Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Pope Francis

3/6/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.- Pope Francis

It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.- Pope Francis

Highlights

By Pope Francis

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/6/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Lent, Forty Days, fasting, prayer, almsgiving, sacrament of penance, conversion, material destitution, moral destitution, spiritual destitution, penitent, Pope Francis


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - (Note From the Editor in Chief, Deacon Keith Fournier: We are please to offer the full text from our Holy Father Francis entitled He Became Poor, So that by His Poverty You Might Become Rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). Though released on the Feast of the Deacon/Martyr Stephen, it is given to all the faithful specifically for reflection during the Forty Days of Lent.

We encourage our readers around the globe to use this beautiful reflection to motivate your Lenten practices of prayer,penance and almsgiving. Run it off, and keep it with you in the place of prayer in your home. Take it with you in your visits to Jesus, revealed in His the beauty of His voluntary poverty in the tabernacle.Ask the Holy Spirit to open up the depth of what is presented here, in simplicity and elegance, by the Successor of Peter, who is another Francis, a little poor man, for our time. )

*****

From Pope Francis

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As Lent draws near, I would like to offer some helpful thoughts on our path of conversion as individuals and as a community. These insights are inspired by the words of Saint Paul: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (2 Cor 8:9). The Apostle was writing to the Christians of Corinth to encourage them to be generous in helping the faithful in Jerusalem who were in need. What do these words of Saint Paul mean for us Christians today? What does this invitation to poverty, a life of evangelical poverty, mean for us today?

1. Christ's grace

First of all, it shows us how God works. He does not reveal himself cloaked in worldly power and wealth but rather in weakness and poverty: "though He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor .". Christ, the eternal Son of God, one with the Father in power and glory, chose to be poor; he came amongst us and drew near to each of us; he set aside his glory and emptied himself so that he could be like us in all things (cf. Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15). God's becoming man is a great mystery!

But the reason for all this is his love, a love which is grace, generosity, a desire to draw near, a love which does not hesitate to offer itself in sacrifice for the beloved. Charity, love, is sharing with the one we love in all things. Love makes us similar, it creates equality, it breaks down walls and eliminates distances. God did this with us. Indeed, Jesus "worked with human hands, thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he truly became one of us, like us in all things except sin." (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

By making himself poor, Jesus did not seek poverty for its own sake but, as Saint Paul says "that by his poverty you might become rich". This is no mere play on words or a catch phrase. Rather, it sums up God's logic, the logic of love, the logic of the incarnation and the cross. God did not let our salvation drop down from heaven, like someone who gives alms from their abundance out of a sense of altruism and piety. Christ's love is different!

When Jesus stepped into the waters of the Jordan and was baptized by John the Baptist, he did so not because he was in need of repentance, or conversion; he did it to be among people who need forgiveness, among us sinners, and to take upon himself the burden of our sins. In this way he chose to comfort us, to save us, to free us from our misery. It is striking that the Apostle states that we were set free, not by Christ's riches but by his poverty. Yet Saint Paul is well aware of the "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8), that he is "heir of all things" (Heb 1:2).

So what is this poverty by which Christ frees us and enriches us? It is his way of loving us, his way of being our neighbor, just as the Good Samaritan was neighbor to the man left half dead by the side of the road (cf. Lk 10:25ff ). What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is the compassion, tenderness and solidarity of his love. Christ's poverty which enriches us is his taking flesh and bearing our weaknesses and sins as an expression of God's infinite mercy to us. Christ's poverty is the greatest treasure of all: Jesus' wealth is that of his boundless confidence in God the Father, his constant trust, his desire always and only to do the Father's will and give glory to him.

Jesus is rich in the same way as a child who feels loved and who loves its parents, without doubting their love and tenderness for an instant. Jesus' wealth lies in his being the Son; his unique relationship with the Father is the sovereign prerogative of this Messiah who is poor. When Jesus asks us to take up his "yoke which is easy", he asks us to be enriched by his "poverty which is rich" and his "richness which is poor", to share his filial and fraternal Spirit, to become sons and daughters in the Son, brothers and sisters in the firstborn brother (cf. Rom 8:29).

It has been said that the only real regret lies in not being a saint (L. Bloy); we could also say that there is only one real kind of poverty: not living as children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ.

2. Our witness

We might think that this "way" of poverty was Jesus' way, whereas we who come after him can save the world with the right kind of human resources. This is not the case. In every time and place God continues to save mankind and the world through the poverty of Christ, who makes himself poor in the sacraments, in his word and in his Church, which is a people of the poor. God's wealth passes not through our wealth, but invariably and exclusively through our personal and communal poverty, enlivened by the Spirit of Christ.

In imitation of our Master, we Christians are called to confront the poverty of our brothers and sisters, to touch it, to make it our own and to take practical steps to alleviate it. Destitution is not the same as poverty: destitution is poverty without faith, without support, without hope. There are three types of destitution: material, moral and spiritual.

Material destitution is what is normally called poverty, and affects those living in conditions opposed to human dignity: those who lack basic rights and needs such as food, water, hygiene, work and the opportunity to develop and grow culturally. In response to this destitution, the Church offers her help, her diakonia, in meeting these needs and binding these wounds which disfigure the face of humanity. In the poor and outcast we see Christ's face; by loving and helping the poor, we love and serve Christ.

Our efforts are also directed to ending violations of human dignity, discrimination and abuse in the world, for these are so often the cause of destitution. When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth. Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.

No less a concern is moral destitution, which consists in slavery to vice and sin. How much pain is caused in families because one of their members - often a young person - is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling or pornography! How many people no longer see meaning in life or prospects for the future, how many have lost hope! And how many are plunged into this destitution by unjust social conditions, by unemployment, which takes away their dignity as breadwinners, and by lack of equal access to education and health care.

In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide. This type of destitution, which also causes financial ruin, is invariably linked to the spiritual destitution which we experience when we turn away from God and reject his love. If we think we don't need God who reaches out to us through Christ, because we believe we can make do on our own, we are headed for a fall. God alone can truly save and free us.

The Gospel is the real antidote to spiritual destitution: wherever we go, we are called as Christians to proclaim the liberating news that forgiveness for sins committed is possible, that God is greater than our sinfulness, that he freely loves us at all times and that we were made for communion and eternal life. The Lord asks us to be joyous heralds of this message of mercy and hope!

It is thrilling to experience the joy of spreading this good news, sharing the treasure entrusted to us, consoling broken hearts and offering hope to our brothers and sisters experiencing darkness. It means following and imitating Jesus, who sought out the poor and sinners as a shepherd lovingly seeks his lost sheep. In union with Jesus, we can courageously open up new paths of evangelization and human promotion.

Dear brothers and sisters, may this Lenten season find the whole Church ready to bear witness to all those who live in material, moral and spiritual destitution the Gospel message of the merciful love of God our Father, who is ready to embrace everyone in Christ. We can do this to the extent that we imitate Christ who became poor and enriched us by his poverty. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.

May the Holy Spirit, through whom we are "as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything" (2 Cor 6:10), sustain us in our resolutions and increase our concern and responsibility for human destitution, so that we can become merciful and act with mercy. In expressing this hope, I likewise pray that each individual member of the faithful and every Church community will undertake a fruitful Lenten journey. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you safe.

From the Vatican, 26 December 2013
Feast of Saint Stephen, Deacon and First Martyr



FRANCISCUS

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2016
Universal:
Sports: That sports may be an opportunity for friendly encounters between peoples and may contribute to peace in the world.
Evangelization: Living the Gospel: That Christians may live the Gospel, giving witness to faith, honesty, and love of neighbor.



Comments


More Europe

Nuns oppressed at French beach Watch

Image of Nuns are no longer allowed to wear their habits to the beaches of Nice.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Rudy Salles, the Deputy Mayor of Nice, released a statement on Sunday regarding the use of religious clothing at public beaches. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While many stand by France's decision to ban Muslim attire at public beaches, suddenly the thought of ... continue reading


Zuckerberg meets Pope Francis, what happens if they form an alliance? Watch

Image of Zuckerberg presents Pope Francis with a model of the Aquila, which will deliver internet to places without access.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Pope Francis has met with Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla at his home in the Vatican. The meeting was private, but the Vatican did issue a statement. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Pope Francis has met with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the ... continue reading


The Face of Italy's Earthquake: Who is the nun featured in this now ICONIC photo? Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

She is now recognized as the face of Italy's earthquake, but who is the nun featured in the captivating photo of the earthquake's aftermath? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Sister Marjana Lleshi was captured sitting, blood-stained and dirty, on the ground after ... continue reading


Four-year-old discovered ALIVE beneath dead sister's body in Italian earthquake rubble Watch

Image of Young girl dramatically rescued from debris.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Four-year-old Giorgia Renaldo was saved by the body of her eight-year-old sister, Giulia. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Daily Mail, the 6.2-magnitude earthquake that struck near central Italy Wednesday morning left nearly 2,500 people homeless and ... continue reading


'I can only think of our nuns': Bishop disagrees with France's controversial burkini ban Watch

Image of France under fire for controversial burkini ban.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Amid fears of another ISIS attack in Europe, France's controversial "burkini" band has several calling hypocrisy. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to the Catholic Herald, the secretary-general of the Italian Bishops' conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, ... continue reading


Miracle after miracle! Rescuers pulling survivors from rubble of Italian quake Watch

Image of

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Rescuers are racing against time as they dig through the rubble, searching for survivors of a quake that struck central Italy on Wednesday morning. The 6.2 temblor leveled several villages, particularly medieval neighborhoods with stone construction. The death toll ... continue reading


Pope Francis reacts to devastating quake in Italy Watch

Image of A nun rests after escaping the quake.

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A major quake has struck Italy overnight, killing people as they slept. Entire buildings have collapsed and hundreds are missing. Aftershocks have worsened the damage. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - A 6.2 magnitude quake has struck central Italy. The quake hit ... continue reading


Chilling video of Satanic human sacrifice circulates online - but is that what's going on? Watch

Image of Are scientists playing with the devil at CERN?

By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The internet is abuzz with speculation over a video that shows a ritual sacrifice of a woman. The video was filmed at the CERN campus in Switzerland. CERN is the site of the world's largest particle accelerator. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Someone has shared ... continue reading


Shocking ad for Auschwitz death camp tours shunned by victims' families and Jewish leaders Watch

Image of Controversial bus advertisement makes waves in Czech Republic (CEN/Auto Xaver).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A satirical advertisement for infamous death camp Auschwitz has created controversy in the Czech Republic. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Jerusalem Online, the ad features the death camp as an attractive vacation stop.There is a large image of the ... continue reading


'Misconceived tolerance': Christians forced to hide their Bibles and pray in secret Watch

Image of Christian persecution is rampant in Germany's migrant housing.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Germany is struggling with Christian persecution while the Muslim population seemingly goes unchecked. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Deep within the migrant housing borders, Christians are sneaking around.Bibles and crucifixes are kept hidden, children are ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put to ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 6:17-29
17 Now it was this same Herod who had sent to have John arrested, and had ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2016 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know ... Read More