Archbishop Jason Gordon is urging Catholics to take Lent “seriously” and “go for the spiritual power” during the 40-day observance.
Delivering the Ash Wednesday homily before a large congregation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church, San Fernando for the 11.45 a.m. Mass, he stressed the seriousness of the period, calling on Catholics to refrain from participation in post-Carnival activities. He observed some encroachment on the sacred season and advised Catholics, “Don’t take part in it. Keep the Lent as Lent – observe it as Lent”.
The words said on Ash Wednesday when ashes are placed on the forehead, ‘Remember you are dust and unto dust you will return’ is a reminder of the “truth of who we are”, Archbishop Gordon said.
The world offers wonderful things, incredible benefits and pleasures but these are fleeting parts of human existence and the call Christians receive continues long after death. “We have come to remember we have come from God and we are destined to God. We have come to remember that our whole existence makes sense when it makes sense in the heart of God,” Archbishop Gordon said. He highlighted society and culture as other worldly reference points.
As a compass helps people find the right direction, the spiritual life should be able to tell “where God is and where God is calling us to be”. He added, “Our spiritual life is this recalibrating of the inner core of ourselves so that God’s reference, like the compass, points us in the right direction and that we learn how to read it and read it clearly and well.”
The first reading Joel 2: 12–18 focused on repentance. He noted some persons talk repentance without changing their behaviour. “That is not repentance, that is cheap grace. Repentance is recognising the direction that God calls you to live your life.”
His homily dealt with the three pillars of the Lenten period: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. He said Lent is an incredible time to reflect on the relationship with God and how much time is spent speaking to God: “Does God get any time?”
The archbishop noted that some persons treated prayer as another activity on their “list” of things to get done. God is on a different level; God is the reference for everything in life. Archbishop Gordon said, “This time of Lent is a time to make God most important in our lives and it starts with our prayer.” He asked the congregation if they were going to set aside time for prayer every day to build their relationship with God.
He summed up his exhortation for the Lenten period, “We are going to take up something in our habit of prayer; we are going to give up something of what we like in our eating and we are going to give away something in almsgiving to other people; and this is the discipline of Lent.”
Observing that goals are set at the start of Lent which are forgotten after a week, he asked Catholics to go for “spiritual power” by adhering to the Lenten practices given by the Church.
Vicar General and San Fernando parish priest Fr Martin Sirju concelebrated the Mass, and Deacons Roy Raghunanan and Harold Woodroffe assisted. Pupils of St Gabriel’s Girls’ and San Fernando Boys’ RC participated in the liturgy.
Archbishop Gordon also celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Port of Spain at 5 p.m.