ASIA/CHINA - Spirituality, concrete abstinence, conversion, pandemic: the Bishops' Lenten recommendations to accompany the synodal journey of the communities

Wednesday, 9 March 2022 lent   local churches   bishops  

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - "I sincerely hope that the reading of the Word of God, the recitation of the Rosary and the Way of the Cross will be more and more widespread in families and communities", recommended in his Pastoral Letter for Lent , Msgr. Joseph Li Shan, Archbishop of Beijing. He also asked the faithful for an abstinence that is not only formal, but linked to concrete life, that is to say "abstinence from speech, eyes, ears, internet, bad temper and negative temperament". In his pastoral letter titled "Living Lent with Prayer, Fasting and Charity", Bishop Li reminds the faithful that Lent is the time to "renew our relationship with God, with ourselves and with others". As the world tries to overcome the severe crisis of the pandemic and its negative consequences, "we need even more the power of faith". He therefore encourages all families to pray together, because "the family that prays together, stays together" as the Holy Father Francis teaches us in "Amoris laetitia". He then invited people to get used to "reading one or two verses of the Gospel every day", to "always have the Bible in our hands, in our pockets, on our mobile phones". As far as abstinence is concerned, "canonical abstinence" or "diet" is not enough to keep fit, but it must mean "leaving more space in our hearts, letting ourselves be filled by grace and the strength of Christ, in order to control our egocentrism, to avoid sins and to practice charity". And "this charity, starting from the family, extends to the neighbour, to the community and to society", thus continuing the synodal path with the universal Church. Finally, Bishop Li also underlined the commitment in this liturgical time to "accompany catechumens to live a life of holiness, incarnating the image of Jesus Christ", only in this way "our joy will be complete" (Cf. Jn 16, 24 ). As every year, several Chinese diocesan bishops have shown their faithful the Lenten journey, drawing inspiration from the message of Pope Francis for this liturgical season, in the spirit of the synodal journey that the whole Church lives. "Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all" (Gal 6: 9-10a), writes the Holy Father.
The Archbishop of Guangzhou, Msgr. Joseph Gan Junqiu, urged the faithful to "reconcile with the Lord", as he wrote in his Lenten pastoral letter entitled "Produce therefore fruits worthy of conversion" (Mt 3: 8). The new Bishop of Hong Kong, Jesuit Bishop Stephen Chow Sau Yan, shared his deep concern over the pandemic situation on the island with a father's heart in a message titled: "Blessings Under the Pandemic - Loving Beyond Ourselves Through Adversity". He exhorted everyone to "raise our small self to the big self, which is the common good", which "embraces the elderly, the sick, the weak and the poor ...". With this in mind, he wrote: "We do not know when this pandemic will be over. Nevertheless, we can do our best to do good and introduce the love of God to more sectors in Hong Kong, especially those who are neglected or vulnerable… Let us not underestimate the power of prayers. And let us not lose hope in the efforts of the Holy Spirit through us". (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 9/3/2022)