Sunday, February 17, 2013

My Jubilee Lent

Baptismal Cup  8 March 1953
It probably takes a certain type of Catholic eccentricity to be able to proclaim that I am a  Lent baby. In 1953, the year of my birth, Ash Wednesday fell on  18 Feb,5 days before I was born.. And this year as I celebrate my 60th Lent my birthday once again falls within the season.However I have also decided that I will celebrate this birthday in the spirit of jubilee.

In my jubilee year I am exempted from some of the Lenten discipline: Canon 1252  All persons who have completed their fourteenth year are bound by the law of abstinence; all adults are bound by the law of fast up to the beginning of their sixtieth year. Nevertheless, pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast and abstinence are educated in an authentic sense of penance.

However, Jubilee is not about age but rather a deep and challenging journey into relationships and forgiveness. The Lenten Pastorals from New South Wales and Brisbane  Bishops  have left us in no doubt about the Church needing to seek forgiveness as we confront the dark history of sexual abuse of vulnerable children during the Royal  Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The call to traditional Lenten discipline takes on a new urgency in this climate.

Abstinence is hardly penitential  for many of us who have abandoned the  meat based diets of our childhood and see a mixed diet as a more graceful way of living for body and soul. The call to penitential practice is a tradition in many religious communities. These practices are about transformation of our values and behaviours. Our penitential  commitment is a call to live in the light.

The call to live more simply also invites us to fasting in solidarity with those who live in hunger and poverty in our global village. My commitment to Fair Trade shopping also ensures that I am supporting sustainable projects to provide dignity and work in developing communities.

The annual Project Compassion appeal of the Australian Catholic Church  awakens me to my  global relationships and responsibilities. My first photographic appearance in Catholic media  happened in 1979 when I did a busking gig for  the launch Project Compassion  on the steps of the GPO in Bourke Street Melbourne.

There are an almost exhausting number of online resources for Lent with the challenge being to "keep it simple". My prayer in Lent will continue to be my morning bus ride with the "Pray as You Go" meditation.  My fasting will be guided by Robert Herrick's poem: "To Keep A True Lent". My giving this year will be the start of a new  way of living. Rather than "giving up" I have decided that from now on I will give away  much of the 'stuff" I have gathered over these past 60 years.Any gift I now give to family and friends will come from my shelves and cupboards so that it will have new life in a new house.and I can learn to live with less.

So, let the Jubilee begin!!

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