February 21: Mardi Gras

In his message for Lent 2023, Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics around the world to listen to what Jesus has to say through the Scriptures and through others. Using the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration as a launching point, the Holy Father encourages us, on the journey of Lent, to recall “the command that God the Father addressed to the disciples” on Mount Tabor as they contemplated Jesus transfigured. The voice from the cloud said: “Listen to Him.”

Pope Francis’ suggestion, then, is that our first Lenten move is very clear: “We need to listen to Jesus. Lent is a time of grace to the extent that we listen to Him as He speaks to us.” Mentioning that Lent draws us toward Easter, the Holy Father added, “During this liturgical season, the Lord takes us with Him to a place apart. While our ordinary commitments compel us to remain in our usual places and our often repetitive and sometimes boring routines, during Lent we are invited to ascend ‘a high mountain’ in the company of Jesus and to live a particular experience of spiritual discipline as God’s holy people.”

The Pope concluded his Lenten message with these words: “The light that Jesus showed the disciples at the Transfiguration was an anticipation of Easter glory, and that must be the goal of our own journey, as we follow Him. Lent leads to Easter: the ‘retreat’ which we call Lent is not an end in itself, but a means of preparing us to experience the Lord’s Passion and Cross with faith, hope, and love, and thus to arrive at the Resurrection.”

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