Once again, God has given us the privilege to be part of this year's special Seaon of Lent, beginning with Ash Wednessday. This is a period of penance, prayer, fasting and a period for the grace of God on us.
2020 LENTEN MESSAGE
2020 Lenten Message of His Grace, Most Rev. Valerian M. Okeke
Prophet Joel in our reading today asked us: Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” God has given us the privilege to be part of this year’s Lenten Season, beginning with Ash Wednesday. This is a period of penance, a period of fasting and a period for the grace of God on us. What do you want in this period of Lent? What do you want? What are you praying for? What are your plans for this lent? We know that when we fail to plan, we have planned to fail.
As this lent begins, I propose that we sit down today, tomorrow and next, and write down what we really want to do during this Lenten season. What needs are you praying for? What do you pray God to forgive you? What do you pray God to do for you and what could you do for God? It is not all about what not to do, but what do we intend to do also. Christ has told us in His sermon on the mount, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Do you intend to pray for those who are persecuting you?
This year, I propose that you pray intensively because nothing is impossible with God. We have not explored the powers of prayer. Sometimes we begin the lent and end the lent, and nothing more. You go to mass every day, you say the rosary every day, you go for confessions, the lent begins and ends and that is that. Nothing different from other seasons. But we need to sit down and ask ourselves: what are those attitudes, those bad habits that we want to conquer? Pray for the grace to conquer them and then take steps, decide on what and what to do to conquer such habits. Avoid occasions of sins. You cannot be praying to stop sinning and you are multiplying the occasions of sins. You must be taking some actions towards realizing what you want to do.
May we reflect within ourselves and ask ourselves on what we want to do this Lenten Season and pray God to help us. Then, what also would I want God to do for me? All those things you would want to do, pray God to help you to do them well, pray over them and work towards realizing them. Do penance also for them. Deny yourself something. If there is something you like so much, you can deny yourself of that thing. It is not only the bad things that you will avoid, but you can also deny yourself of some good things for the sake of your closer relationship with God. By doing such penance, you are conquering concupiscence of sin, raising up your mind and heart towards God, and gaining the strength for goodness and corresponding good works.
We ask God to give us the necessary graces, and may God help and assist us throughout this Lenten Season, so that this year’s Lenten Period would to be maximally beneficial to us, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Given in Onitsha, at the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, on the 26th day of February 2020 (Ash Wednesday).