Pope encourages devotion to angels

 Pope Benedict reflected on the significance of angels during his Angelus address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square for the first Sunday of Lent, yesterday.

Speaking about the Gospel reading (Mark 1: 12) he said: "At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk 1:12). "In the desert, the place of trial - as the experience of the people of Israel shows - there appears the dramatic reality of the 'kenosis,' the emptying of Christ, who is stripped of the form of God. He, who did not sin and cannot sin, submits himself to trial and thus can have compassion for our infirmities. He lets himself be tempted by Satan, the adversary, who had opposed himself to God's salvific plan for men from the very beginning."

Benedict XVI then reflected on another point in the Gospel: the angels, luminous and mysterious figures that "served" Jesus; "They are the counterpoint to Satan." After explaining that "Angel" means "one who is sent," the Holy Father said: "We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God...On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty. A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return."

Before reciting the the Angelus, the Holy Father emphasized the fact that "we would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence." He then exhorted the faithful to call upon them often, "that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him," and in particular, that they watch over Pope and the Roman Curia during their Spiritual Exercises this week.

After the Angelus, the Pope greeted a group of workers who had come to Saint Peter's Square to show their concern for the future of their jobs, and reflecting on the many similarly difficult situations, in Italy and other countries, he said: "I unite myself to the Bishops and the respective local Churches in expressing my closeness to the families affected by the problem and I entrust them in prayer to the protection of the Most Blessed Mother Mary and Saint Joseph, patron of workers. I also wish to express my encouragement to both the political and civil authorities, as well as business owners, that through the collaboration of all involved, they may respond to this delicate situation. There is a need, in fact, for a firm shared effort in recalling that the priority should be the workers and their families."

Source: Fides

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