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First Sunday of Lent: Weapons of Penance,Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

By Congregation for the Clergy
March 14th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Let us ask for clear knowledge of our limits and our sins, the humility to know that always the tempter, that didn't even spare the Lord Jesus, traps us with his lies that are always the same from the Garden of Eden to the end of time: 'You will be like God' (Gen 3:5). 

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We are pleased to be able to present to our readers around the world the commentary sent from the Congregation for the Clergy to all of the priests in the world on this the First Sunday of Lent:

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The Weapons of Penance: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving

At the beginning of Lent, the great journey of conversion, the Church gives us the 'weapons of penance' which are fasting, prayer and almsgiving.  These 'weapons' are not meant to be merely exterior practices, but as a reflection in the works of our interior conversion, to radically trust ourselves to the mercy, goodness and providence of God.  We are lead, as if by hand, and even the chronological secession of the readings seams to sustain the steps towards the journey of liberation.

The first reading, that recounts the story of the 'original sin', indicates the point from which everything departs.  We know well that the expression 'original sin' means the disobedience of the first men towards God, from which, in a way we can not fully comprehend, comes the initial situation of our 'non-salvation' and so every man is born with the tendency to sin which he carries within himself.

Beyond its initial meaning, this reading also indicates the sin which is at the root of all others: pride.  Pride is the consideration that we are self sufficient, independent of any attachment, keeping our lives for ourselves, without opening ourselves to the work that He who created us has entrusted to us.  After rebirth in Holy Baptism that inclination to sin lingers on like a wound.

In Psalm 50, the prayer in which man turns to God saying, 'Against you, you alone I have sinned, what is evil in your sight I have done' (Ps 50: 6), is the first step of fundamental importance that Divine Grace allows us to make: the recognition of our sins.  Humbly, without searching for justification, recognising our sins, represents the start of liberation because it makes truth and, consequently, man belongs no more to sin but to Truth: 'you will learn the truth and the truth will set you free'. (Jn 8:32)

Let us ask for clear knowledge of our limits and our sins, the humility to know that always the tempter, that didn't even spare the Lord Jesus, traps us with his lies that are always the same from the Garden of Eden to the end of time: 'You will be like God' (Gen 3:5).  At the root of every sin there is always a lie, in the same way as at the root of authentic liberation there is always the truth.   May this 'strong' time in the Liturgical Year be the triumph of the truth.  It will also be the triumph of freedom and victory over death that we will celebrate at Easter.


Gn 2,7-9: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ak0pnb.htm
Gn 3,1-7: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abstdc.htm
Rm 5,12-19: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9astc2e.htm
Mt 4,1-11: http://www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9abtnfd.htm

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