Super omnia caritas: a pastoral epistle for Lent 2018

Carissime in Christo

“Above all charity[1]” summarises the apostolic exhortations of the New Testament epistle writers and indeed the crux of our Catholic faith. The sacrificial love of God made manifest in Christ for us is the raison d’etre of the Church, to proclaim and teach it is the Divine Commission but more than this, it is to be the very nature of our own being, individually, to live our lives sacrificially for, in and with God, now and for eternity.

Holy Mother Church through the wisdom contained in her Divine Liturgy and in expression of her own love toward us, has exhorted us throughout the Gesima season to approach holy Lent with purpose, but above all love.  She has every Sunday of Gesima used the Apostle Paul’s teaching, that great evangelist and expositor of the Gospel, to encourage us[2], to entreat us[3]and to enlighten us[4] to this end. In the Gospels of the same Sundays, she has sought to remind us of the worth of our salvation[5], how we receive our salvation[6] and how we attain our salvation[7]. Having taken these lessons to heart, taken stock of our spiritual condition, it is for us now to take the time and effort to address the spiritual and temporal remedies necessary for us to make manifest in our lives our love for God.

So it is that on Ash Wednesday itself when our Lenten season begins, we are reminded in the liturgy of the purpose of the season, a time to renew our relationship with God, “Now therefore saith the Lord: Be converted to me with all your heart, in fasting, and in weeping, and in mourning.”[8]We are reminded of both the invitation and the desire of God for us to demonstrate our love for Him in return for the manifestation of His love for us in Christ and for the very reason He created us. We are reminded of that first lesson we learned in our catechism, “Why did God make you? God made me to know him, to love him and to serve him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next.” This holy season is an opportunity not just to repair our relationship with God, but renew it anew, begin again and consolidate, strengthen and cement that relationship in the realisation of true, not sentimental, but sacrificial love.

In order to maximise the efficacy of our Lenten endeavours, it is necessary for us to avail ourselves of that ineffable and sublime grace that God provides for us in the sacraments of holy Mother Church. Mindful that Our Lord Himself admonishes us “thou shalt not know the day nor the hour”[9], let us avail ourselves of the opportunity to rejuvenate our faith by frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, that when and however “that hour” comes to pass for us, we are found ready, made “white in the blood of the lamb”[10] through the forgiveness of our sins and able worthily then to commune with i.e. become one with God through the Holy Communion.  As a pilgrim people we are provided with the opportunity to receive “our daily bread”[11], that “new manna from heaven”[12] to feed us on our journey toward our heavenly home, the Sacrament of Christ’s love made available to us in the holy Eucharist. These two restorative sacraments, after baptism, are the assured means by which we who would return our hearts to God, may do so confident of His promises to forgive and receive us into Himself. Remembering that this is a season of renewal, it is an opportunity to avail ourselves too of His revealed Word, His Divine Revelation of Himself in Scripture as well as in sacrament. We should seek to realise again our advocacy in the Holy Ghost and seek to imbue ourselves with His particular assistance in wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and holy fear[13], strengthening and enlightening our resolve, confirming our faith, grounding our hope and manifesting charity.

Aside from the interior reflection and introspection Lent naturally requires and opportunely affords, we must remember that charity of itself requires expression, not only between ourselves and God, but between ourselves and others too. We are charged[14] to extend God’s invitation to know Him and live in love with Him to others by ourselves demonstrating in our lives His mercy, His kindness, His love. Not our own pale reflection of His nature, but striving to manifest in ourselves the reconciliation of His image within us, of that reconciliation between creature and Creator that Our Lord embodied in Himself and enables us so to be, by following His way of perfection, Who is “the way, the truth and the life,”[15] our “light and salvation”[16] in Whose light is our life[17] Who has reconciled us to God in Himself[18] that we might reconcile others to Him as His ambassadors in the world. Taking up our cross and denying ourselves[19]is to become like Him, bearing through suffering and patience our own and each other’s faults, to share in that redemption He has gained for us by His Cross and Passion[20] manifesting God’s love.

Wishing you a great and holy Lent


Feria IV Cinerum 2018AD

[1] Cf Colossians iii.14 & 1 Corinthians xiii.13

[2] 1 Cor. ix. 24 & x. 1.5

[3] 2 Cor. xi. 19-33

[4] 1 Cor. xiii. 1-13

[5] St Matt. xx. 1-16

[6] St. Luke viii. 4-15

[7] St. Luke xviii. 31-43

[8] Joel ii.12

[9] St. Matt. xxiv.36, St.Matt. xxv.13, St. Mark xiii.32

[10] Revelation vii.14, Isaiah i.18 & 1 John i.7

[11] St. Matt. vi. 11

[12] St. John vi.31-35

[13] Isaiah xi.2-3

[14] St. Matt. xxii.37-40

[15] St. John xiv.6

[16] Psalm xxvii.1

[17] St. John i.4

[18] 2 Cor. v.11-21

[19] St. Luke ix.23

[20] Ephesians i.7

Leave a Reply