Byzantine Catholic Church in America: News
Parma Bishop John's Lenten Pastoral Letter 2004


Lenten Pastoral Letter 2004

Great Fast 2004

Dear brothers and sisters,

The stories presented by the church to prepare for the Great Fast direct us to a number of child-like qualities: the enthusiasm of Zaccheus, that prompted him to climb a tree to see Jesus, the humility of the publican to acknowledge his lowliness before his great God, the Prodigal Son’s confidence in his loving father.

These qualities are very appropriate for our understanding of God’s call to repentance and conversion. We must approach our God as one who is great and magnificent, exciting to be near and more loving than the most loving parent.

Our Holy Father’s “Message for Lent 2004” invites us to reflect on the condition of children. He says, “Jesus’ words (‘Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.’ – Mt 18:5) call upon us to see how children are treated in our families, in civil society and in the church. They are also an incentive to rediscover the simplicity and trust which believers must cultivate in imitation of the Son of God, who shared the lot of the little ones and the poor.”

The church continues to champion the “right to life,” the right to be born, to live decently and to die with dignity. The Great Lenten Fast is a time to bolster our resolve to reach out to those who cannot fend for themselves.

These last few years our attention has been given to the sins of some priests, deacons, monastics and religious. Their sins are not unlike the sins of many others but, because they have been called to reflect the image of God the Father in a very special way, those sins carry more effect. The Catholic Church in the U.S. responded to the widespread violation of children and young people with an aggressive program for their protection.

During the Great Fast, we may take the example of the church, who repents of the past sins of its members and resolves that they will not be repeated but, rather, that we will lead the way for the protection of youth.

Let us take to heart the words of the Baptist: “Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand” (Mt 3:2). But we don’t stop there, as Jesus instructed the Apostles: “The reign of God is at hand! … The gift you have received, give as a gift” (Mt 10:7-8). Affirmative efforts must be made. With confidence and without fear, we continue to strive to do the will of God, spreading the Gospel for the salvation of souls.

Let us approach this period of the Great Lenten Fast with child-like simplicity. Let us repent of sin and FAST and PRAY to assure that our actions are in concert with the will of God. Let us act out of CHARITY so that individually and together, we the church, will effect a better life for all God’s children.

In the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to simplicity and purity of heart. Through our Great Fast discipline, may we come to know the blessings that accompany them: “the reign of God is theirs,” “they shall be consoled,” “they shall see God,”… (Mt 5:3-12).

With the assurance of prayer and episcopal blessing, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Bishop John Kudrick