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February 16, 2018

A Lent for love

A shy toddler receiving ashes from Msgr Pereira. Photos: Raymond Syms

By Kaelanne Jordan

Msgr Christian Pereira believed that calypsonians and soca artistes seemed to be “crying out” and desiring greater attention to love, and touched on something that truly speaks to the heart of the Lenten pilgrimage.

He noted that the start of Lent, which coincides with Valentine’s Day, is an opportunity for Catholics to examine themselves, particularly whether one’s love is growing cold. Referencing Carnival 2018 soca hits, namely Aaron ‘Voice’ St Louis’ ‘Year for Love’ and Kees’ ‘Hello’, Msgr Pereira said these songs “move us very gently into a deeper appreciation of the Lenten journey”.

Msgr Pereira, Cathedral Administrator, was speaking during the midday Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Present at the Mass were students and teachers of Nelson Street Girls’ and Boys’ RC, and Bethlehem Girls’ and Boys’ RC schools.

Msgr Pereira questioned why calypsoes all spoke so much about love, the need to greet each other with a ‘Hello’ and the need for a change of attitudes and lives. He opined, “because deep down they realise that iniquity has increased. There is a level of lawlessness which Carnival only highlights. When we think of lawlessness, we think of the two days…what happens on those two days only reflects a total breakdown across the society.”

Msgr Pereira made reference to Pope Francis’ 2018 Lenten Message and warned the congregation of false prophets who present themselves in very seductive ways.

He used the analogy of the world being fragmented between digital experts and the rest of citizens who are unfamiliar with technology, urging all to “be on their guard”.

“And that is part of our experience. Once upon a time the division in our world had to do with those who have plenty money and those who don’t have plenty money; those who have plenty power and position and those who have none. More and more the shift is changing and our world is being divided by persons who are comfortable with the digital reality. So that if you don’t have a smart phone, you’re not in.”

Commenting on this, Msgr Pereira reiterated Pope Francis’ Lenten appeal of embracing the simple formula of almsgiving, prayer and fasting. A formula, he maintained, is not only for Catholics, but for all of humanity.

He added that prayer gives a certain strength and capacity needed to resist the challenges and temptations; fasting helps build inner strength; and almsgiving allows generosity and self-sacrifice.

Msgr Pereira preached a similar message at the 6 a.m. Ash Wednesday Mass. Fr Benedict ‘Bunty’ Hilaire concelebrated. Senate President Christine Kangaloo and her husband Kerwyn Garcia were in attendance.