|Pastoral Letter - YEAR of GRACE 2012|
My Dear People in the Geraldton Diocese
As we launch the Year of Grace on Pentecost Sunday in our Diocese, together with all our Dioceses in Australia, I wish to offer you all my own personal message. Where did the idea of the Year of Grace for the Australian Church originate? Some two years ago as Bishops we reflected together on the many issues, concerns and challenges facing our Church and society today. It is easy enough to list them and we did – two full printed pages of them – and under twelve different groupings.
The next step was how to work on them. After much sharing we unanimously agreed to dig deeper into our Faith and to focus more on Jesus Christ. In other words we decided to respond to these challenges by reflecting firstly on what Jesus would think, say and do about each situation – big or small.
This was not to avoid the issues, but in turning to Jesus first, we believe he will be our guide and inspiration to face them. We in turn were inspired by Pope John Paul II and his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the new Millennium). In this letter John Paul said that as we face the new millennium it would be important to ‘Start afresh from Christ’ and ‘Contemplate the face of Christ’.
Start Afresh from Christ.
Each morning as we thank God for a new day and give that day to God, we remember that Jesus our risen Lord and his Holy Spirit is with us to face the day and any challenge that comes our way.
As situations arise we can ask;-
Contemplate the face of Christ.
At such a time of quiet, we can not only imagine Jesus’ face as we spend time with him, but also ask:-
Mother Teresa of Calcutta at the end of each day spent one hour in prayer in the chapel. It is said of her that when she prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, she saw the poor, and when she was caring for the poor, she saw the face of Jesus.
You can see then as John Paul II said, we are not proposing any new programme. We desire to go more deeply into what we already have - our Faith - and our relationship with Jesus – so that he may in turn effect everything else.
There will be some special events during this year, however these events are only important in so far as they help us make Jesus more and more the centre of our lives.
I together with the Bishops of Australia, commit myself to this Year of Grace. In fact as we have been planning this for some time now, I have already being trying to centre my life more and more on Jesus.
I ask each and every one of you to take part as fully as possible in this year. Since it is so simple, it is so doable by everyone – both young and old.
I ask you Priests, Religious and Lay leaders in your positions of leadership in parishes, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, agencies and organisations to use your position to keep encouraging all you work with, to make Christ more and more the centre of our lives. May we open ourselves even more to Jesus, his presence, his influence, his power, his Grace, his Holy Spirit – to transform us and the people in the society around us.
All of this can only take place by Grace – the Grace of God. Above all then, as we think, reflect, plan and act, let us PRAY – and call down that Grace by using daily one of the prayers distributed specially for this year.
Most Rev. Justin J. Bianchini
In this day of technology so much is offered to us on the web. I encourage all to make use of the Year of Grace website www.yearofgrace.catholic.org.au where we will find various helps to keep us on track and inspire us. I recommend subscribing to the free e-bulletin available on this site.