Pope Francis at prayer, Ash Wednesday Service

In his Lenten message this year, Pope Francis suggests two pathways through the season.

Once again we are at the start of our journey for the season of Lent. Sometimes it can feel virtually impossible to find time and space to observe this vital season of spiritual healing and transformation amid the hustle and bustle of daily life – not to mention the avalanche of bad news in the headlines.

Nevertheless, the Holy Father reminds us in his Lenten message, this is precisely what we must do:

‘To deepen our knowledge of the Master, to fully understand and embrace the mystery of his salvation, accomplished in total self-giving inspired by love, we must allow ourselves to be taken aside by him and to detach ourselves from mediocrity and vanity.’

He continues:

‘We need to set out on the journey, an uphill path that, like a mountain trek, requires effort, sacrifice and concentration.’

Pathways to transfiguration

Pope Francis explains that the goal of our Lenten journey is a personal transformation of our own inner and outer lives, which draws inspiration from the Transfiguration of Christ. Pope Francis suggests two paths and following these paths is the way in which we can, like the disciples, ‘ascend the mountain together with Jesus and, with him… attain the goal’.

The first path

Drawing inspiration from the reading of the Transfiguration (Mt 17:5), Pope Francis explains:

‘The first path has to do with the command that God the Father addresses to the disciples on Mount Tabor as they contemplate Jesus transfigured. The voice from the cloud says: “Listen to him” (Mt 17:5). The first proposal, then, 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.’

He goes on:

‘And how does he speak to us? First, in the word of God, which the Church offers us in the liturgy. May that word not fall on deaf ears; if we cannot always attend Mass, let us study its daily biblical readings, even with the help of the internet. In addition to the Scriptures, the Lord speaks to us through our brothers and sisters, especially in the faces and the stories of those who are in need. Let me say something else: listening to Christ often takes place in listening to our brothers and sisters in the Church.’

Following the path

During Lent, you can join us each Friday (or whenever suits you) for our Stations of the Cross Reflections. Sign up for our Hozana online prayer retreat to get alerts for the reflections each Friday, or click here to access all the reflections and use at your own pace.

During the widespread lockdowns in 2020, we invited you to join us for online sessions of prayer and reflection. These online sessions included inspirational messages from our partners, the Mill Hill Missionaries, as well as the wider Catholic community.

Whilst they were created during the pandemic, the message and insight of each reflection is every bit as relevant today. We hope they continue to inspire and help you in your Lenten journey.

Click here to reflect>>

In Lent, let’s be especially open to hearing the pleas of our sisters and brothers around the world, knowing that Christ speaks to us through each other. If you are giving up something tangible for Lent, perhaps you could donate what you save to Missio, so missionaries around the world may reach more people in need of God’s love and concrete help.

Click here to donate>>

The second path

The Holy Father continues to explore the Transfiguration. He writes:

‘On hearing the Father’s voice, the disciples “fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, ‘Rise, and do not be afraid’. And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone” (Mt 17:6-8).

‘Here is the second proposal for this Lent: do not take refuge in a religiosity made up of extraordinary events and dramatic experiences, out of fear of facing reality and its daily struggles, its hardships and contradictions. The light that Jesus shows the disciples is an anticipation of Easter glory, and that must be the goal of our own journey, as we follow “him alone”.

He continues:

‘Lent leads to Easter: the “retreat” 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…

‘When God gives us the grace of certain powerful experiences of communion, we should not imagine that we have arrived – for there too, the Lord repeats to us: “Rise, and do not be afraid”. Let us go down, then, to the plain, and may the grace we have experienced strengthen us to be “artisans of synodality” in the ordinary life of our communities.’

Following the path

The world’s problems are huge. But so is the number of people trying to solve them. Jesus invites us not to be afraid, but instead to come together in community to walk this path together, facing the realities and struggles of life with courage and faith, and compassion.

Our Mission Rosary is a beautiful way to engage with the problems facing our sisters and brothers around the world with hope and prayer. Each week we offer five prayer points based on the news headlines of that week from each of the five continents. You can join us to pray on Mondays on Facebook and Instagram, daily on Twitter, or join our prayer group on Hozana.org

During Lent, could you take some time bring Missio’s message to your community? Through fundraising or volunteering, or even just spending a few moments sharing our content on your social media, you can help us ignite God’s love around the world!

We wish you a transformative, peaceful and hopeful Lenten Season. God Bless you.