Pope Francis called for prayer and penance to overcome evil as he addressed the faithful on the first Sunday of Lent.
Speaking to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus, the pontiff urged the crowd “to walk in God’s footsteps … by renouncing Satan, and all his works and all his empty promises.”
He cited how Jesus in the Gospel remained 40 days in the desert, a place of “trial and temptation,” and was enticed by Satan.
The desert, however, is also a place “where God speaks to the human heart and prayer is a response,” said the pope.
In his message, Pope Francis stressed the struggle against the “Evil One” that even Jesus experienced during his ministry.
He said that while it may appear that the devil has the upper hand when the Son of God is rejected, captured and condemned to death, in reality “death was the last ‘desert’ to cross” to finally defeat Satan.
The pope reminded Christians that by following in the Lord’s footsteps, they will also have to struggle against the spirit of evil.
He said everyone must be fully aware of the presence of the enemy “who seeks our eternal condemnation, our failure, and prepare to defend ourselves against him and to combat him.”
Pope Francis said Jesus never dialogued with the devil, instead he always sent it away or responded with the Word of God.
“We also should never enter into dialogue with the devil and his temptations,” said the pope, adding that with faith, prayer and penance, “we can defeat the enemy.”