03/07/2019, 18.59
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Mgr Pizzaballa calls for giving, praying and sharing to brave the 'Lenten desert'

In his message for Lent, the apostolic administrator of Jerusalem calls on the faithful to face the "aridity" of their lives and activities, including pastoral ones. The answer is fasting "from selfishness, from individualism and mistrust". Praying is important in parishes and for reconciliation. The Eucharist is not a ritual, but a school where to learn love.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, issued a message for Lent.

In it, he noted that the period before Easter is a privileged time to "brave the desert" and face "the aridity of our lives and activities, sometimes even pastoral [ones], without yielding to the shortcuts of the miracle, compromise, mistrust, or worse, sin, but sharing the trust and hope of Jesus in the love of the Father and in the beauty of the Kingdom.”

“Christ in the desert, in temptation, in discouragement, in mistrust, has poured out the promised Spirit to whoever, like Him, trusts and entrusts himself to the Word of God.” Indeed, “an Easter exodus from death to life, from slavery to freedom, from mistrust to hope also exists for us.”

At a time in which “our Church, in our communities, [are] so tested, at times so similar to the Lenten desert,” the answer is to “fast from selfishness, from individualism and mistrust”.

Addressing Christians living in the Holy Land, he urges them to welcome "the poor and the needy" at a time when walls are built and migration is seen as a threat.

"[I]n our lives, then, thus freed from any false security, [. . .] available to the gift and sharing, we can make flourish the fruitfulness of Easter, which is life that is born from the offering of oneself."

The 53-year-old Italian-born prelate has worked in the Holy Land since 1999. In May 2004, he was elected Custos of the Holy Land. On 22 March 2010, he was re-elected and re-confirmed for a further three-year period in 2013. His mandate ended in April 2016.

A month later he was appointed apostolic administrator sede vacante of the Latin Patriarchate of the Latins, following the resignation of Patriarch Fouad Twal due to age limit.

For Lent, Mgr Pizzaballa calls on the faithful to return to "pray in our parishes", listen to "God before ourselves" and celebrate "with faith and conviction the sacrament of reconciliation".

Similarly, he urges Catholics to go back to "fasting in our life", i.e. "renouncing what fills the belly but does not satisfy the heart, go back to the Eucharist [. . .] not as a ritual but as a school” to learn “that only love, received and shared, really satisfies".

Faced with closemindedness and selfishness, it is essential for the prelate to "donate, rather than to accumulate" as Pope Francis always says “because not ‘I’ but others and their salvation are the reason for our existence and our actions as Christians and consecrated persons.”

Renewing the invitation to pray for the Church of the Holy Land and its pastors, Mgr Pizzaballa ends his message by noting that "in these days it will be Christ Himself who enters our deserts, experiences our temptations".

"In these moments so difficult for the Church and for the world, when the test of our faith and our hope seems to be getting heavier, I feel, for me and our Diocese, the strong need to turn our gaze to the Lord”.

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