Entitled, “Believing in charity calls forth charity“, and based on the scripture in 1John 4:16, “We have come to know and to believe in the love of God for us”, Pope Benedict XVI puts his message for this year’s lent in the context of the Year of Faith. He starts off his greeting by saying that “the celebration of Lent,…offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.”
Pope Benedict XVI divides his message into 4 reflections: Faith as a response of the love of God; Charity as life in faith; The indissoluble interrelation of faith and charity; and Priority of faith, primacy of charity.
1. Faith as a response to the love of God
In his first reflection, the Pope mentions the journey from love f neighbour as an imposed commandment, to that which faith spurs after one’s heart has been conquered by God’s love; the unfathomable love of God offering himself up on the Cross to draw humanity back to him.
2. Charity as life in faith
He moves on to speak of the next stage, where one experiences as awe of wonder and gratitude at the Lord’s initiative to start a friendship with us. It is through faith that we enter into and accept this kind of relationship with the Lord, which is then lived and cultivated through charity.
3. The indissoluble interrelation of faith and charity
It is precisely due to this that the Church speaks of the intimate link between these 2 virtues: faith and charity. As “God’s gratuitous love is made known to us…we grow in it and we joyfully communicate it to others”, firstly by spreading the Good News and “not least through the specific practices of fasting, penance and almsgiving”.
4. Priority of faith, primacy of charity
The Pope concludes his message by inviting us, Believers in the Church, to “spend this precious time [of Lent] rekindling [our] faith in Jesus Christ, so as to enter with him into the dynamic of love for the Father and for every brother ans sister we encounter in our lives”.
The full message of Pope Benedict XVI for this Lent can be found on www.vatican.va