In his message to the faithful, the primate speaks of reconciliation “through prayer and fasting”. The mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ “the essence of our faith”. The Chaldeans “people of Iraq” scattered all over the world. Reconciliation, peace and stability to protect life and citizens.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – In spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, fasting is “an opportunity to find a space in which to move freely” and a time of “spiritual and social renewal” to reconcile “through prayer and fasting” with ourselves and the world around us, writes the Chaldean primate, Card. Louis Raphael Sako, in the message for Lent.
The period of preparation for Easter begins on February 15 for the Chaldeans, and the primates message was published on the website of the Chaldean patriarchate and shared with AsiaNews.
In a nation that awaits the imminent apostolic journey of Pope Francis, the cardinal emphasizes, the priority is “to put God in our life and focus on the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection”, which represent “the essence of our faith”.
Iraq, even recently, has experienced bloody attacks and sectarian violence that undermine the attempt at a fragile reconstruction, after years of war and the jihadist advance.
“The paschal mystery – he observes – moves us from the darkness of suffering, from the vulnerability of death to the light of resurrection and life”. A light, he continues, “which we welcome with passion, follow with faith and bring to others with love and enthusiasm” as the pope reminded the Eastern Churches.
“Our Chaldean Church – emphasizes the patriarch – is the ‘Church of the East’, it has no external splendour and has never been in power, that is, the state religion. Its beauty lies in its spiritual and liturgical heritage, in its fidelity to the faith to the point of martyrdom. It is a story of martyrs and monks”.
Today “our Church is spread all over the world” and although Iraq remains “our land on the historical level”, of which “we are the people and not a community”, there are representations in Iran, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. “We have begun to face new cultures and languages ??- explains Card. Sako – with the challenge of preserving our bond with our mother Church, its unity and the need for openness and diversity”.
For the Cardinal “every Chaldean must feel that the Chaldean Church is his identity, his home and that he has special place in it” and be “inspired by the rich spiritual heritage of our fathers”.
Hence the need to “support each other” and “work with team spirit” to “overcome difficulties and experience closely the joy of being Church, mystical body of Christ”. In time of Lent, it is even more urgent for bishops and priests to “take care of the people of God”, entrusted “with fidelity and impartiality” to “consolidate their faith and preserve their authenticity […] by awakening hope in the heart”.
“Our faith in the resurrection – he adds – fills us with joy and amazement and gives us the strength to purify our hearts” by emerging “from our closed minds, worries and fears, in order to live our painful conditions of life with hope, peace and tranquillity “.
Recalling the link between the Christian community and Iraq, the Chaldean patriarch underlines that “we are partners in building its future”, because all citizens “have endured painful difficulties and pains due to the serious political, security, social and health “.
If the paschal mystery is “a movement towards God and towards the people”, Christians have an important role “in the construction of a civil and modern democratic state”, which applies the criteria of equality to every citizen regardless of “religious affiliation “.
Finally, the Chaldean primate recalls the pope’s imminent visit for which he asks all the faithful to pray so that “it becomes a tangible sign of the strengthening of the sense of community among Iraqis” and a reason for “fraternal solidarity”. The goal, he concludes, is to achieve “national reconciliation, peace and stability to protect the life, rights and dignity of all citizens”.