The Vatican

At the beginning of his spiritual exercises, the Pope asks for inner silence

Hours before beginning his spiritual exercises this afternoon, together with his collaborators of the Curia, and until Friday, Pope Francis invited in the Angelus of the First Sunday of Lent to recollect oneself in the presence of God in silence and prayer. And he prayed intensely for the return of peace in so many places in Africa and the world.  

Francisco Otamendi-February 18, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes
Pope Angelus I Sunday Lent

Pope Francis gives blessing on Ash Wednesday at Santa Sabina in Rome @OSV

Today, the first Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents Jesus tempted in the desert, according to St. Mark. The text says: "He remained in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan", and about this reading Francis meditated this morning at the Angelus.

"During Lent, we too are invited to "enter the desert", that is, to enter the silencein the inner worldThe Pope began, "listening to the heart, in contact with the truth. In the desert," he added in today's Gospel, Christ "lived among the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him".

Beasts and angels were his company, the Pontiff pointed out, and they are also our company, in a symbolic sense, when we enter the inner desert. Wild beasts, in what sense, he asked. And his answer was: "In the spiritual life we can think of them as disordered passions that divide the heart, trying to possess it.

Craving for wealth, pleasure, fame...

"We can give names to these "wild beasts" of the soulThe vices, the craving for wealth, which imprisons in calculation and dissatisfaction, the vanity of pleasure, which condemns to restlessness, uneasiness and loneliness, and again the greed for fame, which generates insecurity and a constant need for confirmation and prominence".

"Let us not forget these things that we can find within us: greed, vanity and avarice. They are like 'wild' beasts and as such they must be tamed and fought: otherwise they will devour our freedom. And Lent helps us to enter the inner desert to correct these things," the Pope continued.

Angels: service

And then, "in the desert there were the angels. They are God's messengers, who help us, who do us good; in fact, their characteristic according to the Gospel is service, the exact opposite of possession, typical of the passions".

Finally, Francis suggested that we can ask ourselves what are the disordered passions, the "wild beasts" that are stirring in my heart, and secondly, in order to allow the voice of God to speak to my heart and keep it in the good, "do I think of withdrawing a little to the "desert", try to dedicate some space in the day for this? May the Blessed Virgin, who guarded the Word and did not allow herself to be touched by the temptations of the evil one, help us on the path of the Lent.

For peace in Sudan, Mozambique, in so many places?

After the Angelus prayer, the Pontiff recalled that ten months have passed since the start of the armed conflict in Sudan, which has created a very serious humanitarian situation. 

And he made "a new appeal to the warring parties to put an end to this war that is doing so much harm to the population and to the future of the country. We pray that ways of peace will soon be found to build the future of the beloved Sudan".

On the other hand, "violence against defenseless populations, the destruction of infrastructure and insecurity plague the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, where in recent days the Catholic mission of Our Lady of Africa in Mazeze was set on fire. Let us pray for the return of peace in this tormented region. And let us not forget so many other conflicts that stain the African continent and many parts of the world: also Europe, Palestine, Ukraine...".

"Prayer is effective."

"Let's not forget," he reiterated. "War is always a defeat. Wherever it is fought, the populations are exhausted, they are tired of war which, as always, is useless and will only bring death and destruction, and will never bring a solution to the problems. Instead, let us pray without tiring, because prayer is effective, and let us ask the Lord for the gift of minds and hearts that are concretely dedicated to peace.

The Pontiff finally greeted the faithful from Rome and from various parts of Italy and the world, especially the pilgrims from the United States of America, and the Neocatechumenal communities from various parishes in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Spain, and the farmers and ranchers present in St. Peter's Square.

The authorFrancisco Otamendi

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