VATICAN CITY (CNS): Hope that is not accompanied by prayerful dialogue with God is just mere illusion and an escape from reality, Pope Benedict XVI said during a Mass to mark the beginning of Lent.
Prayer also nourishes hope, he said, “because nothing other than praying with faith expresses the reality of God (being) in our life”.
Pope Benedict, dressed in the purple vestments of the Lenten season, celebrated an Ash Wednesday Mass on February 6 at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Sabina.
The Pope placed ashes on a long line of cardinals, bishops, monks and lay faithful, tracing a cross on the top of the head according to the Ash Wednesday custom in Italy.
In his homily, the Pope focused on the importance of prayer and sacrifice during Lent.
Prayer is a powerful weapon with which to “victoriously face the battle against the spirit of evil,” he said.
“Before great danger, one needs an even greater hope”, and this can only be found in the hope that comes from knowing one can rely on God for everything, he said.
The prayers offered at the Mass included a special intention for God to “open the heart and eyes of all searchers of the truth so that they see and recognise he whom (God) sent to illuminate the darkness of the world, Jesus Christ”.