From the Vatican

Pope: We Are "Catholic Atheists" If We Have Hardened Hearts

Pope 0324172017-03-23 (Vatican Radio) Listen to the Word of God to avoid the risk of a hardened heart. That was Pope Francis’ message in his homily at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Thursday. The Pope pointed out that when we turn away from God and are deaf to His Word, we become unfaithful or even “Catholic atheists.”

Pope Francis drew inspiration from the First Reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah to meditate on the importance of listening to the Word of God. “When we do not stop to listen to the voice of the Lord we end up moving away, we turn away from Him, we turn our backs. And if we do not listen to the voice of the Lord, we listen to other voices.”

The Holy Father suggested that if we do not listen to God’s voice, then in the end we listen to the voices of idols. He noted bitterly that eventually, “we become deaf: deaf to the Word of God.”

“And all of us, if we stop a little today and look at our hearts, we will see how many times – how many times! – we close our ears and how many times we have become deaf. And when a people, a community, but we can also say a Christian community, a parish, a diocese, when they close their ears and become deaf to the Word of the Lord, they search for other voices, other lords, and it ends with idols, the idols of the world, the worldliness that society offers. That community distances itself from the living God.”

If the heart hardens, we become “Catholic pagans”, even “Catholic atheists.” As we move away from the Lord, the Pope added, our hearts harden. When someone “does not listen, the heart becomes harder, more closed in on itself, hard and unable to receive anything; not only is it closed: there is a hardness of heart.” That person lives “in that world, that atmosphere that doesn’t do him good. He moves further away from God every day.”

“And these two things – not listening to the Word of God and a hardened heart, closed in on itself – cause infidelity. You lose your sense of fidelity. The Lord says in the First Reading: ‘faithfulness is gone’, and we become unfaithful Catholics, Catholic pagans or, uglier still, Catholic atheists, because we have no reference to the love of the living God. To not listen and to turn our backs – that makes our hearts harden – takes us on the road to infidelity.

The Pope then asked, “This infidelity, how does it end?” He answered by referring to the Gospel passage from St Luke, in which Jesus is accused of healing people through the power of Beelzebul. “It ends in confusion; you do not know where God is or where He is not, you confuse God with the devil.”

His Holiness said we should ask ourselves whether we really listen to the Word of God or whether we harden our hearts. “This is blasphemy. Blasphemy is the final word on this path that begins with not listening, with the hardening of the heart.” This failure to listen and this hardening of the heart “leads to confusion, making you forget fidelity and, ultimately, blaspheming.”

To those who forget the wonder of the first meeting with Jesus, he said: “Each of us can ask ourselves today: ‘Have I stopped listening to the Word of God, taking the Bible in my hands and talking only to myself? Has my heart been hardened? Am I far from the Lord? Have I lost my fidelity to the Lord and do I live with the idols that offer me worldliness every day? Have I lost the joy of the wonder of my first meeting with Jesus?’. Today is a day to listen. ‘O that today you would listen to His voice! Harden not your hearts!’’. We ask for this grace: the grace to listen so that our hearts will not be hardened.”

____________________________________

Pope: 'Current Migration Crisis Greatest Tragedy after WW2'

Pope 0323172017-03-22 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has called for an ongoing commitment to welcome and integrate forced migrants and refugees and described the current migration phenomenon as the world’s greatest tragedy after the Second World War.

Speaking on Wednesday to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope also continued his catechesis on Christian hope and appealed to the faithful to ‘re-discover’ the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

In his appeal, launched after the catechesis, Pope Francis reminded all Catholic communities to participate in the upcoming “24 hours for the Lord” initiative on 23rd and 24th of March with Churches across the globe offering the Sacrament of Confession as a “privileged moment of grace” during our Lenten journey.

And speaking to an Italian association that offers services and help to migrants and refugees upon their arrival and a long-term process of integration, the Pope highlighted the rights and the responsibilities of those who receive and of those who are received, and described the current migration crisis as the greatest tragedy after World War 2.

His words come just days before EU Heads of State or Government convene in the city to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome.

In his catechesis meanwhile, Pope Francis reflected on a reading from Saint Paul which focusses on the attitudes of steadfastness and encouragement.

They are intimately connected to the reality of Christian hope because ours, he said, is a God of steadfastness as he loves us perseveringly and never tires of consoling us.

He is also a God of encouragement, he continued, who calls us to be close to the weak and the needy with whom he asks us to be strong and to be sowers of hope.

What’s more, the Pope continued, Christians are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering.  But we do so, he concluded, with the strength provided by the Lord, who is our unfailing source of hope. 

____________________________________

Pope: Be Steadfast and Encourage Each Other

Pope 0322172017-03-22 (Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to spread hope by supporting  and encouraging one another.

He was speaking to the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the General Audience.

The English summary of the Pope’s catechesis below:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, today we reflect on two words used by Saint Paul in the opening reading: steadfastness and encouragement.  Paul says that both are contained in the message of the Scriptures, but even more, that ours is a God of steadfastness and encouragement (cf. Rom 15:4-5).  In the Christian life, we are called to spread hope by supporting and encouraging one another, especially those in danger of faltering.  But we do so with the strength provided by the Lord, who is our unfailing source of hope.  Faithful to the Apostle’s injunction, may we always live in harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus.

___________________________________

Pope: May Joseph Give Us the Ability to Dream Great Things

Pope 0320172017-03-20 (Vatican Radio) Saint Joseph gives young people “the ability to dream, to risk, and to undertake the difficult tasks that they have seen in dreams.” That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

The day’s liturgy commemorated the Solemnity of St Joseph, which is normally celebrated on 19 March, but which is transferred when that date falls on a Sunday in Lent. 

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the figure of St Joseph, the guardian of weaknesses, and of the “dream of God.”

The Gospel of the day tells how Joseph, in obedience to the angel who appeared to him in a dream, took Mary, who had conceived by the Holy Spirit, as his wife. Joseph, silent and obedient, is a man who carries with him the promises of “ancestry, heritage, paternity, sonship, stability”.

“And this man, this dreamer, is able to accept this duty, this grave duty. He has so much to say to us in this time of a strong sense of being orphaned. And so this man takes the promise of God and carries it onward in silence, with strength, he carries it onward so that God’s Will might be done.”

Saint Joseph, the Pope said, is a man “who can tell us many things, but who does not speak,” “the hidden man,” the man of silence, “who has the greatest authority in that moment without letting it be seen.” And the Pope emphasized that the things God confides to the heart of Joseph are “weak things”: promises – and a promise is weak. And then there is the birth of the child, the flight into Egypt, situations of weakness. Joseph takes to heart and carries forward “all these weaknesses” as weaknesses are carried forward: “with so much tenderness,” “with the tenderness with which one takes a child in one’s arms”:

“He is the man who doesn’t speak but obeys, the man of tenderness, the man capable of carrying forward the promises so that they might become solid, certain; the man who guarantees the stability of the Kingdom of God, the paternity of God, our sonship as children of God. I like to think of Joseph as the guardian of weaknesses, of our weaknesses too: he is able to give birth to so many beautiful things from our weaknesses, even from our sins.”

Joseph is the guardian of weaknesses so that they might become firm in faith. But he received this duty in a dream: he is a man “able to dream,” Pope Francis said. And so he is also “the guardian of the dream of God”: God’s dream “of saving all of us,” of redemption, was entrusted to him. “How great was this carpenter!” the Pope exclaimed. He was silent, but he worked, he guarded, he carried forward the weaknesses, and he was capable of dreaming. And so he is a figure who has a message for all.

“Today I want to ask, grant to all of us the ability to dream, that when we dream great things, beautiful things, we might draw near to the dream of God, the things God dreams about us. [I ask] that he might give to young people – because he was young – the capacity to dream, to risk, to undertake the difficult tasks they have seen in dreams. And [I ask] him to give to all of us the faithfulness that tends to grow when we have a just attitude – Joseph was just – [the faithfulness that] grows in silence, with few words; that grows in tenderness that guards our own weaknesses and those of others.”

____________________________________

Pope Angelus: Lent is an Opportunity to Draw Near to Christ

Pope 0319172017-03-19 (Vatican Radio) “Perhaps we have not yet encountered Jesus personally,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address on Sunday. “Perhaps we have not recognized Him as our Savior.”

The Holy Father was commenting on the day’s Gospel, which relates the “dialogue” between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Because of the great respect Jesus shows her — despite her being a Samaritan, and despite her disordered life — she is open to the words of Christ, when He speaks to her about the true faith. She recognizes Him as a prophet, and intuits that He could be the Messiah, and Jesus tells her plainly that He is, in fact, the Messiah — something that happens very rarely in the Gospels, the Pope said.

“Dear brothers,” Pope Francis continued, “the water that gives eternal life was poured out in our hearts on the day of our Baptism;” on that day, “God transformed us and filled us with His grace.” However, the Pope said, we sometimes forget about the grace of our Baptism, or treat it merely as a piece of biographical data. When that happens we go looking for “wells” filled with water that cannot quench our thirst. “And so this Gospel is for us!” the Pope said, “not just for the Samaritan woman.”

Lent, he said, is a good opportunity for us “to draw near” to Jesus, “to encounter Him in prayer in a heart-to-heart dialogue… to see His face in the face of a brother or a sister who is suffering.” In this way, the Pope said, “we can renew within ourselves the grace of Baptism, quenching our thirst at the font of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit; and thereby discovering, too, the joy of becoming artisans of reconciliation and instruments of peace in our daily lives. “

____________________________________

Pope: Damned Are Those Who Don't Care for the Poor and Homeless

Pope 0317172017-03-16 (Vatican Radio) The parable of the poor man, Lazarus, lying at the rich man’s door, was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily at the Santa Marta Mass on Thursday morning.  The Pope warned of the risks we run if we have the same uncaring attitude towards the poor and homeless people we see around us today.

Reflecting on the Gospel story of Lazarus, from St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis warned against those who place their trust in things of the flesh. Trusting in vanity, pride and riches, he said, will distance us from the Lord. He highlighted the fruitfulness of those who trust in the Lord and the sterility of those who rely only on themselves and the things they can control.

Wealth can harden our hearts

When people live in a closed environment, surrounded by wealth and vanity and trusting in their own devices, the Pope said, those people lose their sense of direction and have no idea of their limitations. Exactly as happens to the rich man in the Gospel, who spends his time at dinner parties and takes no notice of the poor man lying at his door.

Crossing the line from sin to corruption

He knew who that poor man was, he even knew his name, but he just didn’t care, the Pope said. Was he a sinner? Yes, he was, and though the Lord forgives those who repent, this man’s heart was leading him on a one-way road to death. There is a moment, Pope Francis stressed, a line that we cross when sin turns into corruption.

This man was not simply a sinner but a corrupt person because he was aware of all the suffering but he couldn’t care less. Damned are those who place their hope in themselves, the Pope said, because there is nothing more treacherous than a hardened heart. Once we are on that road, he added, it’s very hard for our hearts to be healed.

How do we feel about child beggars?

What do we feel in our hearts when we see the homeless or the children begging in the streets, Pope Francis asked? Do we say, ‘No, those are the ones who steal? What do we feel for the poor or the homeless, even if they are well dressed but they don’t have a job and can’t pay the rent? Do we say this is normal? Do we see the homeless as part of the landscape of our cities, like statues or bus stops or post offices?

Are we touched by the plight of the poor?

We must be careful, the Pope warned, because if we eat, drink and assuage our consciences by simply giving a coin and walking past, this is not the right way to go. Instead, he said, we must realise when we are on that slippery slope from sin to corruption. We must ask ourselves, what do I feel when I see on the news that a bomb has fallen on a hospital and lots of poor children have been killed? Do I just say a prayer and go on my way like before? Is my heart touched, or am I like the rich man whose heart was not touched by Lazarus but only the dogs had pity on him? If that is the case, the Pope said, we are on the road from sin to corruption.

May the Lord look into our hearts

For this reason, he concluded we must ask the Lord to look into our hearts to see if we are on that slippery slope to corruption, from which there is no return. Sinners can repent and turn back, he said, but it is very hard for those with closed and corrupt hearts, so let us pray that the Lord will show us which road we are following.

Reported by Philippa Hitchen

____________________________________

Pope: 'A Culture of Mercy Renews Hearts and Opens Up to a New Reality'

Pope 0316172017-03-15 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of encouragement and thanks to members of the International Association for Charity (AIC) as it celebrates the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the first Confraternity of Charity by Saint Vincent de Paul in Châtillon, France.

In his message the Pope notes that true promotion of human dignity cannot take place without the proclamation of the Gospel.

“It is with joy, he writes, that I am spiritually united to you to celebrate this anniversary and I hope that your beautiful work continues its mission of bringing an authentic testimony of God's mercy to the poorest”.

Pope Francis points out that the Charities were born of the tenderness and compassion of Monsieur Vincent for the poorest and the marginalized.

“His work with them wanted to reflect the goodness of God towards his creatures. He saw the poor as the representatives of Jesus Christ, as the members of His suffering body. He understood that the poor too were called to build up the Church and to convert us”.

The Pope says that in the wake of Vincent de Paul, who had entrusted the care of these poor people to lay people, and especially to women, AIC aims to promote the development of the most disadvantaged and to alleviate their material, physical, moral and spiritual pain.

“It is in the Providence of God that the foundation of this commitment is to be found” he says.

For “what is Providence but the love of God who acts in the world and asks for our cooperation?” the Pope continues, encouraging AIC members to continue to accompany the person in full and to pay particular attention to the precarious living conditions of many women and children.

He says it is faith that allows us to perceive the reality of the person, his or her incomparable dignity which is not limited to material goods, to social, economic and political problems, but as a person created in the image and likeness of God, a brother, a sister, a neighbor for whom we are responsible.

This is why, Pope Francis continues, human promotion, the authentic liberation of man, does not exist without the proclamation of the Gospel “for the most sublime aspect of human dignity lies in this vocation of man to communicate with God”.

Pope Francis recalls that in the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy he expressed the hope that “the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God” and he invites all to pursue this path as the credibility of the Church goes through the path of merciful love and compassion that open to hope.

“This credibility, he concludes, passes also through your personal testimony: it is not only a question of meeting Christ in the poor, but that the poor perceive Christ in you and in your action. By being rooted in Christ's personal experience you can contribute to a "culture of mercy" that deeply renews hearts and opens up to a new reality”.

____________________________________

Pope Francis: 'Love is God's Gift to Us'

Pope 0315172017-03-15 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his catechesis on Christian hope, focusing on charity, which he said, “is a grace, the fruit of our saving encounter with God’s own love”.

The Pope was addressing the faithful during his weekly General Audience.

To the over 12.000 pilgrims gathered in a sunny St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said that he who loves has the joy of hope because one day he will be united with the source of all love: the Lord.

Reflecting on readings from Matthew and from Saint Paul, the Pope focused on what he described as our vocation for love and charity.

He warned against the risk of hypocrisy and of a “hypocritical love” which he said, can be tainted by self-interest and urged the faithful to not be tempted to carry out works of charity driven by the desire to put ourselves on show as we seek visibility and approval.

It is important, he said, to remember that love – charity - is a grace; it is a gift that God is happy to give us if we ask for it; it is the fruit of our saving encounter with God’s own love.

The Pope said that Saint Paul reminds us that the Lord’s grace forgives our sins, heals our hearts and enables us to become channels of his own unconditional love.

We can become instruments of God’s love, he explained, when we allow ourselves to be healed and renewed by the Resurrected Christ, but it is up to us as well:

“The Resurrected Lord who lives with us heals our heart if we ask him to” he said.

He allows us, the Pope continued, to experience the compassion of the Father and to celebrate the wonder of his love: “Thus it is clear that all we can do for our brothers and sisters is in response to what God has done and continues to do for us.”

So, conscious of our human weakness, he urged the faithful to ask our Lord daily to renew the gift of his love within us and to enable us to be witnesses of that love to others, especially those in greatest need. 

As always after the catechesis, Pope Francis had greetings for the many groups of people present in the Square.

As he blessed the crowds he had a special thought and prayer for those from Syria, Lebanon and the Middle East.

The Pope also turned to a group of employees of the Italian branch of the TV platform “Sky” which is undergoing change and downsizing, and expressed his hope for a rapid solution that “takes into account the respect for the rights of all, especially for families”.

“Work gives dignity. He who shuts factories and closes companies as a result of economic operations and unclear negotiations,  depriving  men and women from work, commits a very grave sin” he said.

Reported by Linda Bordoni

____________________________________

Pope: Conversion - Learning to Do Good with Deeds, Not Words

Pope 0314172017-03-14 (Vatican Radio) Avoiding evil, learning to do good, and allowing yourself to be carried forward by the Lord: this is the path of Lenten conversion pointed out by Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. It is a conversion, the Pope said, that is manifested not with words, but with “concrete things.”

The Pope’s attempt to trace out the lines of Lenten conversion took its starting point from the words of the Prophet Isaiah from the day’s First Reading. Avoiding evil and learning to do good – the heart of Isaiah’s exhortation – are stages along this path. “Each one of us, every day, does something ugly.” The Bible, in fact, says that even “the most holy people sins seven times a day.”

Avoiding evil and learning to do good is a journey

The problem, the Pope said, lies in not getting into the habit of “living in ugly things” and avoiding those things that “poison the soul,” that make it small. And then we have to learn to do good.”

“It’s not easy to do good: we must learn it, always. And He teaches us. But: Learn. Like children. Along the path of life, of the Christian life one learns every day. You have to learn every day to do something, to be better than the day before. To learn. Avoiding evil and learning to do good: this is the rule of conversion. Because being converted doesn’t come from a fairy who converts us with a magic wand: No! It’s a journey. It’s a journey of avoiding and of learning.”

You learn to do good with concrete actions, not with words

And so one needs courage, to learn to avoid evil; and humility to learn to do good, which is expressed in concrete actions:

“He, the Lord, names three concrete things, but there are many: seek justice, relieve the oppressed, give orphans justice, defend the cause of the widow… but concrete things. You learn to do good with concrete things, not with words. With deeds… For this reason Jesus, in the Gospel we have heard, rebukes this ruling class of the people of Israel, because ‘they talk and don’t act,’ they don’t know concreteness. And if there is no concreteness, there can be no conversion.”

Lift yourself up with the help of the Lord with humility, and we will be forgiven

The First Reading then continues with the invitation from the Lord: “Come [It: ‘su’ – arise], let us reason together.” “Arise” – a beautiful word, Pope Francis said, a word that Jesus addressed to the paralytics, to the daughter of Jairus, as well as to the son of the widow of Naim. And God gives us a hand to help us up. And He is humble, He lowers Himself so much to say, “Come, let us reason together.” Pope Francis emphasized how God helps us: “Walking together with us to help us, to explain things to us, to take us by the hand.” The Lord is able “to do this miracle” – that is, “to change us” – not overnight, but on a journey:

“An invitation to conversion, avoid evil, learn to do good… ‘Come, arise, come to me, let us reason together, and let us go forward.’ But [you might say] I have so many sins…’ ‘But don’t worry’ [God responds]. ‘If your sins should be like scarlet, they will become white as snow.’ And this is the path of Lenten conversion. Simple. It is the Father who speaks, it is the Father who loves us, who really loves us. And who accompanies us on this path of conversion. Only He asks us to be humble. Jesus says to the rulers: ‘He who exalts himself will be humble; and he who humbles himself will be exalted’.”

Francis concluded his homily by recalling the stages along the path of Lenten conversion: avoiding evil, learning to do good, getting up and going with Him. And then, he said, “our sins will all be forgiven.”

___________________________________

Cardinal Parolin on Anniversary of Francis' Pontificate

Pope 0313172017-03-13 (Vatican Radio). Jorge Bergoglio became the 266th Pope on March 13, 2013. His humble and direct style was immediately clear as he uttered his first words as pontiff: “buona sera.”

Four years on, his reform of the Church and of the Curia ploughs ahead, he continues to enjoy the acclaim of cheering crowds every Wednesday at the weekly General Audience and at all public appearances, his call for mercy and his openness and pastoral outreach towards the peripheries and towards the most vulnerable stand out as constant traits of his ministry.

The past year of France’s pontificate has given us unforgettable moments and important teachings such as the historic embrace with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Cuba, his silent prayer in Auschwitz, the canonization of Mother Teresa, his ecumenical journey to Lund to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the publishing of his Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, to name but a few.

The Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, one of Pope Francis’ closest collaborators looked back on the year gone by with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti starting with that unique “buona sera” with which the new Bishop of Rome greeted his flock asking it for prayers, thus entrusting himself not only to the Lord, but  to “the holy people of God”.

It was immediately clear, Parolin said, that his vision of a Church going forth, of walking together – shepherd and flock – entrusted to prayer and to the grace and the mercy of God, would be important characteristics of the new Pontificate. A trait that Bergoglio reinforced with the choice of the name “Francis” and his attitude which exudes simplicity, peace and serenity.

Cardinal Parolin highlighted the fact that although Pope Francis continues to call for a Church that goes forth and that is able to accompany men and women in the difficulties and challenges of everyday life, he does so always attentive to the voice and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

He also pointed out that although the Jubilee Year of Mercy is concluded, mercy continues to be one of the pillars of Frances’ pontificate. He explained however that the Pope’s insistence on mercy does not derive from a personal sensitivity, but focuses attention on God’s love and on the mystery of salvation.

“The Pope, Parolin said, is directing us to God’s love and making sure the Church acts as a channel for that love and a place of encounter between God’s mercy and man as he lives the concrete  joys and sorrows of life on earth.”

Parolin also said that the fruits the Year of Mercy have yielded are many including the ‘re-discovery’ on the part of many Christians of the Sacrament of Confession and a heightened attention towards situations of poverty and need.

Regarding the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”, Parolin described it as a gift that has given great impulse to the pastoral ministry of the family, and has produced fruits of renewal, hope and accompaniment for those in fragile family situations.

Cardinal Parolin also mentioned the reality of some criticism towards the Church and expressions of dissent saying “there have always been critical voices in the Church!” 

The important thing, he said, as the Pope himself says is that they be “sincere and constructive, and willing to find a way to make progress together and a better way of putting God’s will to work!”

At the heart of Pope Francis’s pontificate, Parolin concluded, is the desire to continue to reform the Curia because he believes that – to use an evangelical word – “the Church must continuously seek conversion, it must strive to be evermore authentic, get rid of the crusts accumulated in centuries of history and shine forth with the transparency of the Gospel”.

____________________________________

Pope Francis: The Cross is the Gate of Salvation

Pope 0312172017-03-12 (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the Second Sunday of Lent.

In remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion, the Holy Father reflected on the Gospel reading of the day, which was taken from the 17th chapter of the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew, and recounted the Transfiguration of Our Lord.

“Transfigured on Mt. Tabor,” said Pope Francis, “Jesus desired to show His glory to His disciples not to keep them from going through the Cross, but to show them to where He was carrying the Cross.”

Whoever dies with Christ, with Christ shall rise again,” said Pope Francis, “those who struggle with Him, with Him shall triumph.”

“The Cross is the gate of the Resurrection,” he said.

The Holy Father went on to say that the message of hope, which the Cross contains, is one that constantly calls us to be strong in our lives. “The Christian Cross is not something to hang in the house ‘to tie the room together’ [It. suppellettile di casa] or an ornament to wear, but a call to that love, with which Jesus sacrificed Himself to save humanity from sin and evil.”

“In this Lenten season,” said Pope Francis, “let us contemplate devoutly the image of the Crucified Lord: it is the symbol of the Christian faith; it is the symbol of Jesus, who died and rose for us. Let us make sure that the Cross marks the stages of our Lenten journey, that we might understand more and more [perfectly] the gravity of sin and the value of the sacrifice with which the Redeemer has saved us – all of us.”

___________________________________