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Ash Wednesday: Pope prays for peace in Ukraine; for the elderly, for renewal

Posted: Wednesday, March 2, 2022. 11:01 am CST.

Photo courtesy: Vatican Media

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: Pope Francis in his Ash Wednesday live stream prayed for peace in Ukraine, for a coming together of young and old, and for renewal.

Earlier the Pope had said that he wasn’t going to participate in the traditional Ash Wednesday procession on Rome’s Aventine Hill and in the Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina as his doctor had advised him to rest due to acute knee pain.

“Our prayer and fasting will be a plea for peace in Ukraine, remembering that world peace always begins with our personal conversion, following Christ,” the Pope said in his message which he also tweeted.

Pope Francis criticized modern society for being obsessed with speed.

“The excess of speed, which by now obsesses every stage of our life, makes every experience more superficial and less “nourishing”. Young people are unconscious victims of this split between the time on the clock, that needs to be rushed, and the times of life, that require a proper “leavening”. A long life enables these long times, and the damages of haste, to be experienced,” said Pope Francis.

He said that the older we get, the slower we get. He then made a call for an alliance between the young and the old.

“It is from this perspective that I wished to establish the feast of grandparents, on the last Sunday of July. The alliance between the two extreme generations of life – children and the elderly – also helps the other two – young people and adults – to bond with each other so as to make everyone’s existence richer in humanity.”

He said there should be dialogue between the generations, otherwise, each generation remains isolated.

“Think: a young person who is not bonded to his or her roots, which are the grandparents, does not receive the strength, like the tree, the strength of the roots, and grows up badly, grows up ailing, grows up without points of reference. Therefore, it is necessary to seek, as a human need, dialogue between generations. And this dialogue is important between grandparents and grandchildren, who are the two extremes,” he said.

Pope Francis said many modern cities are “hostile to the elderly” and by extension they are also hostile to children.

“This society, that has this spirit of rejection: it rejects so many unwanted children and it rejects the elderly. It casts them aside – they are no use – to rest homes, hospitals … said Pope Francis.

“The excess of speed puts us in a centrifuge that sweeps us away like confetti. One completely loses sight of the bigger picture … The excess of speed pulverizes life: it does not make it more intense.”

Pope Francis called on all to “waste time” with all family members – with the children, the grandparents because “this conversation … is fundamental for society” because it “strengthens the human family. It is necessary to spend time, time that is not lucrative, with children and with the elderly, because they give us another ability to see life.”

“The meaning of life is not only in adulthood, say, from 25 to 60 years – no. The meaning of life is all of it, from birth to death, and you should be able to interact with everyone, and also to have emotional relationships with everyone so that your maturity will be richer and stronger,” he said.

Pope Francis said the 40 days of Lent should be a time of renewal.

“Let us prepare ourselves with confidence to follow the Lenten journey that begins today as an opportunity for conversion and interior renewal in listening to the Word of God, in prayer, in the daily exercise of charity towards one’s neighbor,” Pope Francis said.


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