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Pope Francis gave his blessing in St. Peter’s Square during the recitation of the Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Feb. 18.
Pope Francis gave his blessing in St. Peter’s Square during the recitation of the Angelus prayer at the Vatican on Feb. 18.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

POPE’S MESSAGE | Vices are ‘beasts’ of the soul that need taming

At Angelus address Feb. 18, Pope Francis said that if we don’t tame our vices, ‘they will devour our freedom’

VATICAN CITY — Vices, such as vanity and greed, are like “wild beasts” of the soul that risk tearing people apart, Pope Francis said.

Vices “must be tamed and fought, otherwise they will devour our freedom,” he said Feb. 18 before reciting the Angelus prayer with about 15,000 visitors in St. Peter’s Square.

The period of Lent, he added, helps Christians create moments of silence, prayer and reflection in order to correct those vices and perceive the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

On the first Sunday of Lent, the pope focused his main Angelus address on the day’s Gospel reading about Jesus in the desert or “the wilderness.” He remained there for 40 days, “tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him,” according to the Gospel of St. Mark (1:12-13).

“We too, during Lent, are invited to ‘enter the wilderness,’ that is, silence, the inner world, listening to the heart, in contact with the truth,” the pope said.

By entering into one’s inner world, he said, “we can encounter wild beasts and angels there.”

The “beasts” of the soul, he said, are “the disordered passions that divide the heart, trying to take possession of it. They entice us, they seem seductive, but if we are not careful, we risk being torn apart by them.”

They include various vices, he said, such as coveting wealth, “the vanity of pleasure, which condemns us to restlessness and solitude, and the craving for fame, which gives rise to insecurity and a continuous need for confirmation and prominence.”

However, the pope said, angels were also in the desert with Jesus.

“These are God’s messengers, who help us, who do us good: Indeed, their characteristic, according to the Gospel, is service,” he said. “While temptations tear us apart, the good divine inspirations unify us and let us enter into harmony: They quench the heart, infuse the taste of Christ, ‘the flavor of heaven.’”

“In order to grasp the inspiration of God, one must enter into silence and prayer. And Lent is the time to do this,” the pope said, encouraging Christians to dedicate the time and space needed for such reflection each day.

Pope Francis and leaders of the Roman Curia were to dedicate themselves to private prayer and reflection from the afternoon of Feb. 18 to the afternoon of Feb. 23.

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