Pope Francis says prayer must be at the heart of this Lent, for it is essential to have this heartfelt dialogue with Jesus our friend, in order to experience real conversion…
The Holy Father expressed this in his Message for Lent for 2020, which was published today, Feb. 24, 2020, by the Vatican and presented today in the Holy See Press Office.
Signed on Oct. 7, 2019, in the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, the title of this year’s message is “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Cor 5:20).”
This year, the Holy Father says, the Lord once again grants us “a favorable time to prepare to celebrate with renewed hearts the great mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.”
In the text, the Holy Father said he wished to share his words to young people in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit with all Christians, namely, “Keep your eyes fixed on the outstretched arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved…”
Among the text’s four different sections, Francis dedicated one to “the urgency of conversion,” focusing on the importance of prayer and contemplating more deeply the Paschal Mystery through which God’s mercy has been bestowed upon us.
The experience of mercy, the Pope reminded, “is only possible in a -face to face- relationship with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends.”
“That is why,” he underscored, “prayer is so important in Lent.”
More than a duty…
“Even more than a duty,” he said, “prayer is an expression of our need to respond to God’s love which always precedes and sustains us.”
Christians, the Holy Father reminded, pray “in the knowledge that, although unworthy, we are still loved.” Prayer, he acknowledged, can take any number of different forms, “but what truly matters in God’s eyes is that it penetrates deep within us and chips away at our hardness of heart, in order to convert us ever more fully to God and to His will.”
During Lent, he encouraged, may we allow ourselves to be led like Israel was into the desert, “so that we can at last hear our Spouse’s voice and allow it to resound ever more deeply within us.”
Pope Francis stressed that the more fully we are engaged with His word, the more we will experience the mercy He freely gives us.
“May we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the foolish illusion that we can control the times and means of our conversion to him,” he appealed.
Before concluding, the Holy Father noted, “I ask Mary Most Holy to pray that our Lenten celebration will open our hearts to hear God’s call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him.”
“In this way,” the Pope said, “we will become what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world (cf. Mt 5:13-14).”