Pastoral Letter of H.B. Patriarch Louis Sako for Lent 2018
Translated by Bishop Francis Kalabat
Many Christians today live in a crisis of faith and intellect because of the circumstances of war, instability, migration and the dominance of social media on the details of their daily lives. However, these challenges should not discourage their determination and dissuade them from renewing their faith and deepening it, to witness the Lord and His Church. But rather to increase within them the strength, confidence and enthusiasm, such as the power that yeast gives in dough, salt in food and light in darkness.
Lent is one of our most important times of fasting. It is a time in which the faithful focus on “the fasting of Christ” and His passion, by cutting off, food and drink, illicit relations, discontinuing of evil of all kinds, working with great confidence, enthusiasm and perseverance to purge the self of its desires and ambitions, and practicing asceticism. It is also a time to focus on reading of the Scriptures, service of love and preparation for the celebration of Christ's resurrection from the dead. It is also an opportunity to thank God for his unconditional love and generous grace.
Our choices should be built as Christians, at all levels, according to the will of God, and out of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to move forward.
The Bible tells us that the Christian presence is based on Jesus' three answers in response to the three temptations at the end of his fasting, declaring the full liberation that Gospel brings to the three sectors of human life, making it the subject of living in the following parts of our lives:
– Possession: Economic Life
– Power and Life
The temptations of Jesus are the same temptations of all Christians, and therefore making our fast a strong spiritual time, we hope that our reflections and activities will be centered during the seven weeks of lent 2018 on the following:
- Fasting every day except for Sundays, attending daily Mass, praying continuously for peace and stability in Iraq and the region.
- Daily reading and meditation on the Bible, in which we hear the voice of God to lead us in our personal and collective life, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”.
- Doing acts of mercy. This service requires a courageous and generous initiatives to use . It sick. Our service to our needy brethren is the strongest expression of love: "Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). Keep in mind that every good deed done in love and compassion is poured into the heart of God. The prophet Isaiah does well to describe the true fast: “Is not this the fast that I choose: to lose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am." (Isaiah 58: 6-9)
- Fasting is time to live the mystery of forgiveness for ourselves and for others, which inevitably leads us to achieve reconciliation with ourselves and with our brothers. Much of the grief that afflicts our personal lives is caused by the lack of forgiveness.
- Stop criticizing the shortcomings of others with sarcasm and ill feeling. " Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7: 3), and especially the unjust criticism of the Church? It is necessary to distinguish between truth and rumors.
- The pursuit of the unity of Christians with open hearts and recognize to their existence as part of the national fabric of Iraq, and to stop their decline, for Christians have had a historical presence in this country where they have a role and a message.
- To establish a Christian-Islamic co-existence with the true love that Christ taught us. We must assume our responsibilities through sincere dialogue, wisdom and vision, to be effective models of coexistence in achieving peace, stability, freedom and dignity for all. This peace will be achieved by political victory, administrative reform, and the economic revival that protects public money from theft.
I therefore encourage Christians to be active and influential in their serious participation in the upcoming elections and in choosing the most appropriate and the best change and reform.
May God bless and accept our fasting