Catholics worldwide are beginning Lent today with Ash Wednesday liturgies. On the occasion of the Brazilian Church’s Lenten Fraternity Campaign, Pope Benedict has issued a message reminding them that Lent "calls us to an unfailing struggle to do good" by practicing justice.
The message from Pope Benedict was sent to Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha, president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, as the Brazilian Church kicks off its Fraternity Campaign with the theme: "Peace is the fruit of justice."
Pointing to the Latin American and Caribbean bishops’ document from Aparecida, the Pope describes the "clear signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God" as being found in "the individual and community experience of the Beatitudes, in the evangelization of the poor, ... in universal access to the goods of creation, in mutual, sincere and fraternal forgiveness, ... and in the struggle not to succumb to the temptation of becoming slaves to evil."
As Lent begins, Catholics are called to "an unfailing struggle to do good, precisely because we know how difficult it is for us, as human beings, to dedicate ourselves seriously to the practice of justice, a justice more than ever necessary for a coexistence based on peace and love and not on hatred and indifference," the Pope explains.
And still, this world is not Paradise, the Pope says. "Yet we know that, even if we achieve a reasonable distribution of wealth and a harmonious organization of society, nothing can remove the pain of sickness, misunderstanding, solitude, the death of people we love, or an awareness of our own limitations."
Perhaps addressing the often raised question of how a good God can permit evil, the Holy Father writes, "Our Lord, abhors injustice and condemns those who practice it; yet He respects individual liberty and for this reason allows it to exist, because it forms part of the human condition after original sin. Despite this His heart, full of love for human beings, brought Him to shoulder, along with the cross, all our torments: our suffering, our sadness, our hunger, our thirst for justice."
"Let us ask him for the strength to bear witness to the same feelings of peace and reconciliation that inspired Him on the Sermon on the Mount, in order to achieve eternal Beatitude."