Pope's message for Lent 2003

 Pope John Paul's Message for Lent 2003 is on the theme: "It is more blessed to give than to receive". The message was presented in the Holy See Press Office by Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," Msgr Karel Kasteel, secretary and Fr Oreste Benzi, founder of the Pope John XXIII Association. Following are excerpts: "Lent is a season of intense prayer, fasting and concern for those in need. It offers all Christians an opportunity to prepare for Easter by serious discernment about their lives, with particular attention to the word of God which enlightens the daily journey of all who believe." "This year, as a guide for our Lenten meditation, I would offer a phrase taken from the Acts of the Apostles: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'." "Our age, regrettably, is particularly susceptible to the temptation toward selfishness which always lurks within the human heart. In society generally, and in the media, people are bombarded by messages which more or less openly exalt the ephemeral and the hedonistic. Concern for others is certainly shown whenever natural disasters, war and other emergencies strike, but in general it is difficult to build a culture of solidarity." "Exploitation of others, indifference towards the suffering of our brothers and sisters, and the violation of basic rules of morality are just a few fruits of the thirst for gain. Faced with the tragic situation of persistent poverty which afflicts so many people in our world, how can we fail to see that the quest for profit at any cost and the lack of effective, responsible concern for the common good have concentrated immense resources in the hands of a few while the rest of humanity suffers in poverty and neglect?" "Appealing to believers and to all people of good will, I would like to reaffirm a principle which is self-evident yet often ignored: our goal should not be the benefit of a privileged few, but rather the improvement of the living conditions of all." "'It is more blessed to give than to receive'. When believers respond to the inner impulse to give themselves to others without expecting anything in return, they experience a profound interior satisfaction. "The efforts of Christians to promote justice, their commitment in defense of the powerless, their humanitarian work in providing bread for the hungry and their care for the sick by responding to every emergency and need, draw their strength from that sole and inexhaustible treasury of love which is the complete gift of Jesus to the Father." "Mercy and love for one's neighbour must therefore be the fruit of a living relationship with God and have God as their constant point of reference, since it is in closeness to Christ that we find our joy." "Lent offers us the practical and effective weapons of fasting and almsgiving as a means of combating an excessive attachment to money. Giving not only from our abundance, but sacrificing something more in order to give to the needy, fosters that self-denial which is essential to authentic Christian living." "Christians must not think that they can seek the true good of their brothers and sisters without embodying the charity of Christ." "To modern men and women, often dissatisfied with a shallow and ephemeral existence and in search of authentic happiness and love, Christ offers his own example and issues the invitation to follow Him." "Recently, we have witnessed a praiseworthy outpouring of solidarity for the victims of floods in Europe, earthquakes in Latin America and Italy, epidemics in Africa, volcanic eruptions in the Philippines, as well as for other areas of the world scarred by hatred, violence and war. "In these situations, the communications media play a significant role by allowing us to identify with and offer ready help to the suffering and those in distress. At times it is not the Christian command of love, but rather an innate sense of compassion which motivates our efforts to assist others. Even so, anyone who helps those in need always enjoys God's favour." Source: Vatican Information Service

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