Lent “is the time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from smart phones and connect to the Gospel." "It is time to give up useless words, chatter, rumors, gossip, and give yourself to the Lord . It is the time to devote yourself to a healthy heart ecology. To clean. We live in an environment polluted by too much verbal violence, by many offensive and harmful words, which the network amplifies. Today insults are as commonplace as saying 'hello'. We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Pope is close to "the Coronavirus sick and the health workers who treat them, as well as the civil authorities and all those who are working to assist patients and stop the infection". A thought about the disease that is raging in many countries concluded today's general audience, which Francis dedicated to the beginning of Lent, with the Rite of Ashes this afternoon.
Adressing the 15 thousand people present in St. Peter's Square, Francis spoke of the "desert" to which Jesus withdraws for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry. And the "spiritual meaning of the desert" was at the center of the Pope's catechesis. Desert as "a place of detachment from the noise that surrounds us. It is the absence of words to make room for another Word, the Word of God, which caresses our hearts like a light breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19:12). The desert is the place of the capitalised Word". “Lent is the right time to make room for the Word of God. It is the time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from smartphones and connect to the Gospel. When I was a child there was no television, but there was a habit of not listening to the radio in Lent. "
"It is time to give up useless words, chatter, rumors, gossip, and give the Lord 'you'. It is the time to devote yourself to a healthy heart ecology. To clean. We live in an environment polluted by too much verbal violence, by many offensive and harmful words, which the network amplifies. Today insults are as commonplace as saying 'hello'. We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages. We have become used to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a worldliness that atrophies our hearts. And there is no by pass to heal this. We struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord who speaks to us, the voice of conscience, of good ".
“Jesus, calling us in the desert, invites us to listen to what matters. To the devil who tempted him, he replied: "Man will not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Mt 4: 4). Like bread, more than bread we need the Word of God, we need to speak with God: to pray. Because only before God do the inclinations of the heart come to light and the duplicity of the soul fall. Here is the desert, a place of life, not of death, because dialogue in silence with the Lord gives us life again ".
“Let's try to think of a desert again. The desert is the place of the essential. Let's look at our lives: how many useless things surround us! We chase a thousand things that seem necessary and in reality are not. How good it would be for us to get rid of so many superfluous realities, to rediscover what matters, to find the faces of those around us! Jesus also sets an example on this, fasting. Fasting is knowing how to give up vain things, the superfluous, to go to the essentials. It is not just for weight loss. It is to seek the beauty of a simpler life ”.
Finally, the desert is the place of solitude. Even today, near us, there are many deserts. They are lonely and abandoned people. How many poor and old people are among us and live in silence, without making a fuss, marginalized and discarded! Talking about them doesn't make audiences. But the desert leads us to them, to those who, silenced, silently ask for our help. Many silent glances that ask for our help ".
“The path in the Lenten desert is a path of charity towards the weaker. Prayer, fasting, works of mercy: here is the road in the Lenten desert. Dear brothers and sisters - Francis concluded - with the voice of the prophet Isaiah, God has made this promise: "Behold, I am doing a new thing, I will open a road in the desert" (Is 43,19). The road that leads us from death to life opens up in the desert. We enter the desert with Jesus, we will go out savoring Easter, the power of God's love that renews life. It will happen to us as to those deserts that bloom in the spring, making buds and plants suddenly sprout 'out of nowhere'. Take courage, let us enter this desert of Lent, let us follow Jesus into the desert: with him our deserts will flourish ”.
Finally, a particular prayer was dedicated to Iraq, a "battlefield" country where, he said, his visit was scheduled for this year. "I pray for peace," he said.