Prayer Helps Transfigure Us, Says John Paul II

Following Christ to the Cross Is Seen as Key

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2004 ( John Paul II presented Lent as a privileged time to discover and follow Christ through the transforming power of prayer.

The Pope made that proposal when commenting on the Gospel passage of today’s liturgy, the transfiguration of Christ.

«Lent invites us to follow Christ in the mystery of his prayer, source of light and strength in the hour of trial,» the Holy Father explained before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

«To pray, in fact, means to be immersed with the spirit in God in an attitude of humble adherence to his will,» the Pontiff said.

«From this confident abandonment in God derives the inner light that transfigures man, making him a witness of the Resurrection,» he added.

«However, this can only happen by listening to Christ and by following him docilely to the passion and cross,» he said.

The Pope explained that this was the exhortation that he wished to address «to the whole world 25 years ago, precisely at the beginning of Lent, in the encyclical ‘Redemptor Hominis.'» That document became a sort of manifesto of his pontificate.

John Paul II summarized the central message of that programmatic encyclical with these words: «If man wants to understand himself profoundly, he must draw near to Christ, he must enter in him, he must ‘appropriate’ to himself and assimilate the whole reality of the Redemption.»

This message continues to be very «timely» today, the Holy Father said. In the light of Christ and of his vision of the human being, it is possible «to build a world that is truly in the measure of man,» the Pope concluded.

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