Pope Francis: message for Lent 2021
Posted: Wed, 17 Feb 2021 09:00
In his message for Lent this year, Pope Francis reminds us this is a time for renewing faith, hope and love, and explains what it means 'to experience Lent with love' in our difficult times.
'At the Easter vigil, we will renew our baptismal promises and experience rebirth as new men and women by the working of the Holy Spirit. This Lenten journey, like the entire pilgrimage of the Christian life, is even now illumined by the light of the resurrection, which inspires the thoughts, attitudes and decisions of the followers of Christ, ' he writes.
His Holiness highlights the relationship between faith and the truth revealed through Christ, pointing out that this truth is not an 'abstract concept' accessible only to a chosen few, but 'a message that all of us can receive and understand thanks to the wisdom of a heart open to the grandeur of God, who loves us even before we are aware of it.'
Speaking of the Lenten obligations, the Pope writes that 'Fasting involves being freed from all that weighs us down – like consumerism or an excess of information, whether true or false – in order to open the doors of our hearts to the One who comes to us, poor in all things, yet "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14): the Son of God our Saviour.'
He acknowledges the present worldwide crisis: 'In these times of trouble, when everything seems fragile and uncertain, it may appear challenging to speak of hope. Yet Lent is precisely the season of hope, when we turn back to God who patiently continues to care for his creation which we have often mistreated (cf. Laudato Si', 32-33; 43-44).'
Referring to St Paul who urges us to 'place our hope in reconciliation', Pope Francis explains that the sacrament of reconciliation plays a pivotal role in our ability to 'spread forgiveness to others' having received it ourselves. This, he says, enables us to enter dialogue with others and to comfort those in pain and sorrow: 'God's forgiveness, offered also through our words and actions, enables us to experience an Easter of fraternity.'
He describes the love Christ demonstrates to us as 'the highest expression of our faith and hope' and referring to his words in Fratelli Tutti, he urges us to act from 'social love' to move towards building a new world: ' "No mere sentiment, it is the best means of discovering effective paths of development for everyone" (Fratelli Tutti, 183)." '
The gift of love brings meaning to our lives and 'enables us to view those in need as members of our own family, as friends, brothers or sisters,' encouraging us to care for those who are suffering, abandoned or fearful during the pandemic, 'In these days of deep uncertainty about the future, let us keep in mind the Lord's word to his Servant, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you" (Is 43:1).'
His Holiness quotes a passage from Fratelli Tutti to remind us that love is essential for us to recognise the dignity and value of each other: ' "Only a gaze transformed by charity can enable the dignity of others to be recognized and, as a consequence, the poor to be acknowledged and valued in their dignity, respected in their identity and culture, and thus truly integrated into society" (Fratelli Tutti, 187).'
Exhorting us to live Lent as an opportunity to renew our faith and support others, he writes, 'The call to experience Lent as a journey of conversion, prayer and sharing of our goods, helps us – as communities and as individuals – to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father.'
The Holy Father closes his Lenten message with a blessing:
'May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter.'
You can read the full message in the pdf document below