The Pope’s message for Lent

In his annual message for Lent, Pope Francis described a world marked by signs of “the end of time,” including false prophets and cold hearts.

The Pontiff urged Catholics to use Lent to counteract this time of “great tribulation” through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Quoting Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, he describes how Jesus foretold this tribulation: “Because of the increase of inequity, the love of many will grow cold.”

Pope Francis warned that amid great trials, false prophets would leave people astray and the love is the core of the Gospel would grow cold in the hearts of many.

The Pope said lust for wealth is the usual form a cold heart takes.

“More than anything else, what destroys charity is greed for money -the root of all evil,” he said.

Another sign of love turned cold is the problem of pollution which causes creation to become poisoned by waste, “discarded out of carelessness or selfishness.”

He said that whole communities can show signs of a cold lack of love wherever there is selfish sloth, sterile pessimism, the temptation to become isolated, constant internal fighting and a “worldly mentality that makes us concerned only for appearances, and thus lessens our missionary zeal.”

The Pontiff used his Lenten message to urge us to become more fervent disciples of the 21st century.

Praying more enables “our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception - and then to find to consolation God offers.

“Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister,” the Pope added.

Finally, “fasting weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth,” he said, while also letting people feel what it must be like for those who struggle to survive.

Not counting Sundays, Lent is a season of 40 days. It begins on Ash Wednesday – the 14 February – and ends on Holy Thursday.

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