Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the beginning of the holy season of Lent when, each day, Christians offer prayer, charity and sacrifice.  The beginning of Lent traditionally involves fasting, and the distribution of ashes on the foreheads of church-goers.  Many make Lenten promises or resolutions throughout the forty day penitential period leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday, when we mark the Crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Ahead of Lent 2023 Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “Over the last year people around the world have experienced death and suffering on a large scale caused by wars and natural disasters.  The effects of climate change continue to impact our most vulnerable sisters and brothers.  Now, more than ever, the three pillars of Lent – prayer, charity and sacrifice – are needed for our own spiritual conversion and to support those in need.

“At this time, when homes throughout the country receive their annual Lenten Trócaire box, I encourage families to pray together in a special way, and to fast, for world peace, and for the alleviation of the suffering of refugees who are living amongst us.  I also invite everyone to follow our daily #LivingLent digital media initiative to grow closer to God during Lent.

“Our hearts and prayers continue go out to the suffering people of Ukraine.  During Lent let our acts of prayer, charity and fasting, each day, be dedicated to the plight of refugees, and for a global peaceful environment.  We must always work for peace, pray for peace and make sacrifices for peace.  All of us have the capacity to build peace by our words, our actions and our attitudes to others. 

“As we approach the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we remember that this agreement was not an end in itself, but the beginning of a new way of living our relationships on this shared island.  We must continue the unfinished work of peace and reconciliation.  With our words, particularly on social media, we choose to sow peace or conflict, love or hate, to build up, or to tear down, to heal or to hurt, to forgive or to resent, to soothe or to inflame.  During Lent we should place a guard over our social media use and learn that as Christians working together on this island we should build bridges in a spirit of collaboration for the greater good.”