“Lent is a ‘strong’ time, a turning point that can encourage in each one of us a change, a conversion to come out from tiring habits and from the lazy addiction of evil that deceives us.”
These are the words of Pope Francis during today’s General Audience during which he reflected on the Lenten season that begins today with Ash Wednesday.
The Holy Father told the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square that Lent brings two important invitations: a keener awareness of the redemptive work of Christ and a greater commitment to our Baptism.
This awareness, he noted, makes us grateful to God for our salvation. “From here, comes our conversation: it is the grateful response to the wonderful mystery of God’s love.” Regarding the commitment to Baptism, the Holy Father said that such an attitude helps us avoid the habit of “degrading situations” that we may find in our lives.
“There is the risk to passively accept certain behaviors and to not marvel at the sad realities that surround us,” he said. “We become accustomed to violence, as if it were obvious daily news. We become accustomed to brothers and sisters who sleep on the streets, who do not have a roof [over their heads] for shelter.”
“We become accustomed to refugees who are searching for freedom and dignity, who are not accepted as they should. We become accustomed to live in a society that claims to do without God, in which parents do not teach their children to pray anymore nor to make the sign of the cross.”
The Pope went on to say that the Lenten season allows all of us to recover the ability to confront the reality of evil in our lives. Lent is a time of conversion and personal renewal that allows us to look at others in a different light.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis reminded the faithful of several essential elements to live the Lenten season: to give thanks to God for the mystery of his crucified love, authentic faith, conversion and openness of heart to all.
“On this path,” he concluded, “let us invoke with particular faithfulness, the protection and help of the Virgin Mary. May She, the first believer in Christ, accompany us in the days of intense prayer and penance, to be able to celebrate, purified and renewed in the Spirit, the great mystery of the Passover of her Son.”