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25 February 2020

APRIM welcome to 2020 and the Lenten Season

Welcome to 2020 It has been a whirlwind start to 2020 and our wonderful…

Welcome to 2020

It has been a whirlwind start to 2020 and our wonderful Blackfriars community is already demonstrating a positive ‘vibe’. New students have settled in well, making new friends and quickly warming to their teachers and vice-versa. New buildings and fit-outs indicate the future-thinking of our school, while we stand strong to what has worked so well, namely our Catholic Dominican tradition best exemplified through the Four Pillars of Prayer, Study, Community and Service.

Our 2019 graduates are a testament to the manner in which this tradition works so well. Our 2020 Prefects, House Captains and Young Christian Students (YCS) Captains are busy working on initiatives that improve the school and develop their leadership skills. They are looking to leave a legacy too. I look forward to sharing more of this with you over the ensuing months. Many of our middle primary students are on the cusp of beginning preparations for their Sacraments. If you are also interested in becoming Catholic, regardless of your age, feel free to contact me.

Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Lent and Project Compassion

Lent is a time of preparing for the most significant event in history, and the fundamental basis for our Christian faith: The Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ.

The day before the beginning of Lent is Shrove Tuesday, and this is traditionally the day that Christians who intend to fast during Lent use up their rich foods, such as the ingredients for pancakes – hence pancakes are traditionally consumed on this day. All students and staff at Blackfriars will be provided a pancake or crepe on Shrove Tuesday morning to mark the occasion.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. (There are more than 40 days between Lent and Easter Sunday, but Sundays are not counted as they are considered ‘mini-Easters’). 40 days reflects the time Jesus spent in the desert after His baptism. During this time, Jesus was tempted by Satan, but emerged from the desert knowing He needed to bear the responsibility of the whole of humanity on His shoulders, and all the suffering it entails, to die and then show that even death can be overcome. Satan presented an easy and glamorous option, as Satan does, but Jesus took the path of the ultimate glory; perfection and the defeat of death.

Our Ash Wednesday Mass doubles as our whole-school Opening Mass for 2020. All staff and students attend the Mass, and parents, grandparents, siblings, old scholars and friends are very welcome. The Mass begins at 10.00am in the Neill Gymnasium.

During the mass, blessed Ashes are distributed onto the foreheads of those in attendance. This is a practice observed by over a billion Christians throughout the world. It is an act of humility and not a mark of self-righteousness. The Ashes used on Ash Wednesday come from the palms used on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, from the previous year. It is a reminder of the natural cycle of life: death and new life, repeating forever.

Upon receipt of the Ashes, we are told: “remember you are dust, and to dust you will return”. How often do we contemplate our mortality? In doing so, do we then examine what is most important in life? Do we seek reconciliation with people with which relationships are strained? Do we go to Confession to reconcile ourselves with God and to receive God’s grace in this sacred way? Do we commit to developing a habit – sacrificing something – that will make us better people?

Lent is an excellent time for making sacrifices, in memory of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The types of sacrifices people choose vary greatly. Some give up chocolate. Some give up alcohol. Some give extra money to the poor. Some make a special effort to give up complaining (you can submit your pledge of sacrifice here on the Caritas website). Some go to daily Mass. Blackfriars does not serve meat on Fridays during Lent. It is certainly a time where Christians hone their understanding of what it means to be a good Christian, and Jesus taught us that love and charity (caritas) is essential to achieve a place in God’s kingdom.

For this reason, Caritas (the Catholic charity organisation) runs Project Compassion. At Blackfriars, we aim to raise as much money as possible for Project Compassion as it uses the money raised in a targeted and effective way; it enables communities in need to establish self-sustaining practices, so they no longer require aid. This not only raises them from poverty, but also provides them with the dignity of knowing they are looking after themselves.

The Dominican Pillars of Community and Service are exemplified through charitable acts throughout Lent, and we encourage this in our Blackfriars community, be it by supporting Project Compassion or simply by working acts of service into your day-to-day life.

Matthew Crisanti
Assistant Principal, Religious Identity and Mission (APRIM)