PRETORIA, South Africa, FEB. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Bishops, too, have crosses they do not want to carry. But Lent is a time to remember that Christians are people of hope, according to prelates of Southern Africa.
In the Lenten appeal for this year, titled “Seeds of Hope,” the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) reflected on the difficulties that touch the human condition.
“The cross we are asked to carry often seems to be the one we don’t want or can’t manage,” the prelates reflected. “We your bishops readily admit we have our own crosses: crosses of loneliness, of disappointment, of lack of priests and sisters, of shortage of money and other resources to run the dioceses.
“Like you, we too are very human with very human struggles.”
The faithful as well must carry their crosses, the bishops affirmed: “Some of you are old and experience the loneliness of old age. […] Some of you are young and are struggling with studies, struggling with unemployment, struggling with broken friendships, struggling with the very meaning of life. Some of you are fathers and mothers and you are worried about your children, where they are, what they are doing, refusing to follow the advice you have given them. Some of you parents may have had to bury your children, something no parent ever wants to do.
“Some are struggling with ill health, with sickness that won’t go away, with a disease that has no cure, with constant pain. Some are divorced and left to rear your children alone.”
But, the African bishops affirmed, in spite of “all the difficulties” and the “crosses that we don’t want in our lives,” Christians are people of hope.
“We have faith in Jesus who loves us so much that he was willing to die for us,” they affirmed. “[…] This friend of ours, Jesus the Son of God, is our brother. He carried his own cross and died a very painful death. But he rose from the dead, he is alive.”
The prelates affirmed the faith that “one day all our pain and suffering will come to an end,” and that meanwhile, “we know that he is with us as he promised.”
“Our hope is in him, in his everlasting love, in his constant presence and his power,” they said. “We are in good hands.”
The bishops of the SACBC affirmed that Christ’s presence is manifested in those around us: “He is present in them and he helps us through them.”
And this, the prelates suggested, translates to an invitation for this Lent.
“We your bishops hope each of us will find someone during this Lent who will be like Simon of Cyrene who on Good Friday met Jesus on the way and helped to carry that heavy cross up the hill of Calvary,” they said. “We can all be that Simon for somebody. We ourselves need a Simon in our lives, one who will help us on the way and give us courage and hope and the strength to continue.”
The prelates noted that the Lenten appeal for the poor, sick, homeless and hungry is one way to be like Simon, “giving a helping hand to Jesus through the Church that he founded and of which he is the head.”
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