NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – Catholic faithful Wednesday thronged the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi to mark the beginning of the Lent period where they are required to fast, something they do in order to help others and draw closer to God.
Speaking to the congregation from the gospel according to Mathew chapter six, Cardinal John Njue urged the faithful to make meaning of the 40 days of sacrifice during this season.
“Increase love for God and fellow human beings through prayer, holy mass, fasting and sacrament of penance,” he implored the congregants.
“Let the fasting be an example of sacrifice to others,” he reminded the faithful.
He called on the church to focus on others, especially the vulnerable in society like orphans, widows, the elderly and street families.
“We are given 40 days, we have been told in very simple terms, when you see things that aren’t right, discard it.”
“Let it not be a formality but a real expression of the journey you have made for 40 days during the period of Lent. Renew your relationships with your God,” he said.
Lent is a religious observance in the Catholic liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday where adherents of the faith are required to fast something they like in order to help others and draw closer to God and ends approximately six weeks later, before Easter Sunday.
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites who disfigured their faces that they may be seen. When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.
Goals of Lent include reconciliation of God and fellow human beings, engaging in works of mercy especially to the desperate people, those outside our families, tribes or friendship to invoke God’s blessings and mercy.
Pope Francis through a message sent to the congregation urged them to remember that “lent is a fitting time for self-denial,” he said adding that “we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty.”