Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...

"Remember, oh man, that thou art dust, and unto dust thou shalt return." With these words we enter into the penitential season of Lent, in which we recall our native state of sin. We are each of us born into sin, separation from God, and we renew that division from God each day in a hundred ways, some small and others large. All of us, men, women, and children, continually find new ways to abandon our Almighty Lover and the life of joy He offers us. We do so because we want to be big boys and girls, adults, and have got it into our heads that being an adult means doing it our own way. We think we have a better plan. But since He's all-knowing and all-loving, our bright ideas never turn out to be quite as good as His. In fact, they often turn out to be disastrous.

We must abandon this abandonment of God, and give ourselves to Him with abandon. We must turn back, do penance, and return to our Loving Father. Lent is the season especially devoted to the intensification of the Christ-life in us, so that we will get better at not sinning, get better at trusting, get better at praying, get better at sacrificing and loving.

The Church requires that during this Lenten period we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstain from meat on those days and on the intervening Fridays. Mother Church also encourages us to adopt new practices, or reinvigorate relaxed practices, of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We ought to find ways to pray, fast, and give to the poor that are difficult for us, but still doable, that are permitted by our station in life, and are in themselves good things. One might give up eating-out, and put the money normally budgeted for that into one's Operation Rice Bowl for the poor, and spend in prayer the time eating-in saves us, say one half hour daily. We might take up the rosary again, after having put it down for a while; start working at a soup kitchen; and give up meat. The main thing is to take our Christian living up a notch, and hopefully to keep it there once Lent has ended.

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