.- With Lent approaching, Benedict XVI set aside yesterday’s Angelus gathering as a time of prayer for the different areas around the world in need of peace and for those who work to defend life in all its stages.
The Holy Father began his prayer intentions by recalling that Saturday marked the Day of Consecrated Life. He then called on the faithful to offer prayers for all those people whom "Christ calls to follow Him more closely with a special form of consecration.”
"Another prayer intention", said the Holy Father, "is offered to us by the Day for Life which is being celebrated today in Italy and which has as its theme 'Serving life'".
This Day for Life should draw each person, according to their ability, to “feel in themselves an obligation to love and serve life, from its beginning to its natural end. It is, in fact, everyone's duty to welcome human life as a gift to be respected, protected and promoted, even more so when it is fragile and in need of attention and care, either before birth or when it is in its final stages," the Pope said.
Those who help the elderly were prayed for by the Pontiff. He described these servants as those who "with exertion but with joy, without fuss but with great dedication, assist elderly or disabled relatives", and those who "regularly consecrate part of their time to helping people of all ages whose lives are burdened by so many different forms of poverty".
On the subject of Lent, which begins next Wednesday, Benedict XVI asked that it "be a time of authentic conversion for all Christians, who are called to an ever more authentic and courageous witness of their faith".
The Holy Father finished his remarks by reminding everyone that, from yesterday and up to and including February 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 150th anniversary of the apparitions there, "it is possible to receive a plenary indulgence, which may be applied to the deceased, under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in keeping with the intentions of the Holy Father) and by praying before a blessed image of Our Lady of Lourdes exposed to public veneration. For the sick and elderly this is possible if they formulate such a desire in their hearts".