Buried with Christ, Raised with Christ: Pope Benedict XVI Releases Lenten Message
The Pope calls the Church throughout the world into a protracted time of repentance
As we look at world events, the question we ask in our day is no different than the one posed in the New Testament Letter of James, "Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?" (James 4) The answer is also the same. The disorder we find around us is also found within us. We desperately need an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This encounter lies at the heart of Pope Benedict's evangelical message.
This year, Pope Benedict chose the words of St Paul to the Colossians 'You were buried with Him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with Him' as the title of his Lenten message
VATICAN CITY, (Catholic Online) - It seems no matter what news story you read these days, national or international, the world is consumed with crises and ravaged by division. So, when I read the Lenten message of Pope Benedict XVI, released on February 22, 2011, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, I was reminded again of the only hope for peace, unity and healing, Jesus Christ.
This year, Pope Benedict chose the words of St Paul to the Colossians "You were buried with Him in Baptism, in which you were also raised with Him" as the title of his Lenten message. The full address can be read here The Pope calls the Church throughout the world into a protracted time of repentance and a wholehearted return to Jesus Christ during the upcoming forty days of Lent. We desperately need it.
As we look at world events, the question we ask in our day is no different than the one posed in the New Testament Letter of James, "Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from?" (James 4) The answer is also the same. The disorder we find around us is also found within us. We desperately need an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. This encounter lies at the heart of Pope Benedict's evangelical message. Here are some excerpts:
"The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives "the mind of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely.
"The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that "I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ.
"This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence.
"In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord - the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year - what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi (Way of Christ) and a fuller giving of oneself to him.
"During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God's Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer. ... Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that His 'words will not pass away', to enter into that intimate communion with Him 'that no one shall take from you', opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life".
"Dear brothers and sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realises, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner".
The word Lent is derived from the "lengthening" of the hours of the day every year. It is no accident that it falls in this transition time, when we move from the barrenness of winter with its long periods of darkness into the verdant new life and longer days of sunshine we call spring. There are other terms which have grown out of the practice of this penitential season, such as the use of the phrase the "Forty Days".
When I was a young man I had a friend who I thought was an "old priest"- about my age now. He spoke of "looking forward to Lent". Like most young men I thought I knew everything. I figured this poor priest was a bit odd. I saw Lent as a season of imposed penitential practices which I dreaded. Now, I smile as I find myself joined in the sentiment of my friend. I guess I have become a "bit odd" myself? I need Lent.
When we enter into lent with our entire person it moves us to this personal encounter with the Lord. Its' practices of piety, penance, asceticism and special worship, help us respond to that admonition we will soon hear on Ash Wednesday to "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel". Lent opens us to a new experience of freedom through an encounter with the One who alone can truly set us free, Jesus Christ.
As we do every year, Catholic Online will offer a special virtual place to assist our readers from around the globe to experience this encounter with the Lord, lived in its fullness in His Body, the Church. We will offer prayers, readings, and special articles. Pope Benedict XVI, the successor of the Apostle Peter, invites us to 'Renew our Acceptance of Baptismal Grace during Lent'. Let us hear the invitation and respond with all of our heart, mind and strength. We need Lent.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Lent, Pope Benedict XVI, Penance, fasting, almsgiving, Deacon Keith Fournier
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