Lent Is a Time to Open Up to Love, Says Pope

12,000 Pilgrims Hear Ash Wednesday’s General Audience

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presented Lent as a time to open one's heart to the merciful love of Christ and to love of one's brothers.



"Whoever begins to see God, to contemplate the face of Christ, sees his brother with other eyes, discovers his brother, his good, his evil, his needs," the Pope affirmed in his Ash Wednesday address.

"Lent is a time of listening to the truth, it is a propitious moment to be converted to love, as the profound truth -- the truth of God -- is, at the same time, love," the Holy Father added.

The Pontiff's address was heard by 12,000 people present at the weekly general audience, held in St. Peter's Square.

He dedicated his address to comment on the "40-day Lenten journey that will lead us to the Easter triduum, memorial of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection, heart of the mystery of our salvation."

Recalling the words proposed by the day's liturgy, "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15), the Bishop of Rome explained that they are "the authentic and central program of the Lenten season: to listen to the Word of truth, to live, speak and do the truth, to reject lies that poison humanity and are the door to all evils."

Truth

"Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take in life," Benedict XVI said.

Thus, "the Lenten season offers us an ascetic and liturgical journey that, helping us to open our eyes in face of our weakness, makes us open our hearts to the merciful love of Christ," he continued.

"In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the 'gaze' of Christ," the Holy Father affirmed, recalling the message he wrote for Lent.

The Pope concluded by hoping that these will "be days of reflection and intense prayer, in which we let ourselves be guided by the Word of God," and a sincere occasion "to share the gifts received with our brothers to pay attention to the needs of the poorest and the abandoned."