MANILA, Philippines—Live simply and do works of mercy this Lenten season.
On Monday, two days before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, Catholic Church leaders exhorted the Filipino faithful to lead simple lifestyles and help the less fortunate, particularly the victims of the recent calamities.
In a pastoral message, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) exhorted believers to pursue a simple lifestyle in the face of an “economy of exclusion” that continues to define the trait of poverty in the country and the rest of the world.
And in a separate pastoral statement, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle urged members of the flock to make donations to programs that feed children in disaster-stricken areas to mark Lent.
Tagle said the back-to-back natural and man-made disasters that recently struck the country brought about “widespread hunger and misery among the people,” a situation that calls Filipinos to do charitable acts.
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40-day season of Lent, which culminates on Easter Sunday. Catholics observe the day by going to church and having a priest trace ashes on their forehead in the form of a cross to remind them of the mortality of man.
“This Lenten season, Christ invites all, but especially the laity, to oppose degrading and dehumanizing poverty and to embrace humanizing and sanctifying poverty. In other words, He invites us to imitate His example,” read the pastoral message issued on Monday by CBCP president Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Soc Villegas.
“Particularly, we are invited to practice material poverty by taking up a simple lifestyle and works of mercy and justice to attend to the poor and aim for an economy of inclusion…” Villegas said.
The CBCP said Filipinos were being called to lead lives marked by a “consistent and liberating” detachment from worldly possessions, power and social status, among other things.
This kind of detachment allows one to be more sensitive and to respond to the poor, it added.
Aside from encouraging the Filipino faithful to live simply, the CBCP urged them to exercise moral poverty.
“We are to exercise moral poverty by strengthening our resolve to practice solidarity with the neglected and to denounce injustice and all forms of radical inequality,” the CBCP said.
In his pastoral statement, Tagle urged the faithful to fast and abstain and support the Manila Archdiocese’s feeding program, Fast2Feed, which provides food to children in Zamboanga, Bohol, Cebu and in areas hit by Super Typhoon Yolanda.
Fast2Feed is the Hapag-Asa feeding program of Pondo ng Pinoy. It has fed more than one million children since its launch in 2005. The faithful are urged to fast during Lent and donate the money they save on food to feed the children through Fast2Feed.