"Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism". - Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2010 (VIS) - The significance of the Lenten journey was the theme of Benedict XVI's remarks before praying the Angelus this morning with thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

The Pope commented on the story of the temptation of Jesus in the desert, which was the Gospel reading for today, the first Sunday of Lent, explaining that the temptations "were not a by-the-way incident, but the consequence of Jesus' decision to complete the mission entrusted to Him by the Father".

"Christ came into the world to free us from sin and from the ambiguous lure of seeking to plan our lives without God. He did this not with high-sounding proclamations but by struggling personally with the Tempter, all the way to the Cross. This example holds true for us all: that the world is improved by beginning with ourselves, by changing, with God's grace, what is wrong with our lives".

Of the three temptations of Jesus, the first "had its origin in hunger, in material want", said the Pope. "But Jesus responded with the words: 'One does not live by bread alone'". The second temptation came when the devil showed Christ all the kingdoms of the earth; this, the Holy Father explained, "is the lure of power which Jesus unmasked and rejected". To the third temptation, the proposal to perform a miracle that everyone might believe in Him, Jesus responded: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

"Making constant reference to Holy Scripture", the Pope added, Jesus "made human criteria subject to the only true criterion: obedience to the will of God. This is a fundamental lesson for us too: if we carry the Word of God in our minds and hearts, if it enters our lives, then we too can reject all the tricks of the Tempter".

"Lent is like a long 'retreat' during which we can turn back into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, in order to defeat the temptations of the Evil One. It is a period of spiritual 'combat' which we must experience alongside Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the arms of faith: prayer, listening to the word of God and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism".

In closing his remarks the Holy Father invoked the help of the Virgin Mary "that we might live this period of grace joyfully and fruitfully. May she particularly intercede for me and my collaborators in the Roman Curia as we begin our spiritual exercises this evening", he concluded.

ANG/LENT/...                                                                                  VIS 100222 (450)

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