Lent, the forty-day season of prayer, sacrifice, and almsgiving in preparation for the joyous celebration of Easter, begins today, Wednesday, March 2nd. During Pope Francis’ February 23rd General Audience, he made a heartfelt appeal for peace in Ukraine, saying that the threat of war had caused “great pain in my heart.”
Pope Francis invited everyone to make March 2, Ash Wednesday, a Day of Fasting for Peace. “I encourage believers in a special way to dedicate themselves intensely to prayer and fasting on that day. May the Queen of Peace preserve the world from the madness of war,” he said.
Together as one body, we bishops across the United States are echoing the Pope’s call for fasting today. Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued the following statement on Ukraine:
“On behalf of my brother bishops, I echo the Holy Father’s call for prayer and fasting to end the war in Ukraine. In times of trouble, we call on the tender mercy of God … to guide our feet to the way of peace (Lk 1:78-79). May our prayers, joined with those of people around the world, help guide those waging war to end the meaningless suffering and restore peace. Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.”
Lent, especially this year, is a time to be even more sensitive to the suffering, pain, sadness, and devastation such as the people of Ukraine are experiencing. The crosses of the past few years have felt incredibly heavy, and even perhaps endless at times, but we are a people of hope. We focus our hearts heavenwardly and the hope that comes in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Our burdens, and the trials of those across the world—our crosses—are never a dead end, none of what is happening to or around us will ever have the final word! Jesus’ Resurrection, which we will celebrate after these 40-days of prayer, fasting, and charity, assures us of the truth Jesus has conquered death when He rose again. They point to new life. How can we find, during Lent, signs of life for us, our communities, our country, and the world?
I invite you to read my special Lenten invitation to journey together on a spiritual journey of reflection, repentance, and renewal—here.
The Rite of Election
On Sunday, March 6, I will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion for men and women from throughout the Fall River Diocese who are preparing to become members of the Roman Catholic Church or who are preparing for full communion in the Church. The Rite of Election takes place in diocesan cathedrals annually throughout the world on the First Sunday of Lent. It marks the beginning of the final phase of preparation for those participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults –better known by the acronym RCIA- the process through which adults enter the Catholic Church.
During this ceremony, I will formally acknowledge the readiness of the catechumens –those who are preparing for the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist) -and call them to the reception of the sacraments, to be conferred in most cases in their own parishes during the Easter Vigil. Sunday’s Rite of Election also includes the Call to Continuing Conversion for persons called candidates in the RCIA process. Candidates are those who have been baptized in other Christian traditions who now seek to become members of the Catholic Church or baptized Catholics who had no instruction in the faith and are now preparing for Eucharist and confirmation.
Please join us for Sunday’s ceremony, from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm, in person at St. Mary’s Cathedral or via livestream on the Diocesan Facebook page.
May your 2022 Lenten season be a fruitful and grace-filled time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. Please know of my continued prayers for all of you.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha