SINGAPORE – Lent is "a period of renewal and a time for Christians to take time for religious reflection and contemplation and focus on charitable deeds to help us draw closer to God", Archbishop Nicholas Chia said in his messsage for Lent.

The message is published in the Lenten booklet "Led by the Spirit into New Life" prepared by the Singapore Pastoral Institute and the Catholic Social and Community Council. It has been distributed at all parishes from Jan 26.

Archbishop Chia hopes all parishioners will use it with their family, neighbourhood group or Small Christian Community.

Giving time to prayer will help us draw closer to Jesus and share in his compassionate love, he encouraged.

"The life of Jesus showed that he identified with the poor and destitute and was extremely sensitive to their needs," the archbishop said.

Jesus urges charity and compassion and presents almsgiving as a necessary part of Christian life, Archbishop Chia continued.

He asked that Singapore Catholics donate generously to Charities Week 2008 to help the good works of the archdiocese’s Catholic charities. Under the umbrella of the Catholic Social and Community Council are 15 organizations whose work touches the lives of more than 40,000 beneficiaries.

"The poor and needy are around us even today: the abused and abandoned children; the elderly, the sick and the suffering; migrant workers who have been exploited and those who are displaced," he said.

"You may also wish to give beyond your financial resources to include your time and talent," he encouraged. n

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