Bishops launch ‘Repent and Believe the Good News’
‘The summons to repentance is a constant feature of Christ’s preaching and it cannot be confined to certain days or seasons; the need for repentance needs to be heard “in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4: 2).’ – Cardinal Seán Brady
An important part of Lent for followers of Jesus Christ is the practice of repentance. In fact Lent is a special period of time set aside for us to intensify and concentrate on the call to repentance that is at the start of our response to Christ. In the Gospel of St Mark, the first statement spoken by Jesus says ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe the good news’ (Mk 1:15).
Today, the Bishops have launched a message ‘Repent and Believe the Good News’ to call to mind the central place of repentance in the lives of all of us. This message builds upon the summons to renewal that Pope Benedict XVI has given to us in Ireland in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and also last week in the publication of the Summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland.
In their message the bishops explain: “The word ‘repentance’ means seeking forgiveness for our sins, but, more than that, it involves transforming our attitudes and our lives. The New Testament word, metanoia, means a profound change of outlook. Repentance or penance is not a question of inflicting pain or hardship on ourselves for its own sake. Penance – fasting, prayer, works of mercy, giving to those who are in need and so on – is done ‘because the kingdom of God has come near’; we repent in order to ‘believe in the good news’. It is a change of outlook that allows us to see more clearly what God is doing in us and for us.”
Commenting on the pastoral message Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland said: ‘I welcome this Message Repent and Believe the Good News which arrives as we prepare for Holy Week and Easter. However, the summons to repentance is a constant feature of Christ’s preaching and it cannot be confined to certain days or seasons; the need for repentance needs to be heard “in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4: 2). Indeed, the Holy Father in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland underlined the place of repentance in the lives of all Christians. This was reiterated in the Summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation last week which offered further indications along the path of “healing, reparation and renewal”.
“The task for us in Ireland is the permanent task of the Christian – to resist the temptation to put convenience, celebrity, domination, blindness, dishonesty, pride, or any other ambition or craving or comfort in the place of God. It is a demanding path but it is the path that leads to the truth which sets us free. It is the only path to a real renewal of ourselves, our country, our Church.’ Repentance and penance help us to strip away what is unimportant in our lives and focus on our dependency on God and our need for his strength.
“As we focus on the forthcoming International Eucharistic Congress, I commend Repent and Believe the Good News to everyone as we continue our journey of faith. I echo the statement of the Bishops’ Conference following the Spring General Meeting in inviting people to use Holy Week and Easter to prepare personally for the Eucharistic Congress by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to renew the practice of making the Sign of the Cross as they pass a Church in acknowledgement of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.”
The full text of the Pastoral Message is available on the Bishops’ Conference website – www.catholicbishops.ie and social media pages. It has also been circulated to dioceses and parishes so as they in turn can make it available electronically and in hard copy in churches around the country.
Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444