John Paul II´s Sunday Angelus Address

«Let Us Go in Joy on the Demanding Lenten Route»

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VATICAN CITY, MAR. 4, 2001 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address at midday today, before praying the Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square.

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Dearest Brothers and Sisters!

1. We began Lent a few days ago, a time of prayer and penance, which calls us to take stock of ourselves in a special way, in keeping with the demands of the divine Master, who says: «If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me» (Matthew 16:24); and again, «where I am, there shall my servant be also» (John 12:26). When he said: «He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life, » he was not only addressing the disciples but everyone (John 12:25).

2. What does «to deny oneself,» «to hate one´s own life» mean? 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 (see John 10:10). The fact is that, contrary to the false teachers of yesterday and today, Christ does not deceive. 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 old man» to give way to the new man, redeemed by Christ.

«Whoever loves his life loses it.» These words do not express contempt for life but, on the contrary, genuine love for it. 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.» In reality, life is found in following Christ on the «narrow road»; whereas, whoever chooses the «wide» and comfortable road, exchanges life for ephemeral satisfactions, being contemptuous of his own dignity and that of others.

3. Therefore, let us go in joy on the demanding Lenten route, seeking to translate the interior renewal into concrete personal, ecclesial and social choices. Mary Most Holy is close to us on this road, she always precedes us in following her Son Jesus, and sustains us when the battle against the spirit of Evil becomes harder and more arduous. We entrust Lent to her, so that it will be a time of profound conversion for the whole Christian people.

Moreover, we ask her to accompany the Roman Curia who, together with me, will begin spiritual exercises this evening. We also count on your prayers to the Lord, dear Brothers and Sisters, 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.
[Translation by ZENIT]

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