-- Catholic News Agency
Pope's Lent Message: Charity Is Extension Of God's Love
VATICAN CITY, February 1 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Benedict XVI's message for Lent is that when people are open to God's love, then they can "love with him, in him and like him."
"When we make room for the love of God, then we become like him, sharing in his own charity," said the Pope in his annual message for Lent.
"If we open ourselves to his love, we allow him to live in us and to bring us to love with him, in him and like him," said the pontiff.
Pope Benedict's message is titled, "Believing in charity calls forth charity." It was released Feb. 1 with a media event at the Holy See's press office.
The panel presenting it included members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum - which is dedicated to carrying out charitable work - and the president for the Society of St. Vincent of Paul, Michael Thio.
The president of Cor Unum, Cardinal Robert Sarah, said that the essence of the Pope's message is focused on illuminating the relationship between faith and love.
The Pope noted in his Lenten message that "faith, as gift and response, causes us to know the truth of Christ as love incarnate and crucified, as full and perfect obedience to the Father's will and infinite divine mercy towards neighbor."
"Faith implants in hearts and minds the firm conviction that only this love is able to conquer evil and death," said the pontiff.
"Faith invites us to look towards the future with the virtue of hope, in the confident expectation that the victory of Christ's love will come to its fullness," he added.
Pope Benedict highlighted that "charity ushers us into the love of God manifested in Christ and joins us in a personal and existential way to the total and unconditional self-giving of Jesus to the Father and to his brothers and sisters."
"Faith, which sees the love of God revealed in the pierced heart of Jesus on the Cross, gives rise to love," he said.
"Faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity," he stated.
"Love is the light (and in the end, the only light) that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working," said the pontiff.
The Holy Father noted that "all this helps us to understand that the principal distinguishing mark of Christians is precisely love grounded in and shaped by faith."
Monsignor Segundo Tejado Mu˝oz, the undersecretary of Cor Unum, added that "the great strength of the Church is that most times charity is done anonymously and is often volunteer work."
The Pope's message also states that Lent, "in the context of the Year of Faith," offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity and between believing in God and love."
To read Pope Benedict's full message for Lent 2013, please visit: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=1067
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