3 Things Pope Francis Wants You to Do During Lent
Pope Francis announced the Year of Mercy via a "bull of indiction" titled Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy). In the letter, he specifically highlights three ways to celebrate Lent during this Year of Mercy. Here are his recommendations:
1. Meditate on Scripture
The Pope noted, "How many pages of Sacred Scripture are appropriate for meditation during the weeks of Lent to help us rediscover the merciful face of the Father!"
He especially recommends reading the books of Micah and Isaiah. He says of Micah, "We can repeat the words of the prophet Micah and make them our own: 'You, O Lord, are a God who takes away iniquity and pardons sin, who does not hold your anger forever, but are pleased to show mercy. You, Lord, will return to us and have pity on your people. You will trample down our sins and toss them into the depths of the sea' (cf. 7:18-19)."
He also encourages we reflect on Isaiah:
"The pages of the prophet Isaiah can also be meditated upon concretely during this season of prayer, fasting, and works of charity: 'Is not this the fast that I choose: to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not' (58:6-11)."
2. Return to Confession
For Lent, Pope Francis has created an initiative called “24 Hours for the Lord.” He wants it celebrated on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent in every diocese around the world, and it involves - as the name suggest - an uninterrupted 24 hours of open confessionals:
"So many people, including young people, are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; through this experience they are rediscovering a path back to the Lord, living a moment of intense prayer and finding meaning in their lives. Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands. For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace."
3. Welcome the Missionaries of Mercy
During Lent of this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has sent out thousands of trained Missionaries of Mercy. These are priests to whom the Pope has granted the authority to pardon even those sins normally reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer:
"They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon. They will be missionaries of mercy because they will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again. They will be led in their mission by the words of the Apostle: 'For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all' (Rom 11:32). Everyone, in fact, without exception, is called to embrace the call to mercy. May these Missionaries live this call with the assurance that they can fix their eyes on Jesus, 'the merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God' (Heb 2:17)."