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Lent With Pope Francis

Angelus Message for the Fifth Sunday of Lent


Today’s Gospel (Cf. John 12:20-33) recounts an episode that happened in the last days of Jesus’ life. The scene takes place in Jerusalem, where He was for the feast of the Jewish Passover. Some Greeks also arrived for the ritual celebration. They were men animated by religious sentiments, attracted by the faith of the Jewish people and that, having heard talk of this great prophet, came to Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, and said to him: “We wish to see Jesus” (v. 21). John highlights this phrase, focused on the verb to see, which in the vocabulary of the evangelist means to go beyond the appearances to grasp the mystery of a person. The verb that John uses, “to see,” is to get to the heart, to get to the depth of the person, inside the person, with the sight, and with understanding.

Jesus’ reaction is surprising. He doesn’t answer with a “yes” or a “no,” but He says: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified” (v. 23). These words, which seem at first glance to ignore the question of those Greeks, give, in reality, the true answer, because one who wishes to know Jesus must look within to the cross, where His glory is revealed. To look within to the cross. Today’s Gospel invites us to turn our gaze to the crucifix, which isn’t an ornamental object or an accessory of clothing – sometimes abused! – but is a religious sign to contemplate and understand. In the image of Jesus crucified is unveiled the mystery of the Death of the Son of God as supreme act of love, source of life and of salvation for humanity of all times. We were healed in His wounds.

I can think: “How do I look at the crucifix? As a work of art, to see if it’s beautiful or not beautiful? Or do I look inside, enter in Jesus’ wounds to His heart? Do I look at the mystery of God annihilated to death, as a slave, as a criminal?” Don’t forget this: to look at the crucifix, but to look at it inside. There is this beautiful devotion to pray an Our Father for each one of the five wounds: when we pray that Our Father, we seek to enter through Jesus’ wounds inside, inside, right to His heart. And there we will learn the great wisdom of Christ’s mystery, the great wisdom of the cross.

And to explain the meaning of His Death and Resurrection, Jesus makes use of an image and says: “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (v. 24). He wants to make it understood that His supreme event – namely the cross, Death, and Resurrection – is an act of fecundity – His wounds have healed us —  a fecundity that will bear fruit for many. So He compares Himself to the grain of wheat that, decaying in the earth, generates new life. With the Incarnation, Jesus came on earth, but this isn’t enough. He must also die to ransom men from the slavery of sin and give them a new life reconciled in love. I said: ”to ransom men”, but He paid that price to ransom me, you, all of us, each one of us. This is the mystery of Christ. It goes to His wounds, enters, contemplates, sees Jesus but from inside.

And this dynamism of the grain of wheat, accomplished in Jesus, must be realized also in us His disciples: we are called to make our own the paschal law of losing our life to receive it new and eternal. And what does it mean to lose one’s life? That is, what does it mean to be the grain of wheat? It means to think less of ourselves, of our personal interests, and to be able to “see” and go to meet the needs of our neighbor, especially the last. To carry out with joy works of charity towards all those that suffer in body and mind is the most genuine way to live the Gospel, it is the foundation necessary for our communities to grow in fraternity and mutual hospitality. I want to see Jesus, but to see Him from inside. Enter in His wounds and contemplate that love of His heart for you, for you, for you, for me, for all.

May the Virgin Mary, who always had her heart’s gaze fixed on her Son, from the manger of Bethlehem to the cross on Calvary, help us to meet and know Him as He wishes, so that we can live illuminated by Him, and bring to the world fruits of justice and peace.


After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A warm greeting goes to all of you here present, faithful of Rome and from many parts of the world. I greet the pilgrims of Slovakia and those of Madrid; the parish groups from Sant’Agnello, Pescara, Chieti, and Cheremule; the youngsters of the Diocese of Brescia and those of the “Romana-Vittoria” deanship of Milan.

I greet the Italian Folkloric Union, the group of families of Rubiera and the Confirmation candidates of Novi di Modena.

Yesterday I went on a visit to Pietrelcina and to San Giovanni Rotondo. I greet affectionately and thank the communities of the dioceses of Benevento and Manfredonia, the Bishops – Monsignor Accrocca and Monsignor Castoro – the consecrated, the faithful, the Authorities. I’m grateful for the warm welcome and carry all in my heart, but especially the sick of the Home for the Relief of Suffering, the elderly and the young people. I thank those that prepared this visit that I truly won’t forget. May Padre Pio bless you all.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Angelus Message for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!


In this fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Laetare” Sunday, that is, “Rejoice,” because so <reads> the Entrance Antiphon of the Eucharistic Liturgy, which invites us to joy: “Rejoice, Jerusalem [… .] — so it’s a call to joy — be glad and rejoice, you who mourned for her.” The Mass begins thus. What is the reason for this joy? The reason is the great love of God for humanity, as today’s Gospel points out: “God, in fact, so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). These words, pronounced by Jesus during the conversation with Nicodemus, summarize a theme that is at the centre of the Christian proclamation: even when a situation seems desperate, God intervenes, offering man salvation and joy. God, in fact, does not stand apart, but enters into the history of humanity, He “involves” Himself in our life; He enters it, to animate it with His grace and to save it.

We are called to listen to this proclamation, rejecting the temptation to consider ourselves secure in ourselves, wanting to do away with God, claiming absolute freedom from Him and from His Word. When we rediscover the courage to recognize ourselves for what we are — courage is needed for this! — We realise we are persons called to take account of our fragility and our limitations. Then it can happen that we are gripped by anguish, by anxiety for tomorrow, by fear of sickness and death. This explains why so many people, seeking a way out, sometimes take dangerous shortcuts as, for instance, the tunnel of drugs or that of superstitions and ruinous rituals of magic. It is good to know one’s limitations, one’s fragilities, we must know them, but not to despair, but offer them to the Lord, and He helps us on the way to healing, He takes us by the hand, and never leaves us alone – never! God is with us; therefore, I “rejoice,” we “rejoice” today: “Rejoice, Jerusalem,” it says because God is with us.

And we have a true and great hope in God the Father, rich in mercy, who has given us His Son to save us, and this is our joy. We also have much sadness, but, when we are true Christians, there is that hope, which is a small joy that grows and gives one security. We must not get discouraged when we see our limitations, our sins <and> our weaknesses: God is there, close, Jesus is on the cross to heal us. This is God’s love. Look at the Crucifix and say to yourself: “God loves me.” It’s true, there are these limitations, these weaknesses, these sins, but He is greater than the limitations and the weaknesses and the sins. Don’t forget this.” God is greater than our weaknesses than our infidelities than our sins. And we take the Lord by the hand, we look at the Crucifix and we go on.

May Mary, Mother of Mercy, put in our heart the certainty that God loves us; may she be close to us in moments when we feel alone when we are tempted to surrender to life’s difficulties. May she communicate to us the sentiments of her Son Jesus so that our Lenten journey becomes an experience of forgiveness, hospitality, and charity.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Angelus Message for the Third Sunday of Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!


Today’s Gospel, in John’s version, presents the episode in which Jesus drove out the merchants from the Temple of Jerusalem (Cf. John 2:13-25). He did this gesture, helping himself with a whip of cords and overturned the tables, saying, “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade!” (v. 16). This decisive action, carried out close to Passover, made a great impression on the crowd and aroused the hostility of the religious authorities and of all those that felt themselves threatened in their economic interests. But how should we interpret it? It certainly wasn’t a violent action. So true is this that it didn’t provoke the intervention of the guardians of public order – of the police. No! But it was intended as a typical action of prophets who, in the name of God, often denounced abuses and excesses. The question posed is that of authority. In fact, the Jews asked Jesus, “What sign have you to show us for this doing?” (v. 18), namely, what authority do you have to do these things? As if asking for a demonstration that He was truly acting in the name of God.

To interpret Jesus’ gesture of cleansing God’s house, His disciples made use of a biblical text, treated in Psalm 69: “Zeal for thy house has consumed Me” (v. 9); so says the Psalm: “Zeal for thy house has consumed Me.” This Psalm is an invocation of help in a situation of extreme danger because of the hatred of enemies: the situation that Jesus will live in His Passion. Zeal for His Father and for His cause will lead Him to the cross: His is the zeal of love that leads to the sacrifice of Himself, not that false love that presumes to serve God through violence. In fact, the “sign” that Jesus will give, as proof of His authority, is precisely His Death and Resurrection. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” He says (v. 19). And the evangelist notes: “He spoke of the temple of His body” (v. 21). With Jesus’ Pasch a new worship begins, in the new temple, the worship of love, and the new temple is He himself.

Jesus’ attitude, recounted in today’s evangelical page, exhorts us to live our lives seeking not our own advantage and interests, but for the glory of God who is love. We are called to always keep present those strong words of Jesus: “You shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade!” (v. 16). It is awful when the Church slips on this attitude of making God’s house a market. These words help us to reject the danger of making our soul, which is God’s abode, a marketplace, living in constant search for our benefit instead of in generous and solidary love. This teaching of Jesus is always timely, not only for the ecclesial communities but also for individuals, for civil communities and for society.  In fact, the temptation to take advantage of good activities, sometimes dutiful, is common, to cultivate private if not outright unlawful interests. It is a grave danger, especially when it instrumentalises God Himself and the worship due to Him, or the service to man, His image. That is why Jesus used “strong ways” that time, to shake us from this mortal danger.

May the Virgin Mary support us in our commitment to make Lent a good occasion to acknowledge God as the only Lord of our life, removing from our heart and from our works every form of idolatry.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Angelus Message for the Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!


Today’s Gospel, second Sunday of Lent, invites us to contemplate the Transfiguration of Christ (Cf. Mark 9:2-10). This episode is linked to what happened six days before when Jesus revealed to His disciples that at Jerusalem He would “suffer much and be rejected by the Elders, the Heads of the priests and scribes, be killed and, after three days, resurrect” (Mark 8:31). This announcement put Peter and the whole group of the disciples in crisis, who rejected the idea that Jesus would be rejected by the leaders of the people and then killed. They, in fact, awaited a powerful, strong, dominating Messiah; instead, Jesus presents Himself as the meek, as the humble Servant of God and Servant of men, who must give His life in sacrifice, passing through the way of persecution, of suffering and of death. However, how could one follow a Master and Messiah, whose earthly fortune would end in such a way? The answer comes, in fact, from the Transfiguration. What is Jesus’ Transfiguration? It is an anticipated paschal apparition.

Jesus took with Him three disciples: Peter, James and John and “led them up a high mountain” (Mark 9:2); and there He showed them His glory for a moment, the glory of the Son of God. So this event of the Transfiguration enables the disciples to face the Passion of Jesus in a positive way, without being overwhelmed. And Jesus thus prepares them for the test. The Transfiguration helps the disciples, and us, to understand that Christ’s Passion is a mystery of suffering, but it’s especially a gift of infinite love on Jesus’ part. The event of Jesus, who is transfigured on the mountain, makes us also understand better His Resurrection. To understand the mystery of the cross it is necessary to know in anticipation that He that that suffers and is glorified is not only a man but the Son of God, who has saved us, with His faithful love to death. Thus the Father renews His Messianic declaration on the Son, already made on the banks of the Jordan after the Baptism, and He exhorts: “listen to Him!” (v. 7). The disciples are called to follow the Master with confidence and hope, despite His death; Jesus’ divinity must manifest itself precisely on the cross, precisely in His dying “in that way,” so much so that the evangelist Mark puts on the centurion’s mouth the profession of faith: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (15:39).

We now turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, the human creature transfigured interiorly by the grace of Christ. We entrust ourselves confidentially to her maternal help, to continue the Lenten journey with faith and generosity.


After the Angelus, the Holy Father continued,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days my thought often goes to beloved and martyred Syria, where the war has intensified, especially in eastern Ghouta. This month of February has been one of the most violent in seven years of conflict: hundreds, thousands of civilian victims, children, women and elderly. Hospitals have been hit; people can’t procure for themselves something to eat . . .  Brothers and sisters, all this is inhuman. Evil can’t be combated with another evil, and war is an evil.  Therefore, I make my heartfelt appeal for violence to cease immediately, for access to be given to humanitarian aid – food and medicine – and for the wounded and sick to be evacuated. Let us pray together to God for this to happen immediately.

[Pause of silence] Hail Mary . . .

A warm greeting goes to all of you, pilgrims of Rome, of Italy and of different countries, particularly those who have come from Spis in Slovakia.

I greet the representatives of the diocesan television station of Prato with their Bishop, the young people of the orchestra of Oppido Mamertina and the scouts of Genoa. I greet the Confirmation candidates and the youngsters of the profession of faith from Serravalle, Scrivia, Verdellino, Zingonia, Lodi, Renate and Verduggio.

I greet the group that has come on the occasion of the “Day for Rare Diseases,” with encouragement to the Associations that work in this field. Thank you. Thank you for what you do.

I wish you all a happy Sunday. Don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

Angelus Message for the First Sunday of Lent

God alone can give us true happiness


God alone can give us true happiness, Pope Francis said, during his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday. The season of Lent is a time of penance, but it is not a time of sadness or mourning, but of joy and of returning to grace, the Holy Father said. “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.”

“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, he said, we must trust the Lord, His goodness and His plan of love for each one of us.

Pope Francis said, “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.”

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading according to St Mark, (Mk 1:12-13), which tells how Jesus went into the desert to prepare Himself for His mission in the world.

“The Lord had no need of conversion, but was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested, in order to obey the will of the Father, and to give us the grace to overcome temptation. His preparation consisted in fighting against the spirit of evil” and for us too. “We are called to face the Evil One with prayer” the Pope said, “so that, with God’s help we might be able to overcome him in our daily life.”

After his confrontation with the Devil, Jesus immediately began to preach the Good News, proclaiming “Repent and believe the Gospel.”

Pope Francis said in this life we are always in need of conversion – and during Lent, the Church has to pray for this conversion. “We need to have the courage to reject all that leads us astray… and must entrust ourselves to the Lord, to His goodness, and to His project of Love for each one of us.”

The Holy Father concluded, praying: “May Mary most holy help us live this Lent with fidelity to the Word of God and with incessant prayer, as Jesus did in the desert.

“It’s not impossible!” he said, “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.”

In his closing remarks, the Pope asked young people around the world to pray for participants meeting in Rome for the pre-synodal youth convocation. He also said some words of comfort and prayer for all those in prison at this time.

Finally Pope Francis asked all those present to pray for him and all members of the Roman Curia, who begin a week of Spiritual Exercises on Monday (19th February).

What to do this Lent!

Every year Catholics try to answer the age old question: What should I do for Lent? Well, Pope Francis has some ideas for all of us.
Pope Francis

  1. Get rid of the lazy addiction to evil
    [Lent] is a ‘powerful’ season, a turning point that can foster change and conversion in each of us. We all need to improve, to change for the better. Lent helps us and thus we leave behind old habits and the lazy addiction to the evil that deceives and ensnares us. – General Audience, March 5, 2014
  2. Do something that hurts
    Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.– Lenten Message, 2014
  3. Don’t remain indifferent
    Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. –Lenten Message, 2015
  4. Pray: Make our hearts like yours!
    During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: ‘Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum’: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalisation of indifference. – Lenten Message, 2015
  5. Take part in the sacraments
    Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. – Lenten Message, 2015
  6. Prayer
    In the face of so many wounds that hurt us and could harden our hearts, we are called to dive into the sea of prayer, which is the sea of God’s boundless love, to taste his tenderness. Lent is a time of prayer, of more intense prayer, more prolonged, more assiduous, more able to take on the needs of the brethren; intercessory prayer, to intercede before God for the many situations of poverty and suffering. – Homily, March 5, 2014
  7. Fasting
    We must be careful not to practice a formal fast, or one which in truth ‘satisfies’ us because it makes us feel good about ourselves. Fasting makes sense if it questions our security, and if it also leads to some benefit for others, if it helps us to cultivate the style of the Good Samaritan, who bends down to his brother in need and takes care of him. – Homily, March 5, 2014
  8. Almsgiving
    Today gratuitousness is often not part of daily life where everything is bought and sold. Everything is calculated and measured. Almsgiving helps us to experience giving freely, which leads to freedom from the obsession of possessing, from the fear of losing what we have, from the sadness of one who does not wish to share his wealth with others. – Homily, March 5, 2014
  9. Help the Poor
    In the poor and outcast we see Christ’s face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ. Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing. – Lenten Message, 2014
  10. Evangelise
    The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope! It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. – Lenten Message, 2014

You probably won’t be able to take huge steps forward in all of these areas. Instead, pick a couple that stand out to you and try to find practical ways to grow in your love of God and your love of your neighbour.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2018

Because of the increase of inquity, the love of many will grow cold (Mt 24:12)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Once again, the Pasch of the Lord draws near! In our preparation for Easter, God in his providence offers us each year the season of Lent as a “sacramental sign of our conversion”.[1] Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life.

With this message, I would like again this year to help the entire Church experience this time of grace anew, with joy and in truth. I will take my cue from the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (24:12).

These words appear in Christ’s preaching about the end of time. They were spoken in Jerusalem, on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s passion would begin. In reply to a question of the disciples, Jesus foretells a great tribulation and describes a situation in which the community of believers might well find itself: amid great trials, false prophets would lead people astray and the love that is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

False prophets

Let us listen to the Gospel passage and try to understand the guise such false prophets can assume.

They can appear as “snake charmers”, who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go. How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness! How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests! How many go through life believing that they are sufficient unto themselves, and end up entrapped by loneliness!

False prophets can also be “charlatans”, who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless. How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless! These swindlers, in peddling things that have no real value, rob people of all that is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love. They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us. Nor should we be surprised. In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is a liar and the father of lies (Jn 8:44), has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth. That is why each of us is called to peer into our heart to see if we are falling prey to the lies of these false prophets. We must learn to look closely, beneath the surface, and to recognize what leaves a good and lasting mark on our hearts, because it comes from God and is truly for our benefit.

A cold heart

In his description of hell, Dante Alighieri pictures the devil seated on a throne of ice,[2] in frozen and loveless isolation. We might well ask ourselves how it happens that charity can turn cold within us. What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?

More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, the root of all evil (1 Tim 6:10). The rejection of God and his peace soon follows; we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacraments.[3] All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own certainties: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbour who does not live up to our expectations.

Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing his praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.

Love can also grow cold in our own communities. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I sought to describe the most evident signs of this lack of love: selfishness and spiritual sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to self-absorption, constant warring among ourselves, and the worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.[4]

What are we to do?

Perhaps we see, deep within ourselves and all about us, the signs I have just described. But the Church, our Mother and Teacher, along with the often bitter medicine of the truth, offers us in the Lenten season the soothing remedy of prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception,[5] and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.

Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us! How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church! For this reason, I echo Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem as something from which they themselves would benefit (cf. 2 Cor 8:10). This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need. Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself. When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God.[6]

Fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth. On the one hand, it allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.

I would also like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice. Perhaps, like ourselves, you are disturbed by the spread of iniquity in the world, you are concerned about the chill that paralyzes hearts and actions, and you see a weakening in our sense of being members of the one human family. Join us, then, in raising our plea to God, in fasting, and in offering whatever you can to our brothers and sisters in need!

The fire of Easter

Above all, I urge the members of the Church to take up the Lenten journey with enthusiasm, sustained by almsgiving, fasting and prayer. If, at times, the flame of charity seems to die in our own hearts, know that this is never the case in the heart of God! He constantly gives us a chance to begin loving anew.

One such moment of grace will be, again this year, the 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which invites the entire Church community to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation in the context of Eucharistic adoration. In 2018, inspired by the words of Psalm 130:4, With you is forgiveness, this will take place from Friday, 9 March to Saturday, 10 March. In each diocese, at least one church will remain open for twenty-four consecutive hours, offering an opportunity for both Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession.
During the Easter Vigil, we will celebrate once more the moving rite of the lighting of the Easter candle. Drawn from the new fire, this light will slowly overcome the darkness and illuminate the liturgical assembly. May the light of Christ rising in glory dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds,[7] and enable all of us to relive the experience of the disciples on the way to Emmaus. By listening to God’s word and drawing nourishment from the table of the Eucharist, may our hearts be ever more ardent in faith, hope and love.

With affection and the promise of my prayers for all of you, I send you my blessing. Please do not forget to pray for me.
From the Vatican, 1 November 2017
Solemnity of All Saints

[1] Roman Missal, Collect for the First Sunday of Lent (Italian).

[2] Inferno XXXIV, 28-29.

[3]“It is curious, but many times we are afraid of consolation, of being comforted. Or rather, we feel more secure in sorrow and desolation. Do you know why? Because in sorrow we feel almost as protagonists. However, in consolation the Holy Spirit is the protagonist!” (Angelus, 7 December 2014).

[4] Evangelii Gaudium, 76-109.

[5]Cf. BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi, 33.

[6]Cf. PIUS XII, Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum, III.

[7] Roman Missal (Third Edition), Easter Vigil, Lucernarium.