Pastoral instructions for Lent 2018
Reconciliation and a return to full communion with Christ during Lent
The church has been preparing itself since the beginning of Christendom with a penance of forty days for the Easter celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians apply themselves to changing their lifestyle so that through prayer, penance, reconciliation and concrete charity there is more space for Christ in their lives. If they are merciful with each other then they bear witness to the Infinite Mercy of God.
Lent is the privileged time of Grace for repentance and return to full communion with Christ. This is done notably through full participation in the celebration of the Eucharist, but also in a special degree by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).
The full communion of the baptized with the Lord and His Church is celebrated through the Eucharistic celebration. The Church therefore recommends respectful communion at every Mass. Every believer should receive at least once a year during the Easter period (between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost) communion and by this full participation in the celebration of the Eucharist expressing her/his communion with the Church.
Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation God’s forgiveness is offered to the Christian who repents of her/his sins and confesses them sincerely; Therefore she/he experiences the Infinite Mercy of God in concrete terms. Every Christian should regularly check whether she/he sins concretely, voluntarily and consciously in an important matter against God, against the Church, against her/his neighbor or against her/himself. She/he who is conscious in this sense of a grave sin should go to confess it as soon as possible, at least within the current year, in the sacrament of reconciliation. It is also required to repair any damage caused in the best possible way. Even for the faithful who do not have to confess “grave” sins, it is recommended to frequently ask for the sacrament of reconciliation because they will be convinced of the very rich, of the Infinite Mercy of God. Personal confession also promotes self-knowledge and contributes to inner maturity. The time for the Easter Sacraments (Sacrament of Reconciliation (penance/confession), Holy Communion) extends in our Archdiocese from Ash Wednesday to Whit Monday included.
The human being is freed from her/his own needs and desires through fasting and through all other forms of renunciation. She/he becomes free for God and her/his neighbors. Abstinence with the renunciation of meat dishes on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday is required of all from the age of 14 years. The law of fasting with the “fasting offerings” is subject to the free responsibility of every Catholic aged between 18 years and the beginning of her/his 60th year. As a sign of conversion in the sense of a conscious return to God and the human sisters and brothers, especially the needy ones, the Archbishop asks to follow abstinence and fasting every Friday of Lent. All those who are prevented by illness, by travel, by meals taken at a foreign table, or by difficult physical labor, are excused. Pastors and parents/guardians should ensure that even those who are not supposed to fast and observe abstinence because of their youth are led to a genuine understanding of the repentance/conversion which is expressed by the fact of turning towards God and the needy.
May the time of fasting and prayer bring us closer to God and make us all closer to each other.
Communicated by the Diocesan Curia