• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Nigerians carrying more crosses now than ever – Archbishop Martins

Nigerians carrying more crosses now than ever – Archbishop Martins

The Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos recently celebrated the 2021 ‘Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross and investiture of Papal Chaplains, Knights and Medalists’, held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. Alfred Adewale Martins, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, spoke on the celebration; Papal Chaplains, Knights and Medalists awardees and what it signifies in the lives of Catholic faithful. Excerpts by SEYI JOHN SALAU:

With the trying economic realities in the country and in light of the celebration; what do you have to say to Nigerians?

Well, obviously these are very difficult times for Nigerians, and indeed it seems Nigerians are carrying more crosses now than ever before because of the challenges of our time. So, we can only ask that in spite of our challenges that we never lose focus of who we are as a people – a people that should be united more than we are; a people that should make efforts to support one another and be more united with one another. And, of course, it is also important to say that some of the crosses we bear have been imposed on us by bad leadership; by bad governance; by corruption. Some of the crosses have been imposed upon us, and so we want to also challenge those who lead us to try and see what need to be done in order to lift the challenges that Nigerians are facing now. The insecurity and all of that; we expect that government will do much more better.

It is no doubt a double celebration for the Church today; so what is the take home from here?

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. It is one day in the life of the Church that we focus attention on the instrument that Jesus used in bringing salvation to the world. Jesus came into the world and He was going to save the world. He came into the world to save the world, and the instrument that he used is the Cross – His death on the Cross. So, that is what we are celebrating today; acknowledging the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for the sake of bringing us salvation, and of course, encouraging ourselves that if we have crosses that we must carry; we must look up to Jesus and see how He carried his own cross and the result of carrying that cross, which is salvation. So, that is the whole purpose of this celebration.

Read also: Insecurity: Martins urges Nigerians to be more united despite challenges

How were the awardees selected by the Church and what are the selection processes?

Well, the Church has its own ways of recognising and acknowledging the contributions the people have made in the life of the Church in terms of the services they rendered. Many of these men and women are taking active part in the life of their different parishes as members of councils, as members of committees and as people who have distinguished themselves to work for charity within their different parishes. And of course, they have also helped the Archdiocese with so many works with regards to education; with regards to health and with regards to social services. So, these men and women have been of great help and of course, as I said during mass, there are many more of such persons but gradually people will get the acknowledgment they deserve.

What is expected of these awardees from the Church and the society at large?

First of all, that they live lives that give testimony to the faith that they profess. Now, we expect that in many ways they will be models of good Catholic faith and good Christian leaders more than ever before. Secondly, they will also continue to work in their different parishes for the different areas of life that we have mentioned before. And we respect too that their families will be model families that everyone can look up to by the way they conduct themselves in business, in social lives and other areas.

Take home message for the Catholic faithful as they celebrate the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross this year?

It is good to serve the Lord. When you serve the Lord, you get many more blessings than you ever could consider yourself of being worthy of. This award of Papal honour is a blessing the Lord has given to these people for the efforts they have made before. So, in general therefore; when we serve the Lord, the Lord will certainly reward us. But, most importantly, we look to the reward that comes at the end of life- the joy of heaven. Exaltation of the Cross is annual. 14th of September every year we celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross. But of course, the Papal Knighthood and medal honours come once in a while.