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Pope Francis has just begun a new series of Wednesday catecheses on virtues and vices. As we begin the new year, we share 5 excerpts from his reflection of January 3, as motivation to start the year off strong.
[Also enjoy 5 images from today’s audience.]
The Christian must strive
It is no coincidence that the first anointing that every Christian receives in the sacrament of Baptism – the catechumenal anointing – is without any aroma and symbolically announces that life is a struggle. In fact, in ancient times, wrestlers were fully anointed before the competition, both to tone their muscles and to make their bodies elusive to their opponent’s grasp. The anointing of catechumens immediately makes it clear that the Christian is not spared the struggle, that the Christian must strive: his existence, like everyone else’s, will have to descend into the arena, because life is a succession of trials and temptations.
Unmask, reject, repeat
The saints are not men who have been spared temptation, but rather people well aware of the fact that in life the seductions of evil appear repeatedly, to be unmasked and rejected.
Nobody’s just fine
None of us is “alright”; if someone feels they are alright, they are dreaming; every one of us has many things to adjust, and must also be vigilant. … And a little examination of the conscience, a little insight, will be good for us. Otherwise, we risk living in the dark, because we have become accustomed to darkness and no longer know how to distinguish good from evil. … We must all ask God for the grace to recognize ourselves as poor sinners, in need of conversion, keeping in our hearts the confidence that no sin is too great for the infinite mercy of God the Father.
Jesus will never turn away
Jesus accompanies us, all us sinners. He is not a sinner, but He is among us. And this is a beautiful thing. “Father, I have many sins!” – “But Jesus is with you: talk about them, He will help you come out of it.” Jesus never leaves us alone, never! … In the worst moments, in the moments when we slip into sin, Jesus is by our side to help lift us up. This brings consolation. We must not lose this certainty: Jesus is by our side to help us, to protect us, even to lift us up again after sin. … This would be a beautiful prayer to Jesus today: “Lord, do not turn away from me.”
We are always torn between opposite extremes: arrogance challenges humility; hatred opposes charity; sadness hinders the true joy of the Spirit; the hardening of the heart rejects mercy. Christians continually walk along these dividing lines. Therefore, it is important to reflect on vices and virtues …