A Season of Transformation – Bishop Kevin’s Message for Lent 2018
“I am asking you to make a personal commitment to some form of prayer and penance during this season of Lent, in a way that perhaps some of us have not done for quite some time. Do it as a specific expression of your desire to “Choose Life” and to respond generously and constructively to the challenges of life” – Bishop Kevin
A Season of Transformation
Operation Transformation is in full swing at the moment as men and women all over Ireland adopt a regime of dieting and exercise so that they can live life to the full. In the Church we are about to embark on the season of Lent. It is a time of prayer and penance, during which we prepare to celebrate Easter, the great feast of life. Is there a connection? Yes, I think there is. Fasting and other forms of penance are about transformation. Through standing back from our dependence on things, we develop personal discipline; we look at making sacrifices for the good of others and we develop the capacity to face challenges with greater courage. Prayer is also about transformation because, in prayer, the focus is on something greater than ourselves. We look at life through a different lens.
One day some of the disciples of Jesus were trying to drive out an evil spirit which was possessing a man. They had no success and they were in difficulty because Jesus was not there. When Jesus came back, he drove out the evil spirit. Later, when they were alone, they ask him “why were we not able to drive it out”. Jesus replied: “this is the kind that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting”. I believe there is an evil spirit on the loose at the present time, who loves to see us respond in a destructive way to the challenges of life. We all have our own experiences of this negativity.
Now I want to put a proposal to you all as we begin the Season of Lent. While we certainly need to engage in social and political action to strengthen the culture of life in our society, I believe that our hearts will only be converted to the Gospel of Life by prayer and fasting. For that reason, I am asking you to make a personal commitment to some form of prayer and penance during this season of Lent, in a way that perhaps some of us have not done for quite some time. Do it as a specific expression of your desire to “Choose Life” and to respond generously and constructively to the challenges of life. I will join you in doing this.
My prayer is that when we celebrate Easter this year, we can do so in the knowledge that we have actually done something to sustain life and also to support families and individuals who find the challenges of life particularly difficult to handle for whatever reason.
God bless you all,
14th February 2018, Ash Wednesday