Friday, March 3, 2006
The Holy Father on Ash Wednesday

The Holy Father's audience given at the Ash Wednesday Mass is available online now. Here is only a segment of it:

"Today we begin our Lenten journey, when the Church invites us to ponder Christ's saving work, to live out more deeply the reality of our Baptism and to draw rich nourishment from sacred Scripture. Above all, we are to relive with Jesus the 40 days he spent in the desert, praying and fasting, in preparation for his public mission. We join him in a spiritual journey, we follow him on the road to Calvary, and after the mystery of the Cross, we experience the joy of his Resurrection.

"This day is marked by the solemn distribution of ashes. Two Scripture passages are used to accompany the rite. The first, "remember that you are dust and to dust you will return" (John 3:19), urges us to place our hope in God alone. The second, "turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel" (Mark 1:15), directs us to set out on the path of spiritual renewal, rejecting evil and drawing life from Christ's saving truth.

"The theme of my Lenten Message for this year is the Gospel text: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." We too are called to be attentive to the needs of our suffering brothers and sisters as part of our Lenten observance. Through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, may we be purified and renewed, as we prepare to celebrate the great feast of Easter."

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