This Wednesday is the first day of Lent. The theme of the pope’s message for this holy season is “Through the desert God leads us to freedom”. The following are extracts:


Opening our eyes

“If our celebration of Lent is to be concrete, the first step is to desire to open our eyes to reality. Today too, the cry of so many of our oppressed brothers and sisters rises to heaven. Let us ask ourselves: do we hear that cry? Does it trouble us? Does it move us? All too many things keep us apart from each other, denying the fraternity that, from the beginning, binds us to one another.

“Our Lenten journey will be concrete if… we realise that even today we remain under the rule of pharaoh; a rule that makes us weary and indifferent; a model of growth that divides and robs us of a future. Earth, air and water are polluted, but so are our souls.”


Deficit of hope

“Do I want a new world? Am I ready to leave behind my compromises with the old? We need to combat a deficit of hope that stifles dreams and the silent cry that reaches to heaven and moves the heart of God. This ‘deficit of hope’ is not unlike the nostalgia for slavery that paralysed Israel in the desert and prevented it from moving forward.

“An exodus can be interrupted: how else can we explain the fact that humanity has arrived at the threshold of universal fraternity and at levels of scientific, technical, cultural, and juridical development capable of guaranteeing dignity to all, yet gropes about in the darkness of inequality and conflict.”


A season of conversion

“God has not grown weary of us. Let us welcome Lent as the great season in which he reminds us: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’ (Ex 20:2). Lent is a season of conversion, a time of freedom.”


(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)

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