In a message to the faithful, the prelate urges his flock to “overcome with courage" the tendency to see themselves as a "minority". This is a time to help one’s needy fellow human beings, enhancing the spirituality of a Church that is mystical and oriented towards martyrdom. The Patriarchate is providing 50,000 dollars for the poor. Collections are taking place in all of Baghdad parishes.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Chaldean primate, Card Louis Raphael Sako, released a message to the faithful for Lent. In it he urges Christians to "maintain their Iraqi identity" and “overcome with courage" the tendency to see themselves as a "minority". They must go beyond "fears and dependence to enhance their permanence" in the country whilst patiently building "ties with Muslims, Yazidis and Sabeans".
In his message the prelate sent to AsiaNews he highlights the "Christian contribution to the construction of a more peaceful, stable, just and secure society". For Lent, the Chaldean primate notes "the commitment to faith, humanity and patriotism" to which Christians are called as Iraqi citizens.
"Fasting is a time dedicated to prayer, repentance and needed changes" to boost "thoughts, behaviours and relationships". For the Iraqi cardinal it is essential that this period be used to "help our needy brothers: the sick, the hungry, the thirsty, those who are naked and abandoned".
This year, Baghdad churches will set up a collection box for Lent, where "people can give what they can. As it did at Christmas, the Patriarchate will donate US$ 50,000."
In his message Card Sako stresses the spirituality of the Chaldean Church, which is "mystical, oriented towards martyrdom, strongly attached to the country." The tragedy and suffering of Christians can be counted: 1,225 Christians killed in various acts of violence in Iraq and one million exiles.
About 120,000 people from Mosul and the Nineveh plain lived for more than three years in refugee camps in dire conditions (with no help from the central government). In all, 58 churches and many mosques were bombed or destroyed; about 23,000 Christian, Yazidi and Sabean properties were seized by local organised crime groups.
"Fasting is not just taking a break from food," but extends to not doing “bad things, especially through words, such as slandering or saying something disgraceful about others."
Being a Christian "is a privilege, a grace that God has bestowed upon us". It must be experienced "with enthusiasm and joy" in order to enhance "a culture of love and a civilisation of peace that enriches the society in which we live."
For the prelate, abstaining from food "is a great opportunity to deepen our faith through prayers and meditations about the Bible.”
“To help needy brothers, I suggest donating food, beverages and medicine for the sick; helping young people in their studies, or rebuilding a school in one of the cities destroyed by Daesh", i.e. the Islamic State group.