"Today we begin the liturgical period of Lent with the emblematic ritual of the imposition of the ashes by which we intend to take on the task of turning our hearts towards the horizons of Grace", said the Pope in his homily. "This is not some superficial or transitory conversion, but a spiritual itinerary which has a profound effect on our conscience and involves a sincere intention to amend our lives".
"This means undertaking an authentic conversion to God - returning to Him - recognising His sanctity, His power, His majesty", the Holy Father went on. "Such conversion is possible because God is rich in mercy and great in love. His mercy is regenerating. ... God, in fact, does not want the death of sinners but their conversion to life. ... He offers us His forgiveness, ... so as to give us a new heart purified from the evil that oppresses it, so as to lead us to participate in His joy. Our world needs to be converted by God, it needs His pardon, His love, it needs a new heart".