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Lent is demanding, because love is demanding, says Pope Francis

© Antoine Mekary / ALETEIA
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WATCH: Pope Francis’ message to pilgrims in Rome at the general audience on Ash Wednesday

VATICAN CITY — Lent is demanding, because love is demanding, Pope Francis told pilgrims and faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the general audience on Ash Wednesday. Yet Lent is also a time of hope, an exodus from slavery that leads to an encounter in freedom with the Risen Christ.

Watch Pope Francis’ message to pilgrims on Ash Wednesday:

Here below is the English summary of the Pope’s catechesis at the Wednesday general audience.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin our Lenten journey towards Easter. Lent is essentially a pilgrimage of hope, a season of penance and spiritual renewal that prepares us to share more fully in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. We relive the experience of the Exodus, in which the Chosen People journeyed towards the Promised Land and, through spiritual discipline and the gift of the Law, learned the love of God and neighbor. Easter is Jesus’ own exodus, his Passover from death to life, in which we participate through our rebirth in Baptism. By following Christ along the way of the Cross, we share in his victory over sin and death; by living the new life bestowed by the Holy Spirit in the communion of the Church, we are united more fully to the Lord in the sacraments, prayer and adoration. May our celebration of Lent renew our hope in Christ’s promises, and our commitment to follow him ever more closely, so that at Easter, in union with Mary our Mother, we may rejoice in the gift of eternal life and the triumph of God’s saving love.

Special Greetings to English-speaking pilgrims:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly the groups from Korea and the United States of America. May the Lenten journey we begin today bring us to Easter with hearts purified and renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in Christ our Redeemer. God bless you all!

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