CHRISTIANS should return to traditional Lenten fasting, prayer and alms-giving as a way of preparing for the Easter celebrations, John Paul said this week.
Speaking in Rome on Sunday, the first in Lent, the Pope said the weeks leading up to Easter should be a time of "profound revision" of the spiritual life of all Christians.
Fasting and prayer, especially in community, and meditation on the message of the gospels, offered society a way to rediscover that life had a spiritual dimension, he said. Christians needed to acknowledge the need of every individual to seek an "inner liberation" at a time of widespread indifference to religion.
"We need to overcome selfishness, the anxious seeking after material goods, thirst for power and the illusion of immediate success if we want to master ourselves and reach full freedom of the spirit," John Paul said.
The Pope blamed secular attitudes in society and consumerism for "detaching many people from the true faith".
He has now begun a weeklong Lenten retreat in the Vatican.