Notable quotations from Pope Francis and official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church
As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul; "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9).
... What is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is His way of loving us, His way of being our neighbor... What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of His love. Christ's poverty which enriches us is His taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God's infinite mercy to us. Christ's poverty is the greatest treasure of all.
In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it.
In the poor and outcast we see Christ's face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.
When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.
... May this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, Who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ Who became poor and enriched us by His poverty.
Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.
May the Holy Spirit, through Whom we are "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing and yet possessing everything" (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy.
(Source: 2014 Lenten message, dated 12/26/2013)
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com