"To experience Lent in hope entails growing in the realization that, in Jesus Christ, we are witnesses of new times, in which God is 'making all things new' (cf. Revelation 21:1-6). It means receiving the hope of Christ, who gave his life on the cross and was raised by God on the third day, and always being 'prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls [us] to account for the hope that is in [us]' (1 Peter 3:15)."
In a Vatican press conference discussing the pope's Lenten message, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said that Pope Francis weaved together the traditional Lenten practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving with the three theological virtues, revealing their interconnectedness.
Turkson said that it was particularly important during the pandemic to be rooted in the practice of prayer to cultivate the theological virtue of hope, which can give one a sense of "vision" when confronted with the world's problems.
Msgr. Bruno Marie Duffé, secretary of the dicastery, commented: "Fasting opens our spirit, body and whole being to the gift of God. By breaking with an egocentric, egotistical lifestyle and excessive, even compulsive consumption … we consent to live a poverty that is an openness to others and to God. And we receive a love that comes to us from the Father and from Christ."
"Fasting, therefore, consists in freeing our existence from what encumbers it, from the overload of things, useful and useless, from true or false information, from the habits and dependencies that bind us, to open the door of our hearts and minds to the One who comes to share our human condition until death: Jesus, the Son of the living God."
Pope Francis wrote in his Lenten message that fasting, prayer, and almsgiving "enable and express our conversion."
"The path of poverty and self-denial (fasting), concern and loving care for the poor (almsgiving), and childlike dialogue with the Father (prayer) make it possible for us to live lives of sincere faith, living hope and effective charity," he wrote.
These traditional Lenten practices "revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit and the love flowing from the merciful heart of the Father," Francis said.
"May Mary, Mother of the Saviour, ever faithful at the foot of the cross and in the heart of the Church, sustain us with her loving presence. May the blessing of the risen Lord accompany all of us on our journey towards the light of Easter."