It’s Lent again, starting on Wednesday

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ASH Wednesday is on the 10th. That’s why our Sunday Read is Pope Francis’ message for Lent 2016.

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We know many, if not most, of the Times’ readers value the faith and the Church, it’s customs and traditions and the liturgical seasons. But many also need to be reminded of these important things. So we do the service of now and again publishing the Holy Father’s homilies and the words of other Church leaders.

Today we share the call made by the Vatican, through an international Catholic Charity under the guidance of the Holy Father called Aid to the Church in Need to “Live a different Lent this year.”

As reported by Fides News Agency, the call is for us to spend “Lent in communion with Christians who suffer.”

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is a “Pontifical Right Society” that is at the very front of the war being waged against Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world where governments and some people are moved by political or religious leaders to oppress Christians, burn churches, drive them away from their homes and lands or even massacre them or execute them one by one.

These Christians are suffering “for Christ’s sake”–if only because they are persecuted, maltreated and murdered because they are, like us, members of Christ’s Church.

Fides News Agency reports that the French office of ACN has “launched the initiative to dedicate each day of Lent to a reality, a community, a nation where Christians suffer because of their faith.”

Of course, we can all help by simply praying for all our fellow Christians who are suffering everywhere in the world. But the ACN call is for a more concrete way of praying for specific groups of suffering Christians.

News.Va (the official Vatican Network) reports that Aid to the Church in Need “explains in a statement sent to Fides that in the Year of Faith, the Pope’s message for Lent 2013, defines a Christian as ‘a person conquered by the love of Christ,’ and therefore, moved by this love, ‘is deeply practical and open to the love of one’s neighbor.’

Using the Internet
“With this spirit, every Christian in the world can be in communion of prayer with their persecuted brothers and sisters, in regions far away. To accomplish this, we [ACN] will use modern means of communication such as the Internet: by registering on the website www.40joursdecompassion.org, you will receive via e-mail a prayer for the Christians in a given country every morning, as well as information on their situation.”

We think this is a marvelous way of sanctifying and making divine use of the modern things most people, specially young adults, have and use throughout the day. With their sophisticated gadgets they can do something really good for fellow Christians in need of help everywhere in the world.

This is a way we can experience doing what Pope Francis talks about in his Lent message: “God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbor and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbors in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them. On such things will we be judged.”

Praying for the suffering Christians is a spiritual act of mercy. And giving to the ACN for its worthy undertakings is a corporal act of mercy.

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