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Author: Mrs. Justina Ilochi

Today we continue to reflect on Our Lady of Aokpe’s, call to action. "Do penance for conversion, Fasting." Once more we direct our thoughts to ACTION!!!

The Church is still within the Easter season and at all Masses on Sunday and week days readings are focused on what Jesus did after he resurrected from the dead and the Acts (actions) of the Apostles and disciples. During the 40 days running up to Easter the Church had declared moments of compulsory abstinence and fasting. Some individuals also carried out some form of individual penance which in some cases included fasting. For many devout Catholics who carried out various forms of fasting and penance the believe is that—Yes—we have done what is expected of us. We fasted throughout lent, now we don’t need to fast. It is done now, until next year when lent comes round again. This makes lent the most depressing time in many Catholic homes and lives. A time when children particularly adolescents wish will pass away soon so enjoyment can start once more.

However, have we thought of the good that can happen if we turn this so-called depressing time called lent on its head and make it really enjoyable and practiced through the year?

That means penance, conversion and fasting will be what we crave rather than dread. That’s what the saints did. The apostles did the same too. They always counted themselves lucky to be chosen by God to do penance, conversion and fasting. Look at the numbers that joined the apostles daily as new converts despite the political wishes of the rulers. That means we need to change our mindset to that of the saints so our actions will sync with theirs.

To change our mindset about penance means we need to consider forfeiting (giving up), making amends (compensation) and simply saying I am sorry (contrition) as a way of life. This way we shall stop presenting penance as the most depressing time in our lives rather it will become what we love most because it will make us good people. This conversion which means change is for ourselves first. We need to do penance for conversion of ourselves daily. That should be fun!! Because we shall have to sacrifice something, say sorry several times and always make amends. Think of what will happen if we all act in this way, every day. Conversion certainly. So, can we do penance for conversion? Yes, we can. The benefit of conversion is a better society.

The fasting we are used to is that from food, drink and pleasure. This is often not sustainable and has led Christians to think that fasting is mainly for lent as I discussed earlier. What if in addition to physical fasting we fast from our weaknesses too and make this a way of life? By our actions we can teach people around us to do the same. Brothers and sisters this is conversion in action and we shall have the power to change a whole nation.

Our Lady of Aokpe, the Mediatrix of All Graces…Pray for us as we go forth to repair our nation and the world. Amen

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