ASH WEDNESDAY, 5 March 2014: Belonging to Christ,Committed for Mission

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

The Lord has given us a sacred time of 6 weeks before Easter for the renewing and purifying of our hearts and for learning how to live and serve in this passing world with a love which is fixed on eternity with God and all the saints.Because we live in a very complex and confusing world even our religious ideas and spiritual attitudes can become complicated and confusing and cause us to behave in ways that contradict the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We need help to become more focused and true to our calling in Jesus Christ.It is the Word of God revealed in the Sacred Scriptures throughout the period of Lent that draws us to the essentials concerning our faith and way of life in Christ. With the help of the Sacred Scriptures we can examine our own lives and with God’s grace we are able to prune those things in our lives that contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ.The Daily Missal is very useful for a clear programme of Lenten Scripture readings.With the help of the Holy Sacraments – especially the Sacrament of Penance and the Holy Eucharist – we are able to deepen our personal love for Jesus Christ who loves us first and thus we can follow His way with a genuine hope and joy which his Holy Spirit inspires within us.

Lent is particularly important for the renewal of marriage and family life in Christ.If parents commit themselves with their children to pray and reflect on their faith together as a family at least once a week,God will surely bless the whole family with a deep communion and joy which the worldly cannot enjoy.Praying the way of the Cross,the Rosary and other community prayers for the  many needs which we are aware of  is important for a fruitful Lent.The SACBC booklet “Lenten Reflections 2014: Belonging to Christ,Committed for Mission,” is a useful booklet for families or groups to be able to reflect together and build one another’s spiritual life.

Lent urges us to be outward-looking. In particular we are called to recognise and serve Christ in the poor and needy who are often marginalised and neglected. We are called to offer the needy practical help and make this a priority during Lent.This includes visiting people who are confined within institutions because of illness or other reasons such as those in prison.Supporting financially the Catholic Church’s Lenten Appeal and other charitable projects in our diocese is a very practical way of expressing our solidarity with Christ in uplifting the poor and needy of our country.

In general however the best way to follow the spirit of Lent is to continue doing all the good that we are already doing in the duties of our daily life but to do it with greater compassion and with more honesty and personal integrity. And only the Lord can teach us and help us to do that. “Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Jesus.” (Colossians 3, 23-24).

God bless you with the peace and joy of Christ

Bishop Joao Rodrigues