4th February 2008
Lent: to deepen our Christian lives through prayer, fasting and giving – Bishop Michael Smith
In advance of the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday (6 February), Bishop Michael Smith, the Bishop of Meath, has published the following Lenten message:
It seems no time ago since the Christmas decorations were taken down. But Easter comes early in 2008 and already Ash Wednesday is being marked in parishes this week.
Each year Lent offers us an opportunity to deepen the meaning and value of our Christian lives and it stimulates us to rediscover the mercy of God so that we, in turn, become more merciful towards our brothers and sisters.
I ask the faithful to include the ‘3 step programme’ of prayer, fasting and giving during Lent 2008:
· On prayer: I am asking parishes in Meath to facilitate more opportunities for prayer and I encourage parishes to provide courses on the Scriptures so that people can be more familiar with the Word of God;
· On fasting: in our society that enjoys such plenty, all should make acts of self-denial; and I wish to wholeheartedly praise those students taking part in the Trócaire 24 hour fast;
· On giving, let us promote this year’s Trócaire appeal; in addition the Diocese is supporting a range of other Church projects over the past year in Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia), Latin America (Haiti and Honduras) and Asia (Burma, China, India, Thailand and Vietnam).
Irish culture does not take religion as seriously as it used to do. There is a tendency to reduce religion to heated debates about controversies and personalities. Faith is more than that. Faith is ultimately about God and the joy that comes from our relationship with Him. Lent sets time apart to deepen this relationship, to explore what the Gospel of Christ offers our world today and to see how together we can be part of the Christ’s mission in this new world. A key aspect of this mission is to find the moral courage and strength to do ‘what we ought to do’ not just ‘what we can do.’
I have asked a number of people to prepare resources to help parishes mark Lent in the Sunday Masses and in the community, in order to foster deeper faith and moral courage. Lent is not just an individual act; it is something we do as a faith community.
Our resources can be used at local level so as to give parishioners a shared experience of growing in faith during Lent. The parish resources will be available every week on the diocesan website (www.dioceseofmeath.ie).
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)