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Informative bulletin of the Paphos Latin parish / March 2017
Lent is a new beginning
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death.
This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord.
Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive
The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol. Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.
Dear friends, Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor.
The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take.
May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need.
Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.
Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017, excerpts
Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift (Lk. 16:19-31)
A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value.
Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbor or an anonymous pauper.
Lent is a favorable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love.
The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable.
But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.
Pope Francis, Message for Lent 2017
The Real Presence
At the heart of the Oxford movement, in the effervescence of the academic world of 19th century England, many debates were taking place concerning the Apostolic Succession and which church is the genuine “heir” of the Apostolic tradition, in a pluralistic environment much influenced by Protestantism and “high” Anglicanism.
Numerous were the converts to Catholicism, as a result, among them Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) who finally became a Jesuit and a priest.
The explanation Hopkins gave to his devout Anglican parents was his deep conviction in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament.
The Real Presence has always been the strength and attraction of Catholic Church not only to the saints and the faithful, but also to all people of good will who seek the face of God.
For, as Paul says, “Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth…all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church…for God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and in him to reconcile to himself all things on earth or in heaven, by making peace through his blood shed on the cross” (Col. 1, 15-20)
Science, art and religion
Gerard Manley Hopkins is widely known for his poetry. His work is characterized by an attempt to blend together two of man’s “best things”, religion and poetry. The “book” of Nature and the Book of Revelation (i.e. the Holy Bible) can be read side by side with the ultimate purpose to unite science, art and religion.
One of the most dramatic tensions of a Christian artist is his attraction to this world and his determination to transcend it.
The Romantic Movement was at its height in the mid-19th century, putting emphasis on the individual perception and emotions for their own sake.
G.M. Hopkins never succumbed to this temptation, and his poetry always has God and the Catholic Faith at its centre.
Having been a keen painter too, he enjoyed drawing detailed sketches as an exercise in contemplation involving patience, discipline, earnestness, love and gratitude to the Creator for the beauty of the Creation.
Did you know…
A commonly used word in the English language for “gift” is “present”.
It is a very interesting word; whereas “gift” is derived from the verb “to give”, present comes from the word presence.
It follows that the giver is present in his gift.
Although this sounds like commonplace it is worth pondering upon.
The present does not only remind us of the giver, but it also brings him “closer” to us, as it were.
The present is a little token of the giver’s presence in our life.
We are indebted to so many other people, known and unknown to us, for everything we enjoy and for what we are.
Their presence in our life was sometimes fleeting, sometimes more permanent. Irrespective of that, however, we have benefited by their gifts to us, i.e. by their presence near us, be it through a book they have written and we have read many a time with enjoyment and pleasure, or through their friendship or through a work of art we cherish and so on and so forth.
So, it becomes obvious that present to us may be people who have lived long ago and in far away parts of the world; for the human adventure is common to all and every achievement and work is common inheritance and gift to all.
Hunger for dignity
“Dear friends, it is certainly necessary to give bread to the hungry – this is an act of justice. But there is also a deeper hunger, the hunger for a happiness that only God can satisfy, the hunger for dignity.
There is neither real promotion of the common good nor real human development when there is ignorance of the fundamental pillars that govern a nation, its non-material goods:
life, which is a gift of God, a value always to be protected and promoted; the family, the foundation of coexistence and a remedy against social fragmentation; integral education, which cannot be reduced to the mere transmission of information for purposes of generating profit; health, which must seek the integral well-being of the person, including the spiritual dimension, essential for human balance and healthy coexistence; security, in the conviction that violence can be overcome only by changing human hearts.”
Pure fasted faces draw unto this feast:
God comes all sweetness to your Lenten lips.
You striped in secret with breath-taking whips,
Those crooked rough-scored chequers may be pieced
To crosses meant for Jesu’s; you whom the East
With draught of thin and pursuant cold so nips
Breathe Easter now; you serged fellowships,
You vigil-keepers with low flames decreased,
God shall o’er-brim the measures you have spent
With oil of gladness, for sackcloth and frieze
And the ever-fretting shirt of punishment
Give myrrhy-threaded golden folds of ease.
Your scarce-sheathed bones are weary of being bent:
Lo, God shall strengthen all the feeble knees.
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889)
In Cyprus, in Greece as well as in other Eastern European countries, the custom of flying the kite on the first day of Lent lends a particularly spiritual character to this period of penance and fasting.
The mass exodus to the countryside “en famille” so they can share the traditional flat bread, the pickles, the greens and the halva away from the noise and tumult of the city is certainly a very popular feast.
With the passing of time and in the care-free atmosphere of the day the original meaning and symbolism of kite flying has most probably been forgotten.
The kite, which flies high up in the sky –as fast as it possibly can– symbolizes the spiritual uplifting to which we have been invited at this period of Lent.
The effort and perseverance required point to qualities necessary for our inner growth.
The breeze, which enables the kite to fly, is like the grace of the Holy Spirit who moves us and gives us life and raises us higher and closer to God.
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