Cursed Cold

March 11, 2020

On February 24, the Church entered Lent, the 40-day retreat that prepares for Holy Week and Easter.

The media has hardly spoken about it, unlike the beginning of Ramadan. On the Vatican side, they have mainly talked about the Pope’s indisposition. A severe cold prevented him from honoring several commitments, and, in particular, he was not able to participate in the spiritual exercises scheduled from March 1 to 6 for the whole curia. He explained last Sunday: “Unfortunately the cold has prevented me from participating this year. I will follow the meditations from here.”

However, this indisposition did not prevent the Pope from publishing a video message announcing the holding of a “Laudato si’ week.” It will take place this coming May 16 to 24, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his encyclical on “integral ecology.” The Pope states: “I am renewing my urgent appeal to respond to the ecological crisis. The clamor of the earth and the clamor of the poor cannot continue much longer. Let us take care of creation, the gift of our good and creative God. Let us celebrate Laudato si’ Week together.”

A site offers ideas for activities in the form of a “toolkit”: “to engage in dialogue with elected officials in the region”; “to carry out an energy diagnosis and set up a program to reduce carbon emissions”; “to organize a prayer meeting dedicated to a just transition to clean energies,” etc. The Church takes on the appearance of a climate forum. The only thing missing is Greta!

The start of Lent is an opportunity to make a retreat, to withdraw from the world to prepare for Holy Week. It is the time of penance, the time of spiritual conversion—and not a so-called “ecological conversion”—it is the best time for us to turn to God and to heaven.

If the Church exhorts the faithful to do penance, sums up St. John Chrysostom, “it is neither because of Easter, nor because of the mystery of the Cross that we observe this fast, but because of our sins and because that we want to approach the Mysteries.”

“Sitio! I thirst! Christ cries. It is this word from the Cross that deserves to be heard, and not “the clamor of the Earth.”