This Lent, the spiritual stakes are particularly high in Nigeria
"Imagine if we all seriously spared a thought to examine what we have done as individuals to bring Nigeria to where it is today, one way or the other."
By Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah
Lent is a time for all of us, Catholics as well as all Christians, to repent and to seek to live that which we preach.
It is rather sad that today Christians have become slack and nonchalant about their personal and community obligations in the Lenten season. The Catholic Church has laid out a series of devotions for this period such as the Stations of the Cross, the recitation of the Rosary, fasting, and so on. These devotions are not mandatory but they serve to help us along the journey of repentance and renewal.
Today, however, so many of us merely gloss past this important and precious period which invites us to deep individual, family and community introspection. The Sacrament of Reconciliation, also referred to as Confession, today suffers the same neglect and should be moved to the front burner by all Catholics. Imagine if we all seriously spared a thought to examine what we have done as individuals to bring Nigeria to where it is today, one way or the other.
Today, as we face a set of new trials in our nation, we have lined up all kinds of scapegoats whom we believe are responsible for our woes in Nigeria. We believe that they are the ones who should flee with our sins into the desert so that our country can prosper. Among the scapegoats are the politicians, the security agencies, the civil servants, the ministers and other public officers.
Do we not believe that corruption is what happens when big people steal huge sums of money but not when we cheat the bus conductor by not paying? Have we not come to believe that the only rigged elections are the ones that my candidate did not win?
Nigerians are approaching the next few weeks leading up to the presidential elections amidst fear and anxiety. We can see this from the huge movement of people back to their ancestral homes. The elites who have stolen enough from the country have shipped their families to their second homes in Europe and America. They will come back when the country is good for them to return to their criminal engagement with the state.
Our fears and anxieties are understandable, but God is able and the history of salvation is the source of our hope. Unless we wash our garments free from sin in the waters of honesty and truth, our prayers will be useless before God who knows our intentions. God has always cleared the dark clouds of fear from His people and it is to Him that we now turn as we prepare for these elections.
During the Lenten season, please endeavor to attend Mass daily, read the Word of God, recite the Rosary, reflect on the Stations of the Cross, fast, pray, and seek God’s gracious blessings for yourself, family, community and our dear country. May the almighty God, creator of Heaven and earth, our hope in ages past, to whom we now turn in supplication, have mercy on our dear country, bless and grant us peace now and forever.
This is God’s moment for our country. It is also our moment of greatness. Let us not squander our destiny. I wish you a blessed and fulfilled Lenten season.
This Lenten message by Bishop Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, was obtained and adapted by Aid to the Church in Need.
ACN photo: Nigerian girl praying