At the Angelus, Pope Francis emphasizes that Lent is a time of "spiritual training" to overcome evil in us and around us. "In our life we always need conversion, and the Church makes us pray for this". "Only God can give us true happiness: it is useless to waste our time looking for it elsewhere, in riches, in pleasures, in power, in careers". The invitation to young people to participate - even online – in the meeting in preparation for the October Synod. Message of affection to prisoners. A remembrance in prayer for the beginning of the Roman Curia’s spiritual exercises.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Temptation", "Conversion" and "Good News": these are the themes that Pope Francis explained to be the content of Lent, the 40-day period preceding the Passover of Christians, as well as today’s Gospel (first Sunday of Lent B, Mark 1.12-15).
"Jesus - said the pontiff before today's Angelus - to prepare Himself for His mission in the world. He has no need of conversion, but, insofar as He is man, He must pass through this trial, both for Himself, to obey the will of the Father, and for us, to give us the grace to overcome temptation....
"For us, too, Lent is a time of spiritual "training" [It: agonismo], of spiritual combat: we are called to face the Evil one through prayer, to be able, with God’s help, to overcome him in our daily life. We know, unfortunately, that evil is at work in our existence and all around us, wherever violence, rejection of the other, being closed, wars, or injustices occur".
"Immediately after the temptations in the desert - he added - Jesus begins to preach the Gospel, that is, the Good News, the second word. The first was "temptation,", the second, "Good News." And this Good News requires of human beings conversion — the third word — and faith. He proclaims, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” — believe, that is, in this Good News that the kingdom of God is at hand. In our life we always have need of conversion — every day! — and the Church has us pray for this. In fact, we are never sufficiently oriented toward God, and we must continually direct our mind and our heart to Him. To do this we need to have the courage to reject all that leads us astray, the false values that mislead us, by attracting, in a deceitful way, our selfishness”.
Stressing then that "Lent is a time of penitence, yes, but not sad", he said: " Only God can give us true happiness: it is useless for us to waste our time seeking it elsewhere, in riches, in pleasures, in power, in careers… the kingdom of God is the realization of all our aspirations, because it is, at the same time, the salvation of man and the glory of God ".
"May Mary Most Holy - he concluded - help us to live this Lent with fidelity to the Word of God and with incessant prayer, as Jesus did in the desert. It is not impossible! It means living the days with the desire to welcome the love that comes from God, and that desires to transform our life, and the whole world".
After the Marian prayer, the pope appealed to young people to take part in the preparatory meeting for the October Synod, which will be held in Rome from March 19th to the 24th. The initiative was presented a few days ago. " strongly desire that all young people might be the protagonists of this preparation. Therefore, they will be able to contribute online through linguistic groups moderated by other young people. The contribution of the “groups of networks” will be united to those of the meeting in Rome. Dear young people, you can find more information on the website of the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. I thank you for your contribution to making this journey together!”.
He then sent a "special greeting to those detained" on the occasion of Lent: "dear brothers and sisters who are in prison, I encourage each one of you to live the period of Lent as an occasion of reconciliation and of renewal of lives under the merciful gaze of the Lord. He never tires of forgiving".
The pontiff then recalled that from tonight he and the Roman Curia will participate in the Lenten spiritual exercises, which will last a week, and asked for "a remembrance in prayer".