In solidarity with Christ and those who suffer, "pray for the gift of tears", asks Pope Francis this Lent.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord never ceases to have mercy on us, and he desires once again to offer us his forgiveness — we all need it — by inviting us to return to him with a new heart, purified from evil, purified by tears, in order to share in his joy.

How are we to accept this invitation? St. Paul suggests how: "We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20). This effort at conversion is not only a human work. It is a matter of allowing oneself to be reconciled. Reconciliation between us and God is possible thanks to the mercy of the Father who, out of love for us, did not hesitate to sacrifice his only Son. In fact, Christ who was righteous and without sin, was made sin for us (v. 21), when on the Cross he bore our sins, and so redeemed and justified us before God. "In him" ​​we can become righteous. In him we can change, if we accept the grace of God and do not let this "acceptable time" pass by in vain (6.2). Please, let us stop, let us take a little time and allow ourselves to be reconciled to God.

With this awareness, we begin our Lenten journey in trust and joy. May Mary, Our Immaculate Mother, who is without sin, support us in our spiritual battle against sin, and accompany us in this acceptable time so that we might reach and sing together the exsultent song of victory on Easter Day.

And as a sign of our desire to be reconciled with God, in addition to the tears that will be shed "in secret", in public we will receive the imposition of ashes on our head. The celebrant says these words: "You are dust and to dust you shall return" (cf. Gen 3:19), or he repeats Jesus' exhortation: "Repent and believe the Gospel" (Mk 1:15). Both formulas are a reminder of the truth of human existence: we are limited creatures, sinners always in need of repentance and conversion. How important is it to listen and welcome this reminder in our time! The call to conversion is therefore a spurring on to return, like the son in the parable, to the arms of God, the tender and merciful Father, to weep in that embrace, to trust him and to entrust oneself to him.

Translation by Diane Montagna of Aleteia's English edition. Read the Pope's entire homily for Ash Wednesday 2015 |


dying child


The Dying Child

A poem by Hans Christian Andersen

Mother, I'm tired, and I would fain be sleeping;
Let me repose upon thy bosom sick;
But promise me that thou wilt leave off weeping,
Because thy tears fall hot upon my cheek.

Here it is cold: the tempest raveth madly;
But in my dreams all is so wondrous bright;
I see the angel-children smiling gladly,
When from my weary eyes I shut out light.

Mother, one stands beside me now! and, listen!
Dost thou not hear the music's sweet accord?
See how his white wings beautifully glisten?
Surely those wings were given him by the Lord!

Green, gold, and red, are floating all around me;
They are the flowers the angel scattereth.
Should I have also wings while life has bound me?
Or, mother, are they given alone in death?

Why dost thou clasp me as if I were going?
Why dost thou press thy cheek so unto mine?
Thy cheek is hot, and yet thy tears are flowing!
I will, dear mother, will be always thine!

Do not sigh thus – it marreth my reposing;
But if thou weep, then I must weep with thee!
Ah, I am tired – my weary eyes are closing –
Look, mother, look! the angel kisseth me!

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