There is an accessible version of this website. You can click here to switch now or switch to it at any time by clicking Accessibility in the footer.

Fix your eyes on Christ this Lent, says Fr Peter Whitely


Ash Wednesday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral was held on 26 January. Photo: Feby Plando.

By Amanda Murthy

Catholic worshippers across the Archdiocese welcomed the first day of Lent by attending Mass at parishes throughout Perth on 26 January.

At St Mary’s Cathedral, the 8am Ash Wednesday Mass was celebrated by the Archdiocese of Perth’s Vicar General, the Very Rev Father Peter Whitely VG, and concelebrated by St Mary’s Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez.


Father Peter Whitely and Fr Sean Fernandez celebrated the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 26 January. Photo: Feby Plando.

Before marking the ashes on each member of congregation, Fr Whitely blessed the ashes, asking God to send out His spirit to those present, during the 40 days of Lent.

“God of our lives and our Lenten journey. You guide us and share our lives. In times of struggle and in times of joy, you are with us. We ask for your spirit to be with us during these 40 days of Lent,” Fr Whitely said.


Fr Whitely spoke about the need to focus on God this Lent during the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 26 January. Photo: Feby Plando.

In his homily, Fr Whitely emphasised the importance of fixing our eyes on Jesus this Lenten season.

“As Lent approaches, so often we hear people asking one another: ‘what are you giving up for Lent?’.

“Some respond to that question: ‘chocolate, and I hope I do better than last year. Or I’m giving up eating boiled spinach, I’ve never eaten it anyway’,” he added.

“So often our Lenten focus is on ourselves, on what we are going to give up. The focus is there rather than on God.

“Lent is meant to be focused on God and our focusing on him, particularly for us to recognise His son who loves us unconditionally.”

Fr Whitely then recounted the words of the first reading of the day taken from the book of Joel, which he stated “has a way of beautifully describing Jesus’ love to us”.


An Archdiocesan staff member receiving ashes on her forehead during the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 26 January. Photo: Feby Plando.

“Let not your hearts be broken, not your garments torn. Turn to the Lord your God again, for He is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent,” Fr Whitely recalled.

“This is a God who loves us so much so as to give up His son to die for us, even while we were sinners. Therefore, we must fix our eyes on God; focus on Jesus’ love for us.”


The Catholic community of Perth marked the first day of Lent by attending Mass. Photo: Feby Plando.

Fr Whitely ended his homily by sharing some ways in which the congregation can focus on God for the next 40 days.

“We can recite daily prayers, again focusing entirely on God, not other distractions and perhaps pray more intently.

“Coming to reconciliation, not really worrying or focusing so much on all the failures we have, but rather recognising the fact that God will forgive us, and God has forgiven us – focussing on God’s mercy to us.

“Believe the things that we read in the Scripture passages – take the time to focus on a few passages and really reflect on them.

“And we can pause for a moment in our busy day and ask God what am I doing for the Lord and ‘what am I doing to turn away from myself and turn back to the Lord’,” he concluded.