Source: Vatican News Service
God alone can give us true happiness, Pope Francis said, during his Angelus address to pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square on Sunday. The season of Lent is a time of penance, but it is not a time of sadness or mourning, but of joy and of returning to grace, the Holy Father said. "It's a joyful and serious commitment to strip ourselves of our egoism, of the old man in us, and of renewing ourselves according to the grace of our Baptism."
"In our life, we are always in need of conversion, every day! and the Church makes us pray for this. In fact, we are never sufficiently oriented to God and we must constantly direct our mind and heart to Him. To do this, it's necessary to have the courage to reject all that leads us outside the way, the false values that deceive us, attracting our egoism in a sly way."
Instead, he said, we must trust the Lord, His goodness and His plan of love for each one of us.
Pope Francis said: "In this first Sunday of Lent, we are invited to listen attentively and to take up this appeal of Jesus to convert ourselves and to believe in the Gospel. We are exhorted to undertake with commitment the path to Easter, to receive ever more the grace of God, who wants to transform the world into a kingdom of justice, of peace and of fraternity."
Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading according to St Mark, (Mk 1:12-13), which tells how Jesus went into the desert to prepare Himself for His mission in the world.
"The Lord had no need of conversion, but was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested, in order to obey the will of the Father, and to give us the grace to overcome temptation. His preparation consisted in fighting against the spirit of evil" and for us too. "We are called to face the Evil One with prayer" the Pope said, "so that, with God's help we might be able to overcome him in our daily life."
After his confrontation with the Devil, Jesus immediately began to preach the Good News, proclaiming "Repent and belived the Gospel."
Pope Francis said in this life we are always in need of conversion - and during Lent, the Church has to pray for this conversion. "We need to have the courage to reject all that leads us astray... andmust entrust ourselves to the Lord, to His goodness, and to His project of Love for each one of us."
The Holy Father concluded, praying: "May Mary most holy help us live this Lent with fidelity to the Word of God and with incessant prayer, as Jesus did in the desert.
"It's not impossible!" he said, "It's about living the days with the ardent desire to receive the love that comes from God and who wants to transform our life and the whole world."
In his closing remarks, the Pope asked young people around the world to pray for participants meeting in Rome for the pre-synodal youth convocation. He also said some words of comfort and prayer for all those in prison at this time.
Finally Pope Francis asked all those present to pray for him and all members of the Roman Curia, who begin a week of Spiritual Exercises on Monday.