“May the Virgin Mary help us so that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we live this time of grace with joy and fruit.”

Here is a part of the address Benedict XVI gave on Feb. 21, 2010 before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Benedict XVI entrusted his spiritual exercises that started today to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, asking her to pray that Lent be a time lived “with joy and fruit.”

Pope Benedict XVI said a “basic teaching” for us: “If we carry the Word of God in our heart and in our mind, if it enters into our lives, if we have confidence in God, we can reject any sort of deception of the Tempter.”

Thus, the Pope said, Lent can be considered a long retreat, “during which we return to ourselves and listen to God’s voice to overcome the temptations of the Evil One and find the truth of our being. It is a time, we could say, of spiritual ‘contest’ to live together with Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the weapons of faith, that is, prayer, listening to God’s Word and penance.”

Following this itinerary, the Holy Father suggested, “we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our baptism.”

He concluded: “May the Virgin Mary help us so that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we live this time of grace with joy and fruit. May she especially intercede for me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia since this evening we will begin our retreat.”

Prayer of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, as he starts his week-long Lenten retreat, February 21, 2010.

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