ASIA/CHINA - Start of Lent, praying for the Pope's intentions

Wednesday, 22 February 2023 local churches   lent   penance   fasting   prayer   charity  

Beijing (Agenzia Fides) - "We must seize the opportunity of Lent to return to the Our Father". This is the encouragement addressed this year to the Catholics of the Archdiocese of Guangzhou by Archbishop joseph Gan Junqiu, in the pastoral letter which he distributed at the beginning of the Lenten journey and entitled "Be faithful" (Sir 15:15). In the Letter, drawing inspiration from some biblical passages taken from the Book of Sirach, the Bishop of Guangzhou shows how in the Christian experience fidelity and perseverance are born of faith and are possible when one recognizes that one is more secure when one entrusts everything to the Lord. As a model of fidelity, Bishop Gan again outlined the figure of Saint Joseph, exalting him in contrast with the story of the inconstant Herod, who had John the Baptist killed only to reject Herodias' wicked request.

In his Lenten Letter, the Bishop of Guangzhou also called on the baptized to live the Lenten season by bringing with them the many questions that arose in their hearts during the most virulent phases of the pandemic contagion. During the Lenten season, by emphasizing the practices of prayer, penance, fasting and charity, usually linked to the Lenten season, one can experience "God's fidelity towards us". And if God is faithful, if his choice is without repentance – underlines the Bishop, quoting Pope Francis at length - "our hope in Him is never in vain, because God will never let anyone down".

Along with the Archdiocese of Guangzhou, other Catholic dioceses and communities are also experiencing the start of the "strong season" of Lent. In the parishes, which are open and no longer penalized due to Covid, Ash Wednesday liturgies were celebrated. In its Pastoral Guide for Lent 2023, the diocese of Shantou urges the faithful to be "artisans of communion in the ordinary life of our communities".
The handbook takes up large excerpts from Pope Francis' Message for Lent 2023. Furthermore, by responding to the Pope's requests and prayers, the Chinese dioceses invite everyone to pray for some special intentions, including world peace, the earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey, people suffering from the pandemic and all natural disasters.
Furthermore, at the beginning of Lent, the churches prayed for the peace of the nation and the people, social harmony and the progress of the nation; for diocesan religious vocations, both for men and women. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 22/2/2023)