Ebene News – US – “The past year has taught us a lot about priorities”

Mgr Denis Nulty, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Ossory and Bishop of the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin,

This is my first opportunity to write to you as an apostolic administrator As a neighbor and friend, by your side in the diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, I am honored by this appointment of Pope Francis and I look forward to to walk with you while awaiting the appointment of the next bishop of Ossory

The first season of the Church that we go through together is Lent Ash Wednesday is a day of utmost importance for us as members of the Christian community On this day we begin our Lent journey , forty days of returning to God, forty days of re-examining our lives through the prism of our faith, forty days of pushing the reset button on how we live in relationship with God, with each other and with ourselves

You don’t need me to remind you that this has been a very difficult year The first Covid case in Ireland took place on February 29, our schools closed and we entered the first nationwide ‘lockdown’ March 12 Since then, we have lived at a different pace

For some it has been a traumatic time with hospitalizations and deaths, plus a period of inconvenience working at the end of a kitchen table while also trying to home school, for yet another a time when a better work-life balance may have been achieved No matter who you are or how it went, please know that you are in my prayers as we embark on this Lenten journey

Even in areas of the world where there are fewer restrictions on gatherings for worship, the Vatican has requested that the ashes not be applied to the forehead in the usual manner, but be sprinkled on top of the head of people

Lent is never about adding to the difficulty of what we are going through – far from it.On the contrary, Lent presents us with the most powerful reminder that, in the face of agitation and pain, the terrible sufferings of this world, the Lord is with us By his cross we have been healed, by his cross we have been saved and by his cross we have hope The risen Lord walks with us and calls us to rediscover and share with others the grace and joy of a lifetime lived with him

Who among us will ever forget the austere and lonely image of Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on that damp and gloomy evening of last year’s Lent I want to remind you of something he said tonight- there and who might help us as we embark on our Lenten journey During this moment of prayer, Pope Francis reminded us of the words we hear in the Prophet Joel’s reading on Ash Wednesday: “Come back to me for everything your heart “

In the very circumstances of our life with its very particular experiences of loss, isolation and fear, God says, “come back to me” This is, for us, an invitation – not a request It is ours to accept or reject Coming back to this rain soaked in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded us that this is a moment of choice, a moment of our choice, a time to choose what matters and what happens , a time to separate what is needed from what is not

The last year has taught us a lot about priorities If Lent is about setting our priorities well, getting our lives back on track, if it is about returning to God with all our heart, I ask you what this Lent could mean for you in a real and concrete way, what choices are you called?

Of course, we have trusted tools to help us make our Lenten journey to God Our traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting and charity are not meant to be empty and pious actions On the contrary, each of these disciplines aims to bring us closer to the choice of God and the choice of a life lived by faith

Our traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and charity are not intended to be vain and pious actions These are intended to bring us closer to the choice of God and the choice of a life lived by faith

This Lent, I invite you to really think about the meaningful choices you could make in matters of prayer, fasting, and charity Let them be choices that allow God and others to come into your life. they are choices that will deepen the hope and the strength that come from our faith alone, a hope and a strength that we are called to share in solidarity with the whole world in this time of pandemic

Ash Wednesday is just the first day of a forty day journey – a day when we normally could have come to church to be burnt with ashes. Although it was not possible this year, many of you may nevertheless have the chance to join in the prayer virtually with your parish or with a neighboring parishSome of you may be able to receive the blessed ashes from your parish church to take home and share

I always think of my late mother who smeared our foreheads as a child with the ashes from the little brown envelope she brought them in from our local church This then, the domestic church was very real in our lives and the domestic church is very obviously alive and active throughout this pandemic period I applaud the initiative, creativity and ingenuity of those leading the prayer at home This is something that will remain a vital part of the Church as we slowly emerge from the pandemic

So let’s take this moment of prayer together as a diocesan family, during this centuries-old ritual of the blessing of the ashes, as we begin our Lenten journey and pray:

Our Lent journey is starting soon, let’s take this journey together The Adult Faith Development Group in Ossory has these days contacted parishes with their Lent program – various ways of ‘coming together’ to get through Lent with each other I invite you to promote this in your parish to help ensure that Lent 2021 is celebrated in a proper way

For now, I ask for God’s blessing on us all for these forty days as we move towards the joy of Easter,

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Betty O’Brien, Donaghmore, Trudy Nealon, Portlaoise, Lorcan Fitzpatrick, Durrow participated in the project Image: Annie Holland

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Lent, 2021, Ash Wednesday (first day of Lent)

Ebene News – US – “The past year has taught us a lot about priorities”

Source: https://www.leinsterexpress.ie/news/news/610431/the-past-year-has-taught-us-an-awful-lot-about-priorities.html