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Lenten goal is to draw closer to Jesus, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - March 09, 2011

At this weekly public audience on March 9—Ash Wednesday—Pope Benedict XVI reminded the faithful that Christianity is not a matter of observing rules, but an encounter with the living Christ.

During the season of Lent, as Christians work to deepen their spiritual commitment, they should be mindful that “Christian life is a 'road' to be travelled, consisting not so much in a law to be observed as in the person of Christ Himself, Who must be encountered, welcomed and followed,” the Pope told the crowd in the Paul VI auditorium. A fruitful observance of Lent, he added, “prepares us for a worthy celebration of the Paschal mysteries.”

The Pontiff encouraged Catholics to focus their Lenten observances on the Sacrifice of the Mass. “It is above all in the liturgy, in participation in the holy mysteries, that we are drawn into following this path with the Lord,” he observed. Looking forward through the Sundays of Lent, the Pope remarked briefly on the Gospel messages that Catholics will hear in coming weeks, remarking on how they fit with the theme of a journey toward closer union with Jesus Christ.

Speaking of penitential practices for Lent, the Pope said that fasting “means abstaining from food, but it also includes other forms of privation for a more abstemious life.” Similarly, he said, the traditional focus on almsgiving should be understood to include “many good works.” Above all, he said, Lent should be a time of “more trusting and intense prayer.”

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