Our hearts go out to the people of Türkiye and Syria, many of whom have already endured years of violence, their lives now devastated by the earthquake and aftershocks. Literally overnight, tens of thousands of peoples’ lives have been changed forever, and those who survived have been plunged into grinding poverty and hopelessness.

The Missio National Director in Syria – Monsignor Mounir Saccal – has been in touch:

Today we bury our dead, and we understand the extent of this disaster, realising that we are unable to meet the economic needs to repair the damage on our own.

‘During the day some people stay in the Parish Centre, but most go out looking for family and friends… In the evening, the Parish in Aleppo is sheltering around 250 people, providing mattresses and food… It is cold: -5C… Please pray, pray that we have the strength to give comfort to our people, so that they can find faith and hope for better days.’

We can add to this the suffering of innocent people in Ukraine and in dozens of other places of violent conflict throughout the world. As the Holy Father, Pope Francis, said during his recent visit to South Sudan, ‘the world seems to be at war with itself’.

Soon we will begin the forty days of Lent, a time of restrained joy, as we quietly focus our prayers on those in need; as we sacrifice something in solidarity with those who have nothing; and as we offer what we can to help those in greatest need.

Lent is a season of repentance that invites us to acknowledge our humility, symbolised by the receiving of Ashes, and to turn to God in trust and hope. Humility is the admission to ourselves and others that as hard as we may try (and we should try hard), we cannot control everything in our own lives, let alone solve the problems of the world! We need the help, guidance, and grace from God to bring about a change of hearts and minds across the world, as God’s Kingdom inexorably bursts in upon us.

At Missio, we nurture and develop a missionary spirit through prayer, sacrifice, and giving. And as a supporter of Missio you are already making a difference, as one diocese in South Africa wrote to me:

‘Thank you for coming to our rescue’.

Pope Francis wrote in his Message for World Mission Sunday this year:

‘The Lord is greater than all our problems, above all if we encounter them in our mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the world. For in the end, this mission is his and we are nothing more than his humble co-workers.’

I wish you a very joyful and fruitful Lent, please join me in keeping those suffering in Türkiye, Syria, Ukraine, and all those who are troubled, in prayer.

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