Lent 2016: travelling through the wilderness

Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, reflects on Pope Francis’ Lenten message. Please donate to the CAFOD Lent Appeal today to help communities who struggle to find clean and safe water.

A Malian refugee
A Malian refugee takes charcoal to his tent. Photo by Simone Stefanelli/Caritas

If I had to go on a long journey through a desert alone I’d make sure I had water, food, clothes to protect me from the sun, medicines and a tent. But having a companion for the journey would also be important because on a tough journey, having someone by your side always makes things easier.

During Lent, you may go on your own “journey into the wilderness”. It is a time for self-exploration and understanding, it is a time for just packing the essentials in your life. It is also a time for transformation of our hearts and for preparation for the great moment of joy and rebirth which is Easter.

How are you marking Lent 2016? Share your stories on Facebook or Twitter and read about CAFOD staff’s Lenten water challenges.

Millions of people that Caritas agencies help around the world are in perpetual deserts. They flee wars or live in poverty, they are sick or they have been imprisoned. They’ve been made to focus on what’s essential in their lives as they have nothing else. Caritas provides not only for their material needs, but also love and companionship on their trip through the wilderness.

A mission of mercy

In his Lenten message this year, Pope Francis invites us all into the desert for a mission of mercy. “In an ever new miracle, divine mercy shines forth in our lives, inspiring each of us to love our neighbour and to devote ourselves to what the Church’s tradition calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,” says the Holy Father.

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“These works remind us that faith finds expression in concrete everyday actions meant to help our neighbours in body and spirit: by feeding, visiting, comforting and instructing them[….]For this reason, I expressed my hope that the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; this will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, and to enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God’s mercy.”

In his message, Pope Francis reminds us that those who consider themselves wealthy but who don’t have compassion and refuse the possibility of opening their hearts to those less fortunate than themselves “are actually the poorest of the poor”.

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