Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Ash Wednesday at St. Peter's Basilica. Normally, this ceremony is held in another Roman basilica, but this year it has been done here because the Pope has commissioned the "Missionaries of Mercy.”
In his homily, he asked them to go throughout the world helping people open the doors to their hearts.
"May your hands bless and console our brothers and sisters with parenthood. That through you, our Father's hands care for their children and heal their wounds!”
He explained that there are barriers that close the doors of peoples hearts, such as the embarrassment or failure to trust God.
"It is tempting to lock the doors, that is, live with the sin itself, minimizing it, always justified, thinking it is no worse than others.”
Faced with this attitude, he said that there are three medicines to celebrating Lent well and healing the sin: prayer, charity and fasting, which causes people to be more sensitive and merciful.
"It's an invitation for simplicity and sharing: take something away from our table and give our goods to find the true good of freedom.”
But the Pope asked that this not only expressed externally, but also deeply internal.
"May Lent be a beneficial time 'pruning' of falsehood, of worldliness, indifference: not to think that everything is fine if I'm right: to understand that what counts is not approval, the pursuit of success or consensus but that of a pure heart.”
After the homily, Cardinal Angelo Comastri was the person responsible for imposing the ashes on the Pope. With this action, the Church calls for conversion and penitence.
About 700 Missionaries of Mercy were present at the ceremony. Now they will go throughout the world helping the Pope extend the mercy of God.