Man is precious dust in God’s eyes. At the general audience Benedict XVI reflected on the two formulae used for the imposition of ashes: "Repent and believe in the Gospel," and "Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return."
“The first call is to conversion, a word that must be taken in its extraordinary seriousness, discovering the amazing novelty it contains”, he said. “Conversion is the total 'yes' of the one who gives his own existence to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ."
Taking up the second formula, Benedict XVI said the Word of God "reminds us of our frailty, including our death, which is the extreme expression of our frailty."
"Man is dust and to dust he shall return, but he is precious dust in God's eyes, because God created man for immortality," he declared.
"With the imposition of ashes," the Pontiff reflected, "we renew our commitment to follow Jesus, to allow ourselves to be transformed by his Paschal Mystery, to overcome evil and do good, to have the 'old man' in us die, the one linked to sin, and to have the 'new man' be born, transformed by the grace of God."
He ended with his customary greetings to youth, the sick and newlyweds. He exhorted the young people “to live Lent with a genuine penitential spirit, as a return to the Father, who awaits all with open arms."
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2010
Christ came into the world to free us from sin and the dangerous fascination of planning our lives without God. The Holy Father explained before and after praying the Angelus. “Lent is a long “retreat,” during which we return to ourselves and listen to God’s voice to overcome the temptations of the Evil One and find the truth of our being. It is a time, we could say, of spiritual “contest” to live together with Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the weapons of faith, that is, prayer, listening to God’s Word and penance.”
“If we carry the Word of God in our heart and in our mind, if it enters into our lives, if we have confidence in God, we can reject any sort of deception of the Tempter.” He said
“The world improves beginning with ourselves, changing what is not right in our lives with the grace of God.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010
Other papal messages and activities.
Christianity is a gift, the Pope said when he met with about 200 seminarian students of the Diocese of Rome. For the first time, all of the seminarians of Rome gathered to meet with the Holy Father, including those of the Pontifical Roman Minor Seminary, the Diocesan College "Redemptoris Mater," the Almo Collegio Capranica and the Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love. ROME, FEB. 15, 2010
Witness awakens vocations. Fidelity to one's own vocation to religious or consecrated life is the key to helping youth respond with generosity to Christ's call, Benedict XVI wrote in his message for vocation prayer day, which this year falls on April 25. "Jesus is the supreme Witness to God and to his concern for the salvation of all," he said and he stated that "to imitate Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, and to identify with him: This is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history."
“Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation,” he affirmed, “radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness”. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2010
Benedict XVI held a summit with the bishops of Ireland regarding recent revelations about the sexual abuse of minors by clergy. The Pope's call for all of the bishops to join him in Rome for discussions, was announced Jan. 20, and is called an "unprecedented move," according to Vatican Radio. The Pope affirmed that "the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image," a press release noted. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2010
The Pope reflected on the meaning of Lent. He celebrated Ash Wednesday with a Mass at the Basilica of Santa Sabina. The Holy Father had ashes placed on his head, according to the traditional rite.
"Adam was expelled from the earthly paradise, the symbol of communion with God," he said. "Now, in order to return to that communion and thus to true life, to eternal life we must pass through the desert, the test of faith. Not alone but with Jesus! He, as always, precedes us and has already won the battle against the spirit of evil."
"This is the meaning of Lent," the Holy Father affirmed, "the liturgical time that, each year, invites us to renew our decision to follow Christ on the path of humility in order to participate in his victory over sin and death." ROME, FEB. 18, 2010
Benedict XVI will visit a Lutheran church in Rome for a German-language service in which both he and a Lutheran pastor will give homilies. The visit will take place March 14. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2010
Benedict XVI's annual spiritual exercises will focus this year on a phrase from 1 Kings: "Give me, Lord, an understanding heart." Benedict XVI entrusted his spiritual exercises that started today to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, asking her to pray that Lent be a time lived "with joy and fruit."
Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo was selected to preach the seven-day retreat. During the week all papal audiences will be suspended, including the general audience of Wednesday, Feb. 24. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010
The Church will proclaim six saints later this year, Benedict XVI announced. Mary MacKillop, Australian, is one of them. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2010
The prime minister of Lebanon visited Benedict XVI in the Vatican. The Holy See communiqué affirmed that "attention turned to the situation in Lebanon with the hope being expressed that the country, through the exemplary coexistence of the various religious communities of which it is composed, may continue to be a 'message' for the region of the Middle East and for the whole world. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010
The Pope received personnel from two Italian aviation agencies, accompanied by Altero Matteoli, the nation's transportation minister. In crowded airport terminals, what must be protected above all is respect for the person, Benedict Xvi observed. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010
A prayer for the Holy Father
Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.
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