Audiences 2006 34
1. Following the liturgy that divides it into two parts, let us return to , a wonderful hymn in honour of the Lord, a loving King who is attentive to his creatures. Let us now meditate upon the second part of the Psalm: they are verses 14 to 21, which take up the fundamental theme of the hymn's first part.
In them are exalted the divine compassion, tenderness, fidelity and goodness which are extended to the whole of humanity, involving every creature. The Psalm now focuses on the love that the Lord reserves particularly for the poor and the weak.
Divine kingship is not, therefore, detached and haughty, as can be the case in the exercise of human power. God expresses his sovereignty by bending down to meet the frailest and most helpless of his creatures.
2. Indeed, he is first and foremost a father who supports those who falter and raises those who have fallen into the dust of humiliation (cf. v. 14). Consequently, living beings are reaching out to the Lord like hungry beggars and he gives them, like a tender parent, the food they need to survive (cf. v. 15).
At this point the profession of faith in justice and holiness, the two divine qualities par excellence, emerges from the lips of the person praying: "The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds" (cf. v. 17).
In Hebrew we have two typical adjectives to illustrate the Covenant between God and his People: saadiq and hasid. They express justice that seeks to save and to liberate from evil, and the faithfulness that is a sign of the Lord's loving greatness.
3. The Psalmist takes the side of those who have benefited, whom he describes in various words: in practice, these terms portray true believers. They "call on" the Lord in trusting prayer, they seek him in life with a sincere heart (cf. v. 18); they "fear" their God, respecting his will and obeying his word (cf. v. 19), but above all "love" him, certain that he will take them under the mantle of his protection and his closeness (cf. v. 20).
Then, the Psalmist's closing words are the ones with which he opened his hymn: an invitation to praise and bless the Lord and his "name", that is, as a living and holy Person who works and saves in the world and in history.
Indeed, his call is an assurance that every creature marked by the gift of life associates himself or herself with the prayerful praise: "Let all mankind bless his holy name for ever, for ages unending" (v. 21). This is a sort of perennial hymn that must be raised from earth to heaven; it is a community celebration of God's universal love, source of peace, joy and salvation.
4. To conclude our reflection, let us return to that sweet verse which says: "[The Lord] is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts" (v. 18). This sentence was particularly dear to Barsanuphius of Gaza, an ascetic who died in the mid-sixth century, to whom monks, ecclesiastics and lay people would often turn because of the wisdom of his discernment.
Thus, for example, to one disciple who expressed his desire "to seek the causes of the various temptations that assailed him", Barsanuphius responded: "Brother John, do not fear any of the temptations that come to test you, for the Lord will not let you fall prey to them. So, whenever one of these temptations comes to you, do not tire yourself by endeavouring to discern what is at stake, but cry out Jesus' Name: "Jesus, help me!'. And he will hear you, for he "is close to all who call on him'. Do not be discouraged, but run on with enthusiasm and you will reach the destination in Christ Jesus, Our Lord" (Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, Epistolario, 39: Collana di Testi Patristici, XCIII, Rome, 1991, p. 109).
And these words of the ancient Father also apply to us. In our difficulties, problems, temptations, we must not simply make a theoretical reflection - where do they come from? - but must react positively; we must call on the Lord, we must keep alive our contact with the Lord. Indeed, we must cry out the Name of Jesus: "Jesus, help me!".
And let us be certain that he hears us, because he is close to those who seek him. Let us not feel discouraged, but let us run on with enthusiasm, as this Father says, and we too will reach the destination of our lives: Jesus, the Lord.
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's Blessings of health and joy.
I then greet you, dear Bishops taking part in the International Meeting organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio, and I hope that these days of reflection and prayer will be fruitful for the ministry you are called to carry out in your Dioceses.
Lastly, my thoughts turn to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Today, we are celebrating the liturgical memorial of St Jerome Emiliani, Founder of the Order of Clerics Regular of Somaschi, and St Josephine Bakhita, a particularly lovable saint. May the courage of these two faithful witnesses of Christ help you, dear young people, to open your hearts to the heroism of holiness in daily life. May it sustain you, dear sick people, in persevering patiently and in offering your prayer and suffering for the whole Church. And may it give you, dear newly-weds, the courage to make your families communities of love, filled with Christian values.
On Wednesday, 15 February, prior to giving his Catechesis in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father spoke to students from various parts of Italy and to the members of the Congregation of St John.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all with affection, dear students from various parts of Italy. I particularly greet the students and teachers of the Schools of Ostia Lido, of the Institute of the Sacred Heart in Caserta and of Rome's St Dorothy Institute.
Dear friends, you certainly have heard that my first Encyclical has recently been published. Its title is Deus Caritas Est. In it I wanted to recall that God's love is the source and motive of our true joy. I ask each one of you to understand ever better and to accept this Love, which changes life and makes you credible witnesses of the Gospel. You will thus become true friends of Jesus and his faithful apostles.
We must make the tenderness of God's Heart felt, especially by the weakest and neediest people; and do not forget that in spreading divine love, each one of us makes a contribution to building a more just and supportive world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am glad to greet the members and friends of the Congregation of St John, accompanied by the Priors General and Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. May your pilgrimage be a time of renewal. And may you take care to verify your experience in order to draw from it all that it teaches, and to carry out an ever deeper discernment of the vocations that present themselves and the missions to which you are called, in trusting collaboration with the Pastors of the local Churches. May the Lord lead you to grow in holiness with the help of Mary and of his beloved disciple.
Let us end our meeting by reciting the prayer of the Our Father.
"My soul glorifies the Lord'
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. We have now arrived at the final destination of the long journey begun exactly five years ago in Spring 2001, by my beloved Predecessor, the unforgettable Pope John Paul II. In his Catecheses, the great Pope wanted to cover the whole sequence of the Psalms and Canticles that constitute the fundamental prayerful fabric of the Liturgy of Lauds and Vespers. Having now reached the end of this pilgrimage through the texts, similar to a stroll in a garden filled with flowers of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation, let us now make room for that Canticle which seals in spirit every celebration of Vespers: the Magnificat (Lc 1,46-55).
It is a canticle that reveals in filigree the spirituality of the biblical anawim, that is, of those faithful who not only recognize themselves as "poor" in the detachment from all idolatry of riches and power, but also in the profound humility of a heart emptied of the temptation to pride and open to the bursting in of the divine saving grace. Indeed, the whole Magnificat, which we have just heard the Sistine Chapel Choir sing, is marked by this "humility", in Greek tapeinosis, which indicates a situation of material humility and poverty.
2. The first part of the Marian canticle (cf. Lk Lc 1,46-50) is a sort of solo voice that rises to Heaven to reach the Lord. The constant resonance of the first person should be noted: "My soul... my spirit... my Saviour... has done great things for me... [they] will call me blessed...". So it is that the soul of the prayer is the celebration of the divine grace which has burst into the heart and life of Mary, making her Mother of the Lord. We hear the Virgin's own voice speaking of her Saviour who has done great things in her soul and body.
The intimate structure of her prayerful canticle, therefore, is praise, thanksgiving and grateful joy. But this personal witness is neither solitary nor intimistic, purely individualistic, because the Virgin Mother is aware that she has a mission to fulfil for humanity and her experience fits into the history of salvation.
She can thus say: "And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation" (v. 50). With this praise of the Lord, Our Lady gives a voice to all redeemed creatures, who find in her "fiat", and thus in the figure of Jesus, born of the Virgin, the mercy of God.
3. It is at this point that the second poetic and spiritual part of the Magnificat unfolds (cf. vv. 51-55). It has a more choral tone, almost as if the voices of the whole community of the faithful were associated with Mary's voice, celebrating God's amazing decision.
In the original Greek of Luke's Gospel, we have seven aorist verbs that indicate the same number of actions which the Lord carries out repeatedly in history: "He has shown strength... he has scattered the proud... he has put down the mighty... he has exalted those of low degree... he has filled the hungry with good things... the rich he has sent empty away... he has helped... Israel".
In these seven divine acts, the "style" that inspires the behaviour of the Lord of history stands out: he takes the part of the lowly. His plan is one that is often hidden beneath the opaque context of human events that see "the proud, the mighty and the rich" triumph.
Yet his secret strength is destined in the end to be revealed, to show who God's true favourites are: "Those who fear him", faithful to his words: "those of low degree", "the hungry", "his servant Israel"; in other words, the community of the People of God who, like Mary, consist of people who are "poor", pure and simple of heart. It is that "little flock" which is told not to fear, for the Lord has been pleased to give it his Kingdom (cf. Lk Lc 12,32). And this Canticle invites us to join the tiny flock and the true members of the People of God in purity and simplicity of heart, in God's love.
4. Let us therefore accept the invitation that St Ambrose, the great Doctor of the Church, addresses to us in his commentary on the text of the Magnificat: "May Mary's soul be in each one to magnify the Lord, may Mary's spirit be in each one to rejoice in God; if, according to the flesh, the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ; each, in fact, welcomes the Word of God within.... Mary's soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God because, consecrated in soul and spirit to the Father and to the Son, she adores with devout affection one God, from whom come all things and only one Lord, by virtue of whom all things exist" (Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Lc 2,26-27, SAEMO, XI, Milan-Rome, 1978, p. 169).
In this marvellous commentary on the Magnificat by St Ambrose, I am always especially moved by the surprising words: "If, according to the flesh the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ: indeed, each one intimately welcomes the Word of God". Thus, interpreting Our Lady's very words, the Holy Doctor invites us to ensure that the Lord can find a dwelling place in our own souls and lives. Not only must we carry him in our hearts, but we must bring him to the world, so that we too can bring forth Christ for our epoch. Let us pray the Lord to help us praise him with Mary's spirit and soul, and to bring Christ back to our world.
To special groups
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's Audience. I extend particular greetings to the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and the United States of America. May your time in Rome strengthen your faith and renew your love for the Lord and his Blessed Mother. May God bless you all!
I now offer a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I first address an affectionate thought to the Maestro, Mons. Giuseppe Liberto and the Sistine Chapel Choir, present today at the end of the series of Catecheses commenting on the Psalms and Canticles that make up the Liturgy of the Hours. They sang the Magnificat for us superbly.
Dear friends, I would like to express to you my grateful appreciation for your service during the liturgical celebrations at which the Successor of Peter presides; I am especially grateful to you for having enlivened the General Audiences with song. Thank you for everything.
I then greet you, dear Bishops who are taking part in the 30th Congress organized by the Focolare Movement, and I encourage you to increasingly deepen the authentic spirituality of communion that must distinguish the priestly and episcopal ministry.
I also greet you, participants in the General Chapter of the Oblates of St Joseph, and I hope that you and your Religious Family will persevere generously in your service to Christ and to the Church, following faithfully in the footsteps of the Founder, Bl. Bishop Joseph Marello.
Lastly, I greet the sick people and the newly-weds. Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs and the first to spread the faith among the Slav Peoples. May their witness also help you to be apostles of the Gospel and a leaven of authentic renewal in your personal, family and social life.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the Latin-rite liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. This is a very ancient tradition, proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. On it we give thanks to God for the mission he entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors.
"Cathedra" literally means the established seat of the Bishop, placed in the mother church of a diocese which for this reason is known as a "cathedral"; it is the symbol of the Bishop's authority and in particular, of his "magisterium", that is, the evangelical teaching which, as a successor of the Apostles, he is called to safeguard and to transmit to the Christian Community.
When a Bishop takes possession of the particular Church that has been entrusted to him, wearing his mitre and holding the pastoral staff, he sits on the cathedra. From this seat, as teacher and pastor, he will guide the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.
So what was the "Chair" of St Peter? Chosen by Christ as the "rock" on which to build the Church (cf. Mt Mt 16,18), he began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The Church's first "seat" was the Upper Room, and it is likely that a special place was reserved for Simon Peter in that room where Mary, Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples.
Subsequently, the See of Peter was Antioch, a city located on the Oronte River in Syria, today Turkey, which at the time was the third metropolis of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria in Egypt. Peter was the first Bishop of that city, which was evangelized by Barnabas and Paul, where "the disciples were for the first time called Christians" (Ac 11,26), and consequently where our name "Christians" came into being. In fact, the Roman Martyrology, prior to the reform of the calendar, also established a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter in Antioch.
From there, Providence led Peter to Rome. Therefore, we have the journey from Jerusalem, the newly born Church, to Antioch, the first centre of the Church formed from pagans and also still united with the Church that came from the Jews. Then Peter went to Rome, the centre of the Empire, the symbol of the "Orbis" - the "Urbs", which expresses "Orbis", the earth, where he ended his race at the service of the Gospel with martyrdom.
So it is that the See of Rome, which had received the greatest of honours, also has the honour that Christ entrusted to Peter of being at the service of all the particular Churches for the edification and unity of the entire People of God.
The See of Rome, after St Peter's travels, thus came to be recognized as the See of the Successor of Peter, and its Bishop's "cathedra" represented the mission entrusted to him by Christ to tend his entire flock.
This is testified by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, such as, for example, St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, but who came from Asia Minor, who in his treatise Adversus Haereses, describes the Church of Rome as the "greatest and most ancient, known by all... founded and established in Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul"; and he added: "The universal Church, that is, the faithful everywhere, must be in agreement with this Church because of her outstanding superiority" (III, 3, 2-3).
Tertullian, a little later, said for his part: "How blessed is the Church of Rome, on which the Apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!" (De Praescriptione Hereticorum, 36).
Consequently, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents not only his service to the Roman community but also his mission as guide of the entire People of God.
Celebrating the "Chair" of Peter, therefore, as we are doing today, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.
Among the numerous testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to quote St Jerome's. It is an extract from one of his letters, addressed to the Bishop of Rome. It is especially interesting precisely because it makes an explicit reference to the "Chair" of Peter, presenting it as a safe harbour of truth and peace.
This is what Jerome wrote: "I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built" (cf. Le lettere I, 15, 1-2).
Dear brothers and sisters, in the apse of St Peter's Basilica, as you know, is the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini. It is in the form of a great bronze throne supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church: two from the West, St Augustine and St Ambrose, and two from the East: St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius.
I invite you to pause before this evocative work which today can be admired, decorated with myriads of candles, and to say a special prayer for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raise your eyes to the alabaster glass window located directly above the Chair and call upon the Holy Spirit, so that with his enlightenment and power, he will always sustain my daily service to the entire Church. For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart.
To special groups
I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience. In particular, I greet the members of the Pro Oriente Syriac Commission, and also the members of the British Parliament. Today, I invite you all to visit the specially decorated monument to the "cathedra" of Peter, in the Basilica. There, I ask you to pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten me and support me in my service to the Church. Thank you and may God bless you all!
Lastly, my thoughts go to the sick and the newly-weds. Dear sick people, offer to the Lord your moments of trial so that they may open the doors of hearts to the proclamation of the Gospel. And may you, dear newly-weds, always be witnesses of the love of Christ who has called you to achieve a common project of life.
The Feast of the Chair of St Peter is a particularly suitable day for announcing that next 24 March I will be holding a Consistory at which I will appoint new Members to the College of Cardinals. It is appropriate to make this announcement on the Feast of the Chair because the task of Cardinals is to sustain and assist the Successor of Peter in carrying out the apostolic office that has been entrusted to him at the service of the Church.
It is not by chance that in ancient ecclesiastical documents the Popes described the College of Cardinals as "pars corporis nostri" (cf. F.X. Wernz, Ius Decretalium, II, n. 459). In fact, the Cardinals form a sort of Senate that surrounds the Pope and of which he avails himself in carrying out the tasks connected with his ministry as the "lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion" (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 18).
With the creation of the new Cardinals, therefore, I intend to bring to 120 the number of Members Electors of the College of Cardinals, as fixed by Pope Paul VI of venerable memory (cf. AAS 65, 1973, p. 163).
The following are the names of the new Cardinals:
1.- Archbishop William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
2.- Archbishop Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;
3.- Archbishop Agostino Vallini, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;
4.- Archbishop Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela;
5.- Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila, the Philippines;
6.- Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France;
7.- Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain;
8.- Archbishop Nicholas Cheong-Jin-suk of Seoul, Korea;
9.- Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., of Boston, U.S.A.;
10.- Archbishop Stanis³aw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland;
11.- Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy;
12.- Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., of Hong Kong, China.
I have also decided to raise to the dignity of Cardinal three ecclesiastics who are older than 80, out of esteem for the services they have rendered to the Church with exemplary faithfulness and admirable dedication.
1. Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Archpriest of the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls;
2. Archbishop Peter Poreku Dery, Archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana;
3. Fr Albert Vanhoye, S.J., the former praiseworthy Rector of the Pontifical Institute the Biblicum, and Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: a great exegete.
The Church's universality is clearly reflected in the group of new Cardinals. Indeed, they come from various parts of the world and carry out different offices at the service of the People of God. I ask you to raise to God a special prayer to the Lord, so that he will grant them the necessary graces to carry out their mission generously.
As I said at the outset, I will be holding the announced Consistory next 24 March and the following day, 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I will have the joy of presiding at a solemn Concelebration with the new Cardinals. I also invite all the Members of the College of Cardinals to take part; I have in mind to organize a meeting with them for reflection and prayer on the previous day, 23 March.
Let us now end with the singing of the Pater Noster.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, with the Ash Wednesday Liturgy, the Lenten journey of 40 days begins that will lead us to the Easter Triduum, the memorial of the passion, death and Resurrection of the Lord, heart of the mystery of our salvation. It is a favourable time when the Church invites Christians to have a keener awareness of the redeeming work of Christ and to live their Baptism in greater depth.
Indeed, in this liturgical season, the People of God from the earliest times have drawn abundant nourishment from the Word of God to strengthen their faith, reviewing the entire history of creation and redemption.
With its 40-day duration, Lent has an indisputably evocative power. Indeed, it intends to recall some of the events that marked the life and history of ancient Israel, presenting its paradigmatic value anew also to us.
We think, for example, of the 40 days of the great flood that led to God's Covenant with Noah, and hence, with humanity, and of the 40 days that Moses spent on Mount Sinai, after which he was given the Tables of the Law.
The Lenten period is meant to serve as an invitation to relive with Jesus the 40 days he spent in the desert, praying and fasting, in preparation for his public mission.
Today, we too, together with all the world's Christians, are spiritually setting out towards Calvary on a journey of reflection and prayer, meditating on the central mysteries of the faith. We will thus prepare ourselves to experience, after the mystery of the Cross, the joy of Easter.
Today, an austere and symbolic gesture is being made in all parish communities: the imposition of ashes, and this rite is accompanied by two formulas, full of meaning, that are a pressing appeal to recognize that we are sinners and to return to God.
The first formula says: "Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you will return" (cf. Gn Gn 3,19). These words of the Book of Genesis call to mind the human condition placed under the sign of transience and limitation, and are meant to spur us once again to place our every hope in God alone.
The second formula refers to the words that Jesus spoke at the beginning of his itinerant ministry: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mc 1,15). This is an invitation to base our personal and community renewal on a firm and trusting attachment to the Gospel.
The Christian's life is a life of faith, founded on the Word of God and nourished by it. In the trials of life and in every temptation, the secret of victory lies in listening to the Word of truth and rejecting with determination falsehood and evil.
This is the true and central programme of the Lenten Season: to listen to the word of truth, to live, speak and do what is true, to refuse falsehood that poisons humanity and is the vehicle of all evils.
It is therefore urgently necessary in these 40 days to listen anew to the Gospel, the Word of the Lord, the word of truth, so that in every Christian, in every one of us, the understanding of the truth given to him, given to us, may be strengthened, so that we may live it and witness to it.
Lent encourages us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and thus to know the fundamental truth: who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what road to take in life. And thus, the Season of Lent offers us an ascetic and liturgical route which, while helping us to open our eyes to our weakness, opens our hearts to the merciful love of Christ.
The Lenten journey, by bringing us close to God, enables us to look upon our brethren and their needs with new eyes. Those who begin to recognize God, to look at the face of Christ, also see their brother with other eyes, discover their brother, what is good for him, what is bad for him, his needs.
Lent, therefore, as a time of listening to the truth, is a favourable moment to convert to love, because the deep truth, the truth of God, is at the same time love.
By converting to the truth of God, we must necessarily be converted to love; a love that knows how to make its own the Lord's attitude of compassion and mercy, as I wanted to recall in the Message for Lent, whose theme consists of the Gospel words: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity" (Mt 9,36).
Aware of her mission in the world, the Church never ceases to proclaim the merciful love of Christ, who continues to turn his compassionate gaze upon the people and peoples of every time. "In the face of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much of the world's population", I wrote in the above-mentioned Message for Lent, "indifference and self-centred isolation stand in stark contrast to the "gaze' of Christ. Fasting and almsgiving, which, together with prayer, the Church proposes in a special way during the Lenten Season, are suitable means for us to become conformed to this "gaze'" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 8 February 2006, p. 7), to the gaze of Christ, and to see ourselves, humanity, others, with his gaze.
In this spirit, let us enter the austere and prayerful atmosphere of Lent, which is truly an atmosphere of love for our brethren.
May these be days of reflection and of intense prayer, in which we let ourselves be guided by the Word of God, which the liturgy offers to us in abundance. May Lent also be a time of fasting, penance and watchfulness of ourselves, and may we be convinced that the fight against sin is never-ending, because temptation is a daily reality and we all experience fragility and delusion.
Lastly, through almsgiving and doing good to others, may Lent be an opportunity for sincere sharing with our brethren of the gifts that we have received, and of attention to the needs of the poorest and most abandoned people.
On this penitential journey, may we be accompanied by Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, who is a teacher of listening and of faithful adherence to God. May the Virgin Most Holy help us to arrive purified and renewed in mind and in spirit, to celebrate the great mystery of Christ's Pasch. With these sentiments, I wish you all a good and productive Lent.
To special groups:
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from Denmark, Japan, Pakistan and the United States of America. In particular, I greet the delegation of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders from America and also the many students present at this Audience. Upon all of you I invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace.
I address a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet those taking part in the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, accompanied by Mons. Walter Brandmüller. Dear friends, thank you for your service to the Holy See in the international field of historical studies; continue on your way as researchers in a spirit of fidelity to the Church and to historical truth.
Lastly, my thoughts go to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. May the Lenten Season that is beginning today lead each one of you to a more intimate knowledge of Christ, so that in your different situations you may have his same sentiments and do everything in communion with him.
Audiences 2006 34