Irish Bishops in Pastoral Letter: Repent and Believe

Suggest Renewing Practice of Making the Sign of the Cross When Passing a Church

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ARMAGH, Ireland, APRIL 2, 2012 ( Last Thursday, Ireland’s bishops issued a pastoral letter entitled: “Repent and Believe the Good News.”

“The summons to repentance is a constant feature of Christ’s preaching and it cannot be confined to certain days or seasons; the need for repentance needs to be heard “in season and out of season” (2 Tim 4: 2),” declared Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

A press release issued by the bishops explained that the letter is meant build upon the summons to renewal that Pope Benedict XVI had written about his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland. It also follows the publication a week before of the Summary of the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland.

In their message the bishops explain: “The word ‘repentance’ means seeking forgiveness for our sins, but, more than that, it involves transforming our attitudes and our lives.  The New Testament word, metanoia, means a profound change of outlook.”

“Penance – fasting, prayer, works of mercy, giving to those who are in need and so on – is done ‘because the kingdom of God has come near’; we repent in order to ‘believe in the good news,” the letter explained.

“I echo the statement of the Bishops’ Conference following the Spring General Meeting in inviting people to use Holy Week and Easter to prepare personally for the Eucharistic Congress by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to renew the practice of making the Sign of the Cross as they pass a Church in acknowledgement of the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist,” said Cardinal Brady.

“None of us remains unaffected by our culture,” the twelve page letter pointed out. “It takes a real effort in a busy and noisy world to take time to reflect, to ask the fundamental questions about what our lives mean and where they are leading,” it continued.

“It is the same call with which Jesus began his preaching: ‘Repent and believe in the good news,’” the letter explained.

“It is a call to understand more clearly that the only lasting hope, the only complete healing, for any of us, whether we feel broken by sadness or illness, or injured by abuse, injustice, betrayal or ingratitude, whether we are contented or healthy, lies in welcoming the love of God who alone can give us what we could never achieve or acquire for ourselves,” the letter observed.

“Repentance is about seeing more clearly the loving gift and call of God and about responding to it with generosity and courage,” it said.

“The task for us in Ireland is the permanent task of the Christian – to resist the temptation to put convenience, celebrity, domination, blindness, dishonesty, pride, or any other ambition or craving or comfort in the place of God,” the letter concluded.

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