Renew Your Faith with Prayer and Charity this Lent

James Shepard is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Giving of alms counters greed

Pope Francis urged Catholics to use the coming Lenten season to renew their faith. He told them to use this prayer season in giving alms and fasting. The faithful, he reminded them, must keep the charity flame burning inside their hearts. Even if there was a flagging of charity in a person's heart, it is a constant of God. The almighty provides an infinite number of chances to start loving anew. The pontiff continued in this vein, saying that the Easter candle should be lighted at Easter Vigil. The candle, he said, symbolize “new fire” which will banish the darkness and bring light to liturgical assembly. The full text of the speech was written on Solemnity of All Saints. The pope quoted Matthew from the Bible to uphold his assertions.

In his speech, Pope Francis warns Catholics against false prophets. He labels them “charlatans” and uses the term “snake charmers” to describe them. Francis said they mesmerize people. The latter gets confused between true happiness and momentary pleasure. The result is that these persons get lonely or become a slave to the process of earning money. A few of them become drug addicts and enter into temporary relationships. These people lose what is most precious to them: the ability to love, dignity, and freedom.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, as Head of Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that as living a life as Jesus' disciple requires multiple challenges. The cardinal said it follows that Francis' message should underline the requirement to rekindle the fire of Christian faith. The pope said that the church provides in the Lenten season the soothing familiarity of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. One of the hardest obstacles to charity is the greed of money. Almsgiving assists to counteract this.

The pope said that the giving of alms, along with fasting and prayer, can be construed as the instruments to oppose sin both inside a person and also its effect on the outside world. Francis said that God and peace get rejected due to greed. These people start to prefer their own desolation and forget the comfort of God's word and sacraments. The incidence of greed also leads to violence, pointing out that people tend to attack those who they perceive to threaten life's certainties. Almsgiving counter these, an acknowledgment of sharing with many people as possible. Praying expels vice from the hearts.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter