Owning Retirement Homes. Formerly Sue Ryder Homes
A sea of yellow rapeseed. Rich growth of April May
Lent reminds us the Lord is always with us
This is my first opportunity to write to you as your Apostolic Administrator. As a neighbour and friend,
beside you in the Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, I am humbled by this appointment by Pope Francis and
I look forward to walking with you as you await the appointment of the next Bishop of Ossory. The first
Church season we walk through together is Lent. Ash Wednesday is a day of huge significance for us as
members of the Christian community. On that day we begin our journey of Lent, forty days of turning back
to God, forty days of re-examining our lives through the lens of our faith, forty days of pushing the reset
button on how we live in relationship with God, with one another 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 was
on February 29th last, our schools closed and we entered the first nationwide ‘lockdown’ on March 12th.
Since then we have lived at a different pace. For some it has been a traumatic time with hospitalisations and
death, for more a time of inconvenience working from the end of a kitchen table while also trying to home
school, for more still a different time where a better work-life balance may have been achieved. No matter
who you are, or how this has been, know that you are in my prayers as we set out on this Lenten journey.
Lent is never about adding to the difficulty of what we are experiencing - far from it. Rather, Lent presents us
with the most powerful reminder that, in the face of the turmoil and pain, the tremendous suffering 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 life lived with Him.
Who among us will ever forget the stark, solitary image of Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square on that wet and
dark evening in Lent last year. I want to remind you of something he said that evening that may help us
as we set out on our journey of Lent. In that moment of prayer Pope Francis reminded us of the words we
hear in the reading from the Prophet Joel on Ash Wednesday, ‘Return to me with all your heart’. In the very
circumstances of our lives with its very particular experiences of loss, isolation and fear, God is saying, ‘come
back to me’. This is, for us, an invitation – not a demand. It is ours to accept or reject. Going back to that rain
Pastoral Letter Lent 2021
Bishop Denis Nulty
Apostolic Administrator of Ossory
drenched St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded us, that this is a time of choosing, a time of our choosing,
a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.
The past year has taught us an awful lot about priorities. If Lent is about getting our priorities right, about
getting our life back on track, if it is about returning to God with all our heart, I ask you, what might that
mean for you in real and concrete ways this Lent, what choices are you being called to?
Of course, we have trusted tools to help us make our Lenten journey back to God. Our traditional disciplines
of prayer, fasting and charity are not intended to be empty, pious actions. Instead, each of these disciplines is
intended to draw us closer to choosing God and closer to choosing a life lived out of faith.
This Lent I invite you to really think about what meaningful choices you might make around prayer, fasting
and charity. Let them be choices that allow God, and others, into your life. Let them be choices that will
deepen the hope and strength that comes from our faith alone, a hope and strength that we are called to
share in solidarity with the whole world in this time of pandemic.
Ash Wednesday is only the first day of a forty day journey - a day when normally we would have been able
to come to church to be marked with ashes. While this was not possible this year, nonetheless, many of you
may have the chance to join in prayer virtually with your parish or with a neighbouring parish. Some of you
may be able to receive the blessed ashes from your parish church to bring home and share. I always think of
my late mother smudging our foreheads as children with ashes from the little brown envelope she carried
them home in from our local church. This then, the domestic church was very real in our lives and the
domestic church is very evidently alive and active throughout this time of pandemic. I applaud the initiative,
the creativity and ingenuity of those leading prayer at home. This is something that will remain a critical part
of Church as we together gently move out of the pandemic.
So let us take this moment of prayer together as a diocesan family, during that age old ritual of being blessed
with ashes, as we begin our Lenten journey and so we pray:
As I place on my forehead the sign of your saving cross
You say to me, repent and believe in the Gospel.
Walking into Lent
My heart is set on you.
May my fasting fill me with hunger for you,
May my prayer draw me deeper into your presence.
May my acts of charity bring your love to my home and community.
Lord of life,
Grant that by turning back to you in these forty days
I will re-awaken the joy of my Easter faith;
For you raise me up from fear and despair
And call me to hope and trust in God who is with me always.
With you, I will rise again. Amen”.
Our journey of Lent soon begins, let us make this journey together. The Adult Faith Development Group
in Ossory have in these days contacted parishes with their Lenten Programme - various ways to ‘bring us
together’ to journey through Lent with each other. I invite you to promote this in your parish to help ensure
that Lent 2021 is appropriately celebrated.
For now, I ask God’s blessing on all of us for these forty days as we make our way to the joy of Easter,
answering the call to come back to God with all our hearts.
Apostolic Administrator of Ossory
Sat 20th Feb.
From Mass: Repent and believe the good news.
Remember the words of Pope Francis. Look at last week's post.
Be positive with one another.
Lenten stations now due.
For those who want to tune into the radio, FM105.
Fr. Condon has fully retired and will take up residence in Owning House next week.
Very satisfactory turnout for Ash Wednesday.
Care for one another.