First Sunday of Lent

A Time of Interior Struggle Leading to Peace

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address read on behalf of John Paul II by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute of the Vatican Secretariat of State before praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. We gather in this place to praise the Lord. First of all, I would like to thank you and all those following this moment on radio and television, for your closeness, affection and, above all, for your prayers during the days of my hospitalization in the Gemelli Polyclinic.

I always feel the need of your help before the Lord to fulfill the mission Jesus has entrusted to me.

2. Last Wednesday, with the rite of ashes, we began Lent, liturgical time which every year reminds us of a fundamental truth: we do not enter eternal life without carrying our cross in union with Christ. We do not attain to happiness and peace without facing the interior struggle with courage. It is a struggle that is overcome with the weapons of penance: prayer, fasting, and works of mercy. All this must be lived in a hidden way, without hypocrisy, in a spirit of sincere love for God and for our brethren.

3. This afternoon, as every year, I will begin Spiritual Exercises, together with my collaborators of the Curia. In silence and recollection, I will pray to the Lord for all the needs of the Church and the world. I ask you also, dear brothers and sisters, to support me with your prayer.

May Mary Most Holy, who in the midst of her daily concerns had her mind and heart directed permanently to the mystery of her Son, guide us to make a fruitful Lenten journey.

[After praying the Angelus, Archbishop Sandri added on behalf of the Pope:]

While I continue to pray for peace in the Middle East, I make a profound appeal for the liberation of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and all those kidnapped in Iraq.

[Then, on behalf of the Holy Father, Archbishop Sandri read messages in French, English, Spanish, Italian and Polish. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, including the members of the Schola Cantorum of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, London. May God bless you and your families!

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