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The way of God and the way of man

· Thousands throng St Peter's Square for the Angelus before the Spiritual Exercises in the Vatican ·

The Pope's gratitude for the prayers of the faithful in these days

“Thank you for your prayers in these days, difficult for me”. Pope Ratzinger was addressing his compatriots and expressing his gratitude for their support. He picked them out in a square overflowing with people who had come from everywhere to express to him their admiration, gratitude and closeness. The German faithful announced themselves with a large poster on which was written, quite simply, “ Danke ” [thank you]. This word expresses the prevalent emotion of all those who gathered for the Angelus yesterday, 17 February – the second last Angelus of the pontificate, before the one scheduled for 24 February — to greet the Pope, joining him in prayer.

Benedict XVI gave them a precise instruction: seek the way of God which is not the way of man; and put back at the centre of life Christ, not egoism or the thirst for power. At every moment of our existence, he recalled, “we stand at a crossroads. Do we want to follow our own ego or God? Our individual interests or the true good... what is really good?” It is a question that must be answered without giving in to the temptation to “exploit God for one's own interests, preferring success or material possessions”.

After the prayer, the square broke into a roar of applause, full of warmth and affection. This applause burst out every time the Pope greeted the groups present in the various languages. He had a word of gratitude for them all. And he asked the Spanish in particular for prayers “for the next Pope”.

The meeting ended with Benedict XVI's Blessing and Greeting, with his classic gesture of stretching out his arms to the people and wiggling his fingers. Then the Pope disappeared behind the curtains of his window, gently closed, to make room for the silence in which he is now immersed for the week of Lenten Spiritual Exercises. Cardinal Ravasi is giving the meditations, which began on Sunday afternoon. For him too the leitmotif is the confrontation of the face of God and the face of man, experienced in the prayers of the Psalms.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 22, 2018

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