‘Come back to the Lord with all your heart during Lent’ says Pope Francis.
Pope Francis Lent Message 2018 is inspired by the words Jesus spoke near the end of His life on the Mount of Olives regarding the end of time: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
False prophets “snake charmers” and “charlatans” leads us astray. They mesmerize God’s children who then mistake true happiness for momentary pleasure ending in slavery to profit or become trapped in loneliness. Many young people enticed by other “swindlers” buy into the “panacea of drugs,” “disposable relationships,” “dishonest gain,” or a “virtual” existence. Thus people are robbed of “what is most precious: dignity, freedom and the ability to love,” Pope Francis says.
The question Pope Francis would like us to reflect on this Lent is “What are the signs that indicate that our love is beginning to cool?” he says, “What destroys charity is greed for money.” Rejection of God follows, and “we prefer our own desolation rather than the comfort found in his word and the sacrament.” As a result, even creation bears “silent witness” to hearts gone cold. Trash litters the earth, the seas are polluted with the bodies of “countless shipwrecked victims of forced immigration,” and the heavens meant to sing God’s praises “are rent by engines raining down” instruments of death.
The Church offers us the Lenten practices of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting which Pope Francis calls a “soothing remedy”. Prayer allows us to eradicate “secret lies” and “self-deception,” and we find “the consolation God offers,” he says. Almsgiving frees us from greed; it helps us regard others as brothers and sisters. “How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!” he says. Fasting “weakens our tendency to violence” reviving “our desire to obey God,” who alone can satisfy our hunger.
Pope Francis Lent Message reminds us that although the flame of charity may die in our hearts, it never dies in God’s. He invites us to participate in the “24 Hours for the Lord” on Friday and Saturday, the 9th-10th of March. After “Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession,” he says that the “new fire” of the Easter Vigil, the light of Christ will enable us to listen to God’s word and nourish ourselves on the Eucharist, making our hearts “more ardent in faith, hope and love.”