Bishop Clyde Harvey – LENTEN MESSAGE 2023
Brothers and sisters in the Lord, I greet you this year after Lent has already begun. The Ash Wednesday invitation remains as strong and urgent today as it was two weeks ago, “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you shall return”. “Repent and believe the Good News”. Did you hear that invitation this year? Have you already acted on it or are you one of those who wait for a retreat or Palm Sunday before you do anything for Lent? We Catholics live an annual cycle and each year we are urged to celebrate the great seasons in the context of our lives that year. This year we live in a world at war in which food prices have dramatically increased. Our small nation is struggling to cope with an increased cost of living. We are in a situation where we cannot find enough employment for our young people who are leaving school. We are part of a Church which is following a synodal path of participation, communion and mission which is meant to take root in every Catholic community, every Christian heart.
CALL TO CONVERSION
The fundamental call is a call to conversion, to a change of heart and mind, of words and deeds. Pope Francis has reminded us in his Lenten message that “Lenten penance is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the way of the cross”. He calls us “to deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation, accomplished in total self-giving inspired by love, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity.” Our clergy agreed that as a diocese our prayer this Lent would be “Speak, Lord…” I felt a deep sense of communion with the universal church when the Pope’s message called all of us to listen to Jesus in His word through the daily readings for Lent . Pope Francis also reminded us that “Listening to Christ often takes place in listening to our brothers and sisters in the Church….indispensable in the method and style of a synodal Church”.
As I have noted the events of the past year in the world, I have been asking myself< “Where is God in the images coming to us from the Congo, from Ukraine, from Haiti, from the accidents and fires which have taken place here in Grenada?” Some of us are quick to say that these things happen because we do not pray enough and we calm ourselves by simply saying that God wants us to pray more. Our young people today are not satisfied with that answer. Pope Francis again urges us: “ do not take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily struggles, its hardships and contradictions….Lent leads to Easter: the “retreat” is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s passion and cross with faith, hope and love, and thus to arrive at the resurrection. Resurrection is more than just coming out of a grave. It is that total transformation to which we all must come and of which we experience a foretaste when we know some conversion in our lives every Lent. This year I invite you to observe Holy Week with special fervour. For believers it has always been the holiest week of the year. We rejoice on Palm Sunday in the acclaim of the one who “comes in the name of the Lord”. Then we enter solemnly into the Triduum of Thursday, Friday into Saturday night when we celebrate the deepest mysteries of our faith. We as Church have not done enough to help our members live and celebrate these days. It is meant to be a time of prayer and fasting, of preparation to renew our baptismal promises, the most fundamental commitment of our Christian life. In previous times, all Christian churches observed this time. Some of the newer churches do not accept this. We must be clear about what our faith asks of us in Holy Week. Christian worship is not primarily about entertainment. Holy Week calls us to share in the bodily experience of Christ so that we may come closer each year to the transformation which His resurrection promises, which transformation we celebrate at Easter. May all of us have a fruitful Lent.