Pope Francis: Message for Lent, almsgiving should become “style of life”. Call to take up “collection” for “Churches and people in need”

foto SIR/Marco Calvarese

Prayer, almsgiving and fasting are the three Lenten practices that the Pope mentions at the end of his Message for Lent as a “remedy” to our “lack of love”. “By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers”, Pope Francis explained: “He is our Father and he wants us to live life well”. Almsgiving, the Pope went on to explain, sets us “free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbour as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone”. “How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!”, Pope Francis said: “How I would like us, as Christians, to follow the example of the Apostles and see in the sharing of our possessions a tangible witness of the communion that is ours in the Church!”. In this regard, the Pope echoed Saint Paul’s words, when he exhorted the Corinthians to take up a collection for the community of Jerusalem: “as something from which they themselves would benefit”. “This is all the more fitting during the Lenten season, when many groups take up collections to assist Churches and peoples in need”, the Pope stressed. “Yet I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself” – this is the Pope’s wish for our daily lives: “When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children. If through me God helps someone today, will he not tomorrow provide for my own needs? For no one is more generous than God”. Fasting, then, “weakens our tendency to violence; it disarms us and becomes an important opportunity for growth”. On the one hand, Pope Francis explained, it “allows us to experience what the destitute and the starving have to endure. On the other hand, it expresses our own spiritual hunger and thirst for life in God. Fasting wakes us up. It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbour. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger”.