Archbishop Marcel’s Lenten Message

March 2 - Day of Prayer and Fasting for Ukraine

The Church will begin the forty holy days of Lent on March 2nd, a day when we will not only be marked with ashes but invited to seriously enter into an attitude of conversion. How will we live the next few weeks leading up to Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross and his glorious victory over death and evil?

We will accomplish this only if we keep our focus on the Lord who will guide us. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Christians around the world will be empowered to be more attentive to God and to the needs of their neighbors. 

Is this important to us? 

The climate in which we find ourselves these days is troubling. In the midst of the  complexities of our world, it is easy to become distracted, to lose patience, to become gripped by fear, and to undermine the dignity of the human being next to us or at a distance. We have just experienced an intense time in the nation’s capital following a long pandemic that has tested us in many ways. This experience has been felt in many ways in our families, our parishes and our workplaces. The accumulated frustrations have manifested themselves in different ways, leaving us with people who are wounded, misunderstood, vulnerable and in search of profound peace.

What can we say about our brothers and sisters in Ukraine who are shaken these days by the unjustified Russian invasion of their country? I count myself among those who are concerned about the serious consequences of a war that could take on global dimensions. Let us pray for peace and a just resolution to this international crisis.

To establish peace around us and in our world, we first must have divine peace in our hearts. True peace can only take shape and transform our actions through an intentional and lasting communion with our Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we will find the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Him alone will we discover the merciful love that heals, forgives and transforms even the most wounded of hearts. Our hope rests in Him alone who remains faithful to His Father and who promises us eternal life. It will therefore be essential to make this Lenten season a sincere time of conversion in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. As our churches reopen to full capacity for the liturgies and devotions of our rich tradition, thanks to changes in the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, let us take advantage of this grace to renew our faith and our religious practice. Let us pray intentionally for peace in our personal and community devotions.

Let us adopt the daily practice of listening to the Holy Spirit who dwells in our hearts and who unites us to the Father and the Son. This is the spirit in which we are invited to live the synodal process launched by Pope Francis. It is an invitation to all members of the Church to listen to the Holy Spirit in order to be more united in our efforts to build the Kingdom of God. This learning to listen to one another throughout this synodal process is the way in which the Holy Father wishes to unite the diversity within our Church that tends to divide our great family. This is one of 5 key principles of our diocesan synodal process (this document will soon be posted on Synod 2021-2023 – Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall – Cornwall, Ontario (archoc.ca)). While giving everyone a chance to freely express their thoughts and desires for our Church, this spiritual exercise should seek to unite and revitalize our Church, not divide it.

Let us support one another in prayer and charity throughout this Lenten season.

Marcel Damphousse

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