Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI Hall on January 26, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA
Vatican City, Feb 24, 2022 / 04:30 am (CNA).
The Vatican released Pope Francis’ Lenten message Thursday in which the pope recommended that Lent 2022 can be a time to put down the smartphone and encounter those in need face to face.
“Let us not grow tired of fighting against concupiscence, that weakness which induces to selfishness and all evil, and finds in the course of history a variety of ways to lure men and women into sin,” Pope Francis said in the message published Feb. 24.
“One of these is addiction to the digital media, which impoverishes human relationships. Lent is a propitious time to resist these temptations and to cultivate instead a more integral form of human communication made up of ‘authentic encounters,’ face to face and in person.”
The liturgical season of Lent begins on March 2 with Ash Wednesday. Catholics traditionally mark the 40 days of Lent with the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Many choose to abstain from sweets, social media, alcohol, or other luxuries.
“Let us not grow tired of uprooting evil from our lives. May the corporal fasting to which Lent calls us fortify our spirit for the battle against sin,” Pope Francis said.
“Let us not grow tired of asking for forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, knowing that God never tires of forgiving.”
For his Lenten message this year, the pope chose to focus on a theme taken from Galatians 6:9-10: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all.”
Pope Francis underlined that Lent is a time to actively seek out those in need to offer charity and share the love of God.
“While it is true that we have our entire life to sow goodness, let us take special advantage of this Lenten season to care for those close to us and to reach out to our brothers and sisters who lie wounded along the path of life,” he said.
“Lent is a favorable time to seek out – and not to avoid – those in need; to reach out – and not to ignore – those who need a sympathetic ear and a good word; to visit – and not to abandon – those who are lonely. Let us put into practice our call to do good to all, and take time to love the poor and needy, those abandoned and rejected, those discriminated against and marginalized.”
Pope Francis will resume leading the traditional Ash Wednesday procession on Rome’s Aventine Hill this year after it was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The papal procession begins at the Benedictine abbey of St. Anselm and ends with a Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, a church which dates back to the 5th century.
“The Lenten season calls us to place our faith and hope in the Lord (cf. 1 Pet 1:21), since only if we fix our gaze on the risen Christ (cf. Heb 12:2) will we be able to respond to the Apostle’s appeal: ‘Let us never grow tired of doing good’ (Gal 6:9),” Pope Francis said.
“We need to pray because we need God,” he added.
“Thinking that we need nothing other than ourselves is a dangerous illusion. If the pandemic has heightened the awareness of our own personal and social fragility, may this Lent allow us to experience the consolation provided by faith in God, without whom we cannot stand firm.”
Pope Francis signed the Lenten message on Nov. 11, 2021, the feast of Saint Martin, in Rome’s St. John Lateran Basilica.
“In God, no act of love, no matter how small, and no ‘generous effort’ will ever be lost,” Pope Francis said.
“When we sow for the benefit of others, we share in God’s own benevolent love. It is truly noble to place our hope in the hidden power of the seeds of goodness we sow, and thus to initiate processes whose fruits will be reaped by others.”
“Sowing goodness for the benefit of others frees us from narrow self-interest, infuses our actions with gratuitousness, and makes us part of the magnificent horizon of God’s benevolent plan.”