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Pastoral Letter on Lent from His Eminence Cardinal Louis Raphaël I Sako
We are the Church of the Paschal Mystery, its history is that of martyrs and monks.
February 7, 2021
Next Sunday, February 14, 2021 (in practice Monday, 15) begins the time of the great fast in our Chaldean Church. This fast is an opportunity for each of us to rediscover in our daily life a space of inner freedom, despite our occupations and the upheavals implied by the coronavirus pandemic. This Lent should allow us to take more time for fasting, prayer, meditation on the word of God and the service of the poorest. It can pave the way for spiritual and social renewal, that is, reconciliation with ourselves and with society.
In all our Christian journey, and especially during this time before Easter, our priority is to put God at the center of our life, and to turn ourselves entirely to the mystery “of the death and resurrection of Christ” which is fundamental in our faith.
In the difficult circumstances we are going through, our faith in the paschal mystery leads us to see beyond what is seen. As Saint Paul says: “And our gaze is not attached to what is seen, but to what is not seen; what is seen is temporary, but what is not seen is eternal. »(2 Cor 4:18). The paschal mystery transports us from the darkness of suffering, fragility and death to the light of the resurrection and of life. He fills our hearts with consolation, joy and strength to move forward. It is a light that we welcome with fervor, that we follow with faith and that we bring to others with love and zeal, as Pope Francis recalled in his vows to the Eastern Churches on January 6, 2021, according to the Julian calendar. .
My dear brothers and sisters,
Christ knew pain, fatigue and death, but in the end he rose from the dead! He wants us to welcome this hope into our daily lives, through our participation in this paschal mystery, so that we can be resuscitated with him for eternal life.
Our Chaldean Church “the Church of the East” has not known outer glory. It has never been a state religion, put on a pedestal. It draws its beauty and richness from its spiritual and liturgical heritage and from its fidelity to the faith until martyrdom. Its history is that of martyrs and monks
Our Church today is spread all over the world: in Iraq, our historic homeland where we are citizens and not foreigners, in Iran, in Turkey, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Egypt, in the United States, in Canada, in Australia, New Zealand and Europe. We had to adapt to new cultures and languages, while maintaining the connection with our mother Church. We had to take up the challenge of unity in diversity, starting from the relationship with Christ the head and with the universal Church. ..Every Chaldean, wherever he is, must feel that the Chaldean Church is his identity and his home. There is its own mission, inspired by the rich spiritual heritage of our fathers. For this it is necessary that we support each other, each according to his vocation, and that we act with the spirit of one group, in order to overcome the difficulties and to experience in a deep way the joy of being in the Church, mystical body of Christ, and to participate in his life.
We, bishops and priests, have the duty to take care of the people of God entrusted to us, with complete fidelity and total dedication. We must assume our responsibilities to strengthen the faith and preserve our originality, going back to our specific roots, away from false heritage and stereotypical ideas. Let us have at heart to awaken hope in the heart of man through the active updating of the liturgy, preaching, catechesis and social justice.
Our faith in the resurrection fills us with joy, wonder, gives us the strength to purify our hearts, to come out of our confinement, our anxieties and our fears, and to live painful situations with hope, serenity and peace. The light of Easter encourages us to continue our mission, as our fathers have done throughout history. Let us remember what Jesus once said: “Do not be afraid”! He does not leave us alone; the light of his Easter will chase away the darkness and expand our horizons through new people we meet and unexpected events that will arise. Knowing how to welcome them requires great spiritual maturity on our part.
As for our homeland, Iraq, let us remember that we are involved in building its future. Iraqis have endured hardship and pain as a result of the political, economic, social and health crisis caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
he paschal mystery must set us in motion towards God and towards men. From this vision, Christians have an important role to play in strengthening brotherhood, engaging with other citizens to build a modern democratic civil state that ensures respect for law, enforcing justice and equality for all, regardless of the religious and ethnic affiliation of its citizens, a State which respects diversity and preserves unity, moving away from all sectarianism.
I took the Lord to fill all hearts and minds with his light, and to protect our Church and our country, so that they could enjoy peace, security and prosperity. May He end the global coronavirus pandemic, and heal all who have been infected with it. We also pray that the visit of Pope Francis will be a sensitive and concrete sign encouraging us to strengthen the common denominators of all Iraqis. May his coming stimulate fraternal solidarity, to achieve national reconciliation, peace, the protection of citizens’ lives, their rights and their dignity.