The Lenten Pastoral Letter of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops' Conference

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

At the beginning of the season of Lent, we focus our attention once again on the fact that we are preparing for Easter, the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord. This time of preparation is an occasion for repentance, because the encounter with the mystery of salvation requires purification and conversion from us. Prayer, fasting and helping those in need are the most important expressions of this repentance. When we notice people in our surroundings who are lonely, sick or living in poverty and we try to help them with donations, work and kind words, let us remember that communities, families and even whole nations may be in need of our caring love. We express this when we seek to help victims of war or persecuted Christians, for example.

If we face the facts honestly, we have to see that there are many members of our own nation who are in need of care. Not only our lagging communities, but also the Hungarian nation as a whole bears many burdens. We have become an ageing nation, so the need for effective, institutional support for the elderly and the sick remains strong. Although there are positive signs in the field of marriage, family founding and having children, our population is still shrinking. The faith, loyalty and sacrifices of our ancestors and the works they created can only be appreciated in the future by new generations of Hungarians. That is why it is important to continue to safeguard and strengthen the values of marriage and family, as God intended them. The whole cultural heritage of our language and our people, like that of other nations, is a treasure of creation and dear to God. Let us cultivate it with the responsible love that the Creator himself expects of us! This love demands that we take special care to educate and raise children and young people in the Christian spirit. This is reflected in the fact that many parents choose Catholic kindergartens or schools for their children, and enrol their children in Catholic religious education classes in public schools.

We live in a world wounded by sin – the sin of the individual and the “sin of the world”. But God's grace, which sanctifies and helps us to do good, is also at work in this world, and so we take on the mission, stemming from our state of life and calling, with trust in God. Let us do our best for our families, our communities, our people and our country. Let us take part in the forthcoming parliamentary elections and the referendum to be held at the same time with a sense of responsibility for the future. We ask our Lord to give our people confidence and hope here, throughout our history on Earth, and in eternity as well.

During Lent, let us embrace all the more Pope Francis' exhortation on the importance of “faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, works of charity, community life, missionary outreach”. (Gaudete et exsultate, 162). With all this in mind, we offer our fasting, prayers and good deeds this Ash Wednesday for Hungary and our people!

Budapest, 11 February 2022, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference

To be read at every Mass on Sunday, 27 February 2022