A man sits on a car during a flood 

By PA, Agenzia Fides

Mar 6 2024

PENANG – To make Lent “a fruitful and significant time”, “the Holy Spirit invites us to be where Jesus is, that is, to be with him in the desert, to pray with him “to face the temptation with him,” said the Bishop of Penang, Cardinal Sebastian Francis, in a message to the faithful.

Cardinal Francis pointed out that in 2024 the universal Church will celebrate the “Year of Prayer” proclaimed by the Pope in preparation for the Holy Year 2025, and therefore all believers are called to cultivate spiritual experiences of prayer and contemplation more consciously. “Following the call of the Holy Spirit means engaging in the repentance that frees us from sin and enables us to experience the joy of the Gospel,” he said.

The Lenten season, the Cardinal said in his message to the faithful, is “an opportune time for works of mercy and compassion”, actions that often unite the Catholic faithful with Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim believers and therefore the basis for a “dialogue of life” in Asia. “Fasting, prayer and penance are an integral part of Asian spirituality,” he said, noting that “many Asian peoples actively practice fasting and prayer as an important part of their spirituality and life.”

Meanwhile, in the Diocese of Penang, the Catholic community has also taken part in a special Lenten campaign launched by the diocese’s Caritas under the title “Together to rebuild our community and our common home”, and includes proposals for initiatives in which all local communities can participate.

“Lent invites us to reflect on the connection between our sins and the suffering in the world today: having accepted the love of Jesus, we can sincerely repent for change,” the campaign invitation says. “Our church goes to ruin when faith is missing, our community goes to ruin when no one cares about the poor, even our common home goes to ruin because of climate change and our throwaway culture,” said Caritas.

The aim is to raise awareness and commit associations, groups, communities and schools to “alleviate the suffering of some people in our society (migrants, orphans, poor, homeless, prisoners, flood victims…), to help them, to carry their cross and carry it in the Society of Jesus”.

Fr Joachim Robert, Director of Caritas Penang, notes: “Lent can be a wonderful time of reflection, to quiet our hearts, examine our conscience, live a simple life, the renewal that Christ gives us “to accept, to share bread, hope and joy with our fellow human beings”.

The Diocese of Penang has about 62,000 Catholics out of a total population of 7.2 million. – Agenzia Fides