Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Would you join me in renewing our journey as Catholic Christians on the path to holiness this Lent which begins on Ash Wednesday, February 6?

Holiness means being like God the Father, who is merciful. Holiness means being lovingly obedient like Jesus. Holiness means to live as someone guided by the Holy Spirit.

Holiness for everyone

St. Francis de Sales teaches that the path to holiness will be different according to ones state in life:

Holiness will be exercised today in different ways by the investment broker, the scientist, the minimum wage worker, by the politician and the teacher, by those widowed, young people, parents of young children and the clergy.

So, the quest for holiness needs to be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person.

With this in mind, we find Lent offers us three traditional means suggested by Jesus to draw near to God: prayer, fasting and almsgiving (Matthew 6:1-20).


The prayer above all others is the Eucharist. All should strive to renew their commitment to Sunday Mass as the centre of their life of faith. Daily Mass or meditation on the daily Scripture readings can extend the Lords Day throughout the week.

Morning and evening prayer, grace before meals and other devotions such as meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, reciting the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or making the Stations of the Crossall of these are expressions of a faith that is alive and grateful to God for blessings received.

Finally, Eucharistic Adoration where availableand many of our parishes hold one or more hours of exposition each weekallows for the deepening of our love for the Eucharistic Lord Jesus and for coming to understand his will for our lives.


Fast and abstinence still comprise an important aspect of a Catholics devotional life. Catholics are called to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent and to fast (eat only one full meal) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

These are expressions of a desire to enter into the Lenten renewal at the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday) and gratitude for the Lord Jesus gift of his life for us (Fridays, especially Good Friday).

Other traditional acts of giving up sweets, alcohol, tobacco or other pleasures during Lent help individuals personalize their spirit of Lenten sacrificea desire to turn from sin and believe the Good News.


Almsgiving flows naturally from the saving of money by these sacrifices. We should be particularly caring for the needy near and far, participating in our parishs social outreach and in the Lenten campaign for the poor of the world conducted by Development and Peace, the social justice program promoted by the Bishops of Canada (Share Lent).

Personal confession

Finally, I commend to all the role of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in our quest for holiness. The Church mandates that Catholics conscious of serious sin make an annual confession during the period from Lent to Easter. Wise interpreters of the spiritual life know that this practice of confession is a help to all who wish to grow spiritually on the path to holiness.

May the Lord bless us all in the Archdiocese as we set out to celebrate the Easter mystery with mind and heart renewed (Lenten Preface 1).

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Terrence Prendergast, S.J.
Archbishop of Ottawa