"Through the desert God leads us to freedom" – Pope Francis 2024 Lenten Message

Lent has begun. Lent is the season of the 40 days leading up to Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday. During Lent, Christians traditionally engage in three practices: prayer; fasting; and alms-giving. The ashes used in the liturgy on Ash Wednesday are traditionally made from the palms used on Palm Sunday from the previous year.

Father John O'Connor of the National Liturgy Office introduces Lent in a post on his Food for Faith page: "These Lenten weeks are a time of spring-cleaning, letting go of all that clutters our minds and hearts distracting us from Christ who is the one whom every human heart whole-heartedly seeks," Fr John writes here.

In his message for Lent 2024, Pope Francis tells us: "Through the desert, God leads us to freedom." Lent is a “season of grace, a time of conversion,” he writes, where the desert can become “a place where our freedom can mature in a personal decision not to fall back into slavery,” where “we find new criteria of justice and a community with which we can press forward on a road not yet taken.”

The Holy Father's Lenten Message in full is here.

The Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has published resources for dioceses to support the promotion of the Holy Father's Lenten Message. They explain the Pope's message in a way that is easy to understand without taking away the meaning.

Here is the link for the full explanation as well as other helpful links.

Lent is also the time of the important annual Caritas Aotearoa NZ Lenten Appeal. Envelopes are available at Mass, or you can make a secure donation online. Go here to learn how you can help vulnerable whānau to thrive. Go here for more details.