| 21/03/2007 15.03
|Here is a translation of the catechesis given by the Holy Father at the General Audience today in St. Peter's Square:
Dear brothers and sisters,
We have been reflecting on the great figures of the Church in our catecheses. Today we will talk about St. Justin, philosopher and martyr, the most important of the apologist Fathers in the second century.
The word 'apologist' refers to the early Christians who sought to defend the new faith against the grave accusations of pagans and Jews, and to spread the Christian doctrine in terms adapted to the times.
Therefore the apologists had a double concern: first, that which was purely apologetic - defending Christianity ['apologhia' in Greek means 'defense), and that which was propositive or missionary, to explain the content of the faith in a language and in thought categories understandable to their contemporaries.
Justin was born around 100 near ancient Sichem, in Samaria, in the Holy Land. He searched long for the truth, going through the various schools of Greek philosophical thought. Finally, as he himself recounts in the first chapters of his Dialog with Trypho, a mysterious personage, an old man whom he met along the seashore, first put him in crisis by showing him man's inability to respond with only his own powers to the aspiration for the divine. Then he told him which among the ancient prophets he, Justin, should consult, in order to find the way to God and 'true philosophy.' In bidding him goodbye, the old man advised him to pray so that the doors of light would open to him.
This story is crucial in the life of Justin, and at the end of a long philosophical itinerary in search of truth, he ended up in the Christian faith. He established a free school in Rome, where he initiated pupils into the new religion, which he considered to be the true philosophy. He had found in Christianity the truth he was searching for, and therefore, the art of living correctly. He was denounced for his activities, and was beheaded around 165 in the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor to whom Justin had addressed one of his Apologia.
Only two Apologia and the Dialog with the Jew Trypho are what remain of his works in our day. In these writing, Justin wished above all to illustrate the divine plan of creation and of salvation which is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who is Logos, the eternal Word, eternal Reason, creative Reason.
Every man, insofar as he is a rational creature, takes part in the Logos, carries its 'seed' within him, and can therefore get glimmers of the truth. Thus, Logos, which was revealed through prophetic figures to the Jews in the Old Testament, manifested itself partially, as 'seeds of truth', in Greek philosophy.
And so, Justin concludes, since Christianity is the historic and personal manifestation of Logos in its totality, it follows that "everything beautiful that has been expressed belongs to us Christians" (2 Apol 13,4).
In this way, Justin - although he disputed the contradictions in Greek philosophy - orients all philosophical truth towards the Logos, which rationally motivates the Christian religion's claim to truth and universality.
Just as the Old Testament points to Christ as the figure oriented towards what is meant by reality [la realta significata], Greek Philosophy should likewise look at Christ and the Gospel as a part uniting itself to the whole.
Justin says that these two realities, the Old Testament and Greek philosophy, are like two roads that lead to Christ, the Logos. and that is why Greek philosophy cannot oppose Gospel truth, and why Crhistians can draw upon it with confidence as a common asset.
That is why, therefore, my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, defined Justin as "the pioneer of a positive encounter with philosophical thought, although with a warning to do so with cautious discernment", because Justin "although he kept a high regard for Greek philosophy even after his conversion, asserted with force and clarity that he had found in Crhistianity 'the only sure and profitable philosophy' (Dial 8,1)" [Fides et ratio, 38]
On the whole, the figure and the work of Justin are in line with the choice of the early Church in favor of philosophy, or reason, over the religion of the pagans. In fact, the early Christians strenuously rejected any compromises with paganism. They considered it idolatry - even if by doing so, they risked being accused of 'impiety' or 'atheism.'
Justin in particular, especially in his first Apologia, carried out an implacable criticism of paganism and its myths, which he considered diabolical 'derailments' on the road to truth.
Philosophy, instead, represented the preferred area of encounter among paganism, Judaism and Christianity, precisely on the level of criticizing paganism and its false myths.
"Our philosphy.." is how, more explicitly, a contemporary apologist of Justin, Bishop Meliton of Sardi, came to describe the new religion (ap. Hist. Eccl. 4,26,7).
In fact, the pagan religion would not take the way of reason, Logos, and persisted in the way of myths, even if Greek philosophy had come to see these myths as inconsistent with the truth.
And so the decline of paganism was inevitable: as a logical consequence of its detaching religion - which it had reduced to an artificial mix of rites, conventions and customs - from the truth of existence.
Justin, and with him the other apologists, initiated the clear stand that Christianity took in favor of the God of philosophy against the false gods of the pagan religion. It wass the choice of the truth of being, against the myth of habit.
Some decades after Justin, Tertullian would define that same choice made by Christianity with a lapidary sentence that remains ever valid - "Dominus noster Christus veritatem se, non consuetudinem, cognominavit",
"Christ said He was the Truth, not a habit" (De virgin. vel. 1,1).
We must note in this respect that the term 'habit' used by Tertullian to refer to paganism, can be expressed in modern language with the expression "cultural fashion' or 'fashion of the times'.
In an age like ours, which is characterized by relativism in the debate over values and religion, as well as in the inter-religious dialog - this is a lesson that must not be forgotten.
To that end, I would restate to you, in conclusion, the last words of the mysterious old man whom Justin met by the seashore: "Pray above all that the doors of light may open to you, because no one can see or understand unless God and his Christ concede such understanding." (Dial 7, 3).
In English, he said:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on the Fathers of the Early Church, we consider today Saint Justin, Philosopher and Martyr.
Saint Justin was born in Samaria, Palestine, around the year 100. During his youth he ardently sought the truth. After a meeting with an old man, who directed him to prayer and the study of the prophets, the Saint converted to Christianity. He eventually established a school in Rome where he taught the new religion; he was denounced as a Christian and decapitated in the year 165.
Of his written works only his two Apologies and his Dialogue with Trypho remain. These emphasize God’s project of Creation and Salvation which find fulfilment in Jesus Christ, who is the Logos or Word of God.
Before the birth of Christ the Logos allowed men and women to come to know part of the truth about God and man. The full truth, however, has been given to Christians with the Incarnation of the Word of God. Our dialogue with philosophy and other religions, inspired by Saint Justin, must remain firmly rooted in Truth, while always avoiding that which is merely fashionable.
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s audience. I extend particular greetings to the students from the American Taipei School, to the members of the Shinto religious delegation from Japan and to the pilgrims from Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe. May this Lenten season purify your hearts and fill you with joy, and may God bless you all!
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/03/2007 1.36]
| 25/03/2007 14.46
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Ihe Solemnity of the Annunciation is observed on the 25th of March. This year, it coincides with a Sunday of Lent, and so it will be celebrated tomorrow.
However, I wish to reflect on this stupendous mystery of the faith, which we contemplate everyday when we say the Angelus.
The Annunciation, narrated at the start of the Gospel of St. Luke, is a humble, hidden event - no one saw it, no one knew about it, except Mary - but it was a decisive event for the history of mankind.
When the Virgin said Yes to the angel's announcement, Jesus was conceived and with Him began a new history, which would thereafter be confirmed at Easter as 'the new and eternal Alliance.'
In fact, Mary's Yes is a perfect reflection of Christ's Yes Himself when He entered the world, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, interpreting Psalm 39: "Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God'" (Heb 10,7).
The obedience of the Son is mirrored in the obedience of the Mother. And so, from the encounter of these two Yeses, God was able to take on the face of man. That is why the Annunciation is a Christological feast: because it celebrates a central mystery of Christ: His Incarnation.
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord - be it done to me according to your word." Mary's answer to the Angel finds its prolonged echo in the Church, which is called on to make Christ present in history, offering its own readiness that God may continue visiting mankind with His mercy.
The Yes of Jesus and Mary is renewed in the Yes of the saints, especially of the martyrs, who are killed because of the Gospel. I underscore this because yesterday, March 24, anniversary of the assassination of Mons. Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, we celebrated a day of prayer and fasting in honor of the missionary martyrs: bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful struck down in the fulfillment of their mission of evangelization and human promotion.
The missionary martyrs, as this year's theme says, are a 'hope for the world', because they testify that love of Christ is stronger than violence or hate.
They did not seek martyrdom, but they were ready to give their lives to remain faithful to the Gospel. Christian martyrdom is justified as a supreme act of love for God and for all men.
In this Lenten season, we often think of the Madonna who at Calvary seals the Yes she said in Nazareth. United with Jesus, testimony of the Father's love, Mary experienced spiritual martyrdom.
Let us trustfully invoke her intercession so that the Church, faithful to its mission, may continue to give the whole world courageous testimony of God's love.
After the recital of the Angelus, he said:
Next Sunday we will celebrate the solemn and evocative Liturgy of Palm Sunday, which begins Holy Week. On this occasion we will also mark the XXII World Youth Day, which has for its them this year Jesus's commandment: "As I have loved you, so should you love each other" (Jn 13,34).
To prepare us for this appointment and for the celebration of Easter, I invite the youth of the Diocese of Rome to a penitential liturgy, over which I will preside, on the afternoon of Thursday, March 29, at St. Peter's Basilica.
Those who wish will have a chance to take part in the Sacrament of Confession, a true encounter with the love of God, which every man needs in order to live in joy and peace.
Later, greeting the English0-speaking pilgrims, he said:
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. In particular I greet the members of the International Federation for Family Development and I encourage them in the vital work of promoting the rights and responsibilities of the family.
May our Lenten journey continue to be marked by forgiveness and the resolve to transform sin and desolation into the life and joy of Easter. Upon all of you and your loved ones, I invoke the strength and peace of Christ our Lord!
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/03/2007 1.34]
| 28/03/2007 18.49
|Here is a translation of the catechesis given by the Holy Father at the General Audience today in St. Peter's Square:
Dear brothers and sisters!
In our catecheses on the great figures of the Church in its early centuries, we come today to the eminent personality of St. Irenaeus of Lyons. Our biographical information about him comes from his own testimony transmitted to us by Eusebius in Book 5 of his Ecclesiastical History.
Irenaeus was most probably born in Smyrna (Izmir in present-day Turkey) around 135-140, where as a young man he atrended the school of Bishop Policarpus, who had been a discisciple of the Apostle John. We do not know when he moved from Asia Minor to Gaul (present-day France), but the transfer must have coincided with the first development of a Christian community in Lyons. Here in 177, we find Irinaeus listed among the college pf presbyters.
That same year, he was sent to Rome to bring a letter from the community of Lyons to Pope Eleuterius. His mission to Rome saved him from the persecutions of Marcus Aurelius, in which at least 48 were martyred in Lyons, including its bishop, Potin, who was in his 90s and who died of maltreatment in jail.
On his return from Rome, Irenaeus was elected bishop of the city. He dedicated himself totally to the episcopal ministry up to 202-203 when his life ended, most probably in martyrdom.
Irenaeus was above all a man of faith and a Pastor. As a good Shepherd, he had a sense of moderation, richness of doctrine and missionary ardor. As a writer, he followed a double objective: to defend the true doctrine from heretical attacks, and to explain with clarity the truth of the faith.
To these ends correspond both of his works which remain to us: the five books Against heresy
and the Exposition of apostolic preaching
(which can be considered the oldest catechism of the Christian doctrine).
Irinaeus was decidedly the champion in the battle against heresies. The Church of the second century was threatened by the so-called Gnosis, a doctrine which claimed that the faith taught by the Church was only a symbolism for the simple-minded who are not able to understand difficult things; that instead, the initiates, the intellectuals - or gnostics, as they called themselves - undestood what was behind these symbols and therefore constituted an elitist intellectual Christianity.
Obviiously, this 'intellectual' Christianity fragmented into even more divergent currents, with concepts that were often strange and exaggerated but attractive to many.
One common element among these many currents was dualism, which denied faith in the one God, Father of all, Creator and Savior of man and the world. To explain evil in the world, they postulated the existence, besides the good God, of a negative principle, which produces material things, matter.
Rooting himself firmly in the Biblical doctrine of creation, Irenaeus refuted this dualism and Gnostic pessimism which devalued corporal reality. He decisively defended the original sanctity of matter, of the body, of the flesh, no less than the spirit.
But his work went far beyond refuting heresy. Indeed, we can say that he was the first great theologian of the Church, that he created systematic theology. He himself spoke of the system of theology, meaning, the internal coherence of everything in the faith.
At the center of his doctrine was the question of the 'rule of faith' and its transmission. For Irenaeus, the 'rule of faith' coincided in practice with the Apostles Creed, and gives us the key for interpreting the Gospel, for interpreting the Creed in the light of the Gospel. This Credo, which is a sort of synthesis of the Gospel, helps us understand what the Gospel means, how we should read the entire Gospel.
In fact, the Gospel preached by Irrnaeus was what he had received from Policarpus, Bishop of Smyrna, and the Gospel of Policarpus went back to the Apostle John, of whom he was a disciple.
And so, the real teaching is not what the intellectuals invent beyond the simple faith of the Church. The true Gospel is that which is imparted by the Bishops who have received it in an uninterrupted chain from the Apostles. And the latter did not teach anything other than this simple faith, which is also the true profoundness of God's revelation.
So, Irenaeus tells us - there is no secret doctrine behind the common Creed of the Church. There is no superior Christianity for intellectuals. The faith that is publicly professed by the Church is the faith that is common to all. Only this faith is apostolic, it comes from the Apostles, therefore from Jesus, from God.
Adhering to this faith publicly transmitted by the Apostles to their successors, Chhristians should follow what their bishops say. They should particularly heed the teaching of the Church of Rome, which is pre-eminent and very ancient. This Church, because of its antiquity, has the greatest apostolicity because it traces its origins to the two pillars of the Apostolic College, Peter and Paul.
All the other churches should be in harmony with the Church of Rome, recognizing in her the standard for the true apostolic tradition, of the only faith that is common to the whole Church.
With such arguments, that I have very briefly summarized here, Irenaeus refuted the very basis of the presumptions made by these gnostics, these intellectuals. Above all, that they cannot possess a truth that could be superior to that of the common faith, because what they say does not have apostolic origin but was invented by them. And in the second place, truth and salvation are not the privilege or monopoly of a few, but are accessible to everyone through the teaching of the successors to the Apostles, above all, the Bishop of Rome.
In particular - and in arguing aqgainst the 'secret' nature of the gnostic tradition, and noting its multiple and contradictory outcomes - Irenaeus was concerned with illustrating the genuine concept of apostolic tradition that we may summarize in three points.
a. The apostolic tradition is public, not private or secret. Irinaeus had no doubt that the content of the faith transmitted by the Church is that which was received from the Apostles and therefore from Jesus, Son of God. Therefore, there is no other teaching but this.
Meanwhile, whoever wishes to know the true doctirne simply needs to know "the Tradition that comes from the Apostles and the faith they announced to men" - tradition and faith "which have reahed us through the succesionof bishops" (Adv. Haer. 3,3,3-4). In this way, the sucecssion of bishops (the personal principle) coincides with the apostolic tradition (doctrinal principle).
b. The Apostolic tradition is unique - one. While gnosticism is subdivided into multiple sects, the Tradition of the Church is unqiue in its fundamental contents, which - as we saw - Irinaeus called regula fidei
, rule of the faith, or regula veritatis
, rule of truth. and because it is unique, it creates unity across nations, across diverse cultures, across diverse peoples. It is a common content like truth, notwithstanding the diversity of languages and cultures.
There is a very valuable sentence from St. Irenaeus in Against heresy
: "The Church, although it is spread throughout the world, guards with care [the faith of the Apostles], as though everyone lived in one house. In the same way, it believes in these truths, as though all had a common soul and a common heart. And therefore, in full concordance, it proclaims, teaches and transmits these truths as though they come from just one mouth.
"The languages of the world are diverse, but the power of tradition is unique and always the same. The churches founded in Germany did not receive nor transmit a different faith; neither do the the Churches in Sapin or those founded among the Celts or in the oriental regions, in Egypt, or Libya, or the center of the earth" (1,10,1-2).
We already see, at this point (the second century) the universality of the Church, its catholicity and the unifying force of truth, which unites all these diverse realities, from Germany to Spain to Italy to Libya, in the common truth revealed to us by Christ.
c. Finally the apostolic tradition is - as he calls it in the Greek in which he wrote his book, 'pneumatic', which means spiritual, guided by the Holy Spirit. (The Greek word for spirit is pneuma
This is not about transmission which is entrusted to the ability of men who are more or less educated, but it is the Spirit of God, which guarantees the faithfulness of the transmission of the faith.
This is the 'life' of the Church, what makes the Church always fresh and young, and thus, fertile with multiple charisms. For Irenaeus, Church and Holy Spirit are inseparable. "We have received this faith," we read in the third book Against heresy
"from the church and we guard it: the faith, through the work of the Spirit of God, like a precious treasure kept in a precious vessel, always makes us young and also makes the vessel that contains it young...Where the Church is, there the Spirit of God is; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and every grace" (3,24,1).
So we see, Irinaeus did not limit hismelf to defining the concept of Tradition. His Tradition, the uninterrupted Tradition, is not traditionalism, because this Tradition is always internally animated by the Holy Spirit, which makes it live anew, and makes it interpreted and understood in the vitality of the Church.
If we go by his teaching, the faith of the Church should be transmitted in a way that it appears as it should - public, unique, pneumatic, spiritual. Through each of these characteristics, we can fruitfully discern the authentic transmission of the faith in the Church today.
More generally, in Irenaeus's doctrine, the dignity of man, body and soul, is firmly anchored in divine creation, in the image of Christ, and in the permanent work of sanctification by the Spirit.
This doctrine is like a 'via maestra', a master path, to clarify to all men of good will the objective and the limits of a dialog on values, and to give an ever-new impetus to the missionary action of the Church, to the power of truth which is the spring of all true values in the world.
This is how he synthesized the catechesis for English speakers
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on the Church Fathers, we turn now to Saint Irenaeus of Lyons, a great theologian and bishop at the end of the second century.
In his writings, Irenaeus clearly sets forth the contents of the apostolic faith and appeals to the Church’s living tradition in order to defend that faith from false teachings. He thus emphasizes the regula fidei
: the "rule of faith" contained in the Apostles’ Creed and in the Gospel proclaimed by the Church’s Bishops.
The Gospel Irenaeus preached was the Gospel preached by his teacher Polycarp, who in turn received it from the Apostle John in an unbroken line of succession going back to Christ himself.
Irenaeus also writes of the unique authority of the Church of Rome as founded on the Apostles. This zealous pastor illustrates for us three important characteristics of the Apostolic Tradition: it is "public", because it is available to all through the teaching of the Bishops; it is "one", because its content remains the same despite the variety of languages and cultures; and it is "pneumatic", because, through it, the Holy Spirit continues to enliven and renew the Church even today.
I am pleased to welcome the many English-speaking pilgrims present. In a special way, I offer cordial greetings to the priests from the Institute for Continuing Theological Education and to the students of the NATO Defense College. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of peace and joy.
| 04/04/2007 19.10
The Angelus today was prayed after the Palm Sunday Mass on St. Peter's Square, so the Holy Father did not have to deliver his usual Sunday Angelus homily but only only delivered greetings in various languages to the pilgrims. Later, he made a surprise appearance at his study window to greet the 50,000 pilgrims on the square again, but the microphones were off.
| 04/04/2007 22.04
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis today, devoted to the Paschal Triduum, at the general audience held in St. Peter's Square.
Dear brothers and sisters,
As the Lenten itinerary which began on Ash Wednesday, draws to a close, the liturgy of Holy Wednesday today already introduces us to the dramatic atmosphere of the next few days, permeated with the memory of the passion and death of Jesus Christ.
In today's liturgy, in fact, the evangelist Matthew invites us to meditate on the brief dialog which took place at the Cenacle between Jesus and Judas.
"Rabbi, could it be me?" the traitor asks the divine Master, who had predicted: "In truth, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The Lord's answer was terse: "You said it" (cfr Mt 26,14-25).
On his part, St. John closes the account of the announcement of Judas's betrayal with a few significant words: "And it was night" (Jn 13,30).
When the traitor left the Cenacle, darkness settled on his heart - an interior night. Bewilderment mounted among the Apostles - they too were heading towards the night - as shadows of abandonment and hate gathered over the Son of Man who was now on his way to consummate His sacrifice on the Cross.
What we will commemorate in the next few days is the supreme encounter between Light and Darkness, between Life and Death. We too should situate ourselves in this context, aware of our own 'night', our sins and our responsibilities, if we want to relive the Paschal Mystery profitably, if we want to achieve light in our hearts through this mystery, which is the central fulcrum of our faith.
The Paschal Tridumm starts with Maundy Thursday, tomorrow. During the Mass of the Chrism - which can be considered the prelude to the Holy Triduum - the diocesan pastor and his closest co-workers, the priests, surrounded by the people of God, renew the promises they made on the day of their priestly ordination.
Year after year, this is a moment of strong ecclesial communion, which highlights the gift of ministerial priesthood that Christ left to his Church on the eve of His death on the Cross. For every priest, it is a most moving moment on the eve of the Passion on which the Lord gave Himself to us, when He gave us the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he gave us the priesthood. It is a day that touches the hearts of us all.
There follows the blessing of the oils for the celebration of the Sacraments: the oil of the catechumens, the oil for the sick, the Holy Chrism. In the evening, entering the Paschal Triduum, the Christian community relives in the Mass of the Lord's Supper what took place during that Last Supper.
In the Cenacle, the Redeemer wishes ro anticipate, in the sacrament of bread and wine changed into His Body and Blood, the sacrifice of His life; he anticipates His death, gives His life freely, offers the definite gift of Himself to mankind.
With the washing of feet, we repeat the gesture with which He, loving His disciples, loved them to the end (cfr Jn 13,1) and left to His disciples this act of humility as their distinctive mark, a love unto death.
After the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the liturgy invites the faithful to pause in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, reliving Jesus's agony in Gethsemani. And we see how the disciples slept, leaving the Lord by Himself. Even today, we are often asleep, we who are his disciples now.
But on this sacred night in Gethsemani, we want to be vigilant, we do not want to leave the Lord alone in this hour. This way, we can better understand the mystery of Maundy Thursday, which contains the triple gift of the ministerial priesthood, the Eucharist, and the new commandment of love (agape).
Good Friday, which commemorates the events that start with the condemnation of Chrsit to death by crucifixion, is a day of penance, fasting and prayer, of participation in the Lord's Passion. At the appointed hour, the Christian assembly will review, with the help of the Word of God and liturgical acts, the story of human infidelity to the divine design, which nevertheless is now being realized, and it listens again to the moving story of our Lord's sorrowful Passion.
Then it addresses to God a long Prayer of the Faithful which encompasses all the needs of the Church and the world. The Community adores the Cross and approaches the Eucharist. partaking of the sacred species kept over from the Mass of the Lord's Supper the previous day.
Commenting on Good Friday, St. John Chrysostom observed: "First the Cross meant disgrace, now it is a venerable thing; First it was a symbol of condemnation, now it means hope of salvation. It has really become a spring of infinite good. It has liberated us from error, it has dispelled the shadows around us, it has reconciled us with God. From enemies of God, it has made us members of His family; from strangers, it has made us His neighbors. This Cross is the destruction of enmity, the spring of peace, our treasure chest (De cruce et latrone I,1,4).
In order to relive the Passion of the Redeemer in a more participatory manner, Christian tradition has given life to multiple manifestations of popular piety, among those the famous Good Friday processions with evocative rites that are repeated every year.
But there is a pious exercise, the Way of the Cross, which offers us during the year the possibility of imprinting ever more deeply intio our spirits the mystery of the Cross, to walk with Christ along this way and thus conform interiorly to Him.
We can say that the Way of the Cross educates us, to use an expression of St. Leo the Great, "to look with the eyes of the heart on Jesus crucified, so that we can recognize our own flesh in His (Disc 15 on the Passion of the Lord). And it is truly Christian wisdom which we wish to learn when we follow the Way of the Cross this Friday at the Colosseum.
Holy Saturday is a day on which liturgy is quiet - it is the day of the great silence, and Christians are invited to interior meditstion, often difficukt to cultivate in our day, to better prepare us for the Easter Vigil. In many communities, spiritual retreats and Marian prayers are organized, almost to unite ourselves with the Mother of the Redeemer, who awaits with faithful trepidation the resurrection of her crucified Son.
Finally, at the Easter Vigil, the veil of grief that has shrouded the Church for the death and burial of our Lord, will be torn away by the shout, "Christ has risen, and has defeated death for always."
Then we can truly understand the mystery of the Cross, 'as God created wonders and did the impossible" writes an ancient author, "so it may be known that only He can do as He pleases. From His death, our life; from His wounds, our healing; from His fall, our resurrection; from his descent, our rising." (Anonymous, 14th century).
Animated by the firmest faith, in the heart of the Easter vigil we welcome the newly baptized and renew the promises of our Baptism. Thus we experience that the Church is always alive, it is always getting younger, it is always beautiful and holy, because it rests on Christ, who, having resurrected, will never die again.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Paschal mystery, which the Holy Triduum makes us relive, is not just the memory of a past reality, it is actual reality. Even now, Christ triumphs with His love over sin and death. Evil, in all its forms, does not have the last word. The final trumph is that of Christ, the triumph of truth and of love.
If we are ready to suffer and die with Him, St. Paul reminds us durng the Easter Vigil, His life becomes our life (cfr Rom 6,9). Our Christian existence rests and is built on this certainty.
Invoking the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary who followed Jesus on the way of Passion and the Cross, and embraced Him after he was taken down from the Cross, I wish you may all participate devoutly in the Paschal Triduum in order to experience the joy of Easter along with your all your loved ones.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 09/04/2007 22.36]
| 11/04/2007 12.38
|Here is a translation of the homily delivered by the Holy Father before the recitation of the Regina caeli at noon Monday in Castel Gandolfo, with a TV link to St. Peter's Square for the crowd that had also assembled there.
Dear brothers and sisters,
We are still full of the spiritual joy that the solemn celebrations of Easter bring to the hearts of believers.
Christ is risen! To this mystery which is so great, the liturgy does not just dedicate one day, but 50 days, namely the whole Eastern season which concludes with the Pentecost.
Easter Sunday is of course absolutely special, and it extends throughout the whole week till the following Sunday to make up the Octave of Easter.
In the atmosphere of Easter joy, the liturgy today brings us back to the sepulcher where - moved by their love for the Lord - Mary of Magdala and the other Mary, according to St. Matthew’s account, came to visit the tomb of Jesus.
The evangelist narrates that He came to meet them and said, “Do not be afraid. Go and announce to my brothers that I will see them in Galilee" (Mt 28,10). It was truly an indescribable joy that they must have felt to see their Lord again, and full of enthusiasm, they ran to make it known to the disciples.
Even to us today – as He did to those women who remained beside Him during His passion - the Risen One tells us not to be afraid to announce the news of His Resurrection. He has nothing to fear who encounters the resurrected Jesus and entrusts himself obediently to Him.
This is the message that Christians are called on to spread to the very ends of the earth. The Christian faith is born not out of welcoming a doctrine, but with an encounter with a Person, with Christ who died and rose again.
In our existence, dear friends, there are so many occasions given to us to communicate our faith to others in simple and convincing manner. It is even more urgent that men and women of our time know and encounter Jesus, and thanks to our example, would allow themselves to be conquered by Him.
The Gospel does not say anything of Mary, but Christian tradition has loved to contemplate her joy, more than anyone else, in re-embracing her divine Son, whom she had last held close when He was taken down from the Cross. Now, after the Resurrection, the Mother of Jesus rejoices with the ‘friends’ of Jesus, who constituted the Church that was being born.
While I renew from the heart my Easter greetings to all of you, I invoke her, Regina Caeli, Queen of Heaven, that she may keep the faith in the Resurrection alive in each of us and make us messengers of the hope and love of the resurrected Christ. Amen.
In English, he said:
To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Regina Caeli, I extend a warm welcome. I pray that you will grow ever closer to the Risen Lord and share his Good News with all those you encounter. Upon all of you, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
While searching online for the text of the Regina caeli to post, I came upon this English translation of a John Paul text by chance, and would like to share it with you:
Monday of the Angel
Pope John Paul II
Regina caeli address -
Easter Monday, 21 April 2003
1. Easter Monday is called "Monday of the Angel" in memory of what happened at dawn on that first day after Saturday. In fact, it was an Angel that comforted the women who, having hurried to the tomb and found it empty, were bewildered and upset.
"Do not be afraid.... He has risen, he is not here" (Mk 16: 6). And the Angel added: "But go", and announce this news to the Apostles (cf. ibid.).
For us too the Angel's words, which we always hear again with deep emotion, have immense value. Indeed, if Christ is risen, everything changes and life and history acquire new meaning.
2. Today's liturgy proposes for our meditation the Apostle Peter's preaching to the crowds in Jerusalem. It is centred on this announcement: "This is the Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses" (Acts 2: 32).
Simply and clearly Peter asserts that the crucified Christ is alive, that he has risen, and "of that we all are witnesses". Since then the Church has never ceased to proclaim that same "good news". It is imperative that all people know and encounter Christ, crucified and risen, and that they allow him to win them over. He opens the hearts of all who accept him to that true joy which makes human existence new, beautiful and rich in hope.
3. Regina caeli, laetare, Alleluia! (Queen of Heaven, rejoice, Alleluia!). Mary, the Mother of Christ, who shared with him the harsh trial of the passion, rejoices in particular in the joy of Easter.
May Mary make our faith in the Resurrection of the Lord ever more vibrant, and guide us in our commitment to witness to the joyful and basic message of Easter to the men and women of the third millennium.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 11/04/2007 17.12]
| 11/04/2007 16.25
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the general audience held in St. Peter's Square this morning. He arrived at the Vatican by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, where he is spending the week till Saturday.
Instead of resuming his current catechetical cycle on the church Fathers, the Pope's address was really a homily on today's Gospel.
Dear brothers and sisters!
We meet each other today after the solemn celebrations of Easter for our usual Wednesday encounter, but first I wish to renew to all of you my most fervent good wishes for the season. I thank you for your presence today and I thank the Lord for this beautiful sunny day.
At the Easter Vigil, this proclamation resounded: "The Lord has truly risen, alleluia!" Today, it is He Himself who proclaims, "I will not die, I remain alive."
To sinners, He says: "Receive the remission of sins. It is I, in fact, who am your remission."
And to all, He says: "I am the Pasch of salvation, the Lamb sacrificed for you. I am your redemption, your life. I am your resurrection, I am your light, I am your salvation, I am your King. Adn I will show you the Father."
That is what a writer, Melitone of Sarda, wrote in the second century, interpreting with realism the words and the thoughts of the Risen Lord (On Easter, 102-103).
In these days, the liturgy recalls various encounters that Jesus had after the Resurrection: with Mary Magdalene and the other women who came to His tomb the morning after the Sabbath. with the Apostles reunited, incredulous, at the Cenacle; with Tomas and other disciples.
These various apparitions constitute even for us an invitation to look more deeply into the fundamental message of Easter Sunday. It stimulates us to follow the spiritual itinerary of those who encountered Jesus and recognized Him in those first days after the Paschal events.
The evangelist John narrates that Peter and himself, having heard the news from Mary Magdalene, ran, almost racing each other, towards the sepulchre (cfr Jn 20, 3f). The Fathers of the Church saw in this race to get to the empty tomb an exhortation to the only legitimate competition among believers: the race to find Christ.
And what can we say of Mary Magdalene? Weeping, she remained near the empty tomb, wanting only to know where they had brought the Master. She finds Him and recognizes Him when He calls her by name (cfr Jn 20,11-18).
Even we, if we look for the Lord with a simple and sincere spirit, will find Him, or rather He Himself will be coming towards us: He will make Himself known to us, He will call us by name. In short, He will bring us into the intimacy of His love.
Today, Wednesday in the Easter Octave, the liturgy makes us reflect on another singular encounter with the Risen Lord - that with the two disciples at Emmaus (cfr Lk 24,13-25). As they were returning home one evening, disconsolate about the death of their Master, He Himself joins them on the way but they do not recognize Him.
His words, commenting on the Scriptures that concerned the Christ, inflamed the hearts of the two disciples who, arriving at their destination, asked Him to stay with them. When, towards the end, He "took the bread, said a blessing, broke it and gave it to them" (v. 30), their eyes were opened. But at that very moment, Jesus disappeared from view. And so, they recognized Him just as He disappeared.
Commenting on this Biblical episode, St. Augustine observed: "Jesus broke the bread and they recognized Him. Now we can no longer say that we do not recognize Christ! If we believe, we know Him. Rather, if we believe, than we have Him. They had Christ at their table, we have Him in our hearts."
And he concludes: "To have Christ in our hearts is much more than having Him in our own home. Our heart is more intimate to us than our home." (Discourse 232,VII,7). Let us seek to carry Jesus in our hearts.
In the prologue to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke states that the Risen Lord "presented himself alive to them (the Apostles) by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days" (1,3).
We must understand this very well: When the holy author says that Jesus "presented Himself alive", he doesn't mean that Jesus returned to living as He did before, like Lazarus did.
The Easter that we celebrate, St. Bernard has commented, means a 'passage' not a 'return' - because Jesus did not go back to a preceding situation, but "he crossed the frontier to a more glorious condition", new and definitive. Therefore, he adds, "now Christ has really passed on to a new life" (cfr Discourse on Easter).
To Mary Magdalene, the Lord had said: "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father" (Jn 20,17). A statement which surprises us, especially when compared to what happened with doubting Thomas.
There, in the Cenacle, it was the Lord Himself who presented His hands and his ribs to the Apostle so he could touch them and assure himself that it was indeed Him (cfr Jn 20,27).
Actually, the two episodes are not contradictory. On the contrary, one helps us to understand the other.
Mary Magdalene wanted to have her Master as before, considering the Cross as a tragic event to be forgotten. But from here on, there was no place for a relationship with the Risen Lord in a merely human way.
To meet Him, it is not necessary to turn back, but to place ourselves in a neww relationship with Him. One must move ahead. St. Bernard underscores this: Jesus "invites us all to this new life, to this passagene. We will not see Christ by turning back" (Discourse on Easter).
That is what happened with Thomas. Jesus showed him His wounds, not so the Cross would be forgotten but to make it unforgettable even in the future.
In fact, it is towards the future that one must look, from that point on. It is the task of the disciple to bear witness to the death and resurrection of his Master and to his new life.
Dear brothers and sisters, even we - like Mary Magdalene, Tomas and the other disciples - are called upon to be witnesses of and for the death and resurrection of Christ. We cannot keep the good news to outselves. We should bring it to the whole world: "We have seen the Lord!" (Jn 20,25).
May the Virgin Mary help us to fully enjoy the Paschal joy, so that, sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may become capable of spreading it, in turn, wherever we live and work.
Once again, I wish you all a good Easter.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 11/04/2007 17.19]
| 15/04/2007 17.25
| At the end of the Mass held today in St. Peter's Square to mark the Holy Father's 80th birthday tomorrow, Benedict VXI led the faithful in a recitation of the 'Regina caeli.' Here is a translation of the words he spoke before the prayer
''REGINA CAELI' ON 4/15/07
Dear brothers and sisters!
To all of you I renew my wishes for the Easter season on this Sunday that closes the Octave and is traditionally called White Sunday.
According to the wish of my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, who died after the First Vespers of this Feast two years ago, this Sunday is also called the Feast of Divine Mercy.
On this singular occasion, I celebrated Holy Mass today at St. Peter's Square accompanied by cardinals, bishops and priests, as well as by the faithful of Rome and so many other pilgrims who have come to be with the Pope on the eve of his 80th birthday.
To all I renew the most sincere thanks from the depth of my heart, and I extend this to the whole Church, which like a true family, especially these days, surrounds me with affection.
This Sunday, as I said, concludes the week, or more properly, the Octave of Easter, which the liturgy considers to be a unique day: "the day made by the Lord" (Ps 117,24). It is not chronological time, but spiritual, which God opened in the fabric of days when He resurrected Christ from the dead.
The Creative Spirit, infusing new and eternal life into the entombed body of Jesus of Nazareth, brought to completion the work of Creation, giving origin to a new 'first harvest": the dawn of a new humanity which is also the dawn of a new world and a new time.
This renewal of the world can be summarized in a few words, the same words the risen Christ said as a greeting but more than that, as an announcement of His victory to the disciples: "Peace be unto you!" (Lk 24,36; Jn 20,19.21.26).
Peace is the gift which Jesus left His friends (cfr Jn 14,27) as a blessing destined for all men and for all peoples. Not peace as an equilibrium of forces, according to the mentality of the 'world', but a new reality, fruit of the love of God, of His mercy.
It is the peace that Jesus gained at the price of His Blood and which He communicates to all who trust in Him. "Jesus, I trust in you": these words sum up the faith of the Christian, which is faith in the omnipotence of the merciful love of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, as I thank you again for your spiritual closeness on the occasion of my birthday and the anniversary of my election to be the Successor of Peter, I entrust you all to Mary Mother of Mercy, Mother of Jesus who is the Incarnation of Divine Mercy.
With her help, let us allow ourselves to be renewed by the Holy Spirit to cooperate in the silent work of peace that God carries on in the world, as realized in the countless acts of charity by all His children.
Later, he said this in English:
To the English-speaking pilgrims I offer warm greetings of Easter joy. In today’s Gospel, the Lord Jesus extends to us the gift of his peace. May this peace fill your hearts and inspire you to spread the Good News of his resurrection. I thank you for your prayerful presence. A Happy Easter to all!
He had special words for the German-speaking pilgrims:
With special joy, I greet all German-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today at St. Peter's Square. I am particularly glad to be with so many people from my German and Bavarian homeland. My heartfelt thanks for this!
The resurrected Christ inspires and reinforces the faith of His disciples. Through the gift of His Spirit, He enabled the Apostles to carry on His work: the announcement of the Kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins.
We all take part in the message of the Church, which serves to spread the messaeg of salvation and God's love.
In His great mercy, the Lord has also guided me, His servant. Join me in thanking the Lord for His goodness, and pray with me so that, with His mercy, I may be able to fulfill the mission that has been entrusted to me.
I wish you all a joyous and blessed White Sunday and a good time in Rome.
Likewise, he had a special message for the Polish people:
I cordially greet all the countrymen of Pope John Paul II. Five years ago, in Cracow, he entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy, of which mankind has such need today. Let us pray that this gift of God may be extended above all to those nations dominated by conflict, hate and the tragedy of war. May Divine Love defeat sin and may the good triumph over evil. We should all be witnesses of God's mercy.
I wish for everyone the true joy of Easter.
| 19/04/2007 01.51
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the
general audience today held at St. Peter's Square. He resumed his cycle on the Fathers of the Church with Clement of Alexandria.
Dear brothers and sisters,
After the time of feasting we return to the normal cathechisms even if it is obviously still celebratory in the Square. With the catecheses, as we said, we are returning to the thread we started.
First we spoke of the Twelve Apostles, then the disciples of the Apostles, and now, of the great figures of the nascent Church, the early Church. Last time, we spoke about St. Irinaeus of Lyons. Today we will talk about Clement of Alexandria, a great theologian who was probably born in Athens halfway through the second century.
From Athens, he inherited that characteristic interest in philosophy that made him one of the promoters of dialog between faith and reason in the Christian tradition.
He was still a young man when he came to Alexandria, the emblematic city of that fecund encounter of diverse cultures that characterized the Hellenistic age. There, he was a disciple of Panthene, whom he succeeded in the direction of the catechetical school. Many sources attest that he was ordained a priest. During the persecutions of 202-203, he abandoned Alexandria to take refuge in Caesarea, in Cappadocia (Asia Minor), where he died in 215.
The most important of his surviving works are: the Protrettico, the Pedagogy and the Stromati. Even if it doesn't seem that it was the author's intention, these writings do constitute a true trilogy, destined to accompany effectively the spiritual maturation of the Christian.
The Protrettico, as the word itself says, is an 'exhortation' addressed to whoever is starting and searching for the way of faith. Better still, the Protrettico coincindes with one Person: the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who becomes the 'exhorter' of men so that they may decisively undertake the way towards Truth.
The same Jesus Christ then becomes the Pedagogue, an 'educator' for those who by virtue of Baptism, have now become children of God. And finally the same Jesus Christ is also the Didactic, or Master, who proposes the most profound teachings. These are collected in Clement's third work, the Stromati, a Greek word which means 'tapestries', because, in effect, it consists of a non-systematic composition of various topics that were the direct fruits of Clement's own teaching.
In its entirety, the Clementine catechism accompanies the way of the catechumen and the baptized Christian step by step, so that with the two wings of faith and reason, they may get to an intimate knowledge of the Truth, which is Jesus Christ, the Word of God. Only this knwoledge of the person who is the truth is the 'true gnosis', the Greek expression that means knowledge through intelligence.
It is the edifice constructed by reason under the impulse of a supernatural principle. Faith itself constructs true philosophy, namely, the true conversion to the path that one must take in life. Therefore the true gnosis is a development of the faith, which is inspired by Jesus Christ in the soul that is united to Him.
Clement distinguished two stages in Christian life. First stage:
Christian believers who live the faith in the common way, even as they are always open to the horizons of saintliness. Then, the second stage, the gnostics, those who already live a life of spiritual perfection.
In any case, the Christian must start from the common base of the faith, along a path in which he must allow himself to be guided by Christ, and therefore arrive at a knowledge of the Truth, and of the truths that make up the contents of the faith.
Such knowledge, Clement tells us, becomes a living reality in the soul: it is not just a theory, it is a force of life, a union of transforming love. Knowledge of Christ is not just a thought, it is love that opens the eyes, transforms man and creates communion with the Logos, with the divine Word which is truth and life. In this communion, which is perfect knowledge, which is love, the perfect Christian reaches contemplation and unification with God.
Fianlly, Clement takes up the doctrine according to which man's ultimate end is to become similar to God. We have been created in the image and likeness of God, but this is also a challenge: in fact, the purpose of life, the ultimate destination is to become like God.
This is possible thanks to our 'con-naturality' with Him, a shared nature, which man received at the moment of creation, in which he already is, as he is, the image of God. This con-naturality allows us to know divine realities, to which man adheres above all out of faith, and through the faith that he lives, the practice of virtue, it can grow to the point where he can contemplate God.
Thus on the way to perfection, Clement attaches as much importance to the moral requirement as he does to the intellectual. Both go together because one cannot know without living, and one cannot live without knowing.
Assimilation to God and contemplation of Him cannot be reached only through rational knowledge: for this purpose one also needs a life lived according to Logos, according to truth. Consequently, good works should accompany intellectual knowledge as shadows accompany the body.
Above all, two virtues adorn the soul of 'the true gnostic.' The first is freedom from the passions (apatheia
); the other is love, the true passion that assures intimate union with God.
Love gives perfect peace, and enables the 'true gnostic' to confront the greatest sacrifices, even the supreme sacrifice in imitation of Christ, and makes him ascend stage by stage till he gets to the peak of virtue.
Thus the ethical ideal of ancient philosophy - namely, liberation from the passions - is redefined by Clement and conjugated with love, in the incessant process of assimilation to God.
In this way, the Alexandrian constructs the second great opportunity for dialog between the Christian message and Greek philosophy. We know that St. Paul, on the Areopagus in Athens, where Clement was born, made the first attempt of dialog with Greek philosophy - which failed for the most part - but he told them, "We will meet again."
Now Clement resumes that dialog, thus ennobling traditional Greek philosophy to the maximum. As my venerated predecessor John Paul II wrote in the encyclical Fides et ratio
, the Alexandrian succeeded in interpreting philosophy as "a propedeutic instruction in the Christian faith" (n. 38).
In fact, Clement went as far as to say that God had given philosophy to the Greeks "as a testament for them alone" (Strom. 6,8,67,1). For him, the Greek philosophic tradition, almost as much as the Laws for the Jews, has the character of 'revelation'- and they are two streams that ultimately lead to Logos itself.
And that is how Clement continues to decisively indicate the way for whoever watnts to 'give a reason' for his faith in Jesus Christ. He can serve as an example to Christians, to catechists and theologians of our time, whom John Paul II, in the same encyclical, urged "to recover and show to maximum advantage the metaphysical dimension of truth, in order to enter into a critical dialog that is so needed with contemporary philosophical thinking."
Let us conclude by adopting some expressions from the celebrated "prayer to Christ the Logos" with which Clement concludes his Pedagogy. He makes this plea: "Be propitious to your children...Grant us to live in your peace, to be transferred to your city, to reach it without being submerged in the floods of sin, to be transported in tranquillity by the Holy Spirit and by ineffable Wisdom: we who, day and night, till the very last day, sing a song of thanksgiving to the only Father...to the Son who is educator and master, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen!" (Ped. 3,12,101).
| 25/04/2007 11.32
Registrato il: 27/11/2005
From your EWTN correspondent!!!!
Audience of April 25th is still in progress, but here's a first report!
Wonderful, joyous entrance tour! Papa looks splendid today. His hair is beautiful and, yes, there's a definite ciuffetto at the front.
Singing from the crowd was loud and happy: "Wer Glaubt Is Nie Allein" and then, as the jeep was going up the steps, the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah.
Papa is continuing his teaching about the people of the early Church. My Italian isn't good enough even to give an outline, but the full text will come later from Teresa.
No photos yet, but watch out for them!!! He's in tremendous form and was obviously very enthusiastic about his text as he was speaking. You can always tell that he really wants to get his messages across to us, that he isn't just reading them.......
All for now!
Luff, choy.....and everyzing!!!!!
| 25/04/2007 17.15
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the general audience held today in St. Peter's Square
Dear brothers and sisters,
In our meditations on the great personages of the early Church, we shall meet today one of those who is most relevant to us.
Origen of Alexandria is really one of the decisive figures for the whole development of Christian thought. He reaped the legacy of Clement of Alexandria, whom we reflected on last week, and projected it towards the future in a manner so innovative as to mark an irreversible turn in the development of Christian thought.
He was a real 'teacher', and his pupils remembered him that way with nostalgia and emotion - not only as a brilliant theologian but also as an exemplary witness of the doctrine that he taught.
"He taught," wrote Eusebius of Caesarea, his enthusiastic biographer, "that conduct should correspond exactly to one's words, and it was through this above all, that, aided by God's grace, he led many to imitate him" (Hist. Eccl. 6,3,7).
An incessant desire for martyrdom was a current that ran through his life. He was 17 when in the seventh year of the reign of Emperor Settimius the Severe, the persecution of Christians erupted in Alexandria.
Clement, his teacher, left the city, and Origen's father, Leonidas, was thrown into jail. His son ardently courted martyrdom, but the fulfillment of this desire was denied him.
He wrote his father, exhorting him not to retreat from rendering the supreme testimony to the faith. And when Leonidas was beheaded, Origen felt that he should profit by the example of his life.
Forty years later, preaching in Caesarea, it came out in this confession: "It would mean nothing to have a martyr father if I did not have good conduct myself to do honor to the nobility of my ancestry, that is, of my father's martyrdom which made him illustrious to Christ." (Hom. Ez. 4.8).
In a later homily - when, thanks to the extreme tolerance of the Emperor Phillip the Arab, the possibility of bloody witness appeared to have vanished - Origen exclaimed: "If God would grant that I could be bathed in my own blood and thus receive a second Baptism by accepting death for Christ, I would definitely leave this world...But those who merit these things are truly blessed" (Hom. Iud. 7,12).
These statements all reveal Origen's yearning for a baptism in blood. And finally, this irresistible yearning came to be fulfilled, at least in part. In 250, during the persecutions by Decius, Origen was arrested and cruelly tortured. Weakened by all the suffering he underwent, he died a few years later, before he reached 70.
We have remarked on that 'irreversible turn' that Origen gave to the story of theology and Christian thought. What exactly did this turn consist of, this novelty that was so pregnant with consequences? Substantially, it consisted in the foundation of theology on the explanation of Scriptures.
Theology was, for him, essentially to explain and understand Scriptures. We can even say that his theology was the perfect symbiosis between theology and exegesis [interpretation]. In truth, the identifying signature of Origenian doctrine seems to reside precisely in the incessant invitation to go from the words (letter) of Scriptures to their true sense (spirit) in order to progress in our knowledge of God.
This so-called 'allegorism', wrote [the theologian Hans Urs
] von Balthasar, coincides precisely with the 'development of Christian dogma manifested in the teachings of the doctors of the Church," who - one way or another - had grasped the 'lesson' of Origen.
Thus, Tradition and the Magisterium - foundation and guarantee of theological research - come together to become "Scripture in action" (cfr Origene: il mondo, Cristo e la Chiesa, tr. it., Milano 1972, p. 43 - Italian translation of von Balthasar's Origen: The world, Christ and the Church
We can therefore state that the central nucleus of Origen's immense literary work consists of his 'triple reading' of the Bible. But before we illustrate such 'reading', let us take an overview of the Alexandrian's literary output.
St. Jerome in his Epistle 33 lists the titles of 320 books and 310 homilies by Origen. Unfortunately, most of this vast work has been lost, but even the little that remains still make him the most prolific author in the first three centuries of Christianity.
His interests ranged from exegesis to dogma, to philosophy, apologetics, ascetic and mysticism. It was a fundamentally global vision of Christian life.
The inspiratory nucleus for his work, as we said, was the 'triple reading' of Scriptures developed in the course of his life. By this expression we mean the three most important modalities - not successive to each other but rather, super-imposed on each other - which Origen dedicated to his study of Scriptures.
Above all, he read the Bible with the intention of trying to certify the text as best as possible in order to offer a more reliable version.
This was an example of the first step, which is, to know exactly what was written, to recognize what it purposely and originally meant to say. He undertook a major study for this purpose, and edited an edition of the Bible, with six parallel columns, from left to right, with the Jewish text in Hebrew characters first - he was in touch with rabbis to understand better the original Hebrew text of the Bible; then the Hebrew text transliterated into the Greek alphabet, and then four different translations into Greek, which allowed him to compare the various possibilities of translation. Thus, the title "Hexapla" (six columns) given to this immense synopsis.
This is the first point: to know exactly what was written, the text as it is. Then, in the second place, Origen systematically read the Bible with his famous Commentaries. These reproduce faithfully the explanations which he gave at his school, whether in Alexandria or later in Caesarea.
Origen proceeds almost verse by verse - in a manner that is detailed, with breadth and depth - with philological and doctrinal annotations. He worked with great precision to understand well what the sacred authors meant exactly.
Finally, even before his priestly ordination, Origen dedicated himself a lot to preaching the Bible, adapting himself to widely different audiences.
In any case, one notes the Master in all his homilies, dedicated completely to the systematic interpretation of the passage under examination, gradually broken up into its component verses.
Even in his homilies, Origen took every occasion to call attention to the various dimensions of the sense of Sacred Scripture, which express a way of growing in the faith.
There is the 'literal' sense, which hides the a depth that is not apparent at first. And the second dimension is the 'moral' sense: what should we do in order to live the Word. And finally, the 'spiritual' sense, that is, the unity of Scripture, which through all its development only speaks of Christ.
It is the Holy Spirit who makes us understand this Christological content, and thus, the unity of the Scriptures through all its diversity. It would be interesting to demonstrate this.
I tried somehow, in my book JESUS OF NAZARETH, to illustrate, through contemporary situations, these multiple dimensions of the Word, of Sacred Scripture, which in the first place, must be respected in the historical sense. But this sense makes us transcend to Christ, in the light of the Holy Spirit, showing us life itself, how to live it.
But one finds an indication in the ninth Homily from Numbers
, where Origen compares Scriptures to a nut: "Such is the doctrine of the Law and the Prophets in the school of Christ," he says in the homily. "The letters are bitter, like the husk; then you come to the shell, which is the moral doctrine; and in the third place, you will find the meat itself, the sense of the mystery, which has nourished the souls of saints in this life and (will continue to do so) in the future" (Hom, num, 9,7).
Most especially, Origen was able this way to promote effectively a 'Christian reading' of the Old Testament, brilliantly refuting the challenge of the heretics - especially the gnostics and the Marchionites(?) - who placed the two Testaments in opposition to each other and rejected the Old Testament.
In this respect, in the same homily found in Numbers, the Alexandrian states: "I do not call the Law an "old Testament' if I understand it in the Holy Spirit. The Law becomes 'Old Testament' only for those who want to understand it carnally," meaning, not going beyond the letter of the text.
"But for us, who understand it and apply it in the Spirit and in the sense of the Gospel, the Law is always new, and both testaments are for us a new Testament, not in the temporal sense, but in the novelty of its meaning...Instead, for the sinner and for those who do not respect the pact of charity, even the Gospels will grow old" (Hom. Num. 9,4).
I invite you - and I conclude with this - to welcome in your hearts the teaching of this great master of the faith. He reminds us with intimate rapture that in the prayerful reading of Scripture and in a commitment of our life consistent with Scripture, the Church always renews itself and remains young.
The Word of God, which never grows old, and never exhausted, is the privileged way to that end. It is, in fact, the Word of God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, which guides us always to the whole Truth (cfr Benedict XVI, To the participants of the International Congress on the 40th anniversary of the dogmatic Constitution «Dei Verbum», in: Insegnamenti, vol. I, 2005, pp. 552-553).
Let us pray to the Lord to give us thinkers, theologians and exegetes who find this multi-dimensionality, this permanent topicality of Sacred Scripture, its newness for today.
Let us pray that the Lord helps us to read Sacred Scripture prayerfully, so it can really nourish us with the true Bread of Life, His Word.
| 29/04/2007 13.28
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the Regina Caeli today
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter, Sunday of the Good Shepherd, also marks the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. All the faithful are exhorted to pray specially for vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.
This morning, at St. Peter's Basilica, I had the joy of ordaining 22 new priests. Even as I greet these new priests affectionately, along with their families and friends, I invite you to remember how the Lord continues to call by name - as He did one day on the banks of the Lake of Galilee, that they may become 'fishers of men' - on His most direct collaborators in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the service of the Kingdom of God in our time.
Let us ask for all priests the gift of perseverance: that they may keep themselves faithful to praying, that they may celebrate the Holy Mass with ever renewed devotion, that they may live in watchful listening to the Word of the Lord, and that they may assimilate day after day the feelings and attitudes of the Good Shepherd.
Let us also pray for those who are preparing for priesthood and for their educators in the seminaries of Rome, Italy and the entire world. Let us pray for families so that in them, the 'seed' of vocation for the priesthood may continue to bud and mature.
This year, the theme of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is "Vocation in the service of the Church communion". The Second Vatican Council, in order to present the mystery of the Church in our time, has given a privileged place to the category of 'communion.'
This perspective highlights the rich variety of gifts and ministries among the people of God. All those who have been baptized are called on to contribute to the work of salvation.
In the church, however, there are some vocations specially dedicated to the service of communion. The first responsibility for the Catholic communion belongs to the Pope, successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome; with him as custodians and teachers of unity are the Bishops, successors to the Apostles, assisted by the priests. But even conserated persons and all the faithful are also at the service of this communion.
At the heart of the Church communion is the Eucharist. The different vocations draw from this Sacrament the spiritual force to constantly edify in charity the one ecclesial Body.
Let us now address Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd. May she, who promptly responded to the call of God, saying, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord", help us all to welcome with joy and willingness Christ's invitation to be His disciples, always inspired by the desire to form "one heart and mind" (cfr Acts 4,32).
Later, he said this in English
I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims!
Today, on this "Good Shepherd Sunday", the Church observes the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In my message for this occasion, I emphasized that the call to ordained and consecrated life in the Church is a call to communion — a communion rooted in the unity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
As Jesus tells us in the Gospel, "The Father and I are one" (Jn 10:30). Today, I invite you to join me in praying that young people will answer this call to communion and the service of the Church by responding generously to Christ’s call to priesthood and religious life. May God bless you all!
| 02/05/2007 17.33
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at St. Peter's Square today
Dear brothers and sisters,
The catechesis last week was dedicated to the great figure of Origen, Alexandrian doctor of the Church who lived in the second-third century.
We considered the life and the literary output of the great Alexandrian teacher, identifying his 'triple reading' of the Bible as the inspiratory nucleus of all his work.
I left aside, in order to talk about it today, two aspects of Origenian doctrine, which I consider to be among the most important and relevant. I wish to speak about his teachings on prayer and on the Church.
Origen, author of an important and always actually relevant treatise on prayer, constantly wove together his exegetic and theological production with experiences and suggestions concerning prayer.
Notwithstanding all its wealth of theological thought, his work was never purely academic. It was always based on his experience of prayer, of contact with God.
Indeed, he believed that to get to know Scriptures requires, even more than study, an intimacy with Christ and prayer. He was convinced that the favored way to know God was through love, and that there could be no authentic scientia Christi
, knowledge of Christ, unless one was 'in love' with Him.
In the Letter to Gregory
, Origen recommends:
"Dedicate yourself to reading divine Scriptures, and apply yourself to this end with perseverance. Be engaged in reading with the intention of believing in God and pleasing Him. If, during your reading, you find yourself before a closed door, knock and it will be opened to you as Jesus said: 'The guardian will open it to you.'
"In applying yourself this way to lectio divina
, seek with unshakeable loyalty and faith in God the sense of divine Scriptures which they contain in great breadth. But you should not be content simply with knocking and searching: in order to understand about God, prayer is absolutely necessary. And it was precisely to exhort us to pray that the Savior said not only 'Seek and you will find' and 'Knock and it shall be opened to you', but he added 'Ask and you will receive.'" (Ep. Gr. 4).
So the 'primordial role' that Origen played in the history of lectio divina
leaps to the eye. Bishop Ambrose of Milan - who would learn to read Scriptures from the works of Origen - then introduced it in the West, passing it on to Augustine and to the monastic tradition that followed.
As we have said, the highest level of kowing God, according to Origen, comes through love. And that's how it is among men, as well: one truly knows another deeply only through love, with hearts open to each other.
To demonstrate this, he cited a meaning that was often given to the Hebrew verb 'to know' - when it is used to express the act of human love: "Adam knew Eve, his wife, who then conceived." (Gn 4,1). Thus it is suggested that union in love brings the most authentic knowldge. Just as man and woman are "two in one flesh", so also God and the believer become "two in one spirit."
In this way, the Alexandrian's prayer appraoched the highest levels of mysticism, as his Homilies on the Song of Songs attest. In this respect, Origen confesses in the first Homily: "Often - and God is my witness - I have felt the Spouse right next to me to the maximum degree; then, He is suddenly gone and I cannot find what I am seeking. I am gripped once again by the desire to have Him come back, and somtimes He does, but when He appears, when I have Him in my hands, then once again He escapes, and the moment He is gone, I try once again to find Him..." (Hom. Cant. 1,7).
I am reminded of what my vneerated predecessor wrote, as an authentic witness, in Novo millennio ineunte
, where he shows the faithful "how prayer can progress, as a true dialog of love, until it makes the human being totally possessed by the divine Beloved, vibrant to the touch of the Spirit, filially abandoned in the heart of the Father..."
John Paul II continued: "It has to do with a journey that is completely sustained by grace, which nevertheless requires a strong spiritual commitment and even involves painful purifications, but which reaches its goal - in many different ways - in that indescribable joy that is experienced by mystics as a 'spousal union'"(n. 33).
We then come to a teaching of Origen about the Church, and more precisely - within the Church - on the univeral priesthood of the faithful. Indeed, as the Alexandrian states in his ninth Homily on Leviticus, "this topic concerns us all" (Hom. Lev. 9.1).
In the same Homily, Origen - referring to the prohibition given to Aaron, after the death of his sons, from entering the Holy of Holies for 'some time" (Lv 16,2) - admonishes the faithful:
"This shows that if one enters into the sanctuary at any time, without the necessary preparation, not robed in the right garments, without having prepared the offerings prescribed and thus render onself propitious to God, one dies... This applies to all of us. Indeed, it orders us that we should know how to come to the altar of God. Or don't you know that priesthood has been conferred even on you, indeed, on the entire Church of God and the community of the faithful?
"Listen to how Peter speaks of the faithful "' chosen race' who should therefore offer sacrifice to God...But in order that you can offer sacrifice worthily, you need pure garments, distinct from the ordinary garments worn by other men, and you need the divine fire" (ivi).
Thus, on the one hand, the 'girded hips' and 'priestly garments'- meaning the purity and honesty of lif; and on the other, "the lamp that is always lit" - meaning faith and knowledge of the Scriptures, are configured evidently as the indispensable conditions for the exercise of the priestly ministry.
These conditions - an integral conduct of life, as well us welcoming and studying the Word - are a true 'hierarchy of sanctity' in the universal priesthood of Christians.
At the top of this way of perfection, Origen places martyrdom. In the same ninth Homily on Leviticus, he refers to 'fire for the holocaust'[the offering burnt to God
], meaning faith and knowledge of the Scriptures, which should never be extinguished at the altar of anyone who practices this ministry.
Then he adds: "Each of us has it within", not just the fire, but "even the holocaust, and with that holocaust, light the altar so that it may always burn bright. And I, in giving up all I have, take up my cross and follow Christ, offer my holocaust to the altar of God; and if I give my body so that it burns and having charity, I may achieve the glory of martyrdom, then I offer my holocaust to the altar of God" (Hom. Lev. 9,9).
This inexhaustible way to perfection "concerns us all" if "the look of our heart" is directed at the contemplation of Wisdom and Truth, Jesus Christ Himself.
Preaching about Jesus's discourse in Nazareth - when "the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him" (Lk 4, 156-30) - Origen seems to be addressing us directly: "Even today, if wou wish, in this assembly, your eyes can look intently at the Savior. Indeed, when you address the most profound look of the heart towards the contemplation of Wisdom, Truth, God's only Son, then you will see God.
"What a happy gathering, that in which, the Bible attests, the eyes of everyone looked intently at Him! How much I wish that this gathering will have a similar experience, that the eyes of everyone, the non-baptized as well as the faithful, of men, women and children - not the eyes of the body but those of the spirit - could look at Jesus! - Imprint on us the light of your face, oh Lord, to whom belongs the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen!" (Hom, Lv, 32,6).
Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last week we looked at the life and writings of Origen of Alexandria. Today, I would like to consider two significant themes in his work.
Origen’s teaching on scripture greatly influenced the Church’s rich tradition of lectio divina
. Through the prayerful and faith-filled reading of the scriptures, we are drawn in love to mystical union with God. Just as a man and a woman become "one flesh" in marriage, so — in prayer — the Church and each of her members become one in the Spirit with the divine Bridegroom.
Regarding the Church, Origen teaches us the importance of the priesthood of all the faithful. As a member of this common priesthood, every believer is called to put on "priestly attire" by living a pure and virtuous life.
Loving intimacy with God through prayer and the offering of an upright and moral life — these are two of Origen’s most important lessons for us; these are the ways we keep the "gaze of our hearts" fixed on the "Wisdom and Truth who is Jesus Christ." God bless you all!
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s audience, especially the Delegates to the Nineteenth General Assembly of the Society of African Missions, and also the girls and staff from Hekima Place, Karen, Kenya. May your pilgrimage renew your love for Christ and his Church, and fill your hearts with joy in the Lord. God bless you all!
To Portuguese-speaking pilgrims, he had a special message:
Without forgetting other Portuguese-speaking pilgrims here today, I address a special greeting to the members of ethe parish of Sao Jose de Cerquilho, in the state of Sao Paolo, and the Franciscan family in Brazil, almost on the eve of my Apostolic Voyage to that great nation which, God willing, I will begin on Wednesday.
Besides my meetings with the youth of Latin America and with the bishops of that continent, I hope to preside at the canonization of the Blessed Friar Antonio di Sant'anna Galvao and to inaugurate, in Aparecida, the fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops.
Let us trust in the protection of our Lady for the success of this event of great importance to all of Latin America. This significant Church assembly should serve to encourage the disciples of Christ, so that they may welcome with audacious faith and renwed hope the conclusion of this Great Assembly. I give to all my Apostolic blessing.
To the Spanish-speaking pikgrims, he said:
With my impending Apostolic Voyage to Brazil to inaugurate the fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to bless this ecclesial assembly with abundant fruits, so that all Christians may feel themselves to be true disciples of Christ, sent by Him to evangelize our brothers with the divine Word and the witness of our own lives."
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 02/05/2007 18.24]
| 06/05/2007 14.50
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noontime prayer today:
Dear brothers and sisters!
The month of May has begun which for many Christian communities is the Marian month par excellence. As such, May devotions have become through the centuries one of the devotions dearest to the people, and has always been valued by pastors as a propitious occasion for preaching, catechesis and community prayer.
After the Second Vatican Council, which underscored the role of the Most Holy Mary in the Church and in the story of salvation, the Marian cult has undergone a profound renewal. And the month of May, which coincides at least in part wiith Eastertide, is quite propitious to illustrate the figure of Mary as the Mother who accompanied the community of disciples gathered to pray together while awaiting the Holy Spirit (cfr Acts 1,12-14).
This month could therefore also be an occasion to return to the faith of the early Church and, in union with Mary, to understand that even today, our mission is to announce and testify with courage and joy to Christ crucified and risen, hope of humanity.
To the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, I wish to entrust the apostolic voyage which I am making to Brazil from May 9-14. As my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II did, I will preside at the opening of the genral conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, the fifth, which will take place next Sunday at the great National Sanctuary of Our Lady Aparecida in the city of that name.
First, however, I will be in the nearby metropolis of Sao Paulo, where I will meet the youth and the bishops of Brazil, and I will have the joy of inscribing in the book of Saints the Blessed Father Antonio di Sant'Anna Galvao.
It is my firt apostolic visit to Latin America and I am preparing myself spiritually to meet the Latin-American subcontinent, where almost half of the Catholics of the world live, many of whom are young. That is why it has been called "the continent of hope" - hope not only for the church, but all America and the whole world.
Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray to the Most Holy Mary for this apostolic pilgrimage and, in particular, for the fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops, so that all the Christians of that region may feel that they are disciples and missionaries of Christ - Way, Truth and Life.
The present challenges are many: that is why it is important that Christians be formed to be a 'ferment' for good and the 'light' of holiness in this world.
After the Regina caeli, he had special words for the Diocese of Rome
I am glad to greet sll who are preparing to take part in the Spring Marathon, culminating event of the school festival organized in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome, as an occasion for meetings among the Cahtolic school communities of Rome and of the Lazio region.
Dear friends, I wish you well for your celebrations which combine sports, music and civic education. Have a a good Marathon and above all, a happy end to the schoolyear.
In English he said:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. Today’s Gospel reminds us that love is at the heart of all Christian discipleship. During this Easter season may we strengthen our desire to bear witness to Christ’s love in our lives.
This Wednesday I leave for my pastoral visit to Brazil. I ask all of you: please accompany me with your prayers! Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and wisdom.
Once again, he had a special greeting for the Polish pilgrims:
I cordially greet all the Poles. The month of May is a time of important events in Poland: the anniversary of the approval of the Constitution of May 3; and the feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland; St. Stanislaw, bishop and martyr; and St. Andrew Bobola, patron saints of Poland.
In this Marian month, I entrust to Mary the life of the Church in Poland and your country. During the events of May, I ask you to remember my pilgrimage to Brazil. God bless you.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 06/05/2007 17.34]
| 20/05/2007 13.04
Registrato il: 27/11/2005
This isn't the text! I just wanted to share with you all the fact that I watched this live today on CTV - only on the little screen on my computer, but it was better than nothing! I went to Mass yesterday evening, which explains why.
Oh it was so lovey to see our Papa as it happened, so to speak! His voice was strong and clear today! There was a huge crowd in the square - very vociferous, calling "Benedetto" for some time before he appeared. A large contingent of young people had come from Genoa - most of these were wearing red baseball caps and they gave many cheers when Papa mentioned them in his separate messages to different language groups. Even the English-speaking people were quite animated for once! Hey - wait till Nan and I are there!!!!! I always shout loudly, don't I, Nan!!!!!
The German-speaking people were well-represented too, today.
Papa's message was about his trip to Brazil - and there was quite a big group from Brazil, waving their national flag.
He also spoke about the continuing troubles in the Gaza Strip and begged all concerned to cease the war and make peace with each other.
I only caught the gist, because my Italian isn't at all good. I'm working on it though!
Buona domenica a tutte voi! E una buona settimana!
Luff - Mary x
[Modificato da maryjos 20/05/2007 13.05]
| 20/05/2007 14.48
THE POPE'S REMARKS AT REGINA CAELI ON SUNDAY, MAY 13, DELIVERED AFTER THE MASS IN APARECIDA, CAN BE FOUND IN THE THREAD 'APOSTOLIC VOYAGE TO BRAZIL.'
| 20/05/2007 15.17
|Here is a translation of the Pope's remarks before and after the Regina Caeli prayer today:
Dear brothers and sisters:
I wish above all to renew my thanks to the Lord for the Apostolic Voyage to Brazil which I made on May 9-14, and at the same time, I thank all who accompanied me with their prayers.
The reason for that pastoral visit, as you know, was the inauguration of the fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops. But before that great event, I had the chance to meet with the Catholic community of Brazil. Many faithful gathered in Sao Paulo for the canonization of Brazil's first native-born saint, Fra=. Antonio di Sant’Anna Galvão.
I hope to speak more at length about this trip next Wednesday during the general audience. Meanwhile, I invite you all to continue to pray for the Conference going on in Aparecida and for the people of God who live in Latin America.
Another reason for reflection and prayer is given us today by the annual observance of the World Day for Social Communications on the theme "Children and communications media: a challenge for education."
The educational challenges in today's world are often linked to the influence of the mass media, which compete with the school, the Church and the family itself. In this context, adequate formation in the correct use of the mass media is essential.
Parents, teachers and the church community are called on to work together to educate children and the youth to be selective and to develop a critical attitude by cultivating a taste for what is esthetically and morally valid.
But even the media should contribute to this educational commitment, by promoting the dignity of the human being, matrimony and family, along with the positive conquests and achievements of civilization.
Programs that inculcate violence and anti-social behavior or which vulgarize human sexuality are unacceptable, especially if aimed at minors.
Therefore I renew my appeal to responsible persons in the media industry and to those who work in social communications to safeguard the common good, respect truth and protect the dignity of the individual and the family.
Dear brothers and sisters, the solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, which the liturgy commemorated last Thursday, is celebrated today in some countries.
The Risen Jesus returns to the Father, thus opening for us the way to eternal life and making possible the gift of the Holy Spirit. Like the Apostles then, we today, after Ascension, gather ourselves in prayer to invoke the effusion of the Spirit, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary (cfr Acts 1,12-14). May her intercession obtain for all the Church a new Pentecost.
After the prayer, he said:
The encounters between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the rocket launches against the residents of nearby Israeli cities, which has been answered by armed intervention, are provoking a bloody deterioration of the situation which is alarming.
Once more, in the name of God, I plead for an end to this tragic violence, while I express to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples who are under such trials, my fraternal closeness and assure them that I remember them with prayers.
I appeal to the sense of responsibility of all the Palestinian authorities so that, through dialogue and with firmness, they may resume the difficult road towards agreement by neutralizing the violence.
I invite the Israeli government to moderation and call on the international community to multiply its efforts in bringing about a resumption of negotiations.
May the Lord inspire and support the peacemakers!
To the English-speaking pilgrims, he said:
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims gathered here today.
In the Gospel, Jesus prays that all may be one, just as he and the Father are one. He desires the world to know that he is the one sent by the Father. By working for reconciliation and peace, may Christians everywhere bear clearer witness to the Father’s love for the world, so that all mankind may come to believe in his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ. God bless you!
Once again, he had a special greeting for Polish pilgrims:
I cordially greet all the compatriots of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II. It was his birthday the other day. I thank you for your prayers for his beatification and for my recent apostolic voyage to Brazil. This event was important for the Church.
May the Lord ascended to Heaven reinforce your faith. With hope, let us await his glorious return. I wish you all a good Sunday.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 21/05/2007 0.35]
| 23/05/2007 15.21
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the General Audience today which he devoted to reporting about his recent trip to Brazil.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In this general audience, I would like to dwell on the Apostolic Voyage that I made to Brazil from May 9-14. After two years of the Pontificate, I finally had the joy of finding myself in Latin America, which is very dear to me, and where in fact, a great part of the Catholics of the world live.
The destination was Brazil, but I meant to embrace the whole great Latin American subcontinent, especially since the church event that brought me there was the Fifth General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean bishops.
I wish to renew the expression of my profound gratitude for the welcome that I received from my dear brother bishops, especially from those in Sao Paulo and Aparecida.
I thank the President of Brazil and other civilian authorities for their cordial and generous collaboration.
And with great affection, I thank the people of Brazil for the warmth with which they welcomed me - which was truly great and moving - and for the attention which they gave my words.
My trip was, above all, an act of praise to God for the 'wonders' he has worked among the peoples of Latin America, for the faith which has animated their life and their culture for more than 500 years. In this sense, it was a pilgrimage which culminated in the Sanctuary of Our Lady Aparecida, principal patron of Brazil.
The theme of the relationship between faith and culture was always dear to the heart of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II. I wanted to take it up again in confirming the Church of Latin America and the Caribbean in the path of faith which made and which is making the history they live, their popular piety and art, in a dialog with the rich pre-Colombian traditions, and later with the multiple influences from Europe and other continents.
Of course, the remembrance of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelization in the Latin American continent. Indeed, it is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous populations, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon.
But the necessary mention of such unjustifiable crimes - which were condemned by the early missionaries themselves like Bartolome de las Casas, and theologians like Francesco da Vitoria of the University of Salamanca - should not keep us from grateful acknowledgment of the wondrous work of divine grace among these populations in the course of these centuries.
The Gospel has been for the continent the common bearer of a dynamic synthesis which, with different aspects in different nations, expresses the identity of the Latin American peoples. Today, in the epoch of globalization, this Catholic identity still presents itself as the most appropriate response when it is animated by serious spiritual formation and the principles of the social doctrine of the Church.
Brazil is a great nation which has kept profoundly rooted Christian values but also has enormous social and economic problems. To contribute to their solution, the Church should mobilize all the spiritual and moral forces of its communities, finding the appropriate convergences with other healthy forces in the country.
Among the positive elements one must certainly note the creativity and fecundity of the Church in Brazil, where new movements and new institutes for consecrated life are continually being born. And not less praiseworthy is the generous dedication of so many lay faithful who have been very active in the various activities promoted by the Church.
Brazil is a nation that can offer the world a new model of development. The Christian culture indeed can inspire a 'reconciliation' between men and creation, starting with the recovery of personal dignity through his relation with God the Father.
In this sense, an eloquent example is Facenda da Esperanca, a network of communities to recover young people who wish to leave the dark tunnel of drug addiction. In the community I visited - from which I have taken profound impressions which will remain vivid in my heart - the presence of a convent of Poor Clare nuns is significant. This appeared to me emblematic for today's world which certainly needs psychological and social 'rehabilitation' but even more deeply, a spiritual one.
Also emblematic was the canonization, celebrated in joy, of the first native-born saint of the land: Frei Antonio di Sant’Anna Galvão. This Franciscan priest of the 18th century, a great devotee of the Virgin Mary, apostle of the Eucharist and of Confession, was called in his lifetime "a man of peace and charity". His witness is further confirmation that saintliness is the true revolution which can promote authentic reform of the Church and of society.
In the Cathedral of Sao Paulo, I met with the bishops of Brazil, the world's largest episcopal conference. To testify to them the support of the Successor of Peter was one of the principal aims of my mission, because I know the great challenges that the proclamation of the Gospel must confront in that nation.
I encouraged my brother bishops to carry forward and reinforce their commitment for a new evangelization, exhorting them to develop in a detailed methodical way how to spread the Word of God so that the innate and widespread religiosity of the many peoples of Brazil may deepen and become mature faith, personal as well as communitarian adherence to the God of Jesus Christ.
I encouraged them to recover everywhere the spirit of the early Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles: assiduousness in catechesis, in the sacramental life and in actual works of charity.
I know the dedication of these faithful servants of the Gospel who wish to present it without diminution or confusion, watching over the 'deposit of the faith' with discernment. However, their constant concern is also to promote social development primarily though the formation of lay faithful who can take positions of responsibility in politics and the economy.
I thank God for having allowed me to deepen my communion with the Brazilian bishops whom I will continue to remember in my prayers.
Another distinctive moment of my trip was certainly the encounter with the youth, not only the hope for the future, but a vital force in the present for the Church and for society. That is why the vigil that they mounted in Sao Paulo was a feast of hope illuminated by the words of Christ to the rich young man who had asked him: "Master, what should I do to obtain eternal life?" (Mt 19,16).
Jesus first indicated to him "the commandments" as the way of life, and then invited him to leave everything in order to follow him. Even today, the Church does the same thing: first of all, to re-propose the Commandments, which are the true way to education for freedom towards personal and social good; but above all, it presents 'the first commandment' - that of love, because without love, even the Commandments cannot give the full sense of life nor procure true happiness.
Only he who finds in Jesus the love of God and takes the path of practising love among his fellowmen, becomes his disciple and missionary. I asked the youth to become apostles among their contemporaries - and therefore, always to look after their own human and spiritual formation; to have great respect for matrimony and the path that leads to it in chastity and responsibility; and to be open to a calling to a life consecrated to the Kingdom of God.
In short, I urged them to bring to fruition the great richness of their youth that they may become the young face of the Church.
The climax of the trip was the inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Sanctuary of Our Lady Aparecida. The theme of this great and important conference which will conclude at the end of this month is "Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our peoples may have life in him - the Way, the Truth and the Life."
The term 'disciples and missionaries" corresponds to what the Gospel of Mark says about the calling of the Apostles: "(Jesus) appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach" (Mk 3, 14-15).
The word 'disciples' recalls the formative dimension and the consequences of communion and friendship with Jesus. The term 'missionaries' expresses the fruit of discipleship, namely, the witness and communication of the experience one has loved, of the truth and love that one has learned and assimilated.
To be disciples and missionaries involves a close link to the Word of God, to the Eucharist and other Sacraments; it means living in the Church with obedient attention to its teachings. To renew with joy this desire to be disciples of Christ, of 'being with him', is the fundamental condition to become his missionaries, with Christ as the starting point, as Pope John Paul II urged the whole Church during the Jubilee Year 2000.
My venerated predecessor always insisted on an evangelization that is "new in its ardor, in its methods, in its expression", as he stated when he addressed the CELAM assembly on March 9, 1983, in Haiti(cfr Insegnamenti VI/1 , 698).
With my apostolic voyage, I wanted to call on everyone to proceed on this path, offering the unifying perspective of the encyclical Deus caritas est
, an inseparably theological and social perspective that can be summarized in these words: it is love which gives life.
"The presence of God, the friendship with the Son of God incarnate, the light of his word, are always fundamental conditions for the presence and effectiveness of justice and of love in our society." (Inaugural address to the V General Conference of Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, May 13, 2007).
I entrust the fruits of this unforgettable apostolic voyage to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, venerated as Our Lady of Guadalupe and patron of all Latin America, and to the new Brazilian saint, Frei Antonio di Sant'Anna Galvao.
Later, he synthesized his report in English as follows:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My recent Pastoral Visit to Brazil embraced not only that great nation but all Latin America and the Caribbean, home to many of the world’s Catholics.
My visit was above all a pilgrimage of praise to God for the faith which has shaped their cultures for over five hundred years. While we do not overlook the various injustices and sufferings which accompanied colonization, the Gospel has expressed and continues to express the identity of the peoples in this region and provides inspiration to address the challenges of our globalized era.
In the Fazenda da Esperança, a network of centres for young people recovering from drug addiction, I saw a symbol of that spiritual "recovery" which our world truly needs, a recovery of our dignity as God’s children and a reconciled relationship with all creation.
The canonization of Brazil’s first native saint, Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão, reminded us that holiness is the real "revolution" which brings about authentic reform in Church and society.
In Aparecida, I opened the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is addressing our need to be convinced "disciples and missionaries" of Christ and his love.
After my joyful meeting with the young people, I am confident that they will be apostles to their contemporaries, use their rich gifts in the service of the new evangelization and ensure a future of hope for the Church in Brazil and in all Latin America.
I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including members of the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, as well as the young artists from Nairobi. I thank all of you for your prayers during my visit to Brazil. May God bless you all!
| 27/05/2007 12.53
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words today at Regina caeli prayers in St. Peter's Square.
Dear brothers and sisters!
We celebrate today the rgeat feast of Pentecost, when the liturgy makes us relive the birth of the Church, as Saint Luke narrates in the Acts of the Apostles (2,1-13).
Fifty days after Easter, the Holy Spirit descended on the community of the disciples - 'with one accord to prayer' - gathered "with Mary, the mother of Jesus" and with the twelve Apostles (cfr Acts 1,14;2,1). We can therefore say that the Church had its solemn beginning with the descent of the Holy Spirit.
In this extraordinary event we find the essential and qualifying notes of the Church: the Church is one, like the community of Pentecost, united in prayer and concord: it was 'of one heart and one mind" (Acts 4,32). The Church is holy, not for its merits, but because, animated by the Holy Spirit, it looks to Christ to conform to Him and to his love. The Church is catholic, because the Gospel is destined to all the peoples, and therefore, from the beginning, the Holy Spirit made it speak in all tongues. The Church is apostolic, because, built on the foundation of the Apostles, it guards their teaching faithfully through the uninterrupted chain of apostolic succession.
The Church is also by its nature missionary, and from the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has not ceased to push it along the roads of the world, to the extreme ends of earth and to the end of time.
This reality, which we can verify in every era, is as anticipated in the Book of Acts, which describes the transmission of the Gospel from the Jews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome.
Rome stood for the pagan world, therefore all the peoples who were not among the ancient People of God. In fact, the Acts conclude with the arrival of the Gospel in Rome.
We can therefore say that Rome is the concrete name of Catholicity and mission, it expresses loyalty to the origins, to the Church of all time, a Church that speaks all the languages and goes forth to encounter all cultures.
Dear brothers and sisters, the first Pentecost happened with the Most Blessed Mary present among the disciples in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and prayed. Even today we entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, so that the Holy Spirit may descend in abundance on the Church of our time, eel the hearts of all and light in them the fire of His love.
Later, he said in English:
I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims who have come here today, especially the Families of Nazareth and the members of the military community of Hohenfels, who are making their retreat in Rome.
On this Pentecost Sunday the whole Church gives thanks for the gift of the Holy Spirit sent to the Apostles. May the same Spirit pour out his gifts upon all of you, filling your hearts with love and strengthening you to bear witness to the Gospel of Christ. May God bless you all.
| 30/05/2007 12.50
Registrato il: 27/11/2005
We had a bonus this morning from CTV. Usually the coverage ends while the bishops are coming up to talk to Papa. Today we saw him speaking to all the people in the front row of the VIP section. I think this may have been because the parents of the missing English girl, four year old Madeleine, were there. They were near the end of the front row. They looked so sad, especially the mother. She showed Papa a photo of Madeleine. Next to them was a lady wearing a tight headscarf - clearly she had recently received strong chemotherapy. She was in tears as she spoke to Papa.
I was so pleased that we had this extra coverage and I do feel that the "right" sort of people ought to be allowed into the front row of this area. I no longer mind that Nan and I were on the other side last October.
This morning's catechesis was Papa's continuation of his teaching about the early Church - today the story of Saint Julian. I'm sure Teresa will post the complete text soon.
Luff always - Mary x