Go Against the Grain of World´s Thinking, Pope Says

Warns of Desire for «Ephemeral Satisfactions»

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 4, 2001 (Zenit.org).- For John Paul II, Lent is an opportunity for a Christian to live the fullness of Christ´s love, «in sharp contrast to the mentality of the world.»

At his traditional midday discourse to pilgrims gathered below his apartment in St. Peter´s Square to pray the Angelus, the Holy Father proposed that Christians make this Lent a time to discover what Jesus meant in the Gospel when he said: «He who loves his life loses it.»

«These words do not express contempt for life but, on the contrary, genuine love for it,» the Holy Father said. «A love that does not desire this fundamental good just for itself and immediately, but for all and forever, in sharp contrast to the mentality of the world.»

The Bishop of Rome equated the prevailing mentality with the desire for «ephemeral satisfactions,» which lead to contempt of one´s «own dignity and that of others.»

The Pope contrasted the dominant cultural model of the day with Jesus´ words: «He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.»

«What does ´to deny oneself,´ ´to hate one´s own life´ mean?» the Holy Father asked. «Such expressions, poorly understood, have at times given Christianity the image of a religion that mortifies the human, while Jesus came so that man would have life and have it in abundance.»

«Contrary to the false teachers of yesterday and today, Christ does not deceive,» the Pope explained. «He knows the human creature profoundly and knows that in order to reach life, [the creature] must complete a ´transition,´ a Passover, precisely, from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the children of God, denying the ´the old man´ to give way to the new man, redeemed by Christ.»

If this experience is genuine, it should change the life of Christians, being translated into «concrete personal, ecclesial and social choices,» John Paul II stressed.

Before bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Pope asked them for their prayers this week for himself and his collaborators in the Roman Curia, who are beginning their annual retreat «so that these days of intense listening to the Spirit of God, and of silence and constant prayer will result in the hoped-for fruits of spiritual renewal.»

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