Bkerké (Agenzia Fides) - Since ancient times, the practice of fasting has been used to "repent" and "seek divine mercy in times of difficulties such as disease, epidemics, injustice, persecution and wars". The current situation, severely marked by the effects of the pandemic, "urges us all to atone for our sins and the evils of the world and to ask God to be merciful to us and all humanity", said Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai in an invitation to the practices of penance during the upcoming Lent.
In the Maronite church year, Lent begins on February 15th this year. "Sins", said the Maronite Patriarch, "have multiplied in a world of no regrets. Evil is spreading, just like the Covid-19 pandemic that is spreading around the world".
In his message, Patriarch Bechara Rai recalls the events in the Bible, in which the penitential practice of fasting is always associated to experiences of liberation from the yoke of oppression, from dangers or wounds that make people suffer. Fasting - adds the Lebanese Cardinal - "does not in itself have a magical value", and reaches the heart of God only if it expresses sincere faith and is accompanied by sincere prayer and charity towards those in need. "With our alms", says the patriarch's message "we restore the relationship with our brothers and sisters most in need, giving them back what is due to them, because 'the goods of the earth are created by God for all human beings'". With prayer, we ask God "his forgiveness and his mercy" and the grace to "support our good intentions". Church custom - added the Maronite Patriarch - provides that with what one saves through fasting helps those brothers and sisters in need. In this context, the Patriarch thanked "all those who take individual or collective initiatives, those who participate in the campaigns promoted by Caritas-Lebanon, the Red Cross and other charitable organizations and associations, and also by parishes and foundations".
"We ask God, through the intercession of our Mother, the Virgin Mary" writes the Maronite Patriarch at the end of his letter "to accept our fasting and to heal those affected by the Covid-19 epidemic and to end the pandemic with the power of his resurrection". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 13/2/2021)