By Emmanuel Badejo,Catholic Bishop of Oyo
Everybody talks about Lent. Few however take it seriously. Dear people of God, I urge you to be among those who will live an intense Lenten period this year. Our country needs repentance and renewal, our Church needs it. Even as individuals we need it. And, who knows, it might be the last one for you before the heavenly Alleluia (Matthew 24:44).
As human beings we need guidelines every time in order to do things well together. This is in every area of life, school, hospitals celebrations etc..guidelines help to keep us on track Lent is no different. The Church, the community of Godâ€™s people, to whom God entrusted his word and his son, not the television, radio, newspaper or the roadside preacher, is yourÂ best guide.Â Follow the voice of the Church. Some of the following hints will help you experience Lent fruitfully:
1. Return to the Ten Commandments of God, learn them well and struggle to adjust your life to them. (Ex. 20:1ff). We may get a constitutional review soon but there will never be a review of the Ten Commandments.
2. Learn the seven commandments of the Church and be faithful to them. They are meant to help you come closer to God as a member of his catholic family.
3. Take seriously all the devotions, and prayers of this period, especially the Stations of the Cross. It is your identity with the Master.
4. Go to Mass, go to confession and make reparations for yours and the sins of others by almsgiving and self denial (Isaiah 1:18ff). Fasting is highly recommended for all who are healthy between the ages of 16 and 60. Do not force children to fast.Â It should be a voluntary exercise. If you are unwell do not fats by force. Fasting is not a hunger strike nor is it a slimming strategy. Fast in the way that pleases God, right in your heart and deeds (Isaiah 58:1ff).
5. Reconcile with your offenders and promote peace at all times. Our Lord is the Prince of Peace (Matthew 18:15ff).
6. Visit the sick the aged, the prisoners, helping with the work of the Legion of Mary, St Vincent de Paul societies and the Justice and Peace commissionÂ around you, playing your part in establishing truth and justice in your own little way (John 8:32).
7. Read, study and pray the Bible individually and with others.
8. Pray for priests in this Special Year for Priests, support them financially and help out in the work of evangelization. Prepare in a special way for this yearâ€™s Chrism Mass. It is a gesture of real participation in an d respect for the Church of Christ.
When we travel with a map we do not miss our way. Follow these guidelines, walk with the Spirit of God and attain the goal of Lent which is repentance, reconciliation, holiness and salvation. â€œBehold, I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live, in the love of Yahweh your Godâ€¦â€Â (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).