LENT 2018 WITH POPE FRANCIS •
Pope Francis presided over the Penitential Procession and Holy Mass on Ash Wednesday, calling on us to pause, to take notice of the inharmonious chords of our Christian lives and return trustfully to the waiting arms of the merciful Father. His message: Pause, see, and return! The Lord will give you a new heart. These practical words of advice are both practical and current, simple but important in overcoming distrust, apathy, and resignation. In order to overcome the things that paralyse enthusiasm, joy, and motivation — in our apostolate, in our work, in our parishes, projects, friendships and covenants… —
The Holy Father called on us to “to remedy the dissonant chords of our Christian life” and return with trust to the waiting arms of the merciful Father.
The Holy Father focused his reflection on the multiple temptations we face, “with the ever-varying circumstances of our daily lives, there are voices raised that take advantage of pain and uncertainty; the only thing they aim to do is sow distrust.” “Distrust, apathy and resignation: these are demons that deaden and paralyze the soul of a believing people,” said Francis, who then highlighted three keywords to “rekindle the heart of the believer: Pause, see, return.”
Examining the first word, Francis urges us to pause from “this compulsion to a fast-paced life that scatters, divides and ultimately destroys time with family, with friends, with children, with grandparents, and time as a gift… time with God,” from the need to appear and be seen by all, from constantly being in the limelight, from haughty looks, from fleeting and scornful comments which arise from forgetting tenderness and reverence in our encounter with others.
“Pause from,” continued the Holy Father, “the compulsion to want to control everything, know everything, destroy everything.” He called us to pause a little from the deafening news that confuses and weakens our hearing and makes us forget the life giving and creative power of silence; to pause from an attitude that promotes sterile and unproductive feelings that arise from isolation and self-pity, from the emptiness of the instantaneous, momentary and fleeting, which deprives us of our roots.
Pause and contemplate, asked the Holy Father. See the signs that prevent the extinguishment of charity, see the face of our family that continues to strive day after day, with great effort to move forward in life and who, despite many concerns and hardships, do not cease their efforts to make their homes a school of love; the faces of our children and young people, yearning for the future and hope, filled with the hope of tomorrow and possibility, who require dedication and protection. Without forgetting to see our elderly people’s marked by the passing of time, faces that show God’s wisdom, the face of the sick and the many people who care for them; the repentant face of so many people who try to fix their errors and mistakes and “fight to transform their situations and move forward.”
See and contemplate the face of Love crucified, urged Pope Francis, who today from the Cross continues to be the bearer of hope, because — he explained — “to see His face is an invitation filled with hope for this Lenten time, in order to defeat the demons of distrust, apathy and resignation,” because the “Kingdom of God is possible!”
“Return to the home of your Father,” he concluded. Without fear, to the arms of a Father “rich in mercy,” adding that this is a time to “allow one’s heart to be touched” and “experience the healing and reconciling tenderness of God. Let the Lord heal the wounds of sin and fulfil the prophecy made to our fathers: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Original: Spanish, 15 February. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa