“Full of hope and trust towards Easter!”
Word of the Archbishop for Lent 2017
Dear sisters, dear brothers,
allow me – as every year in the beginning of the Lenten time – to speak to You.
We are living an important year for our Church. After the dissolution of our existing parishes, I will proceed by a solemn act at the opening of the Octave 33 new parishes regrouped in 6 new deaneries. This parochial remodeling is the result of a long process of reflection. Already my predecessor in the episcopal office, had consolidated the 274 parishes into 57 pastoral communities. But erosion in the Church continued and today we no longer have enough ordained ministers or pastoral collaborators to be able to serve them all. From this realistic point of view, a whole series of interviews, meetings, sessions and trainings took place over a period of more than three years. During these exchanges, the need for a new start clearly emerged and the number 33 was the result of long consultations on the ground. It became clear that the changes are frightening and can lead to uncertainty and misunderstanding. I take this discontent very seriously, but I do not want us to stop there. On the contrary, I would like to thank all those who, in their pastoral community, have invested in these exchanges. You have provided many adequate and constructive proposals for future-oriented pastoral action.
The reduction in number of the new parishes does not mean that the Church is withdrawing or turning away from men. On the contrary, the new parishes are a chance to meet the challenges of this time with new missionary impetus and new ideas.
The time of a Luxembourg society, which is completely imbued with Christianity, is over. The hard core that is the center of our Church, namely the number of Catholics actively participating in the Sunday Mass, has been considerably reduced in many places. The separation of the Church and the State has added to the anxiety and provoked fear among the faithful.
But greater than our fears is our faith in triune God. We have faith that the hand of the Lord supports us all. We have the faith that Jesus Christ raised from the dead, is alive in the bosom of our Church. We have faith in the Holy Spirit to guide our Church.
So it is not the moment to groan or to complain, it is not the moment to look back and become a slave to our history! But this is the moment to be led by the Lord in His vision of the future!
Therefore, I ask you to live intensely this Lenten time. Fast and pray for the renewal of our Church in Luxembourg! Let us use this time for a sincere conversion, a return on oneself. Let us take advantage of this time to follow the Way of the Cross, to establish times of Adoration of the Holy Sacrament in our parishes.
Would it not also be time to reintroduce the blessing? Let us confess publicly our Christian faith! Let us actively participate in the offices of the Holy Week, and especially in the Easter Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Night.
The more the Christian is personally attached to God, the more our Church as a whole can bear witness to its faith. The sanctification of every Christian serves the sanctification of the Church as a whole. Have the courage of an interview with a priest to confess, dare a fresh start! Lent is the occasion to leave any defeatist and slanderous attitude, it is the opportunity to dock again to the love of the Lord.
We are entering a new stage in the history of our Church. From a financial point of view, we can no longer rely solely on the state and the communes. More than in the past, we have to have our own funding. For this we have the Saint Irmine Foundation. We need your financial support to enable the realization of pastoral projects in our diocese as well as in our new parishes.
One of the most important of these is catechesis in parishes. I would like to thank all the teams who have taken part in a training program for a catechesis in the new parishes this autumn.
But we do not just need money. That there is life in our different churches depends not only on the priest. We need many volunteers who are committed to the Church for one or the other service. Any voluntary service, even a small one, is welcome. For many years to come we will need all our strength to meet the challenge of new parishes and catechesis.
May God, through the intercession of Our Lady, the Comforter of the afflicted, grant us the strength to welcome this challenge in joy. Let us therefore set out on a journey of hope and confidence towards the Feast of the Resurrection.
Luxembourg, 20th of February 2017
+ Jean-Claude Hollerich
Archbishop of Luxembourg