Pastoral Letter for Lent of 2012
To Priests, Religious and Laity in the Archdiocese family
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. At the end of 2011, we have held a diocesan Synod to offer opportunity for all the members in the Archdiocese to be mindful of the participation in building up families, parish communities, religious congregations, and the Archdiocese to be Church as Mystery, Communion, and Mission. Following the proposals at the diocesan Synod, I would like our Archdiocese family to develop a concrete pastoral plan for the next years as follows:
- The focus in the years 2012 and 2013 is to strengthen our communion with God and our faith life on the foundation of God's Word.
- The focus in the years 2014 and 2015 is to reinforce our loving communion and unity in families, parishes, religious congregations, and the Archdiocese.
- The focus of the years 2016 and 2017 is to spread the communion and compassion in proclaiming the Good News of life and love.
2. God's Word must be the solid foundation for our work in building up the Church as Mystery, Communion, and Mission. From the First Sunday of Lent, the Church invites her children to be aware of the importance of God's Word when she proclaims Jesus’ triumph over temptations (Matthew 4.1 to 11):
- God's Word is food nourishing the life of the entire human person: "Human beings live not on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God";
- God' Word is stronghold and weapon to protect us from the temptations which draw us away from God’s ways: "Do not put the Lord, your God, to the test";
- God' Word is standard to guide Christians in making their choices and decisions: "The Lord, your God, is the one to whom you must do hommage, him alone you must serve.”
Therefore, in the Lenten Season and during this whole year of 2012, our archdiocesan family will pay special attention to listen to the Word of God, sharing the life-giving Word of God in Eucharistic celebrations in parish, in the evening prayers in family, in catechism classes and group activities in order to put into practice God's Word in our life. When received into the prayerful heart and guided by the light of the Holy Spirit of Truth, God’s Word becomes a wellspring of fresh water, irrigating the seeds of grace to develop and bring much fruit in the life of family and Christian community, and in social life as well.
3. Concretely, I would like to suggest to all of you:
a) In Families. Building up family life based on God's Word is building on rock, so that the family remains firm through obstacles and hardship and overcome all challenges, becomes a welcoming place full of love, a stronghold protecting life and holiness, thus becomes the first school teaching fundamental virtues of human life.
In order to get these best results:
- Every family must have a Bible being kept in a proper place, not for decoration or exhibition, but to be used for reading and praying, especially for common prayer of the whole family.
- Keeping evening prayers: The common prayer of the whole family can both strengthen personal communion with God and unite all family members with one another. This is particularly necessary for us all who live in the time when family life is facing a lot of difficuties and challenges. So, I encourage all of you to maintain evening prayers in your family, especially to incorporate God’s Word in your family prayers.
- To help families to accomplish this task, the Archdiocese will introduce patterns of Evening Prayers in Family, and at the same time republish the book entitled:'Living God's Word in Daily Life'. May you receive them to practise the above tasks!
b) In Parish. In parish life, the Eucharistic celebration is the most appropriate for the faithful to listen to and meditate God's Word. Thus, priests should have homilies well prepared by personal meditations and praying, to present God’s Word appropriately, clearly and concretely, then, God’s Word becomes the guiding light for the faithful in their daily life. In addition, the priests in the same deanery should come together and share the pastoral experiences, in order to be able to help drawing the laity closer to God's Word, such as: encouraging them to learn by heart important verses in the Bible, opening classes of Bible Studies and Sharing.
c) With Catholic Apostolate Organizations: Apostolate organizations and movements should encourage their members to approach the Word of God through daily reading and meditating, to pray with God’s Word as guiding inspiration in daily activities.
d) With religious and seminarians. I would like to ask religious congregations / institutes and seminaries pay much attention to the formation for seminarians and young religious, especially in their studies of the Scriptures, not only on academic knowledge but also on the ability to read the Scriptures in faith, to be more precise, with method of lectio divina.
The Lenten season is for us a suitable time to renew our faith life both as individuals and community. This renewal can only be done by relying on God’s grace through sacraments and on God’s Word which we listen to, meditate on and put into practice. May this Lenten season become a beneficial opportunity advancing our love to God and our connectedness to God’s Word, and making us to be true Christian, following the example of Mary who ‘listened to God’s Word and put it into practice, and was said, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
At Archbishopric on Ash Wednesday 22-02-2012, signed by
Cardinal Archbishop John B. Pham Minh Man
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Kham