Pope Benedict delivers one of final messages to large crowd

(Photo: Vatican Radio screenshot)Pope Benedict XVI greets a crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City on February 17, 2013.

Benedict XVI, set to retire at the end of the month, led tens of thousands on Sunday in his second-to-last Angelus prayer and gave those gathered a reflection linked to the first week of Lent.

Pope Benedict recited the prayer of Marian devotion from his window in the Apostolic Palace high above St. Peter's Square. The pope is set to resign on February 28.

"In this Year of Faith, Lent is a favorable time to rediscover the faith in God as the basic criterion of our life and the life of the Church," he said, according to Vatican Radio.

He said the spirit of evil, which is opposed to the sanctification of believers, is seeking to throw them off the path God has set for each individual.

He explained that for that reason the Catholic Church traditionally proclaims the Gospel narrative of Christ's temptation by Satan in the desert on the first Sunday of Lent.

"The tempter is subtle: he does not push us directly toward evil, but to a false good," he said.

He added that what is ultimately at stake in temptations is faith.

"In the decisive moments of life, but, if we look closely, in every moment, we are at a crossroads: do we want to follow the self or God?"

He urged God for strength to fight weaknesses.

"Today we contemplate Christ in the desert, fasting, praying, and being tempted. As we begin our Lenten journey, we join him and we ask him to give us strength to fight our weaknesses. Let me also thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me in these days. May God bless all of you!"

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