VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Lent is a time for deeper dialogue with God through prayer, for renewed gratitude for God's mercy and for increased compassion for people whose lives are under attack, Pope Francis said.
Also, people must not only show generosity through charitable giving, but they should also work for a real structural change to today's "economic life," the pope said in his annual message for Lent, which begins Feb. 26 for Latin-rite Catholics.
The Vatican released the text of the pope's message Feb. 24.
Contemplating the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and putting it at the center of one's life, "means feeling compassion toward the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life from that of the unborn to that of the elderly, and various forms of violence," the pope said in his message.
These wounds are "likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth's goods, human trafficking in all its forms and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry," he said.
Not only are Christians called to generously share the richness of the Gospel and gifts from God, "today, too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of goodwill to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world," he said.
The theme of the pope's message, "We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God," is taken from the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (5:20), which reflects the invitation to return to God through constant conversion and reconciliation, and experience new life in Christ.
"Life is born of the love of God our Father, from his desire to grant us life in abundance," Pope Francis wrote.
Pope Francis asked in his message that the Lenten season lead to people opening their hearts "to hear God's call to be reconciled to himself, to fix our gaze on the paschal mystery, and to be converted to an open and sincere dialogue with him" so that everyone become "what Christ asks his disciples to be: the salt of the earth and the light of the world."