Give up gossip, take up gratitude for Lent

Bishop Patrick Dunn

If we’re looking for something to do for Lent, we could do as Pope Francis suggests and take up gratitude, says Auckland’s Catholic bishop, Patrick Dunn.

And if we’re looking for something to give up, the pope suggests the Lenten season could be a time to give up gossip, Dunn added, in an on-line address on Ash Wednesday.

Dunn is calling on Christians to “pull out all stops” and to live their faith as fully as possible and in reminding them to do so he suggests they draw on the great scriptural aids of prayer, fasting and alms-giving.

He said the 40 days of Lent give us an opportunity to reflect on where we have come from and what we are called to be.

Italian theologian Father Ermes Ronchi also picked up on the pope’s recommendations for the new season.

Pope Francis has asked people to do for Lent, they should be directing their attention to the real people around them, Ronchi said.

Instead of being “glued” to the internet, “what if we were to look people in the eye the way we look at our phones, 50 times a day, looking at them with the same attentiveness and intensity, how many things would change? How many things would we discover?” he asked.

Speaking of how to understand Lent and Ash Wednesday during a global pandemic, particularly when many people have already lost so much, Ronchi recalled the natural cycles of life and death, ashes and rebirth.

“Ashes are what is left when nothing is left, it is the bare minimum, the almost-nothing. And it is from here that one can and must begin again, rather than stopping in despair” he said.

Ashes smudged or sprinkled on the faithful are then “not so much about ‘remember you must die,’ but ‘remember you must be simple and fruitful.’”

“We are living in a time that can bring us back to the essential, rediscovering what is permanent in our lives and what is fleeting. Therefore, this moment is a gift to be more fruitful, not to castigate.”

No matter what measures or restrictions may be in place due to the pandemic, people still have all the tools they need, which no virus can take away: charity, tenderness and forgiveness, and especially opportunities to give up gossip and take up gratitude, he said.


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