Family life concerns discussed at provincial clergy meeting
February 29, 2024
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February 29, 2024

Archbishop: Lenten practices must not be for show, but ‘signs of a deeper reality’


As the Lenten season got underway, Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau said the Church was “very concerned about the level of lethal violence” in The Bahamas.

According to The Nassau Guardian, since the start of 2024, there have been 25 murders reported – 23 in New Providence, one in Abaco, and one in Grand Bahama.

“Perhaps this Lent is a time for us to commit to ways in which we can positively impact the quality of life among us, and that commitment I believe should begin with our own families,” said the Archbishop during Ash Wednesday midday Service at St Francis Xavier Cathedral on February 14.

“The family is where so much that is good begins,” said Archbishop Pinder. “It is also where so much can go wrong as well.”

He reminded worshippers that their family may not just include their blood relatives, but any friend or acquaintance who they know may be at risk.

Archbishop Pinder said even a small sacrifice by people for the good of their family is a worthy resolution this Lenten season.

According to the online local news source, Archbishop Pinder said to understand Lent as a journey and as a pilgrimage which inspires new commitment to the gospel is important and helpful. He said it is to see the penitential season as a time of personal renewal, and a time of conversion of heart.

“To understand Lent as a journey of love which opens our hearts to our brothers and sisters, and draws them to God, reminds us that we do not live alone. We live as part of a community. We have to be good neighbours. We have to be responsible citizens,” said the Archbishop.

He told worshippers that their Lenten observance, whatever form it takes, must not merely be a show. The penitential practices for Lent, namely fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, the Archbishop said, must not be simply an act for others to notice.

“These external gestures such as prayer and fasting and acts of charity, these must be true signs of a much deeper reality. They must express a sincere desire for a conversion of heart. And that is the core of the gospel’s message. No wonder then, we also apply the ashes with the words, ‘turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel’.”

The faithful began the journey with the usual simple ritual gesture of having ashes placed upon their foreheads, which serves as a reminder of people’s mortality.

“We all share the gift of life – yet life as we know it is but for a time. We are given a sharp reminder of this on this day [Ash Wednesday] when we are told, ‘remember man that you are dust and to dust you shall return’. The ashes on our foreheads is not merely a reminder of our mortality, it is also a reminder that through death we enter eternal life. More immediately, it signifies that dying to our old sinful ways gives way to a new breath of life and peace, here and now,” said Archbishop Pinder.

He said Ash Wednesday’s rituals and symbols also serve as a reminder of people’s accountability before God, and accountability for how they live life. It is a season, the Archbishop emphasised for all to “exercise due diligence as to the course our life is taking” and perhaps to make a mid-course correction in life.