Pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday to pray the Angelus prayer at noon with Pope Benedict XVI. In his remarks, the Pontiff spoke of the importance of angels and also prayed for those struggling in uncertain financial times.
The topic of discussion was prompted by the Pope's commentary on the Gospel of today, the First Sunday of Lent. The Gospel of Mark notes that angels "ministered to" Jesus in the desert. "The angels are the counterpoint of Satan," the Holy Father explained.
After detailing the presence of angels in the Old and New Testament, Benedict XVI noted, "The angels ministered to Jesus, who is certainly superior to them, and his dignity is here proclaimed in the Gospel in a clear but discreet way." He added: "In fact, even in the situation of extreme poverty and humility, when he is tempted by Satan, Jesus remains the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord."
The Pontiff continued by reaffirming the importance of prayer to angels, "messengers of God," and by asking for prayers to them on behalf of himself and the Roman Curia, who today begin their Lenten spiritual exercises.
The Holy Father then acknowledged the difficult global economic times as he greeted workers from a Fiat automobile factory near Naples, Italy. He noted that they had come "to demonstrate their concern over the future of that factory and of the thousands of people who, directly or indirectly, depend on it for work."
"I join," he said, "the bishops and the respective local Churches in expressing my nearness to the families affected by this problem, and I entrust them in prayer to protection of Mary Most Holy and of St. Joseph, patron of workers." He added: "I wish to express my encouragement to the authorities, both political and civil, and also to business owners, so that this delicate moment can be addressed with the cooperation of all. There is a need, in fact, for a strong common effort, recalling that the priority must be given to workers and their families."
Pope Benedict also greeted English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus. He told them: "On this First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of Saint Mark speaks of Jesus being lead into the desert by the Holy Spirit, tempted by Satan and assisted by the angels. Let us pray that our Lenten journey will strengthen us in the struggle against all forms of temptation. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings, and I wish you a pleasant Sunday and a happy stay in Rome!"