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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Out of the Valley of Darkness

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards him who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which he himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter.

Even in the “valley of darkness” of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps. 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands. God is there to guard us and sustain us. Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace and love.

As in every age they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a “divine limit imposed on evil,” namely, mercy …

In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world’s population, indifference and self-centered isolation stand in stark contrast to the “gaze” of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this “gaze” [Christ’s mercy].
by Pope Benedict XVI

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