Pope Underlines Need for Reflection on God's Love
Encourages Lenten Prayer Time, Retreat for Spiritual Growth
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).-
Benedict XVI is emphasizing the need for prayer as a means of spiritual growth, to unite one's will with God and immerse oneself in his love.
The Pope affirmed this today in an address to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Angelus.
He spoke about his retreat last week, noting that "it was a week of silence and prayer: the mind and heart were able to dedicate themselves entirely to God, to listening to his Word, to meditation on the mysteries of Christ."
The Pontiff likened his retreat experience to that of the apostles who saw Jesus transfigured on the mountain. He explained, "Jesus wanted his disciples, especially those who would have the responsibility of leading the newborn Church, to directly experience his divine glory, to be able to face the scandal of the cross."
They needed this prayer to help them in the difficult moments, he said, like in Gethsemane when they realized that they needed "the grace of Christ" to "sustain them and help them to believe in the resurrection."
The Holy Father emphasized, "Jesus' transfiguration was essentially an experience of prayer."
Union with God
He continued: "Prayer, in fact, reaches its culmination -- and thus becomes the source of interior light -- when the spirit of man adheres to that of God and their wills join almost to form a single will.
"When Jesus ascends the mountain he immerses himself in the contemplation of the Father's plan of love, who sent him into the world to save humanity."
Benedict XVI affirmed that in the moment "Jesus sees the cross outlined before him, the extreme sacrifice necessary to liberate us from the reign of sin and death, [...] in his heart he once again repeats his 'Amen.'"
"He says yes, here I am, let your will of love be done, Father," the Pope noted.
He said, "Together with fasting and works of mercy, prayer forms the essential structure of our spiritual life."
The Pontiff exhorted his listeners to "find in this time of Lent moments of prolonged silence, perhaps a retreat, to reflect again on your life in the light of heavenly Father's plan of love."
He continued: "Let the Virgin Mary, teacher and model of prayer, be your guide in this more intense listening to God."