Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving: A Pastoral Letter from Bishop John

Friday 12th February 2021

In his Pastoral Letter to be read in parishes on the 13th/14th February, Bishop John has shared his disappointment in having to face another Lent with Covid restrictions, but also called on us all to “accept the circumstances in which we find ourselves and establish guidelines and encouragement for the Season of Lent, while keeping one another safe” and to make our Lent holy through Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.

Bishop John said: “There is no doubt that the sense of celebrating “Church at Home” has appealed to many people during
this past year and borne fruit for a more personal spirituality, without losing the sense of the parish community. If our personal prayer is strengthened during this difficult time, the sense of community can be the stronger as we emerge from lockdown and other restrictions. I remain very grateful for all the initiatives taken to maintain good contact and communication, especially with the housebound and isolated members of our communities.

There are the three signposts for our attention during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. These are themes for self-examination. Can they be the means for challenging ourselves, particularly in the experience of the Covid-pandemic, for re-setting our priorities, and stimulating action and change?”

Videos will be prepared by Bishop John on the themes of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving, and within his Pastoral Letter Bishop John focused in on each of these themes, encouraging us to consider how we can take part in each of these areas. With prayer, he encouraged a “sense of freedom”, in Fasting he noted it as having a “role in all of the major world religions” and encouraged support of CAFOD’s Lent Fast Day Appeal, and in Almsgiving as a tool to help us to “tip the balance in the right direction” in reconsidering disparity of wealth both abroad and here in the streets of our own towns and cities.

Bishop John concluded with an important reminder: “Lent, of course, means springtime. The new life is beginning to break through the soil all around us. May we, after all these months, prepare to celebrate the new life of Easter.

“Lent must be different this year because of the pandemic and the restrictions imposed on our ability to meet together. Let us take the opportunity to consider Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving in a new way and give time to the challenges that these present to each one of us”

Read the Pastoral Letter here or listen to the letter here

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