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Lent 2020

Pope Francis's Message      
(2 Cor 5, 20) - also in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Again this year the Lord grants us a propitious time to prepare ourselves to celebrate with renewed hearts the great Mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, (the) hinge of personal and communal Christian life. We must continually return to this Mystery, with our minds and with our hearts. In fact, it will not cease  to grow in us in the measure to which we let ourselves be involved in its spiritual dynamism and adhere to it with a free and generous response.

1. The paschal Mystery, foundation of conversion

The Christian's joy springs from listening to and welcoming the Good News of the death and resurrection of Jesus: the kerygma. It sums up the Mystery of a love “so real, so true, so concrete, that it offers us a relationship full of sincere and fruitful dialogue” (Christus Vivit, 117). The one who/Whoever believes in this announcement rejects the lie according to which our life originated from ourselves, while in reality it is born of the love of God the Father, from his will to give life in abundance (cf Jn 10, 10). If instead one listens to the persuasive voice of the “father of lies” (cf Jn 8, 44), one risks plunging into the chasm of absurdity, experiencing hell already here on earth, as many dramatic events of personal and collective human experience unfortunately bear witness.

In this Lent of 2020 I would like therefore to extend to every Christian what I have already written to young people in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Look at the open arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved over and over again. And when you approach to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy which frees you from guilt. Contemplate his blood poured out with so much affection and let yourself be purified by it. In this way you can be reborn ever anew” (n 123). Jesus’ Pasch is not an event of the past; through the power of the Holy Spirit it is always actual and allows us to look at and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in the many who suffer.

2. The urgency of conversion

It is salutary to contemplate more deeply the paschal Mystery, thanks to which God’s mercy has been given to us. The experience of mercy, in fact, is possible only in a “face to face” with the crucified and risen Lord “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal 2, 20). A heart to heart dialogue, from friend to friend. This is why prayer is so important in Lent. Before being a duty, it expresses the need to correspond to God’s love, which always precedes and sustains us. The Christian, in fact, prays in the knowledge of being loved unworthily. Prayer may assume different forms, but what truly matters in the eyes of God is that it digs deep/excavates within us, managing to scratch at the hardness of our hearts, so as to convert them more and more/ always more to Him and to his will.

In this favourable time, let us therefore be led like Israel into the desert (cf Hos 2, 14), thus that we can finally listen to/hear the voice of our Bridegroom/Spouse, letting it resound in us with greater depth and availability. The more we let ourselves be involved in his Word, the more we will be able to experience his gratuitous mercy for us. Therefore may we not let this time of grace pass in vain, in the presumptuous illusion of ourselves being the masters of the times and modes of our conversion to Him.

3. God’s passionate will to dialogue with his children

We must never take for granted the fact that the Lord once again offers us a favourable time for our conversion. This new opportunity should arouse a sense of gratitude in us and shake us from our torpor. Despite the presence, sometimes even dramatic, of evil in our lives, as in that of the Church and of the world, this space offered to change course expresses the tenacious will of God to not interrupt the dialogue of salvation with us. In Jesus crucified, who "God made sin in our favour" (cf 2 Cor 5, 21), this will reached the point of making all our sins fall on his Son, to "put God against God", as Pope Benedict XVI said/put it (cf Deus Caritas Est, 12). God in fact loves even his enemies (cf Mt 5, 43-48).

The dialogue that God wants to establish with each man, through the paschal Mystery of his Son, is not like that attributed to the inhabitants of Athens, who “had no more pleasant pastime than telling or hearing the latest news” (Acts 17, 21). This type of chatter, dictated by empty and superficial curiosity, characterizes the worldliness of all times, and in our own day it can also infiltrate/creep into a misleading use of the means of communication/media.

4. A richness to share, not to accumulate only for oneself

To put the paschal Mystery at the centre of life means to feel compassion for the wounds of Christ crucified present in so many innocent victims of wars, of abuses against life, from the unborn to the elderly, of multiple forms of violence, of environmental disasters, of the inequitable distribution of the earth’s goods, of the trafficking of human beings in all its forms and of the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.

It is important also today to recall to men and women of good will to share their own goods with those most in need through almsgiving, as a form of personal participation in the building of a fairer world. (The) sharing in charity renders man more human; (the) accumulating risks brutalizing him/oneself, closing oneself in in ones own egoism/selfishness. We can and must push ourselves/go even further, by/in considering the structural dimensions of the economy. For this reason, in Lent 2020, from 26th to 28th March, I have convened young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers to Assisi, with the objective of contributing/helping to outline a more just and inclusive economy than the actual/current one. As the magisterium of the Church has many times repeated, politics is an eminent form of charity (cf Pius XI, Address to the Italian Federation of Catholic University Students, 18 December 1927). The same will be true of dealing with the economy with this same evangelical spirit, which is the spirit of the Beatitudes.

I invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy on the forthcoming Lent, so that we may welcome the appeal to let ourselves by reconciled with God, that we may fix the gaze of our hearts on the paschal Mystery, and be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with God. In this way, we can become that which Christ says of his disciples: salt of the earth and light of the world (cf Mt 5, 13-14).


Rome, at Saint John Lateran, 7 October 2019
Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary