“Lent summons us, and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly and in every aspect of our life,” writes Pope Francis in his Lenten Message for 2018.
The Pope’s annual message is a meditation on a verse from St Matthew’s Gospel (24:12): “Because of the increase in iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” The message was released by the Vatican on 6 Feb 2018, in anticipation of the penitential season of Lent, which begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14.
In his message the Holy Father warns against false prophets, who lead people away from the love of God. “They can appear as snake charmers, who manipulate human emotions,” he writes. “They appeal to our vanity, our trust in appearances, but in the end they only make fools of us.”
Going on to discuss the danger of a love that grows cold, the Pope writes: “More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money, ‘the root of all evil.'” He sees environmental problems as a result of the pursuit of profit.
Creation itself becomes a silent witness to this cooling of charity. The earth is poisoned by refuse, discarded out of carelessness or for self-interest. The seas, themselves polluted, engulf the remains of countless shipwrecked victims of forced migration. The heavens, which in God’s plan, were created to sing His praises, are rent by engines raining down implements of death.
Pope Francis calls upon Catholics to pursue prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during the season of Lent, as a means of rekindling their charity. He adds that he would “like my invitation to extend beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church, and to reach all of you, men and women of good will, who are open to hearing God’s voice.
The Pope reminds us that although the flame of charity may die in our hearts, it never dies in God’s. He invites us to participate in the “24 Hours for the Lord” on Friday and Saturday, March 9-10. After “Eucharistic adoration and sacramental confession,” he says that the “new fire” of the Easter Vigil, the light of Christ will enable us to listen to God’s word and nourish ourselves on the Eucharist, making our hearts “more ardent in faith, hope and love.” – CWN/Vatican News