Pray, Fast for “true peace”: Benin’s Catholic Bishops in Lenten Message

Bishop Eugène Cyrille Houndékon reading the message of members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB). Credit: CEB

Catholic Bishops in Benin are inviting the people of God in the West African nation to engage in various forms of prayer and to fast during the Lenten season that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14, for “true peace” in the country. 

In their Lenten Message 2024 shared with ACI Africa Sunday, February 11, members of the Episcopal Conference of Benin (CEB) highlight the various forms of prayer, and say, “Prayer is of the utmost importance in the life of the Church and of every Christian.”

“In this time of grace that prepares us for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, we encourage you to make your prayers a filial, trusting and persevering cry to the Father who loves us, while seeking abandonment to his will that leads to true peace,” CEB members say.

They exhort the people of God “to lift up to Him prayers of intercession, praise and thanksgiving, echoing Saint Paul's exhortation: ‘Beloved, I encourage you above all to make requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving for all men, for heads of state and all those in authority, so that we may lead our lives in peace and quiet, in all piety and dignity.’”

CEB members also call upon the people of God under their pastoral care to “include moments of silent adoration or prayer”.


They emphasize the importance of the Eucharistic celebration as a form of prayer, describing it “as an expression of one heart and one soul, which translates into solidarity and the sharing of daily bread.”

Prayer involves “a commitment to concrete support for those in need,” Catholic Bishops in Benin say, and add, “Praying implies doing everything in our power to alleviate the suffering of our brothers and sisters in humanity.”

They identify Small Christian Communities (SCC) and parishes as possible “first places of prayer” and also the concrete contexts where “action in favor of the most destitute” can be achieved.

In their message dated February 5, Catholic Bishops in Benin highlight the importance of fasting.

“Fasting expresses the desire to humble oneself before God to beg for his mercy. Consequently, fasting is also a prayer that we raise up to God, in a logic of penance, to ask forgiveness for personal and collective sins,” they say.

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Fasting, the add, “can also be directed towards intercession in delicate situations.”

“We have often called you to observe days of fasting and prayer, and we encourage you to continue to do so for the sake of peace in the world, in our country and for the Church,” they say, and implore, “May our fasting, in this Lenten season, become an outward sign of a humble and contrite heart.”

In combining prayer and fasting, God accomplishes “His work of sanctification in us,” CEB members say. 

They implore, “May our prayer and fasting during this Lenten season become a major instrument of charity. May the Virgin Mary, model of the Church at prayer, obtain for each of us a new outpouring of the spirit of prayer. May she accompany us during this Lenten season of intense preparation for the joyful celebration of the Paschal Mystery.”

In his Message for Lent 2024, Pope Francis has reflected on the Book of Exodus. Taking the theme, “Through the Desert God Leads Us to Freedom”, the Holy Father calls upon the people of God to take the Lenten Season as a journey from bondage to spiritual renewal and freedom.


“When our God reveals himself, his message is always one of freedom,” Pope Francis says in his February 1 message.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.