No Personal or Social Peace Without Conversion, Says Pope

Calls Lent a Training Period to Overcome Evil

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Justice and peace at the personal and social level call for a conversion of heart, John Paul II said in a Lenten address.



The liturgical period of preparation for the celebration of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, which began Ash Wednesday, is a privileged training period to learn to "combat evil with good," the Pope added.

Before praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father said that in "the present international context, the need to purify the conscience and convert the heart to true peace is that much more intense."

"In this connection, how much more eloquent is the image of Christ, who exposes and overcomes the lies of Satan with the force of truth contained in the Word of God," the Pope continued.

"In the innermost being of every person resound the voice of God and the insidious voice of the Evil One," he added. "The latter seeks to deceive man, seducing him with the prospect of false goods, to withdraw him from the real good, which consists precisely in fulfilling the divine will."

"But humble and confident prayer, reinforced by fasting, enables one to overcome even the harshest trials, and infuses the necessary courage to combat evil with good. Thus Lent is a time of profitable training of the spirit," he stressed.

"This is an interior struggle, on which the concrete approach to life depends," the Pope said. "It is, in fact, from man's heart that his intentions and actions arise; therefore, it is only by purifying the conscience that the path to justice and peace is prepared, both on the personal as well as the social level."

Before bidding the pilgrims farewell, the Pope asked them for their prayers for the week of Spiritual Exercises he begins today. He plans no audiences this week.