Pope says retreat can strengthen faith

As he prepared to begin his weeklong Lenten retreat, Pope Benedict XVI said Lent is a time to examine one's life in an atmosphere of prayer and repentance.

Citing the ancient Israelites who wandered in the desert and Jesus who retreated to the desert before beginning his public ministry, the pope said a period of withdrawal and face-to-face confrontation with temptation strengthens one's faith.

Meditating on biblical desert scenes, he said, "We understand that in order to fully realise our lives in freedom, the trial that freedom itself brings, that is, temptation, must be overcome."

"Only freed from the slavery of falsehood and sin thanks to obedience to the faith that opens him to the truth can the human person find the full meaning of his existence and obtain peace, love and joy," the pope said.

He asked Catholics to pray for him and top Vatican officials while they were on retreat, and he promised to keep everyone in his own prayers.

The retreat, which includes formal prayer, spiritual lectures and eucharistic adoration, includes morning and late-afternoon sessions.

Cardinal Marco Ce of Venice, Italy, who was asked by the pope to preach at the retreat said that the central message of his talks, "is the message of Easter: God loves our world and wants to save it through the death and resurrection of Jesus."

"I want to give everyone a message of hope," the cardinal said.

Cardinal Ce said the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving "are three works capable of forming a lifestyle that can change the world."

Pope says prayer, repentance, retreat can strengthen faith (Catholic News Service 6/3/06)

Christian values indispensable in world of business (Vatican Information Service 6/3/06)
President of Italian Senate received by the Pope (Vatican Information Service 6/3/06)
Freedom from sin in order to find peace and happiness (Vatican Information Service 6/3/06)
Pope to get a Scottish invite (Edinburgh Evening News 6/3/06)
Works of charity must not substitute for commitment to social justice, Pope tells Italian business leaders (Catholic News Agency 6/3/06)
True route to happiness, fulfillment is freedom from sin and lies, says Pope for first Sunday Lenten message (Catholic News Agency 6/3/06)
Sandro Magister: The Neocatechumenals Obey the Pope - But in Their Own Way (L'Espresso 6/3/06)
Sin bars the road to happiness, Pope says (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
New appointments for Vatican posts (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Vatican leaders pause for Lenten Retreat (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Plans in place for July papal trip to Spain (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Pope meets with Italian political figure, former co-author (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Furor over Pope's pre-election audience for Berlusconi (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Set high moral standards, Pope asks entrepreneurs (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Preacher tells Vatican leaders: match actions to words (Catholic World News 6/3/06)
Pope to visit Britain (Ekklesia 6/3/06)
Pope condemns 'ongoing colonial-style abuse of Africa' (Independent Catholic News 6/3/06)
Bishops invite Pope to visit Britain (Independent Catholic News 6/3/06)
Political storm in Italy over papal audience (Reuters/swissinfo 6/3/06)
True Freedoms Leads to Fulfilled Life, Says Pope (Zenit 5/3/06)
Benedict XVI and Curia Begin Lenten Retreat (Zenit 5/3/06)
Pope Emphasizes Justice and Love to Businessmen (Zenit 5/3/06)
Pontiff Meets With President of Italian Senate (Zenit 5/3/06)
Pope Benedict XVI: On Temptation (Zenit 5/3/06)

7 Mar 2006