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A TIME FOR PERSONAL CONVERSION



The Pope remarked that Lent is “a season of grace”, “a time of conversion,” and “a time of freedom.” He believes that the desert, as the Prophet Hosea describes, can become a place of our first love (cf. Hos 2: 16-17). The desert can also help us mature in our freedom by making “a personal decision not to fall back into slavery. In addition, it can provide us with “new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken.”

 

Our journey during Lent will be more meaningful if we acknowledge that even today, we are still under the rule of Pharaoh. This rule makes us tired and indifferent to our surroundings, and “the model of growth it offers only divides us, and takes away our future.” However, we must also remember that it is God who takes the first step towards us. Sometimes, we may find ourselves holding onto desires that keep us enslaved, much like “the Israelites were paralysed in the desert.” We must strive to break free from these attachments and embrace the freedom that comes with trusting God.

 

The Pope stated that during the Lenten journey, one has to struggle. However, it is “a time for action and also a time to pause – to pause in prayer to receive the Word of God, and to pause like the Samaritan in the presence of a wounded brother or sister.” He highlighted the importance of “the love of God and the love of neighbour,” which can help us to “cultivate new energies and be more sensitive towards one another.” Instead of perceiving others as a threat or enemy, we “can discover them as companions and fellow travellers.”

 

Pope Francis stated that if we use this Lent as a time for personal conversion, humanity will notice a burst of creativity and a flash of new hope. He called upon the faithful to be ready to take risks and find the courage to see the world as a process of “giving birth”, “giving new hope”, and “new energies”.

 

The synodal form of the Church, which we are rediscovering and cultivating in recent years, indicates that Lent is also “a time of communitarian decisions”. These decisions have the ability to change the daily lives of individuals and entire communities - to change the way we acquire goods, to take better care of the environment, and to strive towards greater inclusion of those who are often overlooked or go unseen.


(An abstract of the message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for Lent 2024)

On Ash Wednesday, we receive ashes on our foreheads to mark the beginning of the Lenten season. This is a time of preparation leading up to the Easter celebration, which falls on March 31st this year. During Lent - with the help of God’s grace and steadfast spirit - we strive to let go of the attachments that imprison us and break free from our slavery to sin. This allows us to prepare ourselves to experience the Passover from death to life that Easter represents.

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