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Patricia Hernandez, a cathedral docent and parishioner, is pictured with other parish members after Mass Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent for Latin-rite Catholics.

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Lent a time for ‘formation of the heart’
February 25th, 2015
By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

“Through prayer, charity and humility before God, people receive a heart “which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference,” Pope Francis said in his Lenten message.

The pope called upon individual Catholics to pray, especially noting the 24 Hours for the Lord Initiative throughout the church March 13-14. He also said individual believers should be charitable, with Lent as “a favorable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family.” The pope added the suffering of others is a call to conversion, “since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters.”

The pope offered a way to “overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency.”

“I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart,” he said, citing his predecessor’s encyclical “Deus Caritas Est.”

“A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart,” Pope Francis said. “Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others.”

The full text of the pope’s message, along with additional Lenten resources from the U.S. bishops, can be accessed at

From February 27, 2015 issue of Catholic San Francisco.



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