Today we embark again on the season of Lent—a time when we open ourselves to the grace and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we are called into deeper dependence on Jesus, and to share his love with those who need it most.
This week, with World Youth Day 2023 drawing ever closer, we hear an inspiring story from St Andrew’s in Werribee, where parishioners of all ages are raising funds in generous and creative ways to send a group of their young people to Portugal for the spiritual experience of a lifetime.
Last Saturday, St Patrick’s Cathedral experienced one of its largest events in many years when the Lourdes Day Mass, organised by the Order of Malta Australia, returned after a three-year break. Drawing more than 3000 people from across Melbourne, the Mass was an opportunity—especially for the sick and infirm—to experience the presence of God in a special way.
Since its opening last year, the new JPII House in Parkville has become a true ‘home away from home’ for many students. We hear about the community that has been growing there among those seeking to live their faith and pursue their studies alongside like-minded peers, and about the gracious welcome extended to those who might be encountering the love of Jesus for the first time.
In Pope Francis’ official message for Lent 2023, he draws on the story of Christ’s Transfiguration to explore the ways that our individual Lenten journeys and our journey together as the Church might be ‘transfigured’. Lent takes us on a journey, he says, that ‘like a mountain trek, requires effort, sacrifice and concentration’ but that is nevertheless ‘sustained by grace’ to the very end.
Finally, as Lent begins to push us out of our comfort zones, we are invited this Sunday to reflect on Jesus’ own struggles in the wilderness—struggles that might hold important clues for us about what it means to be tempted, to trust and to be truly human.
As you set out today on your own Lenten journey, may you be sustained by the love and grace of God every step of the way.