More than 200,000 people attended the final Angelus of Benedict XVI’s pontificate on Sunday, February 24 in which he told the faithful that he was not abandoning the Church, but that the Lord was calling him to dedicate himself to prayer.
The Vatican Information Service is reporting that the crowd was so large they had to use huge screens to enable those who could not fit into St. Peter’s Square to see the Pope at the window of his study. He was welcomed with thunderous applause, and took a few moments to comment on the day’s Gospel which was the story of the Transfiguration.
“Luke the Evangelist,” he said, “places particular attention on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as He prayed. . . Meditating on this Gospel passage, we can draw a very important teaching from it. First of all, the primacy of prayer, without which the entire commitment of ministry and charity is reduced to activism. During Lent we learn to give the proper time to the prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. . .
“I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way at this moment of my life. The Lord has called me to ‘scale the mountain’, to dedicate myself still more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church. If God asks me this it is precisely so that I might continue to serve her with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to give up to now, but in a way more suitable to my age and my strength. . . ”
After praying the Angelus, the Pope thanked everyone for expressing their closeness and for keeping him in their prayers in these days.
In Italian, he bade farewell to the faithful, saying: “Thank you, again. We will always be close in prayer.”
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