In yesterday's observance of Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father took part in a penitential procession from the Church of Sant'Anselma all'Aventino, which is near the Vatican, to the Basilica di Santa Sabina. There, he presided at Mass and the imposition of ashes for Ash Wednesday.
In his homily, Pope Benedict offered St. Paul as an example for the Lenten lifestyle. He concluded his homily by asking that Lent, "marked by more
frequent contact with the Word of God, by more intense prayer, and by a severe
and penitential lifestyle, be a stimulus to convert and to love our brothers
and sisters, especially the poor and needy."
Asia News and Zenit have articles, and Vatican Information Service has a press release. Vatican Radio has an audio report with an explanation about the processions to station churches during Lent, given by Father Robert Ombres, O.P. Procurator General of the Order of Preachers, who lives at the Priory of Santa Sabina.
As they have done every year for a long time, the Irish Jesuits at Sacred Space have a guided Sacred Space Lenten Retreat online. The recommended schedule is from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with a lunch break and with mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, together with Franciscan Radio, are offering a USCCB Lenten Radio Retreat. Each week, a bishop will offer a 10-minute homily on the Sunday's Gospel, answer questions, and offer a blessing. There is also a weekly musical offer. Each program is about 30 minutes. The bishops include Abp. Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Bp. Blase J. Cupich, Bp. Gerald R. Barnes, Cardinal William H. Keeler, Bp. Joseph A. Gallante, and Bp. Donald W. Wuerl.
The Godzdogz team of Dominican brothers are offering a Godzdogz Lenten Retreat of daily reflections on the Mass readings for each day, with slightly longer reflections for Sundays and feast days during Lent.
In his words at today's Angelus, the Sunday before the beginning of Lent, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of today's Gospel reading for Mass about the healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12). In the Gospel, Jesus healed the paralyzed man so "that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth." The Holy Father said, "In effect, sin is a sort
of paralysis of the spirit from which only the power of God’s merciful
love can free us, allowing us to get up and restart our journey on the
path of goodness." On today's Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, he also spoke of the primacy of Rome, as supported in the writings of the Church Fathers and Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, 13).
KTO French Catholic TV has a special 50-minute broadcast and a documentary for this jubilee year, marking the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney, the Curé d'Ars. The special broadcast will air today at 20.40 (1:40 p.m. Pacific Time), with re-broadcasts on Friday and Sunday, and will be available shortly in KTO's collection of videos on demand to watch online at your convenience. The documentary (Named after St. Jean Vianney's saying, "Where the saints go, God goes with them") is about the life of St. Jean Vianney. The documentary's broadcast will follow the special today at 21.45.
Even if you do not understand French, you may find the broadcasts interesting for the pictures. (There is a photo album of my pictures from Ars on this blog, by the way.)
Here is the Pope's English-language greeting from the end of the audience:
"In our catechesis on the early Christian writers of East and West,
we now turn to Saint Bede the Venerable. A monk of the monastery of
Wearmouth in England, Bede became one of the most learned men of the
early Middle Ages and a prolific author, while also gaining a
reputation for great holiness and wisdom. His scriptural commentaries
highlight the unity of the Old and New Testaments, centred on the
mystery of Christ and the Church. Bede is best known, however, for his
historical writings, in which he traced the history of the Church from
the Acts of the Apostles, through the age of the Fathers and Councils,
and down to his own times. His Ecclesiastical History recounts the
Church’s missionary expansion and growth among the English people.
Bede’s rich ecclesial, liturgical and historical vision enable his
writings to serve as a guide for the Church’s teachers, pastors and
religious in living out their vocations in the service of the Church’s
mission. His great learning and the sanctity of his life, earned Bede
the title of "Venerable", while the rapid spread of his writings made
him a highly influential figure in the building of a Christian Europe."
V. Let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI:
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. You are Peter.
R. And upon this Rock I will build my Church.
Let us pray.
God our Father, Shepherd and Guide, look with love on your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, the pastor of your Church. Grant that his word and example may inspire and guide the Church and that he, and all those entrusted to his care, may come to the joy of everlasting life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Mother of the Church, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
Also from Papa Ratzinger Forum, Teresa Benedetta has an English translation of an article by French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, about the Pope's gesture of reconciliation to the LeFebvrists, and the need to pray for Christians in other confessions as we work for unity.
In his address at today's midday Angelus, Pope Benedict spoke about the Sacrament of Penance, speaking from today's Gospel reading for Mass, Mark 1:40-45, about Jesus healing a leper. He explained that under the ancient Jewish law, leprosy was not only an illness but also a form of impurity, and a symbol of sin. The miracle is symbolic. "In the Sacrament of Penance, Christ
crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his
infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and
with our brothers, and gives us his love, his joy, and his peace." In his English language greeting, the Pope also said, "In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear how
Jesus healed a leper who came to him and pleaded to be cured. To those who turn
to him today, Jesus continues to offer healing and strength."