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Lent 1978

Bl Pope Paul VI's Message      
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Those who believed shared all things in common"

Dearest Sons and Daughters,
Once again Lent has returned with its urgent invitations! Time which brings us closer to Christ, through Him it also brings us closer to one another: Lent is a time of communion, which also involves the commitment to put things in common.

We remain truly impressed by the description, given to us in the Acts of the Apostles, about community life in the primitive Church: “All the believers stood together and held everything in common” (Acts 2, 44). This was not about an artificial invention, devised so as to cement the cohesion of the young community in Jerusalem; rather it was the expression of “a single heart” (Acts 4, 46), which inspired all the gestures of the believers, unifying them in the very heart of Jesus.

One of the most notable effects of this unanimity is indicated to us in the "Acts", which states that a constant sharing of goods was carried out according to each one's needs. Hence the first Christians spontaneously practised the principle according to which the goods of this world are destined by the Creator as satisfaction for the necessities of everyone, without exception. Christian sharing translates into facts this natural obligation, made infinitely more cogent under the impulse of charity.

Sharing is thus a fundamental Christian attitude. In the numerous initiatives of love for ones's neighbour, from almsgiving and individual service to collective contributions for the promotion of peoples materially disadvantaged, the Christian experiences the joy of sharing, of enjoying in common a heritage, which God has generously put at the disposition of everyone.

It has been said that there is an art in giving and an art in receiving; but Christians  have only one term for both these acts: that of fraternal sharing. May the present Lent make us really practice this as a sign of communion with all men, who are all called to participate in the Mystery of the Cross and of the Resurrection of Christ!

At the beginning of this important time, taking up Saint Paul's words to the first Christians, I invite each of the faithful belonging to the great communion of the Catholic Church “to put aside what he is able to save” (1 Cor 16, 2), in a spirit of penance and charity, so as to offer it to the common collection. And all those who are  willing thus to share their goods with brothers who lack what is necessary, I bless them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!