SPIRITUAL RENEWAL IS THE KEYNOTE
THE Holy Father's concern for the revitalising of the whole life of the Church, as reflected in the calling of the Ecumenical Council, should give everyone much to think and pray about during Lent, said Bishop Restieaux of Plymouth in his Pastoral Letter read on Sunday. Spiritual renewal during Lent was also the theme of the Pastoral Letter of Bishop Ellis of Nottingham, who pointed out that generosity and self-denial could help particularly such charitable causes as the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
Archbishop Heenan of Liverpool noted in his Pastoral Letter that "already a new spirit is moving within the Church and among Christians outside" as a result of the Ecumenical Council.
"Even the Soviets." the Archbishop said, "seem to have been affected by the spirit of the Council. The observers from the Russian Orthodox Church must have interceded with the Communist Government to obtain the release of the Ukrainian Ar.chbishop Slipyj after 18 years in prison:'
Archbishop Heenan explained that he had been recalled to Rome with a number of other bishops to continue preparations for the second session of the Vatican Council. He told his people that he would be offering Mass for them on Sunday in Rome.
Referring to an audience given to the English hierarchy on Pope John's 81st birthday, he said : 'The Holy Father spoke with great affection, calling each one of us hy name. He told us what great hopes he has for the Council. God. he said, has rich blessings in store for the Church and the world.
"Pope John told us that the Council will renew the spiritual life of both clergy and laity, and will bring back many to the unity of the Church of Christ. He asked us to return home to beg you to continue to support him with your prayers. So from the Vicar of Christ himself you have your task for Lent. Your prayers and acts of self-denial this year are to be offered for the Holy Father and all the Fathers of the Council. There will probably not be another General Council in the lifetime of even the youngest amongst us. So this is a moment of unique opportunity. Do not fail Pope John."
Other points from Bishops' Pastoral Letters read on Sunday were
PORTSMOUTH : A call for initiative
WITH a reminder that we are now bound to fast only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday—two days instead of forty— Archbishop King, Bishop of Portsmouth, said in his Pastoral that Lent looks twenty times easier nowadays, but in a sense it is harder. "The Church is no longer telling us 'to do this or do that under pain of mortal sin; it is left to our initiative to make a good Lent without the support of definite commands.
The relaxation of the fast, for instance, is not just a concession to physical weakness; it is a compliment to our greater willingness to clear our heads and lift our hearts to God without being regimented in the process."
Emphasising the importance of Penance, the Archbishop suggested a simple rule with which to keep "the loving and giving on sound lines."
He suggested "Each day, put aside something that will add up to an offering which you make of your charity, that is. as an act of love, to some need known to you personally or brought to your notice as a deserving cause—and let the offering come from a denial of your own comfort or selfid ulgence."
NOTTINGHAM : An end to moodiness
AFTER the severe weather, we may feel in no mood for Lenten penance, Bishop Ellis of Nottingham said, but a well-kept Lent means new spiritual birth for the soul, "so be good soldiers of Christ," he said, "and brace yourselves for a spiritual combat. Strive to eradicate feelings of resentment, anger. ill will and revenge."
The first and best Lenten practice. Bishop Ellis said. is to attend weekday Mass. "There is no better way of fulfilling our primary duty to honour God, no means more efficacious to bring blessings OIL. ourselves and others. The Stations of the Cross and the Rosary are obviously most suitable. too."
Though the Lenten Fast had become so mitigated as to be almost non-existent, the spirit of penance was still necessary. with self-denial as regards food, drink, and the amount of money spent on amusements. "The money so saved," Bishop Ellis added. "might go to such charitable causes as the Freedom from Hunger Campaign."
SHREWSBURY : The motive must be love
"'THE first aim in choosing a
I. penance must be to counteract our main failing." said Bishop Grasar of Shrewsbury. "It is of little use giving up sugar or smoking if our temper is to be allowed full rein. Penance is not just a negative thing. The motive behind it should he love, love for Our Lord and, even inure, His love for us.
"Our struggle against temptation is a penance in itself because it means renouncing pleasure. There is need for voluntary penance. too—the foregoing of some harmless pleasure, the undertaking of some extra work of devotion or charity.
"We need God's help, of course. Without Him we cannot have sorrow for our sins and we certainly cannot keep our resolutions. He will help us, if we try to say our daily prayers with more attention, if we assist at Mass with as much devotion as possible, and receive Him frequently in Holy Communion. And Our Lady will help us, too. She would be very pleased if we said the Rosary or part of it each day.
SOUTHWARK : More attention to prayer
"TT is obviously foolish to aim 1 at too heroic or unusual ways of penance if all the time we are making no attempt to control evil thoughts or moderate the recklessness of uncharitable conversation," said Bishop Cowderoy of Southwark. "Nevertheless we have to choose our Lenten penance. The Church never ceases to urge us to penance and insists upon its necessity.
"Most of all try in Lent to give more attention to prayer. . . Prayer is not something we can do
well if we start it casually. . . Holy Scripture tells us before prayer, prepare thy heart and be not as a man that tempteth God.' The Sacraments are the great means of grace, hut also a help to us in the life of prayer. This is particularly true of the Holy Eucharist."
Bishop Cowderoy emphasised that to our prayers in Lent there should be added generous giving to those in want and misery. There were the afflicted. handicapped children, also the orphans and destitute children.
LEEDS : Much work for Good Samaritans
11*ISHOP DWYER OF LEEDS 13 emphasised in, his Lenten Pastoral the passage from St. Matthew's Gospel, in which Our Lord speaks about acts of mercy and the last judgment: "I was hung u ry and yo gave mc to Cu! I was a stranger and you look me in. . . ."
"When 1 make my pastoral visitation of a parish," said Bishop Dwyer, "I always ask what the parish societies are doing for the sick, the poor and the unfortunate. . . . Be sure that in your parish no one in distress is helpless. that no one who is old and lonely is neglected, that no one who is sick is without care The face of the poor and the unfortunate is the face of Christ Our Lord Himself."
PLYMOUTH : Good example important
B1SHOP RESTIEAUX OF PLYMOUTH recalled in his Pastoral that. before the bishops returned from the Council in Rome, Pope John celebrated his 81st birthday and talked to the bishops on that day about his life as a boy. "He remembered well the saintly parish priest who had baptised him, and he told us that it was the example of this good priest that had made him decide to try to become a priest himself." said Bishop Restieaux. "It macre OM think that perhaps priests owe their vocation to the good example received from some such priest when they were very young."
Referring to the Council's aims of discovering the best method for making the Catholic Faith more acceptable and bringing the whole life of the Church up to date. Bishop Ilestieaux said the Pope had givee three reasons for this, Firstly, to bring Catholics closer to Christ; secondly, to regain those who are lost: and thirdly, to attract all outside the Church.
MIDDLESBRO' : A Mass attendance drive
1SHOP BRUNNER OF MID▪ DLESBROUGH devoted his
Pastoral to the question of Mass attendance because, he said. "there appears to be a great deal of Mass missing for which an adequate reason cannot be found." According to the latest figures, Mass attendance for the Middlesbrough diocese is 47 per cent.
A cause for anxiety, Bishop Brunner said. was the fact that a large proportion of the children leaving school were giving up going to Mass. "We are trying to improve matters by having a Chaplain attached to each Secondary Modern School in the diocese. and these chaplains are making a study of the reasons for this leakage," Bishop Brunner said.
CLIFTON : Appeal for Priest Training Fund
B!SHOP R UDDERH AM OF CLIFTON appealed in his pastoral for prayers and donations to help the training of the future priests for the diocese. "Over the last seven years," he said, "the Lotal cost has been nearly £38,000." Individual contributions and collections bad totalled. £25.800.
The Catholic population of the diocese had risen from 45.000 to nearly 93,000 in the last 20 years; in the same period, the number of diocesan priests rose only from 105 to 130.
NORTHAMPTON : A plea for more vocations
THE pastoral letter of Bishop Parker of Northampton announced that, in all the convents of the Northampton diocese, one nun each day will, in turn with others, give' her prayers at Holy Communion and her mortifications of that day asking God to give more vocations. There will thus be a continuous chain of prayer for vocations throughout the 365 days of the year. "A similar cycle of prayer could perhaps be arranged in our larger senior schools," Bishop Parker added.
He pointed out that. because of a shortage of priests, many priests in his diocese have to offer Mass three times on Sundays.
The diocese's collection last Lent for the Fund for the Training of Priests totalled £9,194 (augmented by legacies). but this did not cover the cost of maintaining the 35 students doing their higher studies and the 27 boys at colleges.
HEXHAM : The Church in action
THIS Lent could lead us to 1 show to those around us just what the picture of the Church presented by the General Council means in everyday life. said Bishop Cunningham of flexham and Newcastle in his Lenten pastoral.
"One of the aims of the Second Vatican Council is to present to the world a picture of the Church in all its beauty and attractiveness. It is the earnest hope of the Holy Father that in this way men of the world may be led to the Church and through it to God. The foundations laid in the first session of the General Council. and the work of preparation during the interval, give promise of rapid and fruitful progress when the second session opens on September 8."
SALFORD: Thanks for prayers
Bishop Beck of Salford said in his pastoral that his recent operation has been "most successful" and he hoped that by the end of Lent he would be walking about quite normally. He thanked his people for all their prayers and messages of sympathy.