The bishop of the Algarve states in his Lenten message this year, released this Wednesday, that "celebrating and living Lent in a time of pandemic" can help "understand the importance of spirituality" and "appreciation of its contribution as support personal and family in daily life”, especially in “situations difficult to explain and to accept”.
“This year, due to the circumstances we are experiencing, we have the feeling that Lent is anticipated, this time of confinement has been so demanding, such an atypical time in which we feel constrained, for the good of all, to assume the deprivation of in-person participation in the Sunday Eucharist and other public celebrations», writes D. Manuel Quintas.
In the message, entitled “Celebrating and living Lent in a time of pandemic”, the diocesan bishop enumerates the constraints that are experienced, “disturbing situations, generating anxiety and insecurity, increasing the lack of hope and impatience” for personal and with others , even with the «closest».
D. Manuel Quintas recalls that "the reason for Lent, the essential end of this path" that Christians are called to take, is the "celebration of Easter, with the certainty that the light that springs from the Risen Christ is already present" to the over him. “We want this light to illuminate our lives, especially the most obscure situations, namely those caused by this pandemic”, he continues.
"We want to know better and correct what in us does not reflect our condition as baptized and disciples of Christ, preventing our identification with Him," he adds, adding that "the renewal of baptismal promises on Easter Day, as the culmination of the journey Lent will correspond to a true spiritual rebirth».
The Bishop of Algarve recalls that, along this path, Christians are "guided and strengthened by the Word of God, which, both in the Sunday liturgy and in the fair", presents "various proposals".
“The first invitation we heard, right in the rite of laying on of ashes, summarizes the meaning of this journey: repent and believe in the Gospel (Mk 1,15:2),” he maintains, adding that “in repentance and personal conversion it is always implicit believing in the Gospel, believing in Christ, becoming his disciple, accepting to be brother and sister to everyone, with all that this means, even in the most diverse and adverse situations in life" and "the invitation to reconciliation is always implicit ( cf. 5,20 Cor XNUMX:XNUMX) with God and with everyone».
D. Manuel Quintas also recalls that "to progress, unabated, on the path of response" to that double imperative, there are "opportune means" that "strengthen" and "help to measure the truth" of personal conversion: almsgiving, prayer and fast.
“The discreet, selfless and generous alms that is made concrete in fraternal sharing and in the gift of oneself; sincere, silent and trusting prayer, which makes it possible to give more space to the presence of God and others in one's own life; fasting, equally discreet and simple, which is much more than depriving yourself of food», specific.
The bishop of Algarve states that the "impossibility of celebrating Sunday, with the participation in person in the Eucharist and other Lenten celebrations", should lead to "giving more space to prayerful listening to the Word of God".
«On a personal level and even better as a family and domestic Church, Lent, celebrated and lived in a time of confinement, can be an opportunity to sit at the table of the Word and «recognise that it is Christ who makes himself present and addresses us to to be welcomed,” he writes, quoting the post-synodal apostolic exhortation 'Verbum Domini' of Pope Benedict XVI.
D. Manuel Quintas also indicates that the fate of the Lenten resignations of the Algarve's Christians this year is for Cáritas of the Diocese of the Algarve to meet the growing requests for help that come to it.
Lent is a 40-day time that begins with the celebration of Ashes (this year on February 17th), marked by calls for fasting, sharing and penance, which serves as a preparation for Easter, the main feast of the Christian calendar, next April 4th.