As the sun rose, so too did hundreds from the Laventille/Morvant Pastoral Area (LMPA), to make their way to St Theresa’s RC Church, Valencia for this year’s annual Lenten pilgrimage on March 10.
The agenda for the day commenced promptly at 8.30 a.m. with a procession through one of the settlements in the area. Pilgrims prayed the Stations of the Cross, sang, praised God and maintained the penitential mood for the morning.
These were led by each of the communities of St Dominic’s, Morvant; Corpus Christi, Success Village; St Jude’s, Trou Macaque; and National Marian Shrine, Laventille under the leadership of parish priest, Fr Trevor Nathasingh.
Back at the church, the ever-vibrant Winston Garcia of the People of Praise Community, Arima was the feature speaker on the theme of Fasting. Firstly, he pointed to the reality that “too many Catholics are on vacation instead of vocation”. He referenced Joel 2:12, “Come back to me with all your heart with fasting”. He explained that the heart is the seat of your emotions, your identity and personality.
He further stated that we should cherish the people who tell us the truth about ourselves. He emphasised “fasting gets results fast” and the balance of power of good and evil changes during the 40 days of Lent because people are praying and fasting.
Our fasting should be sanctified and he cautioned against quarrelling and being spiteful when fasting. He added that your strength can also be your weakness. Garcia encouraged all to be an active Christian and to come to God with clean hands and a pure heart.
The session of intercessory prayer then followed where various groups were prayed with: men, youth, married couples, then everyone else. For the small window of free time before Mass, Fr Trevor asked whether anybody would like to share their testimony. There was lots shared on healing, further building the faith of the congregation.
In his homily during Mass, Fr Trevor reiterated that it is the truth that will set us free and we cannot escape the responsibility for disobeying the Word of God. In this age of technology, there is no excuse for not reading the Bible as it is so accessible on mobile phones, iPads and computers.
He referenced Romans 10:13, where everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, and expounded on 40 days/years being linked with the time of preparation for service. He highlighted a series of biblical references and stories in support of this, namely: Numbers 14, Judges 13, 1 Kings 19:8, Noah and the Ark and the journey of the Israelites into the promised land.
He reminded us that Lent is a time where we will experience testing and temptation. However, he brought to the fore that the opportune moment of temptation for Jesus Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He had the choice to go through with the crucifixion or not.
In closing, Fr Trevor advocated that when we face extreme temptation, to know that there is victory in the name of Jesus Christ! —Cheryl-Ann Mader, parishioner, St Dominic’s RC Church, Morvant