March 10, 2019

Today I would like to share with you some excerpts from Pope Francis’ 2019 Lenten Message. 

The Pope writes that the journey each year to Easter helps us to move “towards the fulfillment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery… This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19).”

In this year’s Lenten Message, the Pope reflects on how all creation is redeemed by Christ’s saving death and resurrection. His reflections have three main areas of focus: the redemption of creation, the destructive power of sin, and the healing power of repentance and forgiveness.

The Pope writes, “When we live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14) and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts and in nature, we also benefit creation by cooperating in its redemption…Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death.”

He continues, “Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbors and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand…Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans ‘I want it all and I want it now!’ and ‘Too much is never enough’, gains the upper hand.”

“The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment…Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.”

“Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip.”

Pope Francis proposes the traditional disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving as the way to repentance and forgiveness for these sins against God, our neighbors and creation: “Fasting, that is, learning to change our attitude towards others and all of creation, turning away from the temptation to ‘devour’ everything to satisfy our voracity and being ready to suffer for love, which can fill the emptiness of our hearts. Prayer, which teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego, and to acknowledge our need of the Lord and his mercy. Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us. And thus to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness.”

May our journey through Lent to the glory of Easter help us to find this kind of true happiness.

Peace,
Fr. Gary Lazzeroni