Pope Francis' first Ash Wednesday took place at the Roman Basilica of St. Anselmo. He began there a procession to the Basilica of St. Sabina, to symbolize the 40-day long "itinerary.”
He arrived just before 5PM, and celebrated Mass. He also received the ashes from Slovak Card. Jozef Tomko.
During his homily, the Pope explained how Christians should approach the Lenten season. He called for an honest "conversion of the heart,” and said that this "challenge” does not exclude anyone.
"We know that this world, ever more artificial, makes us live out in a culture of 'doing,' of the 'useful,' where, without realizing it, we exclude God from our horizon, and we exclude the horizon itself. Lent calls us to 'wake up,' to remind us that we are creatures, that we are simply not God.”
The Pope called out those who seek only power, and are willing to do anything to get it.
"When I see in everyday life some power struggles to take up space, I think: 'These people are playing God Creator.' They still haven't realized that they are not God.”
Pope Francis said that Lent is a moment to open up to others. And to do so, he added, there are three key words: prayer, fasting, and charity.
"All three share the need to not let appearances take over. Looks don't matter. The value of life does not depend on the approval of others, or on success, but of what we have inside.”
The cardinal members of the Roman Curia joined Pope Francis for Mass. Some may have even recalled that last year's Ash Wednesday was the last major ceremony for Benedict XVI as Pope. It took place in St. Peter's Basilica, just two days after he announced his resignation.