29th February - Fasting and Christian Life
While the Church rules of fasting are now minimal compared with when I was young, the need and the value of fasting remains.

Without going into detail, we know that fasting properly done is a good help in turning to God, in Christian living and in providing for the poor and the needy.

Apart from fasting from food I came across this Litany recently in one of our Catholic schools newsletters.

A Litany of Lent

We fast from judging others,
but feast on patience.
We fast from apparent differences,
but feast on unity of all life.
We fast from words that pollute,
but feast on words that affirm.
We fast from complaining,
but feast on appreciation.
We fast from bitterness and anger,
but feast on forgiveness and mercy.
We fast from bitterness and anger,
but feast on forgiveness and mercy.
We fast from discouragement,
but feast on hope.
We fast from suspicion
but feast on trust.
We fast from idle gossip,
but feast on purposeful silence.
We fast from problems that overwhelm,
but feast on prayer that strengthens.

The last sentence in particular is so wise and sound. St Francis de Sales said, “When you are busy or worried, spend more time in prayer, not less”.

This is so important to gain the strength needed for our problems. In fact I believe that it is only in prayer that we obtain the Grace to do the other things listed in the Litany as well.

22nd February - The Door of Mercy and Lent
Pope Francis launched the Jubilee Year of Mercy on the 8th December last year with the solemn opening of a special door in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.

He said "The Holy Door will become a Door of Mercy through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope."

The Pope has opened a few more Holy Doors since for special reasons. Each Diocese has some designated Holy Doors. The Geraldton Diocese has two - the Cathedral and St Paul's Church in Karratha. City Dioceses would have more.

Whether you can access a Holy Door or not I would like to suggest this. Regard the door of your Church and every Church door as a "Holy Door." The reality is that when we go to Church, especially for Mass on the weekend, we are entering into the Mercy of God in a rich way as we encounter Jesus " the face of the Father's mercy."  When we leave we are sent to share that mercy and be the human face of Jesus for all those we live with and meet.

Lent is a graced time to experience the mercy of God as well as to share it. Each time we enter and leave our Church door may it be a powerful symbol and reminder of this.

15th February - Lent - a rich time of Grace

Last week I encouraged you to sketch a simple concrete plan for Lent. You can include such things as prayer, fasting or sacrifices, almsgiving, embracing the cross in my life etc.

Whatever plan you may have sketched or still are forming, remember that Lent is not only a sacred time but very much a special time of Grace.

On Ash Wednesday itself I was finding something a little difficult, when I remembered it was Ash Wednesday, and immediately I did it generously. I believe it was more than the memory that it was Ash Wednesday. I believe that the help came from the Grace that Jesus and the Church were giving at this time.

So when the little plan I have gets difficult, or I find hard something I know God wants of me, remember that it’s Lent and that God’s Grace is readily available.

This Grace will lead me to trust Jesus more and resonate with what St Paul felt and wrote, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is at its best in weakness. ..for when I am weak, then I am strong”. 2 Cor 12: 9-10

8th February 2016 - Lent

As I return from our Priest’s Retreat, my holidays, and other commitments in January, I also begin my first weekly reflection. Even though we are into our second month I wish you all a very happy New Year.

Lent is very early this year and will be upon us on Ash Wednesday the 10th of February.

Pope Francis said that “Lent is a time of drawing nearer to Jesus”.  When he talks like that we know that he means Jesus both personally and in the person of others - especially the needy people of our times.

Therefore I ask you to do something very soon and that is to write down a few Lenten plans.

Firstly though, please stop and talk this over with Jesus as a trusted friend. Then sketch some Lenten plans. Having something written means that you not only plan well and make a commitment, but also that you can come back to these plans during Lent to see how you are going and even perhaps if they need refining.