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Faithful must 'pass through the desert' in Lent, Pope tells Ash Wednesday congregation

Catholic World News - February 18, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI led a traditional Ash Wednesday service in Rome on February 17, joining in a procession from the church of St. Anselm to the basilica of Santa Sabina for Mass. In his homily the Pontiff said that like Christ during his 40 days in the desert, the faithful too "must pass through the desert, the test of faith-- not alone but with Jesus." That, he said, is the fundamental meaning of Lent.

During Lent the faithful are challenged to turn away from sin, the Pope continued. "Sin basically consists in disobeying God, in a lack of love," he said. Sincere repentance is the prerequisite for receiving God's mercy, the Pope said.

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