Pope Francis offers Lenten challenge: “Remove the masks we often wear”

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The Aventine Hill in Rome was once again the venue for the beginning of Lent. Every Ash Wednesday, a procession takes place from the Basilica of St. Anselmo to the Basilica of Santa Sabina.

Due to his health problems, above all, his knee, Pope Francis waited inside the Basilica to begin the Mass.

In his homily, the Pope explained that the meaning of this liturgical season lies in stripping away the superficial in order to return to the truth.

It means looking within and becoming aware of who we really are, removing the masks we often wear, slowing down the rush of our frenzies, embracing life and the truth of ourselves. Life is not an act, and Lent invites us to come down from the stage of make-believe to return to the heart, to the truth of who we are.

For this reason, Pope Francis said fasting, almsgiving and prayer cannot be reduced to superficial actions because they lead people back to the essentials of Christian life.

The Pope invited everyone present to fast from oversharing, for example, on social media because everything does not have to be shared.

But how can what does not flow from the heart be social? Even the most tragic and painful experiences are in danger of having no secret place to guard them—everything must be exposed, flaunted, part of the chatter of the moment. And here the Lord tells us: enter the secret, return to the center of yourself.

After the homily, Pope Francis was the first to receive ashes from Cardinal Piacenza, who then received them from the Pope.

This Mass marked the beginning of the 40 day Lenten period. The Pope explained that this time should be spent returning to the truth of who man is, always looking to Jesus.


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