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(TAKEN FROM THE HOLY FATHER’S CATECHESIS ON VICES AND VIRTUES AT THE WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, STARTING IN DECEMBER, 2023.)

The spiritual life of the Christian is not peaceful, linear and without challenges; on the contrary, Christian life demands constant struggle: the Christian struggle to preserve the faith, to enrich the gifts of faith in us. It is no coincidence that the first anointing that every Christian receives in the sacrament of Baptism — the catechumenal anointing — is without any aroma and symbolically announces that life is a struggle… a succession of trials and temptations.

It makes sense that the sacraments of Christian initiation take place at the Easter Vigil. The sign of the water —the immersion, the bath— is a sacramental expression of how a person is incorporated to Christ in His passing from death to life.

For the past few years we have lived with a strange weather situation: great drought and major flooding. Water, so necessary for life, is scarce. Yet, when water overflows, it can carry destruction.

Any celebration, birthday, anniversary, always has a concrete expression around the table. Sharing a meal is an expression repeated throughout any civilization as a sign of joy and union. The meal shared together with those one loves helps create a climate of sincerity.

We only discover how much we need the light when darkness surrounds us. At night, we turn the light on in order to see. If we are camping, we use a flashlight to find our way to the tent. In a tunnel, the headlights of the car guide us. When we see a blind person who does not perceive light, we understand his needs; someone must guide him by the hand.

People communicate and engage in various ways. The Word is perhaps the most human expression of communication. God wants to make Himself comprehensible to us and speaks to us in words that are easily understood. Jesus is the Word of God, God’s manner of speaking to us.

Almost midway through Lent, we begin to think about Easter and its various signs, which we will consider in the coming Sundays. Each sign carries a deep meaning which many times we fail to grasp.

As we approach some of these signs, we need to take into account that each one speaks to us about Jesus, placing us before His real presence in each of us, in the community that gathers in His name, in the word proclaimed, in the bread and wine that is given to us as food… So that we may participate intently in the coming Easter, we will try to remember and to recognize some of the signs that we live in each Mass, and that come fundamentally from Jesus’ Passover.

The marvels of our salvation, the wild generosity of God’s love — these can astound us every day, including each day of Lent. Consider this: God trusts us with His friendship; He also trusts us with His friends (that is, our neighbors, whom we are commanded to love as ourselves [Mark 12:31] ). More than that: God trusts us with His love; He also trusts us with His beloved (that is, His bride, the Church He founded). We must live Lent knowing that we are offered freedom from our sins, a present vocation of loving at the levels of the highest heroism, and a future glory beyond imagining. Sin would rob us of all that —the disciplines of Lent would preserve us from that sin.

How do you know if you are doing Lent right? You can’t really answer that question unless you know what Lent is for. Lent is not an end in itself. We want to find meaning in the demands of Lenten disciplines as we see that they are the tools that allow us to train for a goal.

Lent involved confronting the evil within us and the evil around us. How do we do that with zeal, perseverance, integrity and humility? How do we confront evil within us and around us without becoming neurotic, arrogant, self-righteous or despairing?

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—DECEMBER 2012.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH: THE STAGES OF THE REVELATION
DECEMBER 12, 2012

This Revelation of God fits into human time and history: a history that becomes “the arena where we see what God does for humanity. God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday routine, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves” (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Fides et Ratio, n. 12).

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH: GOD REVEALS HIS “BENEVOLENT PURPOSE” (3)
DECEMBER 5, 2012

Blessed* Pope John Paul II recalled that “Revelation has set within history a point of reference which cannot be ignored if the mystery of human life is to be known. Yet this knowledge refers back constantly to the mystery of God which the human mind cannot exhaust but can only receive and embrace in faith” (Encyclical Fides et Ratio, n. 14).

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH: GOD REVEALS HIS “BENEVOLENT PURPOSE” (2)
DECEMBER 5, 2012

This “benevolent purpose” was not, so to speak, left in the silence of God, in his heavenly heights. Rather, God made it known by entering into a relationship with human beings to whom he did not reveal just something, but indeed himself. He did not merely communicate an array of truths, but communicated himself to us, even to the point of becoming one of us, of taking flesh… God does not only say something, but communicates himself, draws us into his divine nature so that we may be integrated into it or divinized. God reveals his great plan of love by entering into a relationship with man, by coming so close to him that he makes himself man… With their own intelligence and abilities alone human beings would not have been able to achieve this most enlightening revelation of God’s love; it is God who has opened his heaven and lowered himself in order to guide men and women in his ineffable love.

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH: GOD REVEALS HIS “BENEVOLENT PURPOSE” (1)
DECEMBER 5, 2012

At the beginning of his Letter to the Christians of Ephesus (cf. 1:3-14), the Apostle Paul raised a prayer of blessing to God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…in terms full of joy, wonder and thanksgiving, according to his “benevolent purpose” (cf. v. 9), of mercy and love.

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH. HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT GOD (3)
NOVEMBER 28, 2012

In our time too, the family, the first school for communicating the faith to the new generations, is a privileged place in which to talk about God… Parents [are] the first messengers of God, called to rediscover their mission, assuming responsibility in educating, in opening the consciences of their little ones to love of God as a fundamental service to their life and in being the first catechists and teachers of the faith for their children. And in this task watchfulness is of the utmost importance. It means being able to take favorable opportunities to introduce the topic of faith in the family and to develop a critical reflection with regard to the many forms of conditioning to which children are subjected.

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH. HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT GOD (2)
NOVEMBER 28, 2012

Communicating faith, for St. Paul, did not mean putting himself forward, but rather saying openly and publicly what he had seen and heard in his encounter with Christ, what he had experienced in his life that was transformed by that encounter: it meant putting forward Jesus whom he felt present within him and who became the true orientation of his existence, to make it clear to all that Jesus is necessary to the world and crucial to every person’s freedom… And this is also true for Christian communities: they are called to show the transforming action of God’s grace, by overcoming individualism, closure, selfishness, indifference, by living out God’s love in their daily relations. Let us ask ourselves whether our communities really are like this. To be so, we must, always and truly proclaim Christ and not ourselves.

(CATECHESIS, WEDNESDAY GENERAL AUDIENCE, OCTOBER 2012—FEBRUARY 2013.)
THE YEAR OF FAITH. HOW TO SPEAK ABOUT GOD (1)
NOVEMBER 28, 2012

The important question we ask ourselves today is: how can we talk about God in our time? How can we communicate the Gospel so as to open roads to his saving truth in our contemporaries’ hearts — that are all too often closed — and minds — that are at times distracted by the many dazzling lights of society?…The first answer is that we can talk about God because he has talked to us; so the first condition for speaking of God is listening to all that God himself has said. God has spoken to us! God is therefore not a distant hypothesis concerning the world’s origin… God takes an interest in us, he loves us, he has entered personally into the reality of our history, he has communicated himself, even to the point of taking flesh… He is so great that he has time for us too, he takes an interest in us. In Jesus of Nazareth we encounter the face of God, who came down from his heaven to immerse himself in the human world, in our world.