Churches are safe and the doors are “wide open,” says Cardinal Vincent Nichols as we prepare to celebrate the prayerful season of Lent.
In a message to Catholic school pupils, Cardinal Nichols stresses the importance of “coming into the presence of God” to “join in fully in the prayer of the Mass.”
The Cardinal encourages young people to be part of the parish community – a family of the faith.
“When we come [to Mass], we receive the gifts of God. We receive His compassion, we receive His love. We come to know how to serve others and to give to them what we receive from the Lord.”
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, 2 March 2022.
Hello. I’m very glad to have this opportunity to speak with you just for a few minutes.
Now, let’s begin by looking at this photograph together. It’s a picture of the locked doors of the cathedral, because during this pandemic, for three months, our churches were closed for safety out of fear of spreading the infection of the pandemic.
This touched many people very deeply because they felt cut off from the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, from the opportunity of joining in fully the celebration of Mass.
Some people came and prayed at the locked doors. Others left signs of their love of God, their love of the House of God – the love of their Church.
But now you know, the doors are wide open because danger and risk from the pandemic has receded.
It’s safe to come to church. Actually, it’s safer than going to the supermarket and many people are coming back. But not everyone. Now why do they come back?
They come back because they want again to join in fully in the prayer of the Mass. They want to come into the presence of God, who gives shape and direction to their lives. They want to come so that they know they’re part of this community, this family of the faith.
But others are not coming. Why is that? Well, I think many people have established different patterns of life for their Sunday. There’s so many things to do. And yet this one – coming into the presence of God – is so important. It’s so fundamental, basic to our way of living, our way of staying steady, our way of keeping our poise in life.
When we come, we receive the gifts of God. We receive His compassion, we receive His love. We come to know how to serve others and to give to them what we receive from the Lord.
Actually, when we come into church, we meet the one person who has conquered death. We meet the Lord of Life, who is our light, who is our risen light. And that’s what we celebrate so joyfully, so fully at Easter. At this moment, we’re just beginning our preparation for Easter, this season of Lent, and it begins with Ash Wednesday. This is an important time when we walk again together to see and meet the Risen Christ.
So, here’s what I ask you…
When you go home, please tell your family that I have spoken with you today. Please tell them what I’ve said. Please ask if it would be possible for you to go together to church, to Mass this Lent, in preparation for Easter. I would love you to do that, because you see, when you go into the presence of the Lord, into the House of God, which we also call the Gate of Heaven, there is so much for you to receive, and then there is so much more for you to give.
Thank you for listening to me. Please do take these words home. And tell your family that I will pray for them and, please, you pray for me too. Because that’s what I need. Thank you.