Prayer consists in raising one’s spiritual mind and heart to God. Authentic prayer is possible for us only because God the Father has connected us covenantally to Himself through the high priesthood of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ according to the order of Melchizedek and in the Holy Spirit, in order to cultivate our personal and community life with Himself according to His truth and love, and lead us to enjoy the eternal life for which He has created us and chosen us in Christ. The benefits of authentic prayer to God the Father in Christ and in the Holy Spirit as revealed to us in and through the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mother of God are incalculable, and encourage us to be generous and diligent in cultivating our covenantal prayer life with the Son our Lord Jesus Christ and with His Eternal Father.
Lent is the prime time for all of us to learn from God’s only-begotten Son Himself the right way of praying to His Eternal Father even as He teaches us in His Sacred Liturgy as the Head of His holy Catholic Church. Although He is the only begotten Son and our Creator with His Eternal Father in the divine nature, His personal life with His Eternal Father in His human nature as the historical Jesus “under the Law” was clearly one of prayer. From Him we learn to express our dependence on the Eternal Father not only for our existence and sustenance but more importantly for our ability to maintain our covenantal relationship with Him in the Holy Spirit. He teaches us to do so in the prayer He has taught us through His Apostles. He teaches us that our first request to Him should be that His name must be hallowed and not profaned in our daily lives. God’s name is hallowed when He crowns our lives with His eschatological blessings in the sight of the world on account of our obedience of faith to Him in Christ. Secondly, our Lord teaches us to ask His Eternal Father to bring more and more people into the blessedness of covenantal life with Himself and increase the extent of His kingdom in this world. Thirdly, He directs us to ask His Eternal Father to enable us to carry out His will in this world according to His commandments and promises and duties of our proper state of life through His everyday holy providence for us in order that the destructiveness of disobedience to Him in the human world may be mitigated and overcome. Fourthly, our Lord directs us to ask His Eternal Father to provide for the needs of our bodily life and for the spiritual needs of our personal life with Him in the covenant through the power of His holy name and His Fatherly care for us. Fifthly, He directs us to join the Eternal Father’s own personal life of love by forgiving those who are unjust to us as He has been loving in forgiving our own injustice to Him in our every act of covenantal disobedience to Him. Sixthly, our Lord leads us to confess to His Eternal Father the precariousness of our covenantal life with Him in the world of sin and death. We cannot withstand the Devil’s challenges to our covenantal obedience to God the Father and so we need to be delivered constantly by God the Father from every evil attempt made by the reign of the Devil in this world to bring our covenantal life with Him to an end. Our Lord not only illuminates our soul with this sublime teaching on prayer but He also empowers us to obey and to pray to His Eternal Father at all times and in all circumstances in this manner with truth and love through the mission of His Holy Spirit as Paraclete in our souls when we receive the Holy Spirit from Him through His Holy Sacraments in His Holy Catholic Church. In the daily Liturgy of the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, Holy Mother Church desires and prays that all her children may grow in this covenantal prayer life with God the Father in Christ wherein “the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words”.
LENTEN MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS - 2019
“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Each year, through Mother Church, God “gives us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed… as we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ” (Preface of Lent I). We can thus journey from Easter to Easter towards the fulfilment of the salvation we have already received as a result of Christ’s paschal mystery – “for in hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24). This mystery of salvation, already at work in us during our earthly lives, is a dynamic process that also embraces history and all of creation. As Saint Paul says, “the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19). In this perspective, I would like to offer a few reflections to accompany our journey of conversion this coming Lent.
The redemption of creation
The celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, the culmination of the liturgical year, calls us yearly to undertake a journey of preparation, in the knowledge that our being conformed to Christ (cf. Rom 8:29) is a priceless gift of God’s mercy.
When we live as children of God, redeemed, led by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 8:14) and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts and in nature, we also benefit creation by cooperating in its redemption. That is why Saint Paul says that creation eagerly longs for the revelation of the children of God; in other words, that all those who enjoy the grace of Jesus’ paschal mystery may experience its fulfilment in the redemption of the human body itself. When the love of Christ transfigures the lives of the saints in spirit, body and soul, they give praise to God. Through prayer, contemplation and art, they also include other creatures in that praise, as we see admirably expressed in the “Canticle of the Creatures” by Saint Francis of Assisi (cf. Laudato Si’, 87). Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death.
The destructive power of sin
Indeed, when we fail to live as children of God, we often behave in a destructive way towards our neighbours and other creatures – and ourselves as well – since we begin to think more or less consciously that we can use them as we will. Intemperance then takes the upper hand: we start to live a life that exceeds those limits imposed by our human condition and nature itself. We yield to those untrammelled desires that the Book of Wisdom sees as typical of the ungodly, those who act without thought for God or hope for the future (cf. 2:1-11). Unless we tend constantly towards Easter, towards the horizon of the Resurrection, the mentality expressed in the slogans “I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough”, gains the upper hand.
The root of all evil, as we know, is sin, which from its first appearance has disrupted our communion with God, with others and with creation itself, to which we are linked in a particular way by our body. This rupture of communion with God likewise undermines our harmonious relationship with the environment in which we are called to live, so that the garden has become a wilderness (cf. Gen 3:17-18). Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests, to the detriment of other creatures.
Once God’s law, the law of love, is forsaken, then the law of the strong over the weak takes over. The sin that lurks in the human heart (cf. Mk 7:20-23) takes the shape of greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself. It leads to the exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment, due to that insatiable covetousness which sees every desire as a right and sooner or later destroys all those in its grip.