The Vatican today invited the entire Church to pray with cardinals when they dedicate tomorrow afternoon, March 6th, to prayer and adoration in St. Peter's basilica for the upcoming papal election. The prayers begin at 5pm Rome time (11a.m. EST).
According to Vatican Information Service:
"[At this morning's general congregation] there was also a proposal, endorsed by the Particular Congregation, to dedicate tomorrow afternoon to prayer in St. Peter's Basilica. The Cardinal Dean, Angelo Sodano, will lead the prayers. This initiative will also serve as an invitation to the entire Church to pray at this important moment. The ceremony is open to the public so any faithful who so desire may attend."
UPDATE: You can follow them in prayer with this booklet just published by the Vatican.
At today's press briefing on the conclave, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi also made the following points:
* The cardinals sent a telegram (pictured) to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI this morning. Signed by Cardinal Dean Sodano, It reads:
“To His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Castel Gandolfo.
The Cardinal Fathers, gathered at the Vatican for the General Congregations in view of the next conclave, send you their devoted greetings and express their renewed gratitude for all your illustrious Petrine ministry and for your example of generous pastoral care for the good of the Church and of the world. With their gratitude they hope to represent the recognition of the entire Church for your tireless work in the vineyard of the Lord. In conclusion, the members of the College of Cardinals trust in your prayers for them, as well as for the whole Church.”
* No date has been fixed for the start of the conclave, and it's not possible to guess when it might be announced. "It might be tomorrow, it might not be," Fr. Lombardi said, adding that the cardinals don't want to rush the vote but discuss the state of the Church before voting on the best person to lead it.
* Referring to this morning's congregation, Fr. Lombardi said a total of 148 cardinals were present, including 110 of the 115 cardinal-electors. The remaining five are on their way. Fr. Lombardi said it's not necessary for all cardinal electors to be present to decide the conclave date, but all need to have the opportunity to arrive in time.
* Yesterday evening, the second General Congregation of the College of Cardinals took place, during which Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, gave the first of the meditations provided for by the Apostolic Constitution.
* The cardinals decided that, on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Congregations will only be held in the morning.
* Topics that have been discussed include: activities of the Holy See and its relations with bishops throughout the world; Church renewal in light of Vatican Council II; the Church's position and the need for the New Evangelization in today's world with its diverse cultural environments.
* Fr. Lombardi said that the preparations for the Conclave have begun in the Sistine Chapel so it is now closed to visitors.
* He also presented the latest data on the media coverage of the events of the Holy See in these days: 4,432 temporarily accredited journalists have joined the 600 permanently accredited journalists. The more than 5,000 journalists represent 1,004 news outlets, 65 nations, and 24 languages.
The Vatican has put together this colorful online book of photographs, cataloguing Benedict XVI's pontificate and some of his best teachings.