Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI expressed his closeness to the people of Japan during his Angelus address to 40 thousand present in a rain-swept St Peter’s Square Sunday, stressing the "dignity and courage" of the "dear people” and praising the “commendable promptness" of rescuers. "The images of the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan – he said after the Marian prayer - have left us all deeply moved. I would like to renew my spiritual closeness to the dear people of that country, who, with dignity and courage, are facing the consequences of such disasters. I pray for the victims and their families, and for those who suffer in these terrible events. I encourage those who, with commendable promptness, are working to bring help. We remain united in prayer. The Lord is with us!. "
Before reciting the Angelus, the Pope underlined the significance of Lent, which, like the cross, "exists because there is evil, moreover according to Scriptures is the root cause of all evil. But this affirmation can not be taken for granted, in fact the very word 'sin' is not accepted by many, because it presupposes a religious vision of the world and mankind. It is indeed true: if you eliminate God from the horizon of the world, one can not speak of sin. Like when the sun is hiding, shadows disappear: shadows appears only if there is the sun, so the eclipse of God necessarily leads to the eclipse of sin. Therefore, the sense of sin - which is something different from the 'guilt' as understood by psychology – is only regained by rediscovering the sense of God. The Psalm Miserere expresses this, attributed to King David on his double sin of adultery and murder: 'Against you - David says, turning to God - only against you I have sinned (Ps 51.6).
"In the face of moral evil, God's attitude is to oppose the sin and save the sinner. God does not tolerate evil because He is Love, Justice, Loyalty, and for this reason does not want the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live. To save humanity, God intervenes: we see throughout the history of the Jewish people, from the liberation from Egypt. God is determined to free his children from bondage and lead them to freedom. And the most serious and deepest slavery is that of sin. That is why God sent his Son into the world, to free people from the dominion of Satan, 'origin and cause of all sin'. He sent Him in our mortal flesh that he might become an expiatory victim, dying on the cross for us. Against this definitive and universal plan of salvation, the Devil has opposed himself with all his strength, as evidenced in particular by the Gospel of Jesus' temptations in the desert, which is proclaimed every year on the first Sunday of Lent. In fact, entering this liturgical season means siding each time with Christ against sin, facing - both as individuals and as a Church - the spiritual battle against the spirit of evil (Ash Wednesday Prayer). "
Benedict XVI finally asked that “my collaborators of the Roman Curia and I be especially remembered in prayers as we begin our week of Spiritual Exercises this evening." This afternoon, in fact, in the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the Apostolic Palace, Benedict XVI will begin his Lenten retreat. The meditations on the theme: The light of Christ in the heart of the Church - John Paul II and the Theology of the Saints, will be led by Farther François-Marie Léthel, of the Discalced Carmelites, a Theology professor at the Pontifical Teresianum and secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
The exercises end Saturday morning, March 19, and during the week of meditation all appointments are suspended, including the general audience of Wednesday, March 16.