02/09/2005, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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The evocative power of Mel Gibson's 'The Passion' helps us to experience Lent, says Archbishop Capal

For the top Filipino Bishop, The Passion of the Christ is a powerful help in evoking the sorrow caused by sin.

Manila (AsiaNews) – Lent's penitential practices must help Catholics "realise the malice of sin in order to repent and to evoke sorrow that leads to confession", writes Mgr Fernando Capalla, Archbishop of Davao and President of  Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, in his Lent message.

For the Archbishop, Lent can have two effects on people: it can transform their lives and it can renew society. Both, however, depend on a reawakening that comes from repentance.

To reach this point, one must go through the traditional steps of the Via Crucis as well as intense prayer and scriptural meditations, self-denial and mortification, fasting and abstinence, sacramental confession, recollection and retreats.

But one can also view again Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Even though it is but "human shadow of Christ's suffering," the motion picture, Archbishop Capalla writes, is a "powerful help to evoke the sorrow" caused by sin and lead us to the sacrament of confession.

The time leading up to Easter, the prelate explains, must lead us to "experience God's mercy and forgiveness".

"Our sins have been embraced by our Lord in His suffering Body. And even if sin has brought Him to death, He has overcome it by rising again to new life."

Only embracing the example of Jesus are we able to forgo the "many comforts and privileges that have weakened our spirit" and "prefer God above everything and everyone else." Hence, we "become Christ-like; a new creation [. . .].

"This is what Easter means. This is what Lent must bring about". (LF)

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