Wednesday, 21 February 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today – Ash Wednesday – we begin our Lenten journey in a spirit of prayer and penance. From the earliest days of the Church, Lent has been a special time of preparation for Baptism. For those already baptized, Lent is a time of conversion and renewed faith. It is a time to “exercise” our desire for God by opening our hearts to the new life offered to us in Christ. Jesus exhorts us to “repent and believe in the Gospel”. Only conversion can lead to true happiness, and God’s grace is needed to inspire and sustain our efforts to direct our hearts completely to him. Conversion consists in recognizing that we depend entirely on God, who created us and redeemed us in Christ. In my Lenten message this year, I wanted to emphasize God’s immense love for us, and to invite all Christians, together with Mary and the Beloved Disciple, to draw near to the Lord, who gave his life for us on the Cross. The Cross – the definitive revelation of God’s love and mercy – is the only way to enter this mystery of saving love. This Lent, by a more fervent participation in the Eucharist, may we learn to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery and to “re-give” Christ’s love to others, especially the suffering and those in need.