An estimated 200,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the final Angelus address of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy. Greeted by cheers and songs, the Holy Father thanked the faithful for their affection. Pope Benedict will officially resign from the See of St. Peter this Thursday at 8:00pm.
Speaking on the Sunday gospel regarding the Lord's transfiguration, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the significance of Jesus' transfiguration while he was praying.
"Jesus’ [prayer] is a profound experience of his relationship with the Father during a kind of spiritual retreat on a high mountain together with Peter, James, and John, the 3 disciples who are always present in the moments of the Master’s divine manifestations," the Holy Father said.
Pope Benedict went on to emphasize the importance of prayer, saying that without it, any work of the "apostolate and charity is reduced to activism."
"Moreover, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wished to do on Tabor. Prayer, rather, leads us back to the journey, to action. 'The Christian life,' I wrote in my Message for this Lent, 'consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love.'
The Holy Father spoke on his impending retirement, saying that the Word of God addresses him in a particular, to which the faithful responded with applause.
"The Lord is calling me to “scale the mountain,” to dedicate myself still more to prayer and to meditation," the Pope said. "But this does not mean abandoning the Church – on the contrary, if God asks this of me, it is to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to do so hitherto, but in a way that is more adapted to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she help us always to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and in active charity."
Eyes Fixed on Christ
Addressing the English speaking pilgrims who were present, Pope Benedict conveyed his "gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer" since announcing his retirement on February 11th.
"As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!" the Pope said.
Concluding his address, Pope Benedict XVI again thanked the pilgrims, and called on the faithful to continue to pray for him and the Church.
"I thank you for the affection and for sharing, especially in prayer, this important moment for me and for the Church. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you! We are always close in prayer," the Holy Father said.
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On ZENIT's web page:
For the full text of Pope Benedict's Final Angelus Address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/on-the-transfiguration--4