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Pope Francis at Ash Wednesday Mass: be reconciled to God

February 11, 2016

Celebrating Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis called upon the faithful to heed two exhortations in the Scripture readings for the day: “be reconciled to God” and “return to [God] with all your heart” through prayer, charity, and fasting.

“There can be some obstacles that close the doors of the heart,” he preached. “There is the temptation to bolt the doors, that is, to live with our own proper sins, minimizing them, always justifying ourselves, thinking we are no worse than others; so, then, the locks of the soul are closed, and we remain closed within, prisoners of evil.”

The Pope continued:

Another obstacle is the shame in opening the secret door of the heart. Shame, in reality, is a good symptom, because it indicates we want to break away from evil; above all we must never transform it into fear or dread. And there is a third trap, that of moving away from the door: this happens when we dwell on our miseries, when we brood over them continually, to the point where we plunge ourselves into the darkest cellars of the soul.

During the Mass, Pope Francis commissioned hundreds of priests to be Missionaries of Mercy during the jubilee year; these priests have the faculties to absolve sins normally reserved to the Holy See.

Traditionally the Pope celebrates Mass on Ash Wednesday at the church of Santa Sabina. Pope Francis broke with that tradition to accommodate the 1,000 Missionaries of Mercy who had traveled to Rome for the commissioning ceremony.

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