Currents News Staff
As a precaution amid the coronavirus epidemic, the Holy Father’s Ash Wednesday General Audience was held outside in St. Peter’s Square.
The pontiff’s ride around the square in the popemobile was faster than usual. However, that didn’t stop a group of pilgrims from Mexico from giving Pope Francis an enthusiastic message:
“We pray for you. We pray for you, Holy Father. We pray for you.”
Although the popemobile didn’t make any stops, before beginning his catechesis, Pope Francis greeted a little girl.
In the square, there were several people wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the coronavirus. Pope Francis directed a message to the sick during his catechesis.
“I want to express, once more, my closeness to the sick infected by the coronavirus, as well as to medical workers caring for them, civil authorities and everyone working to treat the sick and contain the spread,” he said.
In his catechesis, Pope Francis reflected on the beginning of Lent. He alluded to Jesus’s 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. He explained Lent is a time to practice silence in one’s heart.
“When I was a little boy, there was no television. However, it was customary to not listen to the radio during Lent. It’s the desert. Lent is the time to renounce, to disconnect from our cell phones and connect to the Gospel,” he explained. “It is the time to renounce empty words and gossip.”
During Lent, the Holy Father asked Christians to practice charity and to not let themselves fall into verbal violence.
“Today, insults are used as natural as ‘Good morning.’ We’re submerged in empty words of publicity and subliminal messages,” Pope Francis said. “We are used to hearing everything about everyone. We run the risk of being submerged in a reality that damages the heart.”
Pope Francis also spoke of the need to care for the people around us. He invited Christians to fast from superficial things and instead contemplate the essential parts of life.