Lent Called a Time to Strip Away Masks

Vatican Spokesman Says It Is a Season for Truth

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Lent is a good time for self-discovery — a season to live “without masks,” says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, made this proposal during the most recent edition of Vatican Television’s “Octava Dies.” He was drawing from a reflection made by Benedict XVI during his meeting with the clergy of Rome last week.

On that occasion, the Pope considered how a pastor of souls has a special role, since people come to him “without masks,” in their truth, without hiding behind the role they have in society.

“[The Holy Father] insisted on the fact that the faith can be effectively proclaimed to men and women if it passes through the lived experience of the one who proclaims it, and if it is proclaimed in its essential simplicity, without weighing it down too much with erudite considerations,” Father Lombardi explained.

“Lent should be lived in this spirit,” he stressed. “It is a time for presenting ourselves to God without masks, to try to put our relationship with him back at the center of each of our lives and to simplify our interests and words, returning them to what is truly important.”

The spokesman recalled how on Ash Wednesday, the Pontiff said that “Jesus is in the depths of our heart. Our relationship with him is present even when we speak and act in our professional duties. … This relationship sometimes becomes explicit prayer.”

And in his Lenten message, Father Lombardi added, the Bishop of Rome recalled the value of fasting, inviting the faithful to find appropriate forms for it in daily life, as an exercise of freeing ourselves from attachment to ourselves to open ourselves to the love of God and charity in solidarity with others.

“Thus,” Father Lombardi concluded, “this is a time to rediscover the right place for God and attention to others with the help of simple concrete and daily gestures: prayer, fasting, almsgiving. It is a time to rediscover ourselves too and our truth, without masks. Let us not miss these opportunities!”

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