Pope Benedict Angelus 'On Living Lent Well'
As "One Who Has Found in Jesus the Meaning of Life"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday when he recited the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The Gospel of Mark, theme of the Sunday celebrations of this liturgical year, presents a catechumenal itinerary, which leads the disciple to recognize Jesus as Son of God.
By a fortunate coincidence, today's passage touches on the topic of fasting: As you know, next Wednesday the Lenten season will begin with the rite of ashes and penitential fasting. For this reason, the Gospel is particularly appropriate.
It recounts how while Jesus was seated at table in the publican Levi's house, the Pharisees and followers of John the Baptist asked him why his disciples did not fast as they did. Jesus answered that the wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them; they will fast when the bridegroom is taken from them (cf. Mark 2:18-20).
With these words, Christ reveals his identity of Messiah, Israel's bridegroom, who came for the betrothal with his people. Those who recognize and welcome him are celebrating. However, he will have to be rejected and killed precisely by his own: At that moment, during his Passion and death, the hour of mourning and fasting will come.
As I mentioned, the Gospel episode anticipates the meaning of Lent. As a whole, it constitutes a great memorial of the Lord's passion, in preparation for the Easter resurrection. During this period the 'Alleluia' is not sung and we are invited to practice appropriate forms of penitential denial.
The Lenten season must not be faced with an "old" spirit, as if it were a heavy and tedious obligation, but with the new spirit of the one who has found in Jesus and his paschal mystery the meaning of life, and now feels that everything must make reference to him. This was the attitude of the Apostle Paul, who affirmed that he left everything behind to be able to know Christ "and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).
May our guide and teacher in our Lenten journey be Mary Most Holy, who, when Jesus went with determination to Jerusalem to suffer the passion, followed him with total faith. As a "new amphora" she received the "new wine" prepared by the Son for the messianic betrothal (cf. Mark 2:22). And, in this way, she was the first to receive under the Cross that grace, poured out by the pierced heart of the son, incarnation of the love of God for humanity, that she herself, had requested with a mother's instinct for the bride and groom of Cana (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," Nos. 13-15).
[After praying the Angelus, the Pope made this appeal:]
News continues to arrive these days of tragic violence in Iraq, with attacks in the mosques themselves. These are actions that sow mourning, fuel hatred, and gravely hinder the already difficult work of the country's reconstruction.
In Nigeria, during several days confrontations have taken place between Christians and Muslims, with many victims and destruction of churches and mosques. While expressing my firm condemnation for the violation of places of worship, I commend to the Lord all the deceased and those who mourn for them.
I invite all, moreover, to more intense prayer and penance, in the holy season of Lent, so that the Lord will remove from these beloved nations, and from many other parts of the earth, the threat of such conflicts!
The fruit of faith in God is not devastating antagonisms, but the spirit of fraternity and collaboration in favor of the common good. God, Creator and Father of all, will call to an even more severe account all those who shed their brother's blood in his name. May all, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, again encounter him, who is authentic peace!
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in six languages. In English, he said:]
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. This Wednesday the Church begins her annual Lenten pilgrimage of prayer and penance, in preparation for the celebration of the paschal mystery of Christ's passion, death and resurrection.
May this holy season be a time of profound spiritual renewal for you and your families. Upon all of you I cordially invoke the Lord's blessings of joy and peace.
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000
Pope, Benedict, Lent, Angelus, Vatican
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