02/22/2023, 10.52
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Lent, Card. Sako: 'Hope and solidarity'. Funds for earthquake in Turkey and Syria

In his message to the faithful, the cardinal recalls that fasting is an occasion "of searching", "repentance" and "orientation towards God". It does not only embrace a "material dimension", but has a "theological and spiritual" value. His thoughts turn to the Chaldeans in the diaspora, who have a "desperate need for awareness and belonging" to their land.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Fasting is a practical occasion "of seeking", a path traced out by Jesus Christ himself "of repentance, change, behaviour" and orientation "of life towards God," writes the Patriarch of Baghdad of the Chaldeans, Card. Louis Raphael Sako, in his message for Lent.

The Cardinal defines the period of prayer and abstention from meat as a time "of hope in the life of a Christian". Because fasting, he warns, "is not limited only to the material aspect", but also embraces the "theological and spiritual" dimension. 

His reflection, published on the Chaldean Patriarchate's website, recalls that "helping the poor is a sacred duty" especially in this historical phase characterised by a "world economic crisis" that inevitably also affects Iraq. Solidarity and sharing of suffering and difficulties is now more urgent than ever, he continued, "also in light of the terrible earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria" causing tens of thousands of deaths, destruction and displaced persons.

Hence the establishment of a "special fund" in every parish to help the people affected by the earthquake. 

Lent, Card. Sako, is made up of different elements ranging from prayer to meditation, from repentance to confession, to "reach the light of the resurrection and the joy of the feast" of Easter. Christian fasting, he adds, "is based on the fasting of Jesus" that prepares to "receive God in our lives" and this is "our hope". 

A quest that is also an "existential question", a time to "reject evil behaviour" and "adhere firmly to our faith and spirituality". "The practice of fasting," notes the patriarch, "abstaining from food, drink and marital relations for a period of time is an opportunity to adapt and control the evil instincts" inherent in every man.

It is a time for hope, especially at a time like the present when "we are witnessing the decline of religious and moral values also 'due to the rapid changes, the dominance of technology and the entry of the Internet into life'. Epochal changes that have, however, caused more than one "crack in the social structure", seeking gain, money and influence "for the sake of pleasure". 

Card. Sako then outlines some points that can be deepened during this Lenten period: the study of God's word, persevering in prayer that allows one to "enter into an affective relationship with God" because it is "inseparable" from love. Lastly, charity which is "love of the poor" and which finds maximum expression precisely in the time of fasting.

Another important passage, in the final part of the message, is reserved for the Chaldeans in the diaspora, who are in "desperate need of awareness and belonging" to their land, to their community, after "a period of indifference, dispersion and fragmentation".

The cardinal invites to resume and rebuild "our Christian, Chaldean and Catholic identity", pride in belonging to the nation and to live the faith according to the model offered "by our saints and martyrs". A return to the sources of faith that requires "a reading of our history and our spiritual and liturgical heritage", because the future is made up of the experiences and knowledge gained in the past.

Lastly, the cardinal launches an appeal "especially to priests and young people" to study "the history of the Chaldeans, the writings of the great theological and spiritual fathers" deepening the rites and language" and to the bishops the task of "encouraging and following them".

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