Lent, the Year of Faith, and an unusual time for the Church

Lent feels somewhat different this year, somehow more intense and real. When the Holy Father made his announcement, one thing that struck so many of us was how much more intensely we need to pray for him, for the bishops, and for the whole Church. For me, it was a bit of a wake-up call to the greater sacrifices and prayer we need to contribute to the communion of the Church. I wonder whether this has made Lent, for many of us, a more significant one this year… we have entered it at a seemingly vulnerable time for the Church, yet knowing that Christ is always victorious (as Pope Benedict said to the priests of Rome recently).

Significant, too, is that this situation arises during the Year of Faith, a year of grace during which we return to the vision of the Council, the real Council which has, as the Holy Father also said recently, had “difficulty establishing itself and taking shape”. This Year, the Church is called to recommit to implementing the vision of this real Council. And this involves each one of us renewing our own faith.

Recently I came across this wonderful quotation from a talk given by Dr Caroline Farey, who clearly calls us back to the essence of renewing our own faith:

How is the heart ever going to know what is good if we don’t use our mind to inform the heart? Don’t let anyone say to you, ‘don’t worry about all that study, all you need is to get your heart united to Christ’. Yes, we need our hearts plunged in Christ… be led by Christ but let your mind be led by Christ through the Church so that your heart can follow what is actually good, and not just what is an awful lot of opinions of what must be good… The Catechism is there to help us.”

Renewing our mind through more rigorous study will lead to strengthening our commitment and love this Lent. And this is surely what the Lord and the Church need from us at this time: greater commitment and love.

About transformedinchrist

I live in Southsea and work for the Diocese of Portsmouth. My first love is for catechesis and evangelisation: until January 2013, I worked for a busy, thriving parish in south London coordinating the catechesis - sacramental programmes and adult formation. In November 2013, I completed my MA in catechetics at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. View all posts by transformedinchrist

5 responses to “Lent, the Year of Faith, and an unusual time for the Church

  • Paul Rodden

    Just got round to TiC at last after being sick/busy.

    It is a great quote…

    …although, I came across it after an uncomfortable visit to Fr Ray Blake’s blog just now, especially the comments in light of Fr Ray’s, Portsmouth Restructured, piece. It seems like there’s a distinct frisson of schadenfreude tingling through the veins of some of the orthodox Catholics who follow him.

    Paul Inwood. Um. Yeah. But might we be guilty of ripping the liturgy out of the hands of the ordinary person because we like ‘High Culture’? Maybe what’s really at work is our taste, but we’re articulate enough to make our justification sound awfully convincing, and throw ‘Spirit of the Liturgy’ into the pot to give it even more weight? Do I hold to orthodoxy because it is useful – happens to coincide with what I think and like – or because I believe it is true?

    ‘…be led by Christ but let your mind be led by Christ through the Church so that your heart can follow what is actually good, and not just what is an awful lot of opinions of what must be good…’. Yep.

    However orthodox some Catholics are, even to the point of pedantry in some cases (dare I say, when it suits?), a good opportunity to gloat never seems to pass by. We, who claim to be orthodox, should set an example.

    Hannah – orthodox without the rough bits – keep preachin’ it, gal. We need you. 🙂

  • Paul Rodden

    Lent certainly is different this year!

    I normally lead a Lent group, and this year I started a 3 week ‘mini Lent Group’ on the Eucharist last night.

    Before we even started, ‘Cardinal O’Brien’ and other baggage started spewing forth with threats to leave the church and go to a local Evangelical Chapel which has started emptying our church hand over fist. (Not helped by our priest throwing a lady out of the confessional last year). She now attends that Evangelical Chapel, and she’s ‘doing lunch’ with the women from our church she was friendly with and ‘evangelising’ about just how nice it is.

    Our congregation is down by at least a third on this time last year, and so my question is, where do you begin, H?

    What do you do in such a volatile environment where you need to start with ‘Catholicism 101’ to be understood, but what’s required to address the issues something that relies on that foundation to make sense (i.e., a basic healthy understanding of how Justice and Mercy interact, and how virtue is central to the Catholic model as opposed to what they think is Catholic morality – the Protestant, lifeless and legalistic, ‘Divine Command Theory’).

    There’s so much anger and pain and people seem so fragile that the slightest thing throws them. I can’t turn to my Diocesan Education Centre because it’s a hotbed of Modernism.

    Got any ideas pleeeease?

    • transformedinchrist

      The only thing I would say is – it has to start with us – with our own prayer, our own conversion, we have to be the witness that wins them to Christ. We can only do this with God’s grace. We have to tell the Lord earnestly about this – and trust that he wants them more than we do. And he’s put us there for a reason.

      I know you know this by the way!

      • Paul Rodden

        Thank you so much. You’re right.
        I don’t have to (can’ be) be their saviour. I couldn’t see it in the mess.

        I hope you’re settling in well. Leaving Balham must have been a huge wrench.

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