Lent in Indonesia: Life only changes if we are influenced by God
by Mathias Hariyadi

Many initiatives launched by the 37 dioceses in the country on Ash Wednesday. With the project "Development and fasting" the faithful donate surplus food and money in favor of those in need. Many dioceses launch prayer chains that will end in October. Renewal of family ministry: "The Christian home is the place of children’s education to charity."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Lent in Indonesia is always characterized by a renewed commitment to charity in favor of the last. This year,  the Episcopal Conference of the country (KWI) has launched in its 37 dioceses a program titled "Development and fasting" (Aksi Puasa Pembangunan, App) to address the hunger emergency and raise funds to provide basic necessities to the most poor.

 Msgr. Aksi Puasa Pembangunan, Archbishop of Palembang (South Sumatra), explains that every Catholic is called to have respect for human life, willed by God, and therefore "must seek the common good, both material and spiritual."

Archbishop  Antonius Subianto Bunjamin, bishop of Bandung (West Java), echoed these sentiments asking all Catholic congregations in his diocese for renunciation and fasting "with great enthusiasm and great commitment, to become better people. Through the works of charity, we become more compassionate people. Our lives can change and become more beautiful if we allow ourselves to be influenced by the power of God. "

Indonesian Catholics celebrated Ash Wednesday all over the country, and in the capital Jakarta, the diocese has organized masses not only in parishes but also in some main hubs of the metropolis, where the traffic is so intense as to not allow all the faithful of reach their church without taking a whole day off.

In the pastoral letters sent to parishioners at the beginning of Lent, the bishops and priests have stressed different aspects of pastoral care. The Carmelite Theologian Fr. Michael Agung Christiputro Batu (East Java), for example, proposed a chain of prayer to the Divine Mercy, which begins on February 25 and will last until October 20. Even in the parish of St. Christophorus Grogol in Jakarta, says Fr. John Purwanto, for 10 years there has been a tradition of the dawn novena.

Msgr. Joseph Herman Pandoyo Putro, bishop of Malang (East Java), focused instead on the role of the Christian family, "in which people learn from the early years the true meaning of life and its core Christian values . Young people who grow up in an atmosphere of love and mercy become mature adults, whose compassion is non-negotiable".

Msgr. Vincentius Sutikno Wisaksono, of the Diocese of Surabaya (East Java), wants the charity that characterizes the period of Lent to be taught to children in schools, "especially in this modern era where we have to understand how to use modern instruments as effective vehicles for the merciful face of God. "

For Msgr. Pius Riana Prabdi, Bishop of Ketapang (West Kalimantan), the Lenten message was an opportunity to renew commitment to following the message of "Laudato si" in a diocese, such as his, which is located on the island Borneo, one of the "lungs" of southeast Asia: "the Kalimantan is our common home, where we live together, and together we must preserve it. We must change our lifestyle and visit our sick brothers and sisters, so we will do good for the environment and the people who live there. "