With great joy, we praise and thank God for the gift of new our Holy Father, Pope Francis and pray that the Church will be filled with an abundance of grace as he begins his ministry as Successor of St. Peter. We thought it would be appropriate to share with you an excerpt from Pope Francis’ 2013 Lenten message (dated one month before his election to the papacy) to the people of Buenos Aires. It is beautiful and gives one a glimpse into the heart of our new Holy Father.
“Lent comes to us as a cry of truth and sure hope, which answers yes . . . it is possible that everything be made new and different because God continues to be rich in kindness and mercy, always willing to forgive, and He encourages us to begin again and again. Today we are again invited to undertake a paschal journey to Truth, a journey that includes the cross and renunciation, which will be uncomfortable but not sterile. We are invited to admit that something is not right in ourselves, in society and in the Church, to change, to turn around, to be converted.
“Strong and challenging on this day are the words of the prophet Joel: Rend your hearts, not your garments: be converted to the Lord your God. It is an invitation to all peoples; no one is excluded.
“Rend your hearts, not your garments, artificial penance without guarantees for the future.
“Rend your hearts, not your garments, formal and fulfilled fast which continues to keep us satisfied.
“Rend your hearts, not your garments, superficial and egoistic prayer which does not reach the depth of our life to allow it to be touched by God.
“Rend your hearts to say with the Psalmist: we have sinned. Sin is the wound of the soul: Oh poor wounded one, recognize your Physician! Show him the wounds of your guilt. And given that our secret thoughts are not hidden from Him, make him hear the groan of your heart. Move Him to compassion with your tears, with your insistence. Importune Him! May He hear your sighs, make your pain reach Him so that, in the end, He can say to you: The Lord has forgiven your sin (Saint Gregory the Great). This is the reality of our human condition. This is the truth that can bring us closer to genuine reconciliation with God and with men. It is not about discrediting self-esteem but about penetrating the depth of our hearts and of assuming the mystery of suffering and pain which has bound us for centuries, thousands of years, always.
“Rend your hearts, so that through that crack we can really look at ourselves.
“Rend your hearts, open your hearts, because only in a broken and open heart can the merciful love of God enter, who loves and heals us.
“Rend your hearts says the prophet, and Paul asks us almost on his knees, be reconciled with God. To change one’s way of living is the sign and fruit of this broken and reconciled heart by a love that surpasses us. This is the invitation, given the many wounds that harm us and that can lead us to the temptation of hardening us: Rend your hearts to experience in silent and serene prayer the gentleness of God’s tenderness.
“I wish you a holy Lent, a penitential and fruitful Lent and, please, I ask you to pray for me. May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin look after you.”