VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2005 ( History "is not in the hands of dark powers," but in God's hands, says Benedict XVI, calling the faithful to confidence.

The Holy Father commented today in the general audience on the canticle of praise of Revelation (15:3-4), thus continuing with the series of reflections, begun by John Paul II, on the Psalms and canticles of vespers, the evening prayer of the Church.

History is "not in the hands of dark powers, chance or human choices," assured the Bishop of Rome, who boarded a white open jeep to greet the 20,000 pilgrims present in St. Peter's square.

"Over the unleashing of evil energies, the vehement irruption of Satan, and the emergence of so many scourges and evils, the Lord rises, supreme arbiter of historical events," he added.

"God is not indifferent to human events, but penetrates them realizing his 'ways,' namely his plans and efficacious 'deeds,'" said the Holy Father.

"This divine intervention has a very specific purpose: to be a sign that invites all the peoples of the earth to conversion … Nations must learn to 'read' in history a message of God," he explained in his address, written in Italian.

Benedict XVI emphasized that "humanity's history is not confused and without meaning, nor is it given over, without appeal, to the malfeasance of the arrogant and perverse." In fact, "there is the possibility to recognize divine action hidden in it."

The Pope reminded his listeners that in the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," the believer is invited "to scrutinize, in the light of the Gospel, the signs of the times to see in them the manifestation of the very action of God."

"This attitude of faith leads man to recognize the power of God operating in history, and thus to open himself to fear of the name of the Lord," a fear that "does not coincide with dread, but is the recognition of the mystery of the divine transcendence," he said.

"Thanks to fear of the Lord there is no fear of the evil that rages in history and one takes up again with vigor the journey of life," the Pontiff explained, repeating Christ's words on the last evening of his earthly life: "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

As he did last Wednesday, the Holy Father put his papers to one side at a certain point, this time to quote John XXIII, who used to say: "One who believes does not tremble, as he must not be afraid of the world or the future."

On this occasion, the Pope also greeted pilgrims in numerous languages, including Polish and Lithuanian and, for the first time, Portuguese.

At the end of the catechesis, the Holy Father again went among the faithful to greet them. Many cried out in Italian "Be-ne-de-to!" (Be-ne-dict).

The series of reflections made by John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the Psalms and biblical canticles are posted in the Wednesday's Audience section of ZENIT's Web page.