From Lenten Lament to Easter Hope
TO my dear people in the Archdiocese,
Within the Book of the Psalms are found psalms of communal lament (psalms 44, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85, 90). They are brutally honest prayers to God. They contain deep emotions.
They express to God in prayer communal feelings of despair, protest, doubt, shame, frustration, and so on. Despite thoughts to the contrary, they are deep prayers that attempt to make room in hearts for the presence of our God of love in times of calamity.
During Holy Week especially, the Gospels make allusions to these psalms of lament. They become pathways for God’s people in dark places to move towards asking God to carry our burdens.
Ultimately prayers of lament are to move towards prayers of trust in God who is love and mercy.
For Christians, Lament moves towards Easter hope. Our Lenten journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving finds its home on the Calvary Cross from which Easter hope blooms in the Resurrection of the Redeemer.
On the days of Lent, I conducted Listening Sessions throughout the Archdiocese. In a sincere gesture of pastoral care, I listened to the lament we have experienced over the last four years of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It has had an enormous impact on the lives of so many at various different levels.
Like the psalms of lament, there are expressed various deep emotions of sorrow, rage, humiliation, and protest for all that has taken place in Australia over many years of this scourge of sex abuse.
Many times over these sessions, the Emmaus scene (Luke 24:13-35) came to mind.
As we continued to walk and talk together, the Emmaus lament of “we had hoped” (v. 21) was often heard in various ways. But our Easter hope made us realise that the Risen Lord was also with us in unexpected ways.
We believe that Jesus will continue to talk “to us on the road” (v. 32) and lead us in our Easter Masses until our eyes are opened and we recognise Jesus fully in the Eucharist.
Ultimately our lament becomes a petition of trust for the Risen Lord to always “stay with us” (v. 29).
On another note, I wish to welcome into the Catholic Church many adults who will become Catholics over the Easter Liturgical Season.
At the start of Lent I had the privilege of meeting many of the Catechumens and Candidates who attended the Rite of Election at the Cathedral.
They have all participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) in their respective parishes.
It was a moment of grace for me to listen to their answers to my question:
“Why do you want to become a Catholic?” So many felt a “coming home” by becoming Catholics. It was the end of a long journey of faith enquiry for others. There was joy and hope in our gathering.
It was a “Little Easter” for us all in advance to the liturgical season of Easter we now open ourselves up to with renewed faith.
Many thanks to all parish RCIA teams. May you continue to grow in this vital ministry among us.
Please be assured of my prayers for you all.
ARCHBISHOP CHRISTOPHER PROWSE
CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF CANBERRA AND GOULBURN