Pope Francis: Lenten Catecheses 2024 – Directory

Mar 8, 2024 | 0 comments

Here we have compiled a complete clickable directory to Pope Francis’s ten catchetical reflections for Lent 2024. In each case a short summary has been copied directly from the foot of the full reflection – while clicking the title, or the following URL address, will bring the reader to the complete English text of that day’s catechesis on the Vatican site.
Dear brothers and sisters: Today we begin a series of catecheses on the virtues and the vices opposed to them. The very first pages of the Bible present us with the drama of original goodness, temptation and sin. The Tempter, in the form of a serpent, is subtle, instilling doubt about God’s wisdom and intentions, and playing on our ambition and pride. Just as love is its own reward, so evil is its own punishment; only after sinning do we truly appreciate the wrong we have done. The Scriptures and the masters of the spiritual life urge us to recognize and reject evil at its root, to be alert to the wiles of the devil, and above all, to keep watch over our hearts, lest the first stirrings of sin threaten our closeness to the Lord and our obedience to his loving plan for our lives.
Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices opposed to them, we have seen that the Christian life involves a constant struggle to resist sin and to grow in holiness. Jesus, himself sinless, submitted to baptism by John and was tempted in the desert, in order to teach us the need for spiritual rebirth, conversion of mind and heart, and unfailing trust in God’s mercy and sustaining grace. May our weekly reflections on the virtues and vices help us to imitate the Lord’s example, to grow in wisdom and self-understanding, and to discern between good and evil. As we advance in the knowledge and practice of the virtues, may we come to experience the joy of closeness to God, the source of all good, authentic happiness and the fullness of eternal life.
https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2024/documents/20240103-udienza-generale.html
Dear brothers and sisters: in our continuing catechesis on the vices and the virtues, we now consider the sin of gluttony. As a guest at the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus taught the goodness of food and drink, and the joy of table fellowship. Rejecting the ritual distinction between pure and impure foods, the Lord turns our attention to our personal relationship with the consumption of food. In societies troubled by eating disorders and which, all too often, waste great amounts of food even as many people in our world go hungry, our eating habits should be moderate and socially responsible. May the prayers we say in thanksgiving for God’s gift of our daily bread, inspire us to be mindful of our responsibility towards others and virtuous in our enjoyment of the good things of this earth.
Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to lust, which is opposed to the beauty of that love which the Creator has implanted in our hearts and called us to cultivate in our relations with others, especially by the responsible use of our sexuality. Lust poisons the purity of love by turning it from a chaste, patient and generous acceptance of another person in all the mysterious richness of his or her being, into a egotistic desire for possession and immediate satisfaction. God’s gift of sexuality, which finds sublime expression in conjugal love, is at the service of human fulfilment and authentic freedom, whereas lust enchains us in selfishness and emptiness. May our hearts always treasure the beauty of love, which shares in the mystery of God’s own unconditional love for us, created in his own image.
Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to greed, as an undue attachment to wealth, which hinders us from being generous with regard to others. Greed is not simply a selfish hoarding of money or material objects, but a distorted relationship with reality and even a form of enslavement. The Desert Fathers saw greed as an attempt to avoid facing the reality of death, which is opposed to Jesus’ advice to accumulate treasures in heaven rather than earthly goods (cf. Mt 6:19-20). May our use of the world’s goods always be marked by evangelical freedom, responsibility and a spirit of generous solidarity, in imitation of Christ himself, who, though he was rich, became poor for our sakes, so that by his poverty, we might become rich (cf. 2 Cor 8:9).
Dear brothers and sisters: in our catechesis on the virtues and vices, we now consider “wrath”, the uncontrolled anger that may well begin with brooding over offenses received, but ends up being self-destructive and damaging to our relationships with others, leading ultimately to violence and even war. Jesus teaches us to forgive those who sin against us, while Saint Paul urges us never to let the sun set on our anger. Yet there is an appropriate kind of anger, which consists in righteous indignation before evil and injustice. As with all the passions, so too with anger: it is up to us, with the sustaining grace of the Holy Spirit, to govern and direct our emotions in order to serve God’s kingdom of reconciliation, justice and peace.
Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now centre our attention on spiritual sadness. Saint Paul speaks of a “godly grief” and a “worldly grief” (2 Cor 7:10). The former prompts conversion, enabling us to cling to hope and, therefore, leads to joy. The latter stems from dashed hopes and disappointments, eroding the soul with discouragement and sadness. Unlike most vices that seek fleeting pleasures, sadness indulges itself by wallowing in sorrow, hindering spiritual growth. As an antidote to this kind of despondency, the Desert Fathers recommended embracing Christ’s resurrection; for the risen Jesus redeems all the happiness that has remained unfulfilled in our lives. May faith cast out fear and Christ’s resurrection remove sadness like the stone before his tomb.
In our reflections on the vices and virtues, we now consider acedia or sloth, which, although associated in English with laziness, is above all a deep spiritual apathy, manifested by discontent and aversion to attentive prayer and growth in our relationship with God. According to the monastic tradition, this “noonday devil” is best overcome by the patience of faith. This includes accepting the poverty or dark night of faith, which then enables us, by God’s grace, to sense the divine presence and to continue to reach out to God. The saints themselves show us that perseverance in time of temptation leads us to set practical goals, however small, for our daily life and moves us to lean on Jesus, who always remains with us.
Dear brothers and sisters: In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to envy and vainglory. Envy, already present in the story of Cain and Abel, is a destructive force fuelled by resentment towards others, and can lead to deadly hatred. The remedy to envy lies in Saint Paul’s exhortation: “Love one another with brotherly affection, compete in esteeming one another” (Rom 12:10). Vainglory is marked by an inflated self-esteem, a craving for constant praise and frequently prone to using other people for one’s own ends.  Saint Paul’s example of boasting of his weakness rather than achievements offers an effective way for overcoming vainglory. May we, like him, know that God’s grace is sufficient, since his power is made perfect in weakness, and all the more gladly boast of our weaknesses, that the power of Christ may set us free for a more generous love of others.
Dear brothers and sisters:  In our catechesis on the virtues and the vices, we now turn to pride, the first of the capital sins and, for the ancient writers, “the queen of all vices”.  Indeed, the sin of pride hides an even greater sin:  the absurd pretension to be like God.  In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the sin of pride is punished on the very first level of the mountain of purgatory; a sign of how difficult it is to overcome, as well as the distance it creates between us and God.  Sooner or later, “pride comes before the fall,” and this can lead, by God’s grace, to a salutary humility.  In the Magnificat, Mary sings of God who humbles the proud and exalts the lowly.  Writing to his community that is wounded by infighting caused by pride, the apostle James echoes this stating, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”(Jas 4:6).  May this Lenten season be an opportunity for us to conquer pride and embrace humility, so that we may draw ever closer to God and receive his grace in abundance.

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