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The gift of tears

· Francis celebrates Ash Wednesday at St Sabina and speaks to the clergy of Rome on homilies at Mass ·

“It will do us good, all of us, but especially us priests, at the beginning of Lent, to ask for the gift of tears, so as to render our prayer and our journey of conversion ever more authentic and without hypocrisy”. On Ash Wednesday the Pope made this recommendation, celebrating Mass on the Aventine on Wednesday afternoon, 18 February. During his homily, Francis offered a reflection on the importance of tears, echoing his words in Manila when he met a a young girl who was the victim of violence.

After leading the penitential procession from the Basilica of St Anselm to the Basilica of St Sabina, the Pontiff presided at Mass which included the rite of ashes. “It will do us good to ask ourselves this question: 'Do I weep? Does the Pope weep? Do the cardinals weep? Do bishops weep? Do priests weep? Is there weeping in our prayers?”. Tears reveal the authentic face of humankind, beyond hypocrisy which tries to absolve these prescriptions “attacked by the corrosion of exterior formalism”, he said, referring to the works of mercy prescribed by Mosaic Law — almsgiving, prayer and fasting — which, over time have become “a sign of social superiority”. It is a temptation which exists today, because “hypocrites do not know how to weep, they have forgotten how to weep, they do not ask for the gift of tears”. Instead, the Pope warned, we are all in need of the Lord's mercy and forgiveness. The Lord, he said, “new heart, purified of evil, purified by tears”. Pope Francis assured that the best way to accept this invitation is by “letting oneself be reconciled” with the understanding that every “effort to convert is not only the work of mankind”.

The next morning, Thursday, 19 February, the Pope received the clergy of Rome in the Paul VI Hall for his customary greetings at the beginning of Lent. After the Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini introduced the meeting, the Pontiff spoke to the priests about ars celebrandi and about homilies during the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Pope's homily during Ash Wednesday Mass in Italian 

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 20, 2018

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