On Ash Wednesday, 10 February, Bishop Nicholas joined the Catholic faithful in Canary Wharf for a celebration of Mass which included the distribution of ashes.
On this occasion, Bishop Nicholas focused his homily on the meaning of Lent and the opportunity it provides for transformation. He spoke of Lent as a time for enlightenment, a 'time to let our lives be illumined by ... the essence of the Gospel'. Referring to the season as 'a 40 day retreat in which we prepare ourselves for the journey on which we accompany Jesus in Holy Week', he spoke about the ways in which each person can prepare for this pilgrimage.
He encouraged everyone present to deepen their life of prayer and, echoing the words of Pope Francis, 'to seek a daily personal encounter with God'.
He also invited everyone to be creative in their almsgiving, saying: 'Why not make someONE your "favourite charity" this Lent?' Again, echoing the words of Pope Francis, he said: 'More seriously, we might recall, as the poor man or woman of the road comes into view what Pope Francis says, that when we reach out to the poor, we touch the broken body of Christ. WE take the poor man’s hand in ours and we are taking into our hands Christ’s hand, because he said, ‘whatever you did to these the least of my brothers you did to me.'
Bishop Nicholas also encouraged everyone to 'heed the call to be reconciled'. Referring to St Paul's advice 'not to neglect the grace of God', he said, 'It’s so easy for us to neglect the grace that God is waiting to give us through the sacrament of Reconciliation' for it is in this sacrament that the 'very things we confess, we feel God giving us the grace to overcome'.
It is also in this sacrament, he explained that 'Jesus waits to fill us with his grace; waits to meet us in prayer, in the man or woman we see on the street, in the sacrament of reconciliation, if only we would go there to meet him'.
Earlier in the day, Mgr Vladimir Felzmann, Chaplain to the Canary Wharf community, celebrated another Mass to allow many of the faithful who often work very long hours on the estate, whether in offices or in shops, to attend Mass and receive ashes when they might not otherwise have had time to in their own parishes.
Bishop Nicholas' homily can be read here.