For more information and Weekly Activities, please see the Leaflet
This year Pope Francis has decided to focus on the verse from St Paul “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20) to reflect on the meaning of Lent. The Pope wants all Catholic to reflect on the words he wrote after the Synod on the Youth and their vocation: “Keep your 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. Contemplate his blood poured out with such great love, and let yourself be cleansed by it. In this way, you can be reborn ever anew”
The Pope reminds us of the importance of prayer as a response to God’s love who always precedes and supports us. “Christians pray in the knowledge that, although unworthy, we are still loved. Prayer can take any number of different forms, but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart.”
“The fact that the Lord once again offers us a favourable time for our conversion should never be taken for granted. This new opportunity ought to awaken in us a sense of gratitude and stir us from our sloth. Despite the sometimes tragic presence of evil in our lives, and in the life of the Church and the world, this op- portunity to change our course expresses God’s will not to interrupt his dialogue of salvation with us.
Putting the paschal mystery at the centre of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and vari- ous forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.
That is why the Pope appeals to people of good will to share, through almsgiving, their resources in order to building a better world. The Pope has called for a meeting of young economists at Assisi in the last weekend of March with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy, since politics is a form of charity. May this Lent make turn back to our Loving Father.
Pope Francis has been tireless in his call to practical works of charity. He says: “We are called to reach out to those who find themselves in the existential peripheries of our societies and to show particular solidarity with the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, people with disabilities, the unborn and the sick, migrants and refugees, the elderly and the young who lack employment.”
With these words in mind we embark on our Lenten journey. Please look at the different options given in this leaflet and support at least one of them.
Lenten Parish Projects
This year we will have four Lenten Projects: the Cardinal’s Appeal, EVC —Uganda, the Bow Food Bank and look and a reaching out to our society. . Please choose one and support it through this season of renewal.
Bow Food Bank
The Cardinal wants the Diocese to focus on food poverty. We are blessed with the Bow Food Bank. This Lent we will be collecting UHT full fat milk, oil, washing powder and nappies for the Bow Food Bank over the 5th Sunday of Lent (28th & 29th March). We would like to encourage also people to volunteer with this project and also help either on Sunday afternoon after the 11.30 mass when the food is taken across to St. Mary’s or on Monday mornings. Please speak with Fr. Javier if you are interested in volunteering.
Empowering Vulnerable Children — Uganda
Since the beginning of January 2014 a great deal of hard work has been undertaken by a group of local people in Bedford, who are passionately committed to offering a better life to desperately poor and orphaned children in southern Uganda. This has been a response to the work of Father Boniface Kaayabula, a Ugandan Catholic priest belonging to the Diocese of Masaka. Fr Boniface has been seeking to offer a better future to some of the poorest children in the world since 1997 .
In this part of Southern Uganda many people have died from AIDS, cholera and malaria, in lots of cases leaving their children orphaned. The percentage of orphan children is very high. These children need the elementary rights of all human beings; food, clothing, warmth and love. In addition they need the opportunity of an education and this is our challenge. A child who receives a primary education in the developing world is 50% more likely to survive and flourish than one who does not have that opportunity.
The collection on Ash Wednesday as well as the special boxes provided on the First Sunday of Lent will go towards this important work EVC does in providing real hope for the future through education for some of the poorest children in the world. bring all donations by 05/04.
I was Sick and you Visited me
One of the works of mercy we can do is to visit those who are sick. For the past few years, an effort to reach out to those who can no longer attend Mass has been made. We should not lose momentum and continue looking for those members of our community who no longer can make it to Church. If you know of anyone who might benefit from a visit please let Fr. Javier know.
Prayer teaches us to abandon our self-sufficiency, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. During Lent we are invited to spend more time in prayer, listening to the Lord in the silence of our hearts and as He speaks to us in the Scriptures. There will be extra slots for silent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Mondays and Fridays before morning Mass. In this Year of the Bible we could commit to reading the gospel of Matthew during Lent.
Catholics are asked to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and to fast on the Fridays of Lent. Fasting means that the amount of food we eat is considerably reduced. Abstinence means that we give up a particular kind of food or drink or form of amusement.
Fasting teaches us to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything in order to satisfy our greed and so be ready to suffer for love, in order to have our hearts filled up. We are invited to give alms with whatever money we save from our fast.
Through almsgiving we acknowledge that everything we have comes from God. By sharing our money with those who are more in need we recognise that everything we have is a gift. We have been asked by the Cardinal to support the Cardinal’s Appeal. The funds raised will go to support parishes or groups in their work to further the mission of the Church: to serve the evangelisation of youth, to develop marriage and family life projects, and to provide service in society, especially to those on the margins. You can support this appeal by placing your contribution in the box which is at the entrance of the Church. Look for the yellow notice! We will have our own Lenten project (see at the back of this leaflet).
Lent is the time we come back to the Lord in the sacrament of Reconciliation. No matter how long ago since your last confession. Extra times for confession are avail- able this Lent. Several visiting priest will come to our parish on Monday 30th March for first Confessions and for those who want to avail of this sacrament.