Not Observing Lent Empties Christianity of “authentic power, identity”: Nigerian Bishop

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria's Oyo Diocese. Credit: Diocese of Oyo

Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo of Nigeria’s Oyo Diocese has urged Christians to observe Lent, saying failure to take part in the 40-day period characterized by prayer, fasting and almsgiving undermines the “authentic power and identity” of Christianity.

In his reflection ahead of this year’s Lenten Season shared with ACI Africa Monday, February 28, Bishop Badejo says the observance of Lent “speaks to the relationship between Jesus Christ and Christians which should really be of friendship and authentic love.”

“Christians simply cannot be taking only what is pleasant in Christianity like pleasure and prosperity and leaving aside the salvific suffering, fasting and prayer part. To do so is to empty Christianity of its authentic power and identity,” the Nigerian Catholic Bishop says about the Christian observance set to begin with Ash Wednesday, on March 2. 

Like true friends and lovers who desire to share each other’s sorrows and joy, he says, "Christians who are truly friends of Jesus must desire to experience what he experienced, to share his life and live in his love."

“If we celebrate only Christ’s glory and victory, how can we participate in his mission and salvation?” Bishop Badejo poses in his reflection titled, “Lenten observances, another look.”


Fasting, prayer and almsgiving are among the best means of participating in Christ’s mission of salvation, the 60-year-old Nigerian Bishop further says, adding that those who do not observe the three Lenten observances "have a very different understanding of Jesus and their relationship with Him."

He says, “Our world is not yet perfect, so the friends of Jesus need to constantly make themselves better and partake in his mission of making the world a better place for the conversion of sinners and saving souls.”

Lenten observances such as self-examination, alms giving and reconciliation "are necessary to make the world more peaceful, charitable and harmonious," the Local Ordinary of Oyo Diocese who doubles as the President of the Pan African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS) further says.

"Lent is a period of renewal, retreat and spiritual rehabilitation which everybody needs. It is also a period of reconciliation since, wherever we live and relate with others we are bound to offend or hurt each other," he says in his reflection shared with ACI Africa February 28.

He adds in reference to the religious practice of renewal, retreat, spiritual rehabilitation, and reconciliation, "Nigeria needs so much of that today in order to reduce wickedness, injustice, anger, conflict and bloodshed in our nation."

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The Catholic Bishop who is serving as a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication since last December says Christians must not only take better care of the needy and the poor but also repent and change their ways for the better in readiness for their salvation.

"Such a period is always helpful as the new year begins. Permanent pleasure and fun corrode the soul and spirit. That is the reason for the message of Prophet Isaiah: 'Come let us talk together. Though your sins are as scarlet they shall be white as snow,'" Bishop Badejo says in his reflection ahead of this year’s Lenten Season.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.