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.

Mourning and Weeping in Lent

Throughout much of our lifetime, we try to be big, strong, mature, and wise - whatever we understand those things to be. Usually it involves putting on an act for ourselves, for our neighbors, and even for God. All He wants is for us to be His little children, His little boys and girls. Lent is a special time for God to break through in our lives - to puncture our defenses, pull down the walls we've put up, irrigate the dry and barren field of our heart.

But breakthroughs mean that things get broken. Getting broken (or being made aware of our brokenness) hurts. "Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself..." the Second Vatican Council teaches (Gaudium et Spes, #22), and being shown ourselves can be unpleasant. But He does not show us our flaws and failures in order to mock us. Quite to the contrary, according to the same document He does so in order to make "[our] supreme calling clear," in order to show us the great destiny He wants to impart to us.

For now we labor, "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears," but God will bring us out of the exile of sin and death if we permit Him to do so. While we do our penance, especially during this season of heightened penance, we have a great sign of hope. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lord and our Mother, has already been crowned in glory after her long and patient wait. The Queen of Heaven knows what it is to make pilgrimage on earth. She knows what it is suffer in exile. We must not give up our hope, but fix our eyes firmly on heaven, ask God for help, and wait patiently for Him to fulfill His promises. He wants to purify and perfect us much more than we can imagine, and it is that painful purification that will enable us to enjoy heaven once we attain it. In the meantime, let us keep turning in prayer, especially to our gentle and loving Mother, so that she will help to smoothe our way and "show unto us the blessed fruit of [her] womb, Jesus."

Our exile is not forever (and neither is Lent).

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope, to thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Oh clement, oh loving, oh sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

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