The first Sunday of Lent marked the start of the annual retreat for the Roman Curia in the Vatican's Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the presence of the Holy Father. Archbishop Angelo Comastri, prelate of Loreto, is the retreat master and he will speak on the theme 'God is Love.' All week there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9am; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 am, vespers and meditation at 5 pm; meditation, the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction at 6.15pm. On Saturday morning, March 15, the spiritual exercises of the Roman Curia will conclude with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation. During this retreat all audiences have been cancelled. In reflections before praying the Angelus on Sunday, Pope John Paul asked the faithful gathered in St Peter's Square to pray for him and the Roman Curia. "During this week of silence and prayer," he said, "I will bear in mind the needs of the Church and the concerns of all mankind, above all for peace in Iraq and the Holy Land." The Holy Father said that "purifying one's conscience and converting one's heart to true peace are more than ever necessary in the context of the current world situation." Referring to the icon of Christ who unmasks and vanquishes Satan, the Pope said that "within every man echoes both the voice of God and the insidious one of evil. The latter seeks to deceive man, seducing him with the prospect of false goods, to take him away from the true good, which consists of doing the divine will. But humble and trusting prayer, strengthened by fasting, allow us to overcome even the harshest trials and fill us with the courage to fight evil with good. Lent is a time of fruitful training for the Spirit."
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