“With its invitations to conversion, Lent comes providentially to awaken us, to rouse us from torpor, from the risk of moving forward by inertia.”
Invitation: to develop greater awareness of the redemptive work of Christ and to live out ones Baptism with deeper commitment.
The Lenten weeks are set aside for increased prayer, charitable giving and fasting in preparation for Easter, the great feast of salvation.
Lent is a journey on which, by defying routine, we strive to open our eyes and ears, but especially to open our hearts, in order to go beyond our own “backyard.” It is not solely about interior contemplation, self-control and will power, but recognizing God in those who suffer and learning to respond to them as Jesus would.
We are well aware that Satan is alive and well in our society. Our only response and defense must always be the word of God. Pope Francis urges us to read the Bible daily. “The important thing is to read the word of God because it is Jesus who is speaking there.”
At the Transfiguration, God the Father says “This is my beloved Son …listen to Him.” We, the disciples of Jesus, are called to be people who listen to his voice and take His words seriously. To listen to Jesus, we must be close to Him.
Through an encounter with God in prayer we learn to meet many brothers and sisters weighed down by fatigue, sickness, injustice, ignorance and poverty, both material and spiritual.
For Pope Francis the Lenten Journey includes the sacrament of penance, or reconciliation. He recommends regular practice of the sacrament year round, once informing us that “even the pope confesses every two weeks because the pope is also a sinner.”
“If you go to [the Father] with your whole life, even with many sins, instead of reproaching you, he will rejoice … This is something you must tell others today”
Good behavior flows “from the heart of the person renewed in the likeness of God.” It is a matter of clothing oneself with “new attitudes” that lead to speaking the truth and avoiding “all deceit” and to sharing “all you have with others, especially those in need.” Moreover, a person renewed in God’s likeness does not “give in to anger, resentment and revenge,” but is ready to forgive and to look for everyone’s good side.
The call to repentance and conversion “introduces us to two essential elements of Christian life.” In addition to the invitation to put on “a new nature,” Christians are called to abide in love – to love others as God loves them, And love, he stressed, “is open, it spreads and bears fruit, it always kindles new love.”