Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of Lent 2024
A Special Spiritual Journey Towards Easter – Resurrection – Peace
Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako
Easter – “crossing over” is the main focus of our Christian faith, which imprints the life of Jesus Christ in His suffering, death, and resurrection, with the Christian’s journey in living with Christ and incorporating into Him. The spirituality of participating in the Paschal Sacrament is the only way to change everything with hope and confidence, as well as ending wars and achieving peace.
At the beginning of creation, everything was going smoothly towards God in “the center”. However, due to fluctuations in human nature, he was dragged easily by his freedom into wrong choices, resulted in unexpected deviations, by turning his back on God, in attempt to be separated from the Creator (Eve and Adam’s stance and the prodigal son, Luke chapter 15). Consequently, humankind was unable to overcome his instincts, desires, and ambitions, so his heart hardened (Cain killed his brother Abel). Since then, evil has been in control, in all its forms: violence, war, murdering, destruction, corruption, violation of human rights, and despise its legitimate aspirations.
Today, the situation seems exceptionally more complicated, and the situation is moving from bad to worse, especially in our region. Due to the abandon of human and religious values, our world is in a state of chaos, loss of balance, instability of the global system and uncertainty of the “scales” of power, this might include: Internal divisions for the sake of power and money; external interferences for political and economic interests, the spread of terrorist operations, and wars here and there, especially in the land of Jesus and in Ukraine; according to the rule: either we rule or we kill.
All the above, makes people’s hearts broken and troubled, and their minds distracted, anxious, and frightened. Such “storms”, which create a disgrace to humanity, must be corrected. The Church in its noble mission, must not be satisfied with a timid or diplomatic speech, but rather raise its voice no less than that of prophets, and classify these actions as “major sins”, and crimes against humanity.
Lent comes this year, in this fragile environment (from February 12 to March 30), preceding Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, giving our lives a new horizon, to distinguish right from wrong, true from false, good from evil. It helps us also in choosing what God wants from us, by getting along with each other to change ourselves for better and move forward in the spirit of humility, reconciliation, and wisdom. Since fasting itself is a time for renewing, nurturing, and refining the self, in order for man to regain his image that God created in “His image and likeness” (Genesis 1: 26).
Lent is not a matter of fasting from food, but also from committing sin. It is a time of conversion by going through the psychological and spiritual atmosphere it provides. Repentance – Conversion Metanoia is the central word in Jesus’ preaching, it means literally “to turn” from sin to God. It is an invitation to enter into the New Testament and its logic, in order to make room for the Holy Spirit to fill us and change us from within, so that it changes our thoughts and lifestyle. It genuinely strengthens our bond with God and with each other to seek spiritual, human and ecclesiastical revival. This way we will be able to work together courageously in spreading the culture of life, fraternity, peace and harmonious coexistence, to inspire our society, achieve stability and respect for human dignity and freedom.
Lent is a powerful time to confess our dreadful sins, to give up bad habits, to remove the roots of selfishness, ignorance, hatred, violence, hypocrisy, slander, insincerity, pursuing pleasure and surrender to it, the desire for greed in illegal ways, and to seize possessions of others and exploit them.
Therefore, fasting is like a comprehensive washing of oneself (just as we wash our cars)! to transform into honesty, sincerity and upright morals. We have examples of this in the Bible (e.g. Zacchaeus: the tax collector and Magdalene).
Lent is the time to learn how to live love and compassion commandment. Jesus Christ preferred compassion over sacrifice, by removing the walls that separate us from others, and be generous in helping the needy, as stated by Prophet Isaiah: “Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke? Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry, bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own flesh” (Isaiah 58: 6-7).
The Burning Bush: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3: 12). “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28: 20)
How beautiful it is for the New and Old Testaments meet with the Lord’s closeness to us. “God is with us, Emmanuel”. This is the foundation of our existence, and it is the path to salvation. All we have to do is to walk with Christ faithfully. With this confidence and prayer, we are able to say: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23: 4). This is the New Teaching brought by Christ.
We must return to our authenticity, and set a wonderful example for our parishioners, our families, and our society, by converting and confronting evil behavior decisively, before disaster strikes, and improving our relationship with God and with each other, by mutual unselfishness to reach the glorified end of Jesus Christ, and to cross to resurrection, life and renewal “ܩܝܡܬܐ ܘܚܝ̈ܐ ܘܚܘܕܬܐ”, as is the motto of our Chaldean liturgy, and to achieve peace in our world that is dropping in darkness.
I wish a blessed lent and a glorious resurrection for all, and peace for our beloved country, Iraq, for our region, and for our world
- الصفحة الرئيسية
- اخر الاخبار
- اخبار البطريركية
- تعليم البطريرك
- الكنيسة الكلدانية
اشترك في نشرتنا الإلكترونية مجاناً
اشترك في نشرتنا الإلكترونية مجاناً.
Pastoral Letter on the Occasion of Lent 2024 a Special Spiritual Journey Towards Easter – Resurrection – Peace
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