On 1st March, we have begun the holy season of lent. This season has many aspects relating to our personal and community life. This season begins with the words of Jesus: The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel (Mk. 1:15). The season of lent is a time for reflection of one’s own life and a change. We being the leaders of a community a change has to be seen in us by our people. This will give us new insight to preach the same to our people. During this time many spiritual activities will take place in our parishes. It is imperative that all the clergy are in the Diocese in their respective parishes/places to render maximum pastoral services to the faithful. Let the pastors encourage and exhort the faithful to the daily attendance of mass, way of the cross, reading of the scriptures related to conversion and passion of Christ, meditations and reflections, singing of Lenten hymns or at least if facilities provide playing the CDs in homes to create an atmosphere of a holy season. It is very much needed to insist upon fast and penance and increase of prayer life. It is a good and exemplary custom in our communities where people give up lots of entertainment, routine habits of alcohol/cigarettes etc. Please encourage not only elders, the youth too. Let them not hold picnics and outings if they are church associations or others. Thus let us create an atmosphere of penance and repentance during this season. During this lenten season, it is better to hold some penitential pilgrimages of the parishioners to some shrines or churches dedicated to the Holy Cross in our diocese and popular places frequented by the faithful, Mudipu on Palm Sunday and Pezar on Tuesday of the Holy Week. Pope Francis said about the pilgrimages in an around us. There are so many sick and lonely persons; there are poor people having difficulties for food clothing and shelter. These are the people who should be assisted as one would go on a pilgrimage. Besides Pope Francis also said that we should give importance to the 7 corporal and 7 spiritual acts of Mercy. Doing these acts will certainly create and atmosphere of a family of God. Let us give more importance to these. If such devotions are held in other places, the faithful should be encouraged. Please hold Parish Retreats for your own parish and not for the Diocese. Please don’t hold a mega retreat which your own parishioners don’t attend. Please give importance to preachers in Konkani language and not by way of translation. God has given us good number of priests who are able to preach good retreats.
As regards the liturgical norms please refer the ‘Ordo’ page 79 ff as per the new liturgical instructions, the altar of sacrifice should be seen as a table. Hence adorning the table (mensa) and creating the surroundings of the altar a flower garden with flower pots on all three sides and in the sanctuary is not proper. It should not be draped with cloths (never with sarees) lest the meaning of a table is lost. In all seasons, don’t adorn the table of the Lord with flowers etc. and the back of the altar should not be a notice board with inscriptions. Director, Mangala Jyothi has been regularly giving us the instructions from the directives. You may refer to him.
On 20 March, the solemnity of St Joseph, spouse of Blessed Virgin Mary will be celebrated. Please refer ‘Ordo’ page 88. He is the patron of our Diocese, our Seminary and many institutions and parishes. Let us rededicate our Diocese to his patronage and intercession. Please encourage people to have some prayer/devotion to St Joseph during the family prayers.
I wish you a fruitful and prayerful holy season of lent.
+ Aloysius Paul D’Souza
Bishop of Mangalore