TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Commissioned for Caritas

I am here writing to you on the First Sunday of Lent, and hoping that with each day you are engaging with one of the plethora of resources that have been provided for this year’s Lenten season.

I have multiple readings and reflections coming in through my inbox every day. I am trying to take the time to begin each day in quiet reflection. I hope some of you have joined a Lenten Group as a way of preparing for Easter.

Last Tuesday, over 400 people gathered in the Cathedral to launch this year’s Project Compassion. Towards the end of this service, parish groups come forward to receive their Project Compassion boxes and to receive a commissioning from the bishop.

These are the words of the commissioning:

I commission you to take up Caritas’ Project Compassion with the courage and commitment of Moses as he accepted God’s will in his life; despite feeling inadequate. May you experience the depth of God’s love and compassion as you reach out in action this Lent; to uphold peace and the dignity of each person; and to renew the face of the Earth, for all future generations.

This Lent I encourage you to:

    • Contemplate: Be aware of God’s presence with you and God’s love for you and the world.
    • Pray: It is the responsibility of everyone who is baptised to pray for others.
    • Listen: To the Word of God and the stories that Project Compassion offers each week of Lent. What is God saying to us through these stories?
    • Act justly: In all your relationships and in your care for our Earth.
    • Be generous: Give what you can to support the poor via the Project Compassion boxes I give you, and be open to the promptings of God’s spirit to give of yourselves in the service of others.
    • Fast: By living more simply; and fasting from the things in your life that are unjust.

This year the focus for Project Compassion is on Ronita from the Philippines, Memory from Malawi and Leaia from Samoa. I invite you to go to the Caritas website and engage with the many wonderful stories and resources. Caritas 2024 Resources

Like most charities, each year, Caritas does amazing work in reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people, and the communities in which they live. They do this with diminishing funds, as their donor base is shrinking because their traditional generous donors are aging and dying.

Bishop Michael reminded us on Tuesday, that our God is a God of people not of place. He is the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob. He is a God of relationship, a covenantal God who invites us to show the same care, compassion and love as God has shown throughout history. The First Reading this Sunday from Genesis (9:8-15) reminded us of God’s covenant “between myself, and you and every living creature of every kind”, each time we see a rainbow in the sky.

This brings me to our ongoing relationship with the Hunter Community Alliance and the fortnightly meetings I am presently attending as one of the co-chairs of the Founding Assembly, which will take place at the Great Hall at the University of Newcastle on Wednesday evening 10 April. I will write more about this next week. We are members of this Alliance, as part of working with other civil society groups for the common good of people in the Hunter.

Pope Francis has the following words to say in his Message for Lent this year:

I invite every Christian community to do just this: to offer its members moments set aside to rethink their lifestyles, times to examine their presence in society and the contribution they make to its betterment.

I think Lent is a time for us to think beyond ourselves, to be more and to give more.

The prayer of St Ignatius has been with me this past week:

Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous, to serve you as you deserve to be served. To give without counting the cost, to fight without counting the wounds, to work without seeking rest, to spend my life without expecting anything in return, except the knowledge that I do your holy will. Amen.

Maybe you too will pray this with me until next week.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is Director Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.