God protects, guides his people through hardships, Pope Benedict says
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a child as he leaves a prayer service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.
(CNS photo from Catholic Press Photo)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God will watch over and protect his people at all times, even as they encounter life's dangers, temptations and hardships, Pope Benedict XVI said at his May 4 weekly general audience.
"The divine shepherd knows no rest in his work of protecting his people," he said. "God will take care of us at every moment with love, protecting our life from every evil."
For his second general audience since his election April 19, Pope Benedict gave his first catechesis on a series of psalms and canticles Pope John Paul II had begun before his death April 2.
In Psalm 121, "a psalm of trust," Pope Benedict said that God is shown to be the vigilant, attentive and caring "custodian" or "sentinel" that guards his people, keeping them "from every risk and danger."
But at one point the pope broke off from his one-and-a-half-page written text in Italian to look up at some 12,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square and explain how this ancient psalm still has resonance today in people's lives.
As the psalmist speaks of the men and women of Israel who on their long journey toward Jerusalem resisted the temptations of the pagan temples on the hills by holding to their faith in God, Pope Benedict said people today will face similar temples of deceit on "our pilgrimage of life."
The lofty ideals of "wealth, power, prestige, a comfortable life, (are) heights which are temptations because they really appear to be the promise of life," the pope said apart from his prepared text.
"But we in our faith" in God know that these "summits are not true, are not life," he said.
Returning to his prepared text, Pope Benedict said those who put their faith in God have the "confidence of not being abandoned" during times of "trial, the assault of evil, persecution."
God protects at all times, "even during the night of our life," he said.
Before the start of the audience, Pope Benedict shook hands and blessed dozens of sick men and women, many in wheelchairs, who were seated in a special section near his chair.
The pope went slowly up and down each of the three rows, greeting each person and touching their foreheads in blessing. Some were visibly moved to tears.
Also, instead of receiving newlyweds and other audience members at the end of the audience as was Pope John Paul's custom, before starting the audience Pope Benedict went up to greet them in their special section of seats.
Blocked off from the pope by a barricade and guards, grooms in tuxedos made sure their brides were up front to get the pope's handshake. The most exuberant of that group were the Italian seminarians who were almost leaping over the wooden fence to touch the pope.
The pope entered St. Peter's Square in his white, open-air jeep. He stood waving and greeting the thousands of pilgrims, reacting to the people's cheers and cries with a smile or nod of the head.
After his catechesis, the pope gave a summary in French, English, German and Spanish.
He also gave short greetings to pilgrims in Croatian, Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, Polish and Lithuanian, or as the pope joked, what he hoped "had turned out to be Lithuanian."
The pope ended his audience with a reminder that the month of May was dedicated to Mary, and he called on young people to "turn to the school of Mary in order to learn to love and follow Christ."

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