Archbishop Eamon Martin has launched a special web resource and a new Instagram initiative for Lent 2016 which begins tomorrow on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence. Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of His public ministry where He endured temptation.
Archbishop Martin said, “In his message for Lent 2016, which I encourage everyone to read, Pope Francis has invited the faithful to place a special emphasis on undertaking corporal and spiritual works of mercy as part of this Jubilee of Year Mercy because, as the Pope says, ‘God’s mercy transforms human hearts; it enables us, through the experience of a faithful love, to become merciful in turn. In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them.’ I also welcome Pope Francis’ invitation to the faithful to rediscover, during this season of Lent, the new life and joy of God’s mercy, which is to be found in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative in March will be a graced opportunity to receive the mercy of God in Confession during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
“For Lent 2016 we continue to provide online resources to assist in our spiritual preparations for the joy and hope which comes with the Easter season. I encourage everyone to visit and avail of our online resources and to consider taking part in our #lentwordsofmercy initiative on Instagram or on Twitter, and to consider being digital missionaries this Lent,” Archbishop Martin said.
Notes for Editors
· Archbishop Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh and Chair of the Communications Council of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Follow Archbishop Martin on Twitter @ArchbishopEamon. See www.catholicbishops.ie for the Lenten resources and for links to the #lentwordsofmercy initiative on Instagram.
The Catholic Bishops’ Lent Facebook page can be accessed at the following link https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lent/506371582805408
The Lenten resources available on catholicbishops.ie are:
o Pope Francis’ message for Lent on the theme “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee”.
o Lenten tweets from Pope Francis
o Lenten reflections which will be made available throughout Lent with the first one available for Ash Wednesday from Father Michael Drumm, chair of the Catholic Schools Partnership
o Prayers and Pastoral Letters for Lent
o Suggestions on observing Friday Penance during Lent
o Explanations of Lent and Lenten practices
o Events taking place in parishes and dioceses across Ireland during Lent
o Details of Trócaire’s Lenten Campaign for 2016.
· Lent is the most solemn season for the Catholic Church and it culminates in the high-point of our liturgical calendar: Easter Sunday. For the believer Lent is the time of preparation for Easter. Through prayer, penance (including participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation/Confession), acts of charity and self-denial we are called to renewal of our Christian life in preparation for Easter:
The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of His execution, are often observed. As well as giving something up it is becoming more common to take something up as well and this may include taking time to volunteer, or spending more time in prayer.
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. The faithful are asked 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.
Traditionally during Lent many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence, the money saved from this can be donated to charity, for example, contributing to the charity Trócaire box.
· The ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ is an initiative promoted especially by Pope Francis. This initiative will take place throughout the Church in Ireland, and throughout the world, on 4 and 5 March next during which the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) will be widely available over a continuous 24 hours period of time.
· The Corporal Works of Mercy are the following kind acts by which we help our neighbours with their material and physical needs:
feed the hungry
give drink to the thirsty
clothe the naked
shelter the homeless
visit the sick
visit the imprisoned
bury the dead
The Spiritual Works of Mercy are acts of compassion, as listed below, by which we help our neighbours with their emotional and spiritual needs:
counsel the doubtful
instruct the ignorant
comfort the afflicted
bear wrongs patiently
pray for the living and the dead
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444