ARCHBISHOP BRISLIN SPEAKS TO US – FROM AD NEWS 1 OF 2023:
Lent is a most blessed season of the Church. It is associated with abstaining, fasting, works of charity and a renewal of prayer life. We are called to make a special effort to sacrifice and to repent of our sinfulness. Erroneously, this can lead some to think of Lent in a negative way, as a time of hardship and deprivation. It is quite the opposite. Yes, we are called on to discipline the body and to make sacrifice, but we do so in order to rejuvenate our spirits, to renew and refresh ourselves. It is especially during the time of Lent that we approach the Living Water so that we can drink once again from the springs of salvation, and to satisfy our thirst through the grace that Christ offers to all of us. In order for the new shoots of life to manifest themselves in our spiritual lives, there has to be some pruning of the dead wood, letting go of our favourite sins and bad habits. So Lent is a time to avail ourselves of the life which Christ offers us and to allow his life to fill us.
Perhaps one of the most important things we could commit ourselves to this Lent is reconciliation. Yes, we must be reconciled to God and that we do through Confession and striving to do somewhat better in the future. Reconciliation with God also means that we do our best to reconcile with others. We all know the Biblical text that if you remember that someone has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled first, and then come and offer your gift (Matt 5:23-24). It is so easy to fall out with others – in our families, with our neighbours, at Church, to name just a few. It is so much more difficult to say “sorry”, “forgive me”, “I was wrong”. It is also difficult to forgive whole-heartedly. But this is what Christianity demands of us. We are not to be ruled by our baser instincts and our emotions of hurt. We must go beyond ourselves and do the right thing. When we are wrong we must seek forgiveness. When we have been wronged we must not be slow to forgive. Sometimes, even when we know we are right, it is better to be the peace-maker and to restore the relationship. It is not always easy, but time is so short and passes so quickly. We should not waste it on negativity and acrimony, on high-handedness and petulance. To seek forgiveness and to forgive liberates us, it frees us spiritually, we become more fully alive and filled with life. St Paul says: “So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:20). A big part of being reconciled to God is to reconcile with others.
+ Stephen Brislin
Archbishop of Cape Town
Thank you, Your Grace!
Please keep St John’s Elect & Candidates in your prayers… some are a bit nervous for their First Confessions this Friday…