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Strengthen your relationship with God

— Pope Benedict XVI’s Sunday message calls on Catholics to use Lent to renew Faith

Pope Benedict XVI has called upon Catholics to use this Lent to strengthen and renew their relationship with God.

Speaking to a large crowd in St Peter’s square last Sunday the Holy Father said the season of Lent is a time when with ‘patience’ and ‘humility’ we follow ‘the Lord every day, learning to build our life not outside of Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life’.

“The temptation has always been present in human history to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities,” Pope Benedict (right) said, instead saying Catholics should rediscover their love of Christ this Lent.

“Repent and believe in the Gospel. Convert our lives each day to His will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good. The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity.”

Retreat

Before concluding his reflections on Sunday, the Pope asked for prayers for the week of spiritual exercises that he and the Roman Curia were about to begin. Their seven-day Lenten retreat will finish tomorrow, Saturday March 3.

The preacher chosen for their retreat this year is Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa of Congo. The theme of the meditations will be ‘The communion of the Christian with God.’

The retreat will take place in the Redemptorist Mater Chapel of the Vatican, one of the most beautiful in the Apostolic Palace. It was built in 1996 at the expressed wish of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Events will begin each morning at 9am with the recitation of the breviary and every day will end with a Eucharistic adoration and blessing.

The titles of each of the seven days of mediations are: In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; Communion and Life; Communion and Mercy; Breach of communion, sin; God is love; Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Prayer—The Holy Spirit; and Love and Faith.

Pope Benedict XVI has no public or private appointments for the duration of the spiritual exercises.

Lenten message

In his official Lenten message, Pope Benedict called on Catholics everywhere ‘not to remain isolated and indifferent’ to the fate of others.

Materialism and a sense of self-sufficiency are obstacles to a Christian life of charity, the Pope said before adding that God’s commandment to love ‘demands that we acknowledge our responsibility toward those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God.’ He added that ‘indifference and disinterest’ should not be passed off as respect for privacy.

The theme of the 2012 Lenten message was taken from St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews: “Let us be concerned for each other, to stir a response in love and good works.”

Concern for others, the Pope said, means wanting what is good physically, morally and spiritually for one’s neighbour. But he noted that contemporary culture ‘seems to have lost the sense of good and evil.’

“There is a real need to reaffirm that good does exist and will prevail,” the Holy Father said, defining good as ‘whatever gives, protects and promotes life, brotherhood and communion.’

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