily life, and which will bring you closer to God – remember unachievable goals can have the opposite effect!
Fasting is all about making space for God in our lives and growing in the virtue of temperance. Fasting from food generally increases our self-control and builds us up in the virtue of temperance. The best fasting is when you identify something in your life that is out of control and then pick a fast that will help to bring that thing back into a healthy balance. Be deliberate about it, but also realistic. Fasting is not supposed to harm you, but help you, so don’t go overboard. When planning your fast ask yourself what you’re trying to achieve. When you settle on something that makes more room for God in your life and helps you gain a little more control over something your struggling with you’ve hit on the right thing. Remember, keep it achievable! Overburdening yourself or setting yourself up for failure will have the opposite effect to what you want!
This discipline is primarily about being drawn outside of ourselves to be more aware of, and responsive to, the needs of others. Again the best almsgiving is deliberate and planned, and its not just about writing a cheque. Perhaps volunteering, or committing to bringing something for the food bank each week, or doing a fundraiser for a particular charity, or volunteering to visit the sick and housebound of the parish. The possibilities are endless.