03/01/2006, 00.00
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The Pope: Lent is a time to oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies and love to hatred

In celebrating Ash Wednesday mass, Benedict XVI talks about the struggle against evil and urges the faithful to practice charity.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Christians should not respond to the violence threatening world peace with vengeance, hatred or flight into false spiritualism; they should oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies, and love to hatred.

In the Basilica of Santa Sabina in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Ash Wednesday mass. In his homily, he said that the fight against evil was at the centre of the spirituality of Lent that seeks personal renewal.

The Pontiff reached the old basilica in a procession from the Church of Church of St Anselm and in doing so he renewed with a practice that John Paul II had to stop when he became too ill.

Benedict XVI, on whom Card Jozef Tomko, titular of the basilica, imposed the ashes, said that Lent "reminds us that Christian life is an endless fight with weapons like prayers, fasting and penitence. The struggle against evil and every form of selfishness and hatred, and allowing oneself to die so that we can live in God is the ascetic path that every disciple of Jesus is called to follow with humility and patience, generosity and perseverance. To meekly follow the divine Master makes Christians witnesses and apostles of peace. One might say that this inner attitude helps us better illustrate what the Christian response should be to the violence threatening world peace. It certainly isn't vengeance, hatred or flight into false spiritualism. Those who follow Christ can find their answer in following the path chosen by He who, faced with the evils of His and all times, embraced without hesitation the Cross, taking the longest but more effective path of love. In following His footsteps, in joining Him, we must commit ourselves to oppose goodness to evil, the truth to lies, and love to hatred".

"Every day, especially at Lent, Christians must face a struggle like Christ's struggle in the Judean desert where the devil tempted Him for 40 days, and then in the Gethsemane where he rejected the ultimate temptation and fully accepted His Father's will. This is a spiritual struggle against sin and, ultimately, against Satan who is the "origin and cause of every sin" (Rite of Baptism, Profession of Faith). It is a struggle that involves the whole person and demands careful and constant vigilance."

Lastly, the Pope spoke about another facet of Lent, namely "charity. "Love," he said, "must be translated into actual deeds towards our fellow men, especially the poor and needy, always on the understanding that "righteous deeds" are subordinate to a sincere relationship with the "Father who sees in secret" and "repays" those who do good deeds in humble and disinterested ways (cf Mt, 6: 1, 4, 6, 18).

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