By Amanda Murthy
“Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping and mourning, let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, says the Lord in today’s readings.
“This is the spirit with which we should enter into our journey of Lent this year – with broken hearts, especially for all who have suffered with the crisis of abuse in our Church.
“Broken hearts, because of the complicity of so many of our leaders in this disaster, and broken hearts for the whole Church community, because there wouldn’t be a member of our Catholic community today, who isn’t suffering through the present days.”
These were the words of Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, who celebrated the morning Ash Wednesday Mass at the St Mary’s Cathedral on 6 March. Joining Archbishop Costelloe as concelebrant was Father Carmine-John (CJ) Millen and Father Conor Steadman as the masters of ceremonies.
During his homily, Archbishop Costelloe invited the congregation, and the whole Church of Australia to approach this season of Lent as a time of repentance and renewal, by taking several important steps.
“The last 10 days or so have been a terrible time for so many people, and I think it is important for us to recognise, that in the midst of this terrible crisis, the season of Lent becomes God’s precious gift to us,” Archbishop Costelloe said, alluding to the Cardinal Pell case.
“The season of Lent helps us to try to understand what is happening, and to help us find a way in this community of faith together to continue to walk the difficult path, on which the Church currently finds ourselves.”
Archbishop Costelloe then reminded the congregation that only if they “come to the Lord with broken hearts”, then they will be able to believe that “the Lord as a God of all tenderness and compassion – slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent”.
“In the midst of the recognition of the terrible things that have taken place in our Church, we need to remember that our God is a God of tenderness and compassion.
“We pray for all those who have suffered in any way that they might experience in their lives, His tenderness and compassion.
“And that if it is the Lord’s will, that they experience it through us, then we invite the Lord to bring a deeper tenderness and compassion to us, so that He can work through us to be instruments of healing,” Archbishop Costelloe added.
The final message of Archbishop Costelloe to those present, was turn to God in prayer.
“As we heard in the first reading, when the chosen people turned to God in prayer, the Lord took pity on them.”