Author: Kathy Horan
We have now moved into the season of Lent, a time of renewal where we consciously set our hearts and minds on the liberating message of the gospel that we are called to have life to the full.
We do this in the context of a believing community, and for all of us, this season of Lent is another invitation to see Jesus more clearly, to love Jesus more dearly and to take Jesus’ message of care and concern more seriously.
The process of conversion involves the whole community, no matter how long we have been part of it or if we are seeking to find a place to call home within the community.
Each year we are graced with this time of personal reflection on our lives in the light of the gospel and we are reminded of our role in the mission of Jesus, to bring good news to the poor.
For those preparing to join the Catholic community (catechumens), this season of Lent is a vital time for discovering the person and mission of Jesus with a view to identifying with the risen Lord as they look forward to celebrating the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Our catechumens recently took part in the Rite of Election at the Cathedral and were affirmed in their journey of conversion to the Lord.
Pope Francis, in his message for World Day of Peace this year, has offered us a way forward in the process of conversion. He sees conversion through the lenses of personal, communal and ecological conversion, emphasising our connectedness with one another and the whole of creation.
He describes this process as that of developing a ‘culture of care as a path to peace’. Pope Francis reminds us that we are not in this alone: people always need to be in healthy relationship with one another and with the earth, our common home, if there is to be peace and harmony on earth.
Pope Francis calls all of us to a common, supportive and inclusive commitment to affirming the dignity and wellbeing of all creation; a willingness to learn the ways of compassion and tenderness; an ability to work together for reconciliation and healing in all dimensions of life, and a commitment to mutual respect and acceptance.
For our Church in these challenging times, our catechumens are surely signs of hope, for now and for the future, as they look decisively at turning away from a former way of living to the way of deep conversion and identification with the risen Lord.
The wonderfully rich and meaningful celebrations we look forward to at Easter call us to revitalise our faith and commitment to the Lord. At the beginning of Lent, we were challenged to ‘choose life’. In living through the days of Lent, we are called to remember the loving-kindness and tenderness of our God, to understand ourselves as those whom God loves and with whom God is well-pleased, and to turn again towards the God of life.
As we journey together during Lent this year, let us support one another and be gracious in the ways of sharing our faith and life in community with the catechumens who are seeking initiation into the Catholic Church.
Francis’ hope is that together we will form communities of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another. The RCIA process requires the commitment, interest and care of the whole community as we all seek to become missionary disciples of Jesus.