by Margaux Salcedo
Cardinal-Prefect Luis Antonio Tagle, formerly Archbishop of Manila, now head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples or Propaganda Fide joined Pope Francis for Ash Wednesday mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina, alongside other cardinals.
Following an ancient Ash Wednesday tradition, Pope Francis began the 'stational' liturgy at the church of Sant'Anselmo before leading a penitential procession to the Basilica of Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill where he celebrated mass.
WE ARE DUST LOVED BY GOD
Pope Francis in his homily emphasized once again love: "We are dust in the universe. Yet we are dust loved by God," His Holiness said.
He added that we are dust that contains God's dreams. "We are the dust of the earth, upon which God has poured out his heaven, the dust that contains his dreams. We are God's hope, his treasure and his glory."
He emphasized that while we are dust, if we allow ourselves "to be shaped by the hands of God, we become something wondrous."
We must therefore redirect our lives to God in this time of Lent as it is a time of grace during which we can change our lives by letting God gaze upon us with love.
FIRE OF LOVE VERSUS DUST OF DEATH
Pope Francis said we should not chase after dust but allow the fire of love to be kindled in our hearts so we live to love.
"Our earthly possessions will prove useless, dust that scatters, but the love we share - in our families, at work, in the Church and in the world - will save us, for it will endure forever," His Holiness said.
On the other hand, there is the "dust of death" - war, exclusion of the poor and the elderly, family quarrels - that negatively affect our lives and weaken our love. "Let us look inside, into our hearts: how many times do we extinguish the fire of God with the ashes of hypocrisy?"
He remembered St. Paul, who showed us how to cleanse ourselves of dust by reconciling ourselves with God. But he added, "Holiness is not achieved by our efforts, for it is grace!"
But thankfully, there is Jesus, who knows and loves our heart, and can heal it. "Lent is a time of healing," Pope Francis said.
/MS, Vatican News