Pope on Lent: Not just about sacrifices but about discerning where our hearts are directed

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The pope attended the traditional Ash Wednesday Mass in St. Peter's Square. Although he was limping a bit, he was able to celebrate it normally.

The ceremony included the rite of the imposition of the ashes.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.

Card. Angelo Comastri, arch-priest of St. Peter's Basilica, placed the ashes on the pope.

Then the pope imposed them one by one on the cardinals who live in Rome.

“Lent is not just about making a bunch of sacrifices, but about discerning where our hearts are directed. It's about discerning the direction in which the heart is headed. This is the central aspect of Lent: What guides my heart.”

The pope suggested asking if the heart's automatic pilot moves us to love God or our own selfishness: unhealthy thoughts that paralyze, fear, and self-victimizing complaints.

He explained that returning to God doesn't require any special merit, but simply letting the Lord heal us. It's a process that starts with confession.

“The beginning of the return to God is the recognition of our need for Him, His mercy and His grace. This is the right path, the path of humility. Do I recognize my need or do I think I'm self-sufficient?”

The pope usually celebrates Ash Wednesday Mass in the Basilica of St. Sabina, on the Aventine hill in Rome. This year the pandemic forced a change of location.

To avoid large gatherings, aside from the 32 cardinals, only about 100 pilgrims were allowed to attend the Mass.


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