Here is Pope Saint John Paul II’s final Lenten meditation, which he finished on September 8th, 2005 – the birthday of Our Lady – just before his death on April 2nd, 2005. A fitting recollection on the joy – and sacrifice – of ageing well, as a gift from God to ‘do good’, while we yet may.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
1. Each year, the Lenten Season is set before us as a good opportunity for the intensification of prayer and penance, opening hearts to the docile welcoming of the divine will. During Lent, a spiritual journey is outlined for us that prepares us to relive the Great Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ. This is done primarily by listening to the Word of God more devoutly and by practising mortification more generously, thanks to which it is possible to render greater assistance to those in need.
This year, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to bring to your attention a theme which is rather current, well-illustrated by the following verse from Deuteronomy: “Loving the Lord…means life to you, and length of days…” (30:20). These are the words that Moses directs to the people, inviting them to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab, “that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him.” (30:19-20). The fidelity to this divine Covenant is for Israel a guarantee of the future: “that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them.” (30:20). According to the Biblical understanding, reaching old age is a sign of the Most High’s gracious benevolence. Longevity appears, therefore, as a special divine gift.
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