This Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent in the Catholic Church. Lent is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as we prepare for the Easter Triduum and recalling the death and resurrection of Christ.
So what does this really mean for us as a school community? The 46 days of Lent begins tomorrow with a special day known as ‘Ash Wednesday’. We will be celebrating our Opening School Year Mass as well as Ash Wednesday tomorrow. The community will be participating in one of the great traditions of the Catholic Church known as the distribution of ashes. All the members of our community will be marked on their forehead with a cross from the ashes of the palms from the 2017 Palm Sunday celebration. The Church performs this ritual to remind us that we are like ash, or dust, rather we are sinners, people who need God, and the cross we receive is a symbol of the fact that although we are sinners, we have a Saviour who loves us to the point of dying by the cross for all of humanity.
Lent then calls people to prepare their hearts over the next 46 days for Easter and we do that specifically through focussing on three main practices.. The first practice which is probably the most commonly known practice is ‘fasting’. Catholics are well known for the fact that they don’t eat meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Friday’s during Lent, the local fish and chips shops tend to make the most of this. But for Catholics fasting is beyond just ‘giving up’ something. It’s not about giving up Netflix, or Facebook for 46 days, but rather fasting is about finding God in our lives. By giving up something we are freeing ourselves up to do something, or to search for God. Perhaps the challenge for our community might be this year that if they give up Netflix for Lent, that they replace that time they normally spend on Netflix reading scripture, going to Mass, or praying a rosary.
The next practice we complete during Lent is known as almsgiving. The most prominent way we do this at Holy Cross is through participating in the Caritas Project Compassion Fundraising. Our students are challenged to give towards Project Compassion during Lent to support the great work of Caritas throughout the world.
The final practice, but arguably the most important practice during Lent is prayer. Catholics are called to actively spend more time in prayer and searching for God in their lives during this season. Perhaps in the busyness and noise of our current society that we could find some quiet space to sit and rest in solitude during this season and find God in the stillness.
Don’t forget that our parish, St Helena’s of the Holy Cross offers Mass on the weekends (Saturday 6pm, Sunday 8am, 9.30am, 5.45pm). Perhaps this Lent is the time we choose to commit to finding God at Mass.
Wishing everyone a blessed Season of Lent. May you find God during this season.
Mr Ryan Shelton
Director of Faith