The Holy Father: Sunday Angelus: Lent a time of spiritual combat

(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus with the faithful in St Peter’s Square this Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent. Tens of thousands of pilgrims were on hand, beneath a bright and unseasonably warm Roman sky. Speaking from his window in the Apostolic Palace above the Square ahead of the Lenten season on which the Church is embarked in the context of the Year of Faith.

Dear brothers and sisters!

Last Wednesday, with the traditional distribution of ashes, we entered into Lent, a time of conversion and penance in preparation for Easter. The Church, who is mother and teacher, calls all of her members to renew themselves spiritually, to reorient themselves toward God, renouncing pride and egoism to live in love. In this Year of Faith Easter is a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as a basic criterion for our life and the life of the Church. This always means a struggle, a spiritual combat, because the evil spirit naturally opposes our sanctification and seeks to turn us away from the path to God. That is why each year on the first Sunday of Lent the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is proclaimed.

Jesus, in fact, after having received “investiture” as Messiah – “anointed” with the Spirit – at the baptism in the Jordan, was led by the same Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus had to unmask and reject the false images of the Messiah that the tempter proposed to him. But these temptations are also false images of man, which always harass our conscience, disguising themselves as suitable, effective and even good proposals. The evangelists Matthew and Luke present 3 temptations of Jesus, differing in part only in the order. The nucleus of these temptations always consists in instrumentalizing God for our own interests, giving more importance to success or to material goods. The tempter is clever: he does not direct us immediately towar evil but toward a false good, making us believe that power and things that satiate primary needs are what is most real. In this manner God becomes secondary; he is reduced to a means, he becomes unreal, he no longer counts, he disappears. In the final analysis, faith is what is at stake in temptations because God is at stake. In the decisive moments of life and, in fact, in every moment of life, we are faced with a choice: do we want to follow the “I” or God? Do we want to follow individual interest or rather the true Good, that which is really good?

As the Fathers of the Church teach us, temptations are of Jesus’ “descent” into our human condition, into the abyss of sin and its consequences. A “descent” that Jesus undertook to the very end, to the point of death on the cross and the descent into the netherworld (inferi) of extreme distance from God. In this way he is the hand of God extended to man, to the lost sheep, to bring back him to safety. As St. Augustine teaches, Jesus has taken temptations from us to give us his victory (cf. Enarr. in Psalmos, 60,3: PL 36, 724). Therefore, we too are not afraid to face combat with the evil spirit: the important point is that we do it with him, with Christ, the Victor. And to stand with him we turn to the Mother, Mary: let us invoke her with filial confidence in the hour of trial, and she will make us feel the powerful presence her divine Son, to reject the temptations with the Word of Christ, and so to put God once again at the center of our life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for today’s Angelus. Today we contemplate Christ in the desert, fasting, praying, and being tempted. As we begin our Lenten journey, we join him and we ask him to give us strength to fight our weaknesses. Let me also thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me in these days. May God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, the Holy Father said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good Lenten journey. This evening I will begin a week of retreat: let us be united in prayer. Have a good week everyone. Thank you!

Beginning Sunday evening, Pope Benedict is spending the week in Lenten spiritual retreat, together with members of the Curia and the Pontifical household, under the direction of the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi. The Pope has no public engagements scheduled for this week.

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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10 Responses to The Holy Father: Sunday Angelus: Lent a time of spiritual combat

  1. Frere Rabit says:

    As the Holy Father reminds us of the presence of Satan in the desert of Lent, I recommend this reading from the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan on the challenge posed by the reality of Satan in the world.

    Cardinal Angelo Scola is the man I hope will be elected as the next Pope. I am taking up gambling for Lent and I shall put a hundred Euros on him.



  2. johnhenrycn says:

    I read that essay in full, FR. Sorry, can’t say His Eminence impresses me with his command of words, although I accept the truth of all that he says in it. Maybe it’s the translation that’s to blame. Wish I could speak Italian. But he looks a lot like my father-in-law (RIP), so I think kindly of him. Naturally, insofar as the papal sweepstakes are concerned, Marc Cardinal Ouellet is my emotional favourite; but most of all, I pray for a pope steeped firstly in holiness, and secondly in tradition. And as Cardinal Ouelette’s mother, Graziella, said earlier this week, “God only knows.”


  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Ouellet. I’m getting as bad as you and that other Spaniard 😉


  4. Toad says:

    Wise words here, from JH and lapin..

    The only practical investment advice Toad can offer in regard to The Vatican Handicap (For aged geldings only, no mares or fillies) is to lay* Turkson ’til the sacred cows come home.

    *Bet against.


  5. annem040359 says:

    As a Catholic from the nation across the pond, or across the Atlantic, the USA, it would be wonderful if Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City, NY, United States of America would get the calling by God to become “Pope”, but he would be a “dark” indeed, but I can dream, can I? 🙂


  6. annem040359 says:

    OPPS! Forgot to type “dark horse” in regards to the posting about Cardinal Timothy Dolan.My bad! 🙂


  7. Toad says:

    Talk of “dark horses” in this election could easily be misconstrued, Annemo.

    However, Dolan according to Vatiform (the celestial version of Timeform) is described as “Aged gelding. Uncertain temprament. Bad mover. Currently too high in the handicap as is presently carrying 60lb. overweight.Unlikely to stay any trip. Inclined to be slow out of the stalls. Needs firm ground, or miracle, if anything.”
    But, good luck! Someone’s got to win!

    Toad sees Paddy Power has Dawkins for pope at 666-1.
    Curious odds. Perhaps the bookies know something we don’t?


  8. annem040359 says:

    The only other Cardinal whom I could think of, another American, I know his last name I believed is “Burke”, and if my memory serves me correct was a cardinal out in the midwest before called to the Vatican. But then he could also be another “dark horse” also.

    Overall, let the Holy Spirit do His work!


  9. annem040359 says:

    After my first and then second cup of coffee, I do believe the first name of that cardinal with the last name of “Burke” is Raymond, and he was from I believe from the St. Louis, MO, USA area.


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