ASIA/IRAQ - Patriarch Sako, message for Lent: in the time of fasting, may the Holy Spirit heal and protect our hearts from the darkness of the world

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Erbil (Agenzia Fides) - In the world that appears more and more "shrouded in darkness", this year again, the time of fasting and penance that the Church proposes before Easter comes to show our lives "a new horizon", and urges us to "Let the Holy Spirit change us inside, change our outlook and our way of living". This is what Iraqi Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Church, writes in the pastoral letter written and distributed for the start of Lent. A message that asks us to recognize and cherish the renewing power of fasting, as the Middle Eastern and global scenario is disrupted by war, terror and devastation.
Since man "turned his back on God his Creator", writes Patriarch Sako "his heart has hardened and this has happened. Since Cain killed his brother Abel, "evil persists in all its forms: violence, terrorism, war, murder, destruction, corruption, violation of human rights and disregard for legitimate aspirations. Today, the Cardinal continues - the situation is getting worse, "especially in our region". The world scene is turned upside down by devastating wars, "especially in the land of Jesus and in Ukraine". Everything breaks and upsets people's hearts, "their thoughts are distracted, anxious and afraid."

Lent, with its practices of fasting and penance, is a good time to implore “that man regains his image, created by God in his likeness.” A propitious time also to “confess our loathsome sins, abandon bad habits, uproot the roots of selfishness, indifference, hatred and violence”. During Lent it is easy to experience that only closeness to the Lord is the "way of our salvation." A path that we take while walking in fidelity to Christ. "With this trust and prayer - continues the Chaldean Patriarch, quoting Psalm 23 - we can say: 'If I were to walk in a dark valley, I would fear no evil, for you are with me'”. Only the closeness of Jesus can fill hearts with trust and allows us to face "evil behavior decisively, before disaster occurs". (GV) Agenzia Fides, 8/2/2024)