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Pope Francis distributes ashes to a woman on Ash Wednesday, 2016 (CNS/Paul Haring)

In his annual message for Lent, Pope Francis highlights the relationship between the Lenten journey and the synodal journey, which he says are both rooted in tradition and open to newness. Source: Vatican News.

Personal and ecclesial “transfiguration” is the goal of the ascetical journey of Lent, and similarly of the synodal process, Pope Francis writes in the message, titled “Lenten Penance and the Synodal Journey”.

Pope Francis takes his inspiration from the Gospel account of the Transfiguration, proclaimed each year on the Second Sunday of Lent. As with the chosen disciples at the Transfiguration, Jesus “takes us with Him to a place apart” during the season of Lent.

“Lenten penance,” he writes, “is a commitment, sustained by grace, to overcoming our lack of faith and our resistance to following Jesus on the way of the cross.”

This requires effort, sacrifice, and concentration, which are also requirements for the Synodal Journey and therefore, Pope Francis says, the faithful can say “our Lenten journey is ‘synodal’ since we make it together along the same path, as disciples of the one Master”.

“Both in the liturgical journey and in the journey of the Synod, the Church does nothing other than enter ever more deeply and fully into the mystery of Christ the Saviour.”

Like the journey of the disciples up Mount Tabor, Pope Francis acknowledges that the synodal process can seem arduous and lead to discouragement.

Yet, he says, “what awaits us at the end is undoubtedly something wondrous and amazing, which will help us to understand better God’s will and our mission in the world.”


Pope Francis: Our Lenten journey is synodal (By Christopher Wells, Vatican News)


Pope: Synodal and Lenten journeys require effort, sacrifice, focusing on God (CNS)