In his Lenten Message for 2018, Pope Francis warns that “false prophets would lead people astray.”
Those false prophets, Francis said, come either in the form of “snake charmers,” “who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go,” or “charlatans,” “who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.”
In either case, he said, the false prophets lead people to mistake false sources of happiness for real ones – which, he said, is a strategy typical of the devil.
“In order to confound the human heart, the devil, who is ‘a liar and the father of lies,’ has always presented evil as good, falsehood as truth,” the pope said.
“How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless!” the pope said.
“All this leads to violence against anyone we think is a threat to our own ‘certainties’: the unborn child, the elderly and infirm, the migrant, the alien among us, or our neighbor who does not live up to our expectations,” he said.
In response, Francis extolled the merits of prayer, giving alms and fasting.
“I would also hope that, even in our daily encounters with those who beg for our assistance, we would see such requests as coming from God himself,” he said. “When we give alms, we share in God’s providential care for each of his children.”
“Fasting wakes us up,” the pope said. “It makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
Stay tuned to this site as it picks up this theme of “waking up” in a daily one-minute video series on Lent as a season for waking up rather than merely giving up. Each day during Lent these brief videos will feature people associated with the Eastern Province sharing experiences of the five Vincentian virtues.