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Pope Francis during the Angelus of 23 august 2015

Angelus / PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Angelus Address: On the Need for Conversion

‘Lent Is a Journey of Conversion and a Struggle against Evil’

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

On this first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel recalls the themes of temptation, of conversion and of the Good News. The evangelist Mark writes: “The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:12-13). Jesus goes into the desert to prepare himself for His mission in the world. He has no need of conversion but, in as much as man, He must pass through this test, be it for Himself, to obey the will of the Father, be it for us, to give us the grace to overcome temptations. This preparation consists in fighting against the spirit of evil, namely, against the devil. For us also, Lent is a time of spiritual “challenge,” of spiritual struggle: we are called to face the Evil One through prayer so that with God’s help, we are able to overcome him in our daily life. We know it, evil, unfortunately, is at work in our existence and around us, where violence, rejection of the other, closures, wars and injustices are manifested.

Immediately after the temptations in the wilderness, Jesus begins to preach the Gospel, namely, the Good News, the second word. The first was “temptation”; the second, “Good News.” And this Good News exacts from man conversion — third word — and faith. He proclaims: “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand”; then He exhorts: “repent, and believe in the Gospel” (v. 15), that is, believe in this Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand. In our life, we are always in need of conversion — every day! –, and the Church makes us pray for this. In fact, we are never sufficiently oriented to God and we must constantly direct our mind and heart to Him. To do this, it’s necessary to have the courage to reject all that leads us outside the way, the false values that deceive us, attracting our egoism in a sly way. Instead, we must trust the Lord, His goodness and His plan of love for each one of us. Lent is a time of penance, yes, but it’s not a sad time, of mourning. It’s a joyful and serious commitment to strip ourselves of our egoism, of the old man in us, and of renewing ourselves according to the grace of our Baptism.

God alone can give us true happiness: it’s useless for us to waste time seeking it elsewhere, in riches, in pleasures, in power, in a career . . . The Kingdom of God is the realization of all our aspirations because it is, at the same time, salvation of man and glory of God. In this first Sunday of Lent we are invited to listen attentively and to take up this appeal of Jesus to convert ourselves and to believe in the Gospel. We are exhorted to undertake with commitment the path to Easter, to receive ever more the grace of God, who wants to transform the world into a kingdom of justice, of peace <and> of fraternity.

May Mary Most Holy help us to live this Lent with fidelity to the Word of God and with incessant prayer, as Jesus did in the desert. It’s not impossible! It’s about living the days with the ardent desire to receive the love that comes from God and who wants to transform our life and the whole world.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

After the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In a month, from March 19-24, some 300 young people from all over the world will come to Rome for a preparatory meeting to the October Synod. However, I intensely desire that all the young people may be protagonists of this preparation. Therefore, they will be able to intervene on line through linguistic groups moderated by other young people. The contribution of the “network groups” will join that of Rome’s meeting. Dear young people, you can find the information on the Website of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops. I thank you for your contribution to walk together!

I greet you, families, parish groups, Associations and all the pilgrims from Italy and from different countries. I greet the faithful of the dioceses of Murcia, Vannes, Warsaw and Wroclaw, as well as those of Erba, Vignole, Fontaneto D’Agogna, Silvi and Troina. I greet the youngsters of the deanery of Baggio (Milan) and those of Melito Porto Salvo.

At the beginning of Lent, which — as I said — is a journey of conversion and a struggle against evil, I wish to express a particular greeting to imprisoned persons: dear brothers and sisters who are in prison, I encourage each one of you to live the Lenten season as an occasion of reconciliation and renewal of your life under the Lord’s merciful gaze. He never tires of forgiving.

I ask all to remember me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia in prayer, who this evening begin a week of Spiritual Exercises.

I wish you a happy Sunday. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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