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Lenten Message 2019, By: Archbishop Nashenda OMI

Dear brothers and sisters

Greetings and blessings of the Lenten season. “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf.Pope Francis Homily, 8 January 2016).”

Dear friends, it is this time of the year again whereby, we the people of God and people of good will are given the opportunity to introspect ourselves in the spirit of self-mortification, acknowledging our frailty and weaknesses in this earthly life. This is the time whereby every human person most especially the Christians are called to participate in the pascal mysteries of Christ our saviour, that is the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. It is the time that we die to our sins so as to gain newness of life in Jesus Christ. We are called during this time to observe the three important and fundamental pillars of this season, namely; to fast, to pray and to give alms.

It is indeed the preparation time, time to check on our spiritual life in relation to those three pillars. Do we live our lives in relation to the Trinity and in the spirit of the season? This is the time to seek the Lord, and to feel his nearness to us. It is the time to walk with him during this 40 days. During this season of Lent we are called to cultivate our relationship with God and with our neighbours. We are called to soften our hearts and let the spirit of God penetrate and take possession of us, in order for it to reveal to us our vulnerabilities. In doing so fellow Christians, we will be able to amend our ways and merge them into Christ’s way.
While meditating on the paschal mysteries of Christ and observing the three pillars I have mentioned above, we are also called during this time to forgive each other, to reconcile with our brothers and sisters and accept them as our fellow human beings who share in the same salvation history brought to us by the divine plan of God. In this way we are repenting from our wrong-doings and vices and are ready to acquire the newness of life. We must not forget fellow Christians, that all these can only be made manifest in our lives through the working of the Holy Spirit who is our consoler, advocate and paraclete.

To those of us who think, it’s all well with us, we do not need the involvement of the Trinity, this is the ample time that we realize our ignorance and recognize the presence of Christ who is knocking every day at the doors of our hearts. This is the time to open our “doors.” If we do so, it will of course brings a lot of happiness and joys in our lives. I say to you brothers and sisters that, this is the time to come to our senses and tell ourselves that we cannot do anything without the help of the Trinity. This is the time to maintain our relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This maintenance is done through our daily engagements with the Lord, be it our prayer life, our relationship with our neighbours, our works of charity among fellow human beings and so forth and so on. In doing those little gestures, we are actually manifesting the love of Christ among his people. We are contributing to the building of God’s kingdom here on earth.

My dear friends, let me also remind you that this Lenten Season is also the moment of embracing God’s creation for we share the common home. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our sister, mother earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colourful flowers and herbs (Laudato Si Para.1) Paying respect to mother nature will always draw us closer to God, the author of creation, who is seen in the wonders of his created beings. “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share,” (Laudato Si, 13). What I want to emphasis here fellow Christians is, we have to respect and protect our nature which was given to us by the loving Lord to live on it and to preserve it within the framework of God, for example planting more trees then cutting them down.

Furthermore, fellow Christians, in order to have a wonderful faith experience during the Lenten Season, we have to engage ourselves to the tangible activities of our life, “So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead,” (James 2:17). In our Diocese we have adopted the five years strategic plan, themed, “Marriage Preparation and Family life,” during this time of lent we are called again and again to walk with those families that are experiencing myriad of difficulties in their family life. We have to find mechanisms that will bring about forgiveness, peace, love and harmony into the families. We have an obligation to pray for each family to have the spirit of reconciliation and embrace each other in the spirit of fraternal love. This is the duty of every Christian and this is our baptismal call. Drawing attention to the same theme, in our own parishes, some parochial arrangements can be made to address the needs of our families. We have to remember that it is in the families that all of us are being fashioned and made true humans and true Christ-like. Therefore we start in the families encouraging the family members to reflect the true sign of Christ and live a life worthy of God. As families we are called to promote unity, peace and justice in our surroundings and indeed extend these qualities beyond. “”It is by granting and receiving forgiveness that the traumatized memories of individuals and communities have found healing and families formerly divided have rediscovered harmony,” (AM 21).

We are challenged by the changing society. We have noticed that our society has moved away from what is truly human, -that is, living in the spirit of altruism-, to the spirit of egoism (self-centered). The vices of greediness, selfishness, corruption, hatred have crept in and are harming our society. In this situation fellow Christians, we have to act prophetically, just to make sure that these vices that put our society at risk are minimized and new way of life is created, a life of sharing, of hope, of equality, of accountability, of stewardship, of transparency, of love, of forgiveness, of mutual caring and so forth. Pope Francis reminds us that, “The world tells us to seek success, power and money; God tells us to seek humility, service and love (2015). This is what we are urged by the church to do during this Lenten season.

We have to remember dear friends, that during this time of Lent the church continue to remind us that we are all called to be holy, “ So be perfect , just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48), and we are all called to that “universal call to holiness, as it is emphasized in the Papal Dogmatic Constitution on Church- Lumen Gentium (Pope Paul VI, Nov 1964), which is one of the principal document of Second Vatican Council. This is the time dear fellow Christians and people of good will to come closer to the Trinity asking to purify us and make us new creatures, the creatures who are ready and prepared to share in the mysteries of Christ here on earth and to witness to the wonderful gospel of Christ for the salvation of all.
Lastly dear friends, I sincerely would like to wish you a meditative, faith filled Lenten Season, and a season filled with Christ’s love, who through that same love has sacrificed his life to reconcile us to the Father.
Happy Lenten Season to everyone and Happy Easter in advance.

+Archbishop Nashenda

Archbishop of Windhoek , Namibia

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