My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With the imposition of ashes on their foreheads as an outward sign of an interior commitment to repentance, thousands of Catholics in the Diocese of Worcester have entered spiritually into the forty days of Lent in preparation for the celebration of Easter.
The season of Lent is always a privileged moment in the Church’s liturgical year when the People of God reflect prayerfully and serenely on their relationship to God, to the Church and to themselves. In her spiritual care for her children, the Church recommends to us the traditional penitential practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as fitting ways to help us grow in the life of grace and holiness.
During this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the forty days of Lent offer us a special opportunity to reflect on the mercy of God which has shown itself most fully in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy, and from his wounded side, the Crucified Christ has poured out upon us, his followers, an ocean of mercy and has opened for us the fountain of salvation.
I would suggest that a most fitting Lenten practice during this Year of Mercy would be to commit ourselves to performing works of mercy wherever and whenever we can. Pope Francis recently remarked that our parishes should be “oases of mercy.” By performing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as signs of our gratitude for the mercy God has bestowed on us, we can, with God’s grace, help to transform our homes, parishes, places of work and schools into places where people can personally experience an encounter of mercy and be motivated to be merciful to others.
May this Lent provide all of us a blessed opportunity to heed the words of the Lord Jesus himself, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” (Mt 5:8)
With every prayerful best wish, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. McManus
Bishop of Worcester