Lent a time for conversion
Parramatta Bishop Kevin Manning has called for faithful to contemplate Lent as a time of ongoing conversion through prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Ash Wednesday today marks the start of Lent, Bishop Manning says this holy time helps us contemplate the "stupendous mystery of God's love."
"Lent is a return to the roots of our faith so that in pondering God's gift of grace we cannot fail to realise all that is given to us by God's loving initiative," Bishop Manning said in his 2008 Lenten Pastoral Message.
"Far be it from us to miss such a providential time for conversion."
Bishop Manning added attending daily Mass during Lent was a "good start" using prayer as a means to conversion.
"All prayer helps us to concentrate on Christ, the centre of our lives. It calls us back from much useless activity in our lives," he said.
On fasting, the Bishop says it is a "salutary reminder that our present life is not for always" and to maintain a clear sense of what is important, what is essential, and what is superficial.
"I suggest a few times for fasting: Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for starters, as these are obligatory. Some people voluntarily observe all the Fridays or even other days of Lent, and I don't discourage you from doing the same," he said.
"Television addicts might cut their viewing time, those who criticise curtail their idle gossip, the cynical from their remarks, grumblers their dissatisfaction and shoppers their non-essential purchases."
Bishop Manning said practicing almsgiving was also essential as it targets our "self-centredness" as was taking part in the Sacrament of Penanace.
Pope, Curia prepare for Lenten Retreat
Pope Benedict and the leaders of the Roman Curia will begin their annual Lenten Retreat on Sunday, February 10.
Catholic World News reports Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, SJ, the former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, has been appointed by Pope Benedict as the preacher for this year's retreat.
The Lenten Retreat, held in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the apostolic palace, includes three preached meditations each day along with Mass and Benediction, Eucharistic adoration, and the Liturgy of the Hours, and ample time for private prayer and contemplation.
During the week-long retreat, all papal audiences will be cancelled and the regular operations of Vatican offices will be significantly slowed as top officials join the Pope for the spiritual exercises.
Bishop Manning's Lenten Message (Catholic Outlook 06/02/08)
Bishop Manning's - Ash Wednesday (Catholic Outlook 06/02/08)
Pope, Roman Curai prepar for Lenten Retreat (Catholic World News 05/02/08)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Parramatta
Ash Wednesday-New Advent
6 Feb 2008