Catholic World News

Practice works of mercy during Lent, Pope says in message

January 26, 2016

The Holy See Press Office released Pope Francis’s 2016 Lenten message on January 26.

Dated October 4 (the memorial of St. Francis of Assisi) and entitled “I mesire mercy, and not sacrifice: the works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee,” the message has three parts:

  • “Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelized”
  • “God’s covenant with humanity: a history of mercy”
  • “The works of mercy”

“The real poor are revealed as those who refuse to see themselves as such,” Pope Francis wrote. “They consider themselves rich, but they are actually the poorest of the poor. This is because they are slaves to sin, which leads them to use wealth and power not for the service of God and others, but to stifle within their hearts the profound sense that they too are only poor beggars.”

He continued:

Such blindness is often accompanied by the proud illusion of our own omnipotence, which reflects in a sinister way the diabolical “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5) which is the root of all sin. This illusion can likewise take social and political forms, as shown by the totalitarian systems of the twentieth century, and, in our own day, by the ideologies of monopolizing thought and technoscience, which would make God irrelevant and reduce man to raw material to be exploited. This illusion can also be seen in the sinful structures linked to a model of false development based on the idolatry of money, which leads to lack of concern for the fate of the poor on the part of wealthier individuals and societies; they close their doors, refusing even to see the poor.

“For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practicing the works of mercy,” Pope Francis added. “The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated … Let us not waste this season of Lent, so favorable a time for conversion!”


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