Mission Report – February 19, 2016

February 17, 2016

Through liturgy and service we have entered the Season of Lent.

On Ash Wednesday we gathered in the O’Malley Gym to listen to the Gospel and receive the ashes on our foreheads. In the Gospel we heard the call to pray, fast and do good works in this Season, but do them for the right reasons. These powerful habits should not be on display so as to win the approval or high opinion of others, but rather, they should be done to convert us in the depths and stillness of our hearts. Lent is a time when we take the great risk of changing our way of live according to a -‘higher way of success’. It cannot be denied that we already lead successful lives, that we do good things and love those around us. If we were not already doing these things, then life at St Patrick’s College and in our families would be very different from what it is now. No, we have much that we can call good. But the Lenten question remains, -Is it the highest good that we are capable of?-

The ashes we receive are a symbol of the desire to live according to the highest good. The ancient ritual of sacrifice involves taking something from this world and giving it completely to a divine being. In the time of the Temple, Jesus would have seen animals burnt as an offering to God. The burning ensures that the animal could not be used for human purposes, but could only be -‘used by God’. This tradition was transformed by Jesus so that we ourselves become the sacrifice offered to God. We do not need to offer animals as burnt offering, but instead our sacrifice are the acts of kindness and generosity that spring from a loving heart. In the Season of Lent, we are reminded that our loving God finds contrite hearts and loving actions as the path to the highest good: the perfect love of God.- –

Project Compassion has also started, with students invited to -‘go without’ some small luxury and donate the money saved to others who have so much less. Caritas Australia is an important partner for St Patrick’s College, and I would invite parents to encourage their sons to actively take up this opportunity. Perhaps it might become a family adventure so that a few dollars each week might be saved and sent along to be collected in Pastoral Care? After all, Lent is not to be understood as a mere personal time but as an invitation into the perfect unity that is God’s family. Through Project Compassion we not only confirm and enhance the feeling of community that is one of the great gifts of St Patrick’s College, but we unite with the poor and marginalised, through Christ, in the reality of the highest and most perfect unity of God’s family.

May this Season of Lent be a time of transformation and unity for us all.