Pope Francis urged Catholics Wednesday to use the season of Lent to spend less time immersed in the chatter and noise of the world through television and their phones, and to spend more time in silence and in conversation with God.
“Lent is the right time to make room for the Word of God. It is the time to turn off the television and open the Bible. It is the time to disconnect from your cell phone and connect to the Gospel,” the pope said Feb. 26.
This penitential period, he continued, is also the time to work on giving up gossip, rumors, and useless chatter, focusing instead on giving yourself to the Lord, who spent 40 days in the desert in fasting and prayer.
During Lent, Jesus is “calling us into the desert,” Francis explained. Jesus “invites us to listen to what matters. To the devil who tempted him, he replied: ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
“Like bread, more than bread we need the Word of God, we need to speak with God: we need to pray,” he urged.
In his weekly general audience, which fell on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on the “desert” of Lent and how countercultural it is to spend time in silence, away from the noisiness of modern life.
“We live in an environment polluted by too much verbal violence, by many offensive and harmful words, which the internet amplifies,” he explained.
“We are inundated with empty words, with advertisements, with subtle messages. We have become used to hearing everything about everyone and we risk slipping into a worldliness that atrophies our hearts.”
In this noise, “we struggle to distinguish the voice of the Lord who speaks to us, the voice of conscience, of good,” the pope said.
According to Francis, the ‘desert’ of Lent, where we can be in conversation with the Lord, becomes a life-giving place.
In the evening, he tweeted that “Lent is a time of grace, a time for recognising that our lowly ashes are loved by God and for letting God gaze upon us with love, and in this way change our lives. We were put in this world to go from ashes to life.”
The desert of Lent leads us to them, he continued. It is a journey of charity towards those who are weak and in need.
Pope Francis concluded his catechesis reiterating that the path through the Lenten desert is made up of “prayer, fasting, works of mercy”, so that it may lead us “from death to life”.
“If we enter the desert with Jesus, we will leave it at Easter when the power of God’s love renews life,” he said, and just like those deserts that bloom in spring with buds and plants suddenly sprouting from the sand, if we follow Jesus, our deserts will also bloom.
Via CNA / Vatican News