VATICAN—Pope Francis mentioned the 40 days of Lent are a chance to show from the slavery of sin to the liberty present in reconciliation with God.
“The journey of Lent is an exodus from slavery to freedom,” the pope mentioned on February 17. “These 40 days correspond to the 40 years that God’s folks trekked by the desert to return to their homeland. How tough it was to depart Egypt!”
The Israelites had many temptations in the course of the 40 years they wandered within the desert and “so it’s with us,” Francis added.
“Our journey again to God is blocked by our unhealthy attachments, held again by the seductive snares of our sins, by the false safety of cash and appearances, by the paralysis of our discontents,” the Catholic chief mentioned.
“To embark on this journey, we have now to unmask these illusions.”
To mark the beginning of Lent, Pope Francis provided Mass on the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica with about 50 cardinals and a congregation of round 100 folks.
It has been the pope’s custom to say the Ash Wednesday Mass on the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome’s Aventine Hill following a brief procession from the close by St. Anselm Church.
However because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Mass was provided on the Vatican this 12 months.
In his homily, Pope Francis mirrored on St. Paul’s exhortation in 2 Corinthians to “be reconciled to God.”
“Be reconciled: the journey is just not primarily based on our personal power,” he mentioned. “Heartfelt conversion, with the deeds and practices that specific it, is feasible provided that it begins with the primacy of God’s work. What permits us to return to him is just not our personal means or advantage, however his provide of grace.”
“The start of the return to God is the popularity of our want for him and his mercy, the necessity for his grace. That is the appropriate path, the trail of humility,” Francis mentioned.
He additionally famous God’s message by the Prophet Joel: “Return to me with all of your coronary heart.”
“What number of instances, in our exercise or indifference, have we instructed him: ‘Lord, I’ll come to you later, wait… I can’t come right this moment, however tomorrow I’ll start to wish and do one thing for others,›” he mentioned.
“God now appeals to our hearts,” the pope mentioned. “On this life, we’ll at all times have issues to do and excuses to supply, however now, brothers and sisters, is the time to return to God.”
In accordance with Pope Francis, Lent is about greater than the little sacrifices we make, however about realizing the place our hearts are oriented, and turning them again towards relationship with God.
“Lent is a journey that entails our entire life, our whole being,” he mentioned, advising folks to replicate on tales of conversion in Sacred Scripture to know easy methods to begin the journey of the Lenten season.
The story of the Prodigal Son, for instance, exhibits us that it’s time to return to the Father, he mentioned: “We have now fallen down, like little youngsters who always fall, toddlers who attempt to stroll however preserve falling and want, time and time once more, to be picked up by their father.”
“It’s the Father’s forgiveness that at all times units us again on our ft,” he mentioned. “God’s forgiveness—Confession—is step one on our return journey.”
One other mannequin to comply with, the pope famous, is that of the leper who, healed by Jesus Christ from his sickness, returned to him in thanksgiving.
“All of us, all, have non secular infirmities that we can’t heal on our personal. All of us have deep seated vices that we can’t uproot alone. All of us have paralyzing fears that we can’t overcome alone,” he mentioned.
“We have to imitate that leper, who got here again to Jesus and threw himself at his ft,” he urged. “We want Jesus’ therapeutic, we have to current our wounds to him and say: ‘Jesus, I’m in your presence, with my sin, with my sorrows. You’re the doctor. You may set me free. Heal my coronary heart.›”
In accordance with the pope, part of Lent is decreasing one’s self, “changing into little.”
“At this time we bow our heads to obtain ashes. On the finish of Lent, we’ll bow even decrease to clean the ft of our brothers and sisters,” he mentioned.
“Lent is a humble descent each inward and towards others,” he added. “It’s about realizing that salvation is just not an ascent to glory, however a descent in love.”
Villegas: Lent is time for acts of gratitude
Within the Philippines, a Catholic archbishop mentioned that greater than fasting and abstinence, Lent is an apt season to start cultivating an angle or way of life of gratitude.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan mentioned the gratitude that comes from encountering Christ’s love and mercy is sufficient to make folks holy.
“We don’t develop into holy by giving up. We don’t develop into holy by doing one thing for the Lord,” Villegas mentioned. “What makes us holy? Gratitude.”
“Gratitude is what makes folks saints and ingratitude is what makes folks devils,” he burdened.
The archbishop was talking in his homily in the course of the Ash Wednesday Mass on the St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Dagupan Metropolis.
The service marked the start of Lent, a 40-day season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that ends at sunset on Holy Thursday.
However Villegas asserted that being grateful is “extra essential” than giving up and sacrificing.
“It isn’t about what we surrender. It’s saying ‘thanks’ for all the things that makes us holy. It isn’t what we do for God,” he mentioned.
“Let it’s clear, God doesn’t want what we wish to do for him as a result of Christianity is just not about telling folks what to do for God. Christianity is about telling folks what God has accomplished for humanity.”
“And if we all know what God has accomplished for humanity, what can we are saying however ‘thanks, Lord!›” Villegas added.
Ash Wednesday is historically the time when Catholics get a cross of ashes utilized on their foreheads. Nevertheless, Covid-19 restrictions made church leaders modify the method.
The trustworthy as an alternative had ashes sprinkled on prime of their heads as a reminder that “we got here from mud, and to mud we will return”.
“Do not forget that between the ashes of our origin and the ashes of our conclusion [in life], we have now many blessings in between. Don’t forget that every one these blessings got here from the Lord,” Villegas mentioned. Hannah Brockhaus/Catholic Information Company and Roy Lagarde/CBCP Information