Bishops ask faithful to offer Lenten prayer and fasting for healing and renewal of the Church in Ireland
As Lent begins tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, the Bishops of Ireland have asked the faithful to offer up their fasting, prayer, reading of Scripture and works of mercy* during Lent 2012 for the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. Drawing particular attention to the “concrete initiatives” proposed by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in paragraph 14 of his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland of March 2010, the bishops specifically encouraged the faithful:
• to discover anew and to avail more frequently of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession);
• to organise periods of Eucharistic adoration in parishes;
• through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord in the Eucharist “make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm”;
• to renew their practice of Friday Penance by undertaking some of the following:
– abstain from meat or some other food
– make a special effort to participate in Mass on Fridays (in addition to Sunday)
– make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament
– abstain from alcoholic drink or smoking
– make a special effort to spend time together in family prayer
– make the Stations of the Cross
– fast from all food for a longer period than usual and give what is saved to the needy
– help someone who is sick, old or lonely.
Bishops asked that the faithful to use Lent as a special time “to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church” in Ireland, as part of the spiritual preparation for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which will take place in Dublin between the 10 – 17 June next.
Notes for Editors
• The Catechism of the Catholic Church states (n.2447): “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God” (cf. James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17).
• Penance is an essential part of the lives of all Christ’s faithful. It arises from the Lord’s call to conversation and repentance, Christians do penance: in memory of the Passion and death of our Lord; as a sharing in Christ’s suffering; as an expression of inner conversion; as a form of reparation for sin. See Friday Penance leaflet on www.catholicbishops.ie.
• This Standing Committee of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference met in Maynooth this week.
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444