Last year, when Pope Francis could not come to Santa Sabina for the traditional Ash Wednesday Mass due to the activities of the Jubilee Year of Mercy at St Peter’s, some wondered if that would be the end of that age-old tradition. Fortunately, it is not! On the 1st of March, the Holy Father was at Santa Sabina to begin the holy season of Lent and we were all happy to have him back.
Nothing has changed in the liturgy, it was just as it has always been. It started with a procession from the Benedictine Church of St Anselm to the Basilica of Santa Sabina while the Litany of the Saints was chanted. The procession was led by Dominican friars and Benedictine monks accompanied by a number of Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops with the Holy Father at the rear.
Upon arrival at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, Pope Francis presided at the Eucharistic celebration of Ash Wednesday. In his homily he reminded us of the meaning and benefits of the Lenten season.
“In this season of grace that begins today, we once again turn our eyes to his mercy. Lent is a path: it leads to the triumph of mercy over all that would crush us or reduce us to something unworthy of our dignity as God’s children. Lent is the road leading from slavery to freedom, from suffering to joy, from death to life”
With the words of Prophet Joel, “Return to me with all your heart… return to the Lord” (Jl 2:12, 13), he invited us all to a season of deep reflections.
“Lent is a time for remembering. It is the time to reflect and ask ourselves what we would be if God had closed his doors to us. What would we be without his mercy that never tires of forgiving us and always gives us the chance to begin anew? Lent is the time to ask ourselves where we would be without the help of so many people who in a thousand quiet ways have stretched out their hands and in very concrete ways given us hope and enabled us to make a new beginning?”
Earlier, the Holy Father published his Lenten message titled, “The Word is a gift, other persons are a gift”. In the letter, he reflected on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as an inspiration to the understanding of what we need to do in order to share to the full the joy of Easter, to attain true happiness and eternal life.
(2 March 2017)