The Catholic Parish of Frenchs Forest.

 to Love and Serve

 If you’re a visitor or new to our parish, we extend a very warm welcome to you. 

If you have any questions, please chat with Fr Shiju,  or myself, or browse our website.

We want you to feel at home with us. - Fr Satheesh

from Fr Satheesh

My dear Parishioners,

We are in the season of Lent. Lent began on Ash Wednesday, and runs until 28 March, the day before Good Friday. It is a solemn Christian religious observance in the liturgical year commemorating the 40 days Jesus Christ spent fasting in the desert and enduring temptation.

The Lenten Season is also a time of prayer and preparation; an annual pilgrimage of grace and mercy; a time for conversion, repentance, and renewal.

In Lent we are called to prayer. Our prayer this lent could be a time of daily reflection, celebrating daily Mass and attending the sacrament of Reconciliation. Our wonderful Lenten reflection program has begun and will run through Lent. I encourage you to attend the sessions if you are able as it will be a great way to reflect, pray and prepare for Easter. Also, I invite you to join the Stations of the Cross during Lent on Thursdays, 5pm at St Anthony’s Terrey Hills and on Fridays, 7:30pm at OLGC.

This weekend we welcome over 120 children and young adults who are preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Lessons begin this Friday and Sunday. As a community we continue to pray for these young people as they learn about faith and will experience God’s love and forgiveness through the Sacrament.

It may come as a surprise to many that the next ordinary Jubilee Year commences on Tuesday 24 December 2024 at which time the Holy Father will open the Holy Door in Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.  The Holy Year, which enjoys biblical origins, will conclude on Sunday 14 December 2025.

By way of preparation for the Holy Year, Pope Francis, on 24 January, announced a Year of Prayer in 2024.  The Holy Father’s desire is that this time of prayer will be useful to recover the desire to be in the presence of the Lord, to listen to him and adore him. Please mark on your diary that our 12 hours of Adoration will be held at OLGC on 15 March 7.30 am -7.30 pm.

Last Sunday at OLGC we celebrated the 97th birthday of Jeanie Adamson. May the Lord bless her with good health and happiness. I encourage parishioners to let us know of any special celebrations that may be happening. As a parish we enjoy celebrating milestone birthdays and anniversaries. Please email or call the parish office if you know of any special celebrations we could acknowledge.

Our annual Stations & Rice night at St Anthony’s is on Thursday March 21st to help raise funds for Project Compassion through the work of CARITAS.

Thank you all for welcoming Father Biju Mathew to our Parish.

God Bless you
Fr Satheesh Antony OSH 

Reflection - 1st Sunday Lent (18th Feb 2024)

Have you ever noticed that Jesus begins and ends his public ministry in the wilderness? These deserts are the geographical bookends of the greatest story ever told. In today’s Gospel we have Jesus in the desert for forty days. Much later, when condemned to death, Jesus is led out of the city and crucified at Golgotha, another dry and desolate location. In both places Jesus is tempted. In Mark we are never told what Satan’s temptations in the desert were about. Luke and Matthew fill in those details. On the cross, however, Mark tells us that the crowd tempts Jesus to work a miracle, come down from the cross and save himself. In the first desert Jesus is ministered to by the angels and emerges to proclaim that the kingdom of God is close at hand. In the later desert Jesus is ministered to by his women disciples and is put to death as a consequence for the way he lived out the Kingdom he proclaimed. 

It’s clear from all the Gospels that the desert and the temptations stayed with Jesus throughout his life. What a comfort this is to us. Many of us do not need to go out and find a physical desert to know its claim on our lives. Temptations do not know geographical limitations. Indeed, the greater the number of options, the more temptations we have to take a destructive path. 

When we look at how the desert is used in the Bible, mythology, art, literature and the cinema two competing images emerge. The first is that the desert can be a place of loss and ruin where some great heroes have gone and not returned. In another equally venerable tradition journeys to the desert, while filled with a mixture of pleasure and pain, are abundant with revelation, transformation and recreation.

These two descriptions do not have to be contradictory. As we find in Jesus’ example, we do not have to give in to the temptation that the desert is only about loss, but we need to find a path there to negotiate a way out of it so that we can emerge recreated, the richer for the experience. 

It’s important to remember in our own particular deserts that temptation is not sin. To be tempted by something is not the same as doing it. Temptations are the allures that make destructive choices look good. In one sense, the bad news is that we know from the lives of the saints that the closer we get to God, the more temptations increase. The good news is that we can learn how to deal with them. 

Usually, temptations have a context and a history. They can come when we are feeling most deserted and vulnerable and they normally strike us at the most susceptible points in our character. To deal with them we need to be aware of their pattern, the way they con us into believing that the destructive behaviour is ‘not that bad’, will be ‘just this once’, or ‘for the last time’. As well, it helps if we are aware of the danger signs in our lives that can weaken our defences. Tiredness, boredom, anger, alcohol and drug use, lack of good communication and a poor self-esteem are common realities that can leave us more exposed than usual. 

This Lent, as we venture with Christ into our figurative deserts, let’s do anything that helps our self-esteem, deal with our anger, attend to why we might work or drink too much, and ensure that we are less stressed. Contrary to what we might think, these activities could be the most helpful ways we can make sure we emerge from our desert the better for having been there.
© Richard Leonard SJ

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