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Pastoral Letter for the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time 26/27 February 2022

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
Today I want to take a moment, first of all, to thank you for your faithfulness and for your
presence here at Mass. These last two years have been very difficult and I thank God for the
gift of faith which you have received, which you have nurtured and from which, I know,
you receive great grace and strength. I know this to be true because it is true for me too.


Now I would like to ask your assistance.


During these last two years there were times when our way of life was severely curtailed.
We were in ‘lockdown’. At one time, for three months, even the doors of our churches were
firmly closed. Being unable to enter the House of God and to take part fully in the
celebration of the Mass was, for many, an experience of real dismay and pain.


But that is no longer the case. We are again able to fashion the way of life that we choose.
The doors of our churches can stay wide open. Yet, as you know, many have not resumed
the pattern of coming to church, week by week. Other activities have filled that space. For
some, the thirst for being at Mass, for celebrating life-giving sacraments, has diminished.


This is where I ask for your help. I would like you to be ready to approach those whom you
know, and who are not present here today, with a word of invitation for them to join us. I
know this is not easy. You may well feel it is an intrusive thing to do. Also, taking the step
across the threshold of the church can be daunting for someone who has been away for a
long time. So I ask you to exercise great deference and kindness when approaching them,
perhaps offering to accompany them on this return journey.


I make this request now not simply because fear and restrictions are eased, but because we
are approaching Lent, the traditional and powerful season of our renewal in faith. Beginning
on Ash Wednesday, this coming week, we respond to the Lord’s invitation to come forward
and meet him afresh. He invites us to come through the doors of the church to stand before
him and receive his blessing, his mark of mercy.

Lent is the time to reset our patterns so that there is time for God in our hearts and in our
weekly routines. You know well that the highest form of prayer is the celebration of the
Eucharist. It is here, above all other places, that the Lord wishes to fill us with his gifts, so
that we, in turn, can offer those gifts to others. And then, when we give that which we have
received, we bring this precious light of Christ into our world. He is the best antidote to the
darkness of the pandemic, to the loneliness it has brought, to the lack of clear hope for the
future, to the deep weariness and unexpressed resentment that has entered into the souls of
so many.


So, please, do what you can to invite those who are missing to come with you to be part of
this great family of faith at prayer. If each of you can give a word of encouragement to one
other person, to one other family, then the reward will be great. Then we can journey
together to Easter. There we proclaim again that Jesus alone has mastered death, that he
alone is the Lord of life, that he is now among us and calling us to come to meet him here,
in this House of God, in this Gate of Heaven.


I thank you again for your presence here today. I thank you for all that you will do in
response to this request and I ask God’s blessing on the words that you will speak.
Remember the words of St Paul that we have just heard: ‘Keep on working at the Lord’s
work always, knowing that, in the Lord, you cannot be labouring in vain’ (1Cor. 15:58).


Pease continue in your prayer for peace in Ukraine. We cry out: No more war, no more
violence!


And remember me in your prayers as I will remember you, the faithful people of God!


Yours devotedly,
+Cardinal Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

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