03/11/2011, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Archbishop of Semarang: prayer and fasting, to live Lent of Our Lord

by Mathias Hariyadi
Msgr. Pujasumarta points out how the "40 days of fasting and self-denial" prepare us for the "high point in the history of salvation." To come to Christ we must go through Mary and the rosary. The prelate launches a proposal: writing our thoughts in a journal and sharing them with friends.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - In Lent, the faithful are invited to pray, contemplate and meditate so that "after 40 days of fasting and self-denial" they are "spiritually ready to enter the Holy Week" and profoundly experience "the high point of the history of salvation. " This is the invitation offered by Msgr. Johannes Pujasumarta Pr, Archbishop of Semarang, and immediately taken up in other dioceses, in a pastoral letter to the faithful for Easter 2011.

The initiative, says the archbishop is entitled "Through Mary to Jesus, 40 days of retreat" and calls on Catholics to apply the experience of Jesus in the desert in everyday life. Devotion to the Virgin Mary has a particular observance among Indonesian believers, through the recitation of the Rosary, the faithful can live the Lenten season in greater depth, awaiting the resurrection of Easter.

The bishop’s idea is “shocking” to majority of Catholics as they are not yet familiar with practicing spiritual exercises in the daily life. However, the bishop strongly hopes that such kind of habitual practice in fostering faith should be gradually exercised by the whole catholic community in the region. “We have 24 hours per diem, seven days per week and these long period are given to us. My point is the urgency to have a balance between spiritual and material needs in life”, says the prelate.

The Archbishop of Semarang, a port city on the island of Java, clarifies that it is not necessary to go to a monastery or in a particular building to pray, but simply find moments throughout the day to devote to prayer and the Rosary. "The Church – he comments - asks us to meditate on the spiritual history of the Salvation of God." Interviewed by AsiaNews, the bishop adds that "as good Catholics and the children of God" we must transform our life into a gift for others, but especially for those in need or living in situations of exclusion. " This requires not only participation in Sunday Mass and the Eucharist, but also the need to meditate on the life of Jesus and our life in the light of what is written in the Bible.

" Let the Words of God teach us and change our life while asking His blessing to ignite our will to do what the Lord has told us” - concludes Msgr. Pujasumarta.  Finally, he has also launched a proposal to put pen to paper to keep our thoughts and reflections in a journal to share the experience of faith with friends.
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