Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During Lent, we hear the Gospel call to conversion – to turn away from sin and to turn back to God with all our hearts. The gift of God’s mercy frees us to serve our sisters and brothers in love. Our own brokenness, the tensions between peoples, and the scourge of hostilities and wars throughout the world make us even more aware of our need for conversion. We all must become instruments of justice and peace. “To the extent that this Lent becomes a time of conversion, an anxious humanity will notice a burst of creativity, a flash of new hope” (Pope Francis, Lenten Message 2024).
To help us in our journey back to God, the Church offers the traditional practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These remedies are meant not only for our own personal healing but to unite and strengthen us with the gifts of the Spirit to build up the Kingdom of God, preparing our hearts to welcome the risen Lord and to welcome one another.
In speaking of injustices in the world, Pope Francis reminds us that “The long journey towards reconciliation and justice, including addressing the structural conditions that abetted such abuse, remains before us, and requires concrete gestures of penitence” (A Synodal Church in Mission, Synthesis Report). This year I invite all of us, individuals, families, and parish communities, to fast, pray and offer alms for peace – peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our communities and peace in the world. Let us work together to be peacemakers.
I invite you especially to return to the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At the Eucharist we gather to behold and receive the Body of Christ, the Prince of Peace. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we experience the love, mercy, and healing that only God can offer. This year, our Annual Day of Confession will be held on Wednesday 20 March. On that day, churches in the diocese will be open and a priest will be available to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
May we open our hearts this Lenten season to God’s merciful love and become instruments of peace. “Peace is primarily a gift of God, for it is He who left us His peace. Yet it is also a responsibility incumbent upon all of us’” (Pope Francis, 8 January 2024).
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, CSB
Bishop of London