Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Ash Wednesday 17 February, the Church all over the world will begin 6 weeks of Lent in preparation for the Easter celebrations. Our faith in God is being tested by this pandemic which continues to threaten our health and daily lives. The mass vaccination plan for this year is a medical intervention which is aimed at stopping the infection from spreading and hopefully will help bring it to an end. Since the pandemic began last year, we had to isolate ourselves, businesses and churches closed, many lost their jobs, and our health services at times were overwhelmed by the sick and dying.
Lent is always understood by the Church to be a season of repentance and contrition for our own sins in order to enjoy a deeper and more faithful relationship with God and with one another. The pandemic has forced us to examine and to sift out what is selfish and unimportant in our lives and to strengthen the values of faithfulness in marriage, of cultivating healthy family relationships and personal unfeigned prayer and of obeying the commandments of God in good conscience. The pandemic is not a meaningless mistake in our lives but a remarkable unexpected crisis calling us to repentance of our sins and to renew our Christian faith and life in line with our vocation made possible through the grace of Christ and the Holy Spirit. It is a burning hope of God for his Church that after the pandemic has come to an end, we will prove to be a more faithful and honest people in Christ and help restore our nation anew which our sins and greed and violence have been pulling apart before the pandemic. This Season of Lent gives meaning and purpose to our lives as we struggle in this pandemic.
Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the Bishops’ Lenten Appeal Office has tried to explore some options to promote the 2021 Lenten Appeal collection. One such way will be to use our available digital platforms to the fullest of our ability. We are therefore asking for the fullest cooperation from our brother priests and people in the different parishes, to make everyone aware of the different options to support the Bishops Lenten Appeal. As you know, the importance of the Bishops Lenten Appeal is to support the works of the church, the poor and the needy and to build a self-reliant local church. This need has grown as a result of the pandemic and most certainly there will be a greater need this year. Let us not just depend on the usual methods of promotion but let us speak about it to the fullest of our ability in parishes and in our small Christian communities, during these next 6 weeks. We are all going through difficult financial times, but let us remember that as a diocese we have agreed that apart from the normal Sunday collection, the only other special collection during the six weeks of Lent is this Lenten Appeal. Let us kindly remain committed to this practice and entrust ourselves to the providential care and guidance of God our Father who will never abandon us in our needs.
May God’s blessing remove all anxiety from your lives and bring healing to the sick through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Blessed Joseph.
Tshimangadzo Samuel DASWA, the firstborn son of Tshililo Petrus Daswa (Bakali) and Thidziambi Ida DASWA (Gundula), was born on 16th June 1946 in Mbahe Village situated 30 kilometres from Thohoyandou, the main town of the former Venda Homeland, Limpopo Province, South Africa in the Diocese of Tzaneen. Blessed Benedict Daswa died a martyr for the faith on 2 February 1990 and was beatified on 13 September 2015.