Appeal on 1st Sunday of Lent

Pope Asks a "Contest of Solidarity" With Children

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today before praying the Angelus with the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square.



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1. On this First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel presents to us Christ who, after having received baptism from John in the Jordan, moved by the Holy Spirit withdraws into the desert and remains there for 40 days. The evangelical account presents to us the three known temptations, which are an echo of the ancient deceit with which Satan made our first parents fall. But Christ, the new Adam, overcomes them, resolutely rejecting the tempter: "It is said, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God'" (Luke 4:12).

2. Jesus' victory over the Evil One assures us that we will not succumb in the time of trial, if we remain united to the Lord. In this perspective, Lent invites us to special commitment in the spiritual journey.

I sent a message to the Church for the occasion, in which I wished to remember children in particular, too often innocent victims of the wickedness of men. The Church dedicates special attention to them because it was Christ himself who said to us "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me" (Matthew 18:5). May this period of the liturgical year be transformed into a generous contest of solidarity toward these little ones, especially those in the gravest dangers and difficulties.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite all of you to pray for this intention. Moreover, I ask you to accompany me in the Spiritual Exercises that will begin, as every year, this evening. Collaborators of the Roman Curia will participate with me. May the attentive Virgin render fruitful for us all these days of silence, meditation and intense communion with Christ.

[Translation by ZENIT]