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2024 Easter Message from Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang---Risen Lord, teach us to pray

2024 Easter Message from Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang

Risen Lord, teach us to pray

Dear brethren,


Christ’s resurrection makes our faith real (cf 1 Cor 15:14). Whenever we profess this faith anew, we participate in His death and resurrection, through the reception of the Sacraments (cf Rom 6:5-8; Jn 6:54). But it is never enough just to believe and profess this faith; it is necessary to establish a relationship with God, through the means of prayers.

In preparation for the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis has designated this year as the "Year of Prayer", and through the Discastery for Evangelization, has published a guidebook to encourage the faithful to live out their lives of prayer faithfully. The Year of Prayer is an invitation to grow in our relationship with God, and an opportunity to reflect on the UN quality of our faith.

In our every day’s life, we may face different situations, either good or bad, or even in our busiest schedule, we must make time for prayer. “To pray is the way to let God act within us, to understand what he wants to communicate to us even in the most difficult situations, to pray to have the strength to go forward.” (Pope Francis, Angelus, 9 January 2023)

“Lord, teach us to pray!” (Luke 11:1) This request and pledge of the disciples certainly reflects an awareness of their inadequacy, and of the need for even practical guidance on how to pray. Prayer is not just a devotional habit, but a spiritual  “breath of life”, where “breathing” is the most basic human need (cf Pope Francis, Wednesday Audience, 9 June 2021). Every time we pray, it is an opportunity for a deeper communion with God, as well as an opportunity to listen to God’s words towards us.

Prayer is the way to get in touch with our deepest truth, where God’s own light is present; and this light will extend into our lives, so that we can live out the Presence of God. Prayer is like a compass that guides (cf Handbook for the Year of Prayer, “Teach us to pray”), and an anchor that prevents us from being strayed by the winds and waves.

Regular and constant prayer nourishes our daily lives, and helps us to live out the Presence of God at all times. Prayer requires perseverance, since when a soul loves and is persistent in prayer, the heart can be transformed and converted, and hence transforming others: our community, our society, and even the whole world.

In response to Pope Francis, I invite all members in the Diocese to promote the centrality of individual and community prayer, in order to prepare for the Jubilee Year. The first step is to revisit the teaching of Pope Francis on the theme of “Prayer” from his Wednesday Audiences in the past few years, and to enter the school of prayer through meditation.

PRAYER IN THE PARISH COMMUNITY. At the level of the parish community, we should be mindful of every detail of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because “taking part in the Eucharistic the fount and apex of the whole Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11); we may organize different prayer meetings such as the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic Adoration, Reconciliation etc, allowing every member within the parish to understand and  participate in the public prayer life of the Church.

PRAYER IN THE FAMILY. The family is a school of prayer, and is the first place to nurture children's life of prayer; only through the pastoral care for families can we enable them to be both domestic churches and a leaven of evangelization in society (cf Amoris Laetitia, 290). A family’s living space could turn into a domestic church, a setting for the Eucharist, the presence of Christ seated at its table...Here we see a home filled with the presence of God, common prayer and every blessing." (AL 15)

YOUNG PEOPLE’S PRAYER. Young people are often confused and may encounter numerous ups and downs in their lives, it is more important to accompany them and discover with them that comfort originates from prayer. “Young men and women can meet one another, where they can share music, games, sports, but also reflection and prayer.” (Christus Vivit, 218)

RETREATS ON PRAYER. “[Jesus] went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” (Mk 1:35) The Evangelist gives us an image of Jesus that points to two essential dimensions of Christian prayer: 1) removing oneself from the daily routine - necessary for seeking personal dialogue with the Father - and 2) a silent heart - indispensable for listening for God’s voice and hearing what He wants. In this perspective and in the context of the Year of Prayer, a spiritual retreat can provide an unparalleled opportunity for spiritual conversion and a renewal of heart (cf Handbook for the Year of Prayer, “Teach us to pray”). 

CATECHESIS ON PRAYER. As a key step in the process of evangelization, of promoting growth and maturation in the faith, Catechesis has the task of educating for prayer and in prayer, developing the contemplative dimension of Christians. Through catechetical formation , the faithful can understand the deeper meaning of prayer and thus live out the spirit of prayer.

In this Year of Prayer, let us rediscover the centrality of prayer and cultivate a life of prayer and a soul of prayer, which will extend to our future lives and bring us closer to God. May we also rely on our heavenly Mother, and imitate her to maintain a sincere and humble heart to pray, in order to become Pilgrims of Hope towards the Jubilee Year.

+Bishop Stephen Lee Bun Sang

Catholic Diocese of Macau

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