On Ash Wednesday, February 22, Pope Francis delivered a sermon that emphasized the importance of self-reflection during Lent. He urged people to let go of distractions and work on improving their relationships with God and others.
The pope celebrated Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina on Rome’s Aventine Hill, marking his first return to the basilica since February 2020.
Unlike previous years, he did not participate in the penitential procession from the nearby Church of St. Anselm before the Mass, instead entering Santa Sabina in a wheelchair due to a ligament problem in his knee.
During Mass, Pope Francis called on all Catholics to be truthful with themselves and let go of the masks they wear to appear perfect. He encouraged them to reject lies and hypocrisy and face them head-on. He quoted his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who said that our external gestures must always be matched by a sincere heart and consistent behavior.
The pope also discussed the Church’s call to strengthen prayer, almsgiving and fasting during Lent. He emphasized that people should use this time to care for those who are poor and afflicted and to restore God in their lives.
Pope Francis stressed that Lent is a season of grace when people can rebuild their relationship with God and with others. He called on them to break the chains of individualism and rediscover the joy of loving others as brothers and sisters. He said that at the end of the journey, they will encounter the Lord of life with greater joy, who alone can raise them up from their ashes.
The pope’s message was a reminder that Lent is an important time for introspection, reflection and growth. It’s a time to focus on what really matters and to strengthen relationships with God and others.
Pray for a fulfilling Lent!