Writing in the new Pastoral Plan for the Diocese "The Word Who is Life: The Call to Mission" (7.4), Bishop Richard asks that every parish provides times of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, leading to monthly Holy Hours. To support this, the diocesan Formation Team is providing regular resources - including suggested scripture readings and intentions. The resources for February can be found below:
The Ordinary Time Gospels on the Sundays before Lent this year tell of Jesus’s ministry of healing and of him going to a quiet place to pray. The Lord comes to heal sickness of mind – not just of body – to bring wholeness, and to call sinners to repentance. We are unclean until we acknowledge and repent of our sins.
Lent is the special season for the ascent to the holy mountain of Easter. Through its themes of repentance and Baptism, Lent prepares both the catechumens (those journeying towards baptism) and the faithful to celebrate the Paschal Mystery. Catechumens are led to the sacraments of initiation by means of the Rite of Election, the Scrutinies, and intense spiritual preparation. The faithful, listening more intently to the word of God and devoting themselves to prayer, are prepared through a spirit of repentance to renew their baptismal promises at the Easter Vigil.
Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ. [1 Corinthians10:31-11:1]
‘Now, now – it is the Lord who speaks –
come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning.’
Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn,
turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion,
slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent. [Joel 2:12-13]
We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were appealing through us, and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God. For our sake God made the sinless one into sin, so that in him we might become the goodness of God. As his fellow workers, we beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation. [2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2]
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him. After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’ [Mark 1:12-15]
Christ himself, innocent though he was, died once for sins, died for the guilty, to lead us to God. In the body he was put to death, in the spirit he was raised to life, and, in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison. Now it was long ago, when Noah was still building that ark which saved only a small group of eight people ‘by water’, and when God was still waiting patiently, that these spirits refused to believe. That water is a type of the baptism which saves you now, and which is not the washing off of physical dirt but a pledge made to God from a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has entered heaven and is at God’s right hand. [1 Peter 3:18-22]
Thus says the Lord:
‘Is not this the sort of fast that pleases me – it is the Lord who speaks –
to break unjust fetters and undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and break every yoke,
to share your bread with the hungry, and shelter the homeless poor,
to clothe those you see to be naked and not turn from your own kin?
Then will your light shine like the dawn and your wound be quickly healed over.
Your integrity will go before you and the glory of the Lord behind you.
Cry, and the Lord will answer; call, and he will say, ‘I am here.’ [Isaiah 58:6-9]
The Lord says this:
‘If you do away with the yoke, the clenched fist, the wicked word,
if you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed,
your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadows become like noon.
The Lord will always guide you, giving you relief in desert places.
He will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water whose waters never run dry. [Isaiah 58:9-11]
Lord, the Word who is Life.
May all the people of our Diocese
grow in openness to the power of the Holy Spirit,
so that through a growth in understanding and courage, and truly open to your call,
we may bear powerful witness to all around us,
for you are Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
The Formation team will shortly be providing basic guidelines to help set up lay-led times of Adoration for those communities that would like to join the call to prayerful support of the Diocese. For enquiries about this initiative, please contact our Spirituality Adviser, John Harman; E: Jon.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scripture excerpts from The Jerusalem Bible, © 1966 by Darton Longman & Todd Ltd and Doubleday and Company Ltd.
Prayer(“Lord, the Word who is life”) © 2018 Diocese of Arundel & Brighton