Bishop Cornelius Piong’s Pastoral Letter: Lenten Message

The 40-day Lenten period is a tradition of the Catholic Church to prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter, after His Passion and Death on the Cross.

Feb 20, 2021

Brothers and sisters in Christ, even in this time of the MCO due to the COVID-19 pandemic, let us remain confident that Jesus is always compassionate and is with us. We have entered the season of Lent on February 17 by observing Ash Wednesday. The 40-day Lenten period is a tradition of the Catholic Church to prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter, after His Passion and Death on the Cross.

For us Catholics, the Lenten season is an opportunity to examine and reconcile with God our Creator, with our neighbours and with the creation of God. By accepting ash, the symbol of repentance, we receive the words, “remember, you are dust and will return to dust”.

Throughout Lent we are reminded of who we are in the presence of Jesus so that we never forget but are always proud of our Christian iden tity, committed to our mission and confident in our choice to follow and serve Jesus, the Truth, the Way and the Life (John 14: 6). Let us use this Lenten Season to examine and readjust our attitudes and motives in our relationship with God, with other people and God’s creation through Prayer, Almsgiving and Fasting.

During Lent, let us take the opportunity to make some time for personal recollection or retreat, or by attending family and community retreats and also spending time to pray that we may always live in unity, faithfulness and holiness with Jesus in facing the challenges of faith every day (John 15: 4-5).

The Lenten season is an opportunity for us to be more aware of our responsibility for the needs of others through the alms we give. Jesus Himself said “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least  of these, you did not do it to me.” (Matt. 25: 40 - 45).

The season of Lent is also an opportunity for us as followers and disciples of Jesus to practise fasting so that we can train ourselves to always be able to choose and favour the will of Jesus and not be slaves to our own will alone. Spiritual fasting is not limited to eating and drinking but we should also fast from desires, appetites and irregular use  of the senses. We should practise fasting from selfishness and lack of  enthusiasm for sacrifice, to choose and serve what is right and true for God, our neighbours and God’s creation.

Lent is an opportunity for the Catechumens to prepare themselves by reflecting and refining their motives for becoming followers of Jesus. A catechumen must leave a lifestyle that is contrary to God’s will in order to be assisted, taught and given wisdom by the Holy Spirit throughout their journey of faith.

For us who have received the Sacrament of Baptism, Lent is an opportunity to examine the extent of our obedience to our Baptismal promises to Jesus and His Church. We are given the opportunity to repent through the Sacrament of Confession, and at Easter, we renew and reinforce our Baptismal Promises.

Let us all become immersed in  God during this season of Lent by coming to Jesus, listening to His Word and doing His will so that we will be strengthened in a culture of worshiping God, strengthening faith and social responsibility. Our journey in building faith is based on these three pillars and will help us to be formed into a Community of God’s People who are committed and effective in serving His kingdom.

By appreciating the Lenten Season we will be encouraged to be a people who are always proud of our Christian identity, committed to our mission and confident in our choices - Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the destination of our lives.

+ Rt Rev Datuk Cornelius Piong
Bishop of Keningau Diocese
February 16, 2021

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