Lent is a time to remove all distractions and bitterness from one’s life in order to better hear God and those who suffer silently and need help, Pope Francis said yesterday. Source: CNS.
By Carol Glatz, CNS
“It is the right time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from mobile phones and connect ourselves to the Gospel,” the Pope said at his weekly general audience yesterday, Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent for Latin-rite Catholics.
“It’s a time to give up useless words, idle chatter, rumours, gossip” and speak intimately with the Lord, he said.
It was the first general audience of the year held outside in St Peter’s Square given the mild temperatures.
However, given increased concern in Italy about the spread of the coronavirus, the Pope reduced his contact with people in the square, shaking hands with only a few people before beginning his talk.
In fact, at the end of his audience, the Pope assured all those affected by the virus of his closeness and prayers. He said his prayers were also with the health care professionals and public officials who were working hard to help patients and stop the spread of the disease.
In his main audience talk, the Pope explained “the spiritual significance” of the desert, where Jesus spent 40 days praying and fasting to prepare for his public ministry.
Jesus often headed off to “deserted” places to pray, “teaching us how to seek the Father who speaks to us in silence,” the Pope said.
“The desert is a place to get away from the racket that surrounds us. It is the absence of words in order to make room for another word, the Word of God, who like a light breeze, caresses the heart,” he said.
Just as Jesus spent time in the desert, he said Catholics must spend Lent creating similarly sparse surroundings and a “healthy environment of the heart.”