Pope Benedict XVI during his general audience on Ash Wednesday asked for prayers for himself and the future Pope that the Lord will guide both of them.
Despite the fact that only 3500 tickets had been distributed for the Wednesday general audience, thousands more flocked to the Paul VI hall hoping to gain access to the audience.
Once again as part of his address Pope Benedict returned to the themes of the protection of the lives of the unborn and the preservation of Christian marriage and the family. The Pope also mentioned the importance of family in his address to IFAD the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
The following are extracts from Pope Benedict’s address but the complete address may be found on this link.
Overcoming the temptation to place God in submission to oneself and one’s own interests or to put Him in a corner and converting oneself to the proper order of priorities, giving God the first place, is a journey that every Christian must undergo. "Conversion", an invitation that we will hear many times in Lent, means following Jesus in so that his Gospel is a real life guide, it means allowing God transform us, no longer thinking that we are the only protagonists of our existence, recognizing that we are creatures who depend on God, His love, and that only by “losing" our life in Him can we truly have it. This means making our choices in the light of the Word of God. Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.
Pope Benedict to IFAD
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
IFAD knows from experience that the family is at the heart of the social order, and what serves to regulate family life, prior to the laws of a State or international norms, are the moral principles inscribed in the natural patrimony of values which are immediately identifiable in the rural world as well. These principles inspire the conduct of individuals, the relationship between spouses and between generations, and the sense of shared ownership. To ignore this reality, or to fail to recognize it, would be to undermine the foundations not only of the family, but of the entire rural community, with consequences whose gravity is easily foreseeable.