| 05/08/2007 13.54
|For live coverage of the Wednesday audience and Sunday Angelus
if you cannot get CTV (since they changed from Real/Windows):
Here is a translation of the Pope's homily and messages at noonday Angelus today in Castel Gandolfo.
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Marìae,
et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Ave Maria ...
Ecce Ancilla Domini,
fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum
Ave Maria ...
Et Verbum caro factum est,
et habitavit in nobis.
Ave Maria ...
Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde;
ut qui, angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem,
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Gloria Patri ...
Dear brothers and sisters,
On the 18th Sunday in ordinary time today, the Word of God urges us to reflect on what our relationship should be with material goods. Wealth, although it is good in itself, should not be considered absolutely good. Above all, it does not assure salvation, but ti could even compromise it seriously.
It is this that Jesus wants his disciples about, in today's Gospel. It is wise and virtuous not to attach ourselves to worldly goods because everything passes, everything can end suddenly.
The true treasure that we Christians should pursue ceaselessly are in "the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father".
St. Paul in his Letter to the Colossians reminds us of that today, adding that our life is henceforth "hidden with Christ in God" (cfr 3,1-3).
The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of our Lord, which we celebrate tomorrow, also invites us to turn our eyes 'upward', toward heaven. In the Gospel account of the transfiguration, we are given a premonitory sign which allows us a fleeting glimpse of the kingdom of the saints where even we, at the end of our earthly existence, may share in the glory of Christ which is complete, total and definitive. At that time, the whole universe will be transfigured and the divine design of salvation will finally be fulfilled.
The Feast of the Transfiguration is now linked as well to the memory of my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who completed his earthly mission here at Castel Gandolfo in 1978, and was called to the house of our heavenly Father.
May his memory be an invitation for us to look upward and to faithfully serve the Lord and the Church, as he did in the last century during a period which was not easy.
May this grace be obtained for us by the Virgin Mary, whom we remember today in celebrating the liturgical memory of the Dedication of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore.
As you know, this was the first Basilica in the West constructed in honor of Mary, rebuilt in 432 by Pope Sixtus III to celebrate the Divine Maternity of the Virgin, a dogma which was solemnly proclaimed by the ecumenical council of Ephesus the year before.
May the Virgin, who, more than any other creature, participated in the mystery of Christ, sustain us in our journey of faith in order that, as today's liturgy invites us to pray, "operating with our powers to subjugate the earth, we do not allow ourselves to be dominated by cupidity and selfishness, but that we may always look for that which has value in the eyes of God" (cfr Collect).
After the Angelus, he added this special message:
Now I wish to address a special thought to the leaders and the faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church, on the death of His Beatitude Patriarch Teoctist a few days ago.
For the solemn funeral services which were held at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest last Friday, I sent as my representative Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, with an appropriate delegation.
I remember with esteem and affection that noble figure of a Pastor who loved his Church and contributed positively to the relations between Catholics and Orthodox, constantly encouraging the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialog between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church.
Clear proof of his ecumenical commitment were the two visits that he made to my venerated predecessor John Paul II and the welcome with which he, in turn, accorded the Bishop of Rome on his historic pilgrimage to Romania in 1999.
"May his memory be eternal", says the traditional Orthodox liturgy that closes the final rites for those who have gone to rest with God. Let us make it our invocation, too, asking the Lord to welcome our Brother in his kingdom of infinite light and grant him the rest and peace promised to faithful servants of the Gospel.
Later, he addressed English-speaking pilgrims:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors at this Angelus.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that all the treasures we have come from the goodness of God.
May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your understanding of our faith and renew in you the desire to share your gifts and goods with others. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and joy!
He had a different message for the German-speaking pilgrims:
I give joyous greetings to all pilgrims and visitors from German-speaking countries who are here in Castel Gandolfo.
Many are enjoying their annual vacation these days. In the Creation story, we read that God himself 'rested' on the seventh day,, after he had completed his work. God was allowing Creation, we might say, time to answer him freely.
May this time for renewal open your senses to the beauty of Creation, in which the voice of God resounds. May it give you ways to encounter the Lord who gives light, love and strength to our lives.
I wish you all a blessed Sunday and a good week.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/08/2007 04.57]
| 08/08/2007 15.28
Here is a translation of the Pope's catechesis at the General Audience held today at the Vatican's Aula Paolo VI. The Pope flew in from helicopter from the summer residence at Castel Gandolfo and returned there after the audience.
Dear brothers and sisters!
Last Wednesday, I spoke of a great teacher of the faith, the Father of the Church, St. Basil. Today I wish to speak about his friend, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who was from Cappadocia (present-day Turkey) like Basil.
An illustrious theologian, orator and defender of the Christian faith in the fourth century, he was celebrated for his eloquence, and as a poet, he was refined and sensitive.
Gregory was born into a noble family. His mother consecrated him to God when he was born, around 330. After his initial education within his family, he attended the most famous schools of the time: first, at Caesarea in Cappadocia, where he first met Basil, future bishop of that city,; then in Alexandria, and above all, in Athens, where once again, he crossed paths with Basil (cfr Oratio 43,14-24: SC 384,146-180).
Recalling their friendship, Gregory would write later: "At that time, I was not the only one who felt veneration for my great Basil, for his reliable habits and the maturity and wisdom of his discourses, which induced others to follow his example, even if they did not know him yet...We were both guided by the same thirst for knowledge... This was our 'rivalry': not who of us would be first, but who would allow the other to be first. It seemed we had one soul in two bodies" (Oratio 43,16.20: SC 384154-156.164).
They are words that are almost like a self-portrait of this noble soul. But one can also imagine that this man, who was so strongly projected towards values beyond this world, also suffered much from worldly matters.
Coming home from his studies, Gregory received Baptism and became oriented to the monastic life: solitude for philosophical and spiritual meditation fascinated him.
He wrote: "Nothing seems greater to me than this: to quiet my own senses, emerge from my worldly flesh, be gathered into myself, not to concern myself with earthly things except for the most necessary; speak with myself and God, live a life that transcends visible things; carry in my soul divine images that are ever more pure, untainted by earthly and erroneous elements - to be truly a mirror of God and of divine things, to become more and more a mirror taking light from true light...; to enjoy future good in present hope and converse with the angels; leaving the earth while remaining in it, but transported upward in spirit" (Oratio 2,7: SC 247,96).
He confides in his autobiography (cfr Carmina [historica] 2,1,11 de vita sua 340-349: PG 37,1053), that he received his ordination with a certain reluctance because he knew that he would then have to be a pastor, to occupy himself with others and their concerns, and therefore no longer rapt in pure meditation. But he accepted the vocation and took on his pastoral ministry in full obedience, accepting - as often happened in his life - to be brought by Providence even where he did not want to be (cfr Gv 21,18).
In 371, his friend Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, against Gregory's own wishes, consecrated him Bishop of Sasima, a city of strategic importance in Cappadocia. But because of various difficulties, Gregory never took possession of the seat, and remained in his home city of Nazianzus.
Around 379, Gregory was called to Constantinople, the capital, in order to guide the small Catholic community there which was faithful to the Council of Nicaea and its faith in the Trinity, whereas the majority were adherents of Arianism, which was 'politically correct and deemed politically useful by the emperors.
So he found himself within a minority that was surrounded by hostility. In the little church of the Anastasis, he gave five theological discourses (Orationes 27-31: SC 250,70-343) to defend the Trinitarian faith and make it more understandable.
These discourses have remained famous for their sureness of doctrine and the masterful reasoning which made it truly understandable that this faith was divine logic. The splendor of their form makes them fascinating to this day. Because of these discourses, Gregory earned the appellative of 'theologian.' And that is how he is called in the Orthodox Church: the theologian.
This is because for him, theology was not a purely human reflection, much less merely the fruit of complicated speculations, but one that came from a life of prayer and holiness, from an assiduous dialog with God. And that is how a theologian discloses to reason the reality of God, the mystery of the Trinity. In contemplative silence, coupled with wonder before revealed mystery, the soul receives the beauty and the glory of God.
During his participation in the Ecumenical Council of 381, Gregory was elected Bishop of Constantinople and became the President of the Council. Almost immediately, a strong opposition was unleashed against him until the situation became unbearable. To a soul as sensitive as his, these hostilities were insupportable.
What was now happening was what he had lamented previously with these words: "We have cut up Christ, we who loved God and Christ so much! We have lied to each other in the name of Truth, we have fed sentiments of hate in the name of Love, we have divided ourselves against each other!" (Oratio 6,3: SC 405,128).
The tensions led to his resignation. Before a jampacked cathedral, Gregory delivered a farewell address of great dignity and effect
(cfr Oratio 42: SC 384,48-114). He concluded with these heartfelt words: "Farewell, great city loved by Christ...My children, I beg of you, guard the deposit of the faith which has been entrusted to you (cfr 1 Tm 6,20) and remember my sufferings (cfr Col 4,18). May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (cfr Oratio 42,27: SC 384,112-114).
He returned to Nazianzus and devoted himself for two years to his pastoral ministry. Then he retired definitively in solitude near Arianzus, in the land of his birth, dedicating himself to study and a life of asceticism.
During this time, he composed much of his poetic works, which were mostly autobiographical. De vita sua
is a verse rendition of his human and spiritual journey, the exemplary journey of a suffering Christian, of a man who sustained a great inner life in a world full of conflict.
Gregory is a man who makes us feel the primacy of God and therefore he speaks to us, to our world: without God, man loses his greatness; without God, there can be no true humanism.
So let us listen to this voice and let us try ourselves to know the face of God. In one of his poems, he wrote, addressing God: "Kindly Thou art, who are beyond all things" (Carmina [dogmatica] 1,1,29: PG 37,508). And in 390, God welcomed back to his arms this faithful servant who had defended him with acute intelligence in his writings and who had sung his praises with such love in his poems.
Later, he synthesized the catechesis for English-speaking pilgrims:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I want to reflect with you on Saint Gregory Nazianzene, a great theologian, preacher and poet from fourth-century Cappadocia. A friend and admirer of Saint Basil, Gregory was inspired to seek Baptism and to enter monastic life, devoting himself to prayer, solitude, and meditation.
He loved to leave behind the things of this world and enter into intimate communion with God, so that the depths of his soul became like a mirror reflecting the divine light. Reluctantly, but in a spirit of obedience, he accepted priestly ordination.
He was sent to Constantinople, where he preached his five Orations: beautifully reasoned presentations of the Church’s teaching. Known as "The Theologian", he stressed that theology is more than merely human reflection: it springs from a life of prayer and holiness, from wonder at the marvels of God’s revelation.
Gregory was elected Bishop of Constantinople and presided over the Council that took place there in the year 381, but he encountered so much hostility that he withdrew once more to lead a life of solitude. His spiritual autobiography from this final period includes some of his most beautiful poetry.
As we admire the wisdom with which he defended the Church’s doctrine, let us be moved by the love that is conveyed in his poetry.
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from Ireland, Israel, the Far East, and North America. I extend a special welcome to the pilgrims who have travelled here from Da Nang in Vietnam. May the peace and joy of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and may God bless you all!
To the Italians-speaking pilgrims, he made this reminders:
Today is the memorial of St. Dominic Guzman, tireless preacher of the Gospel [founder of the Dominican order, formally called Order of Preachers], and tomorrow will be the feast day of Saint Teresa Benedetta della Croce, Edith Stein, co-patron of Europe. May these two saints help you, dear young people, to always have trust in Christ, and you who are afflicted, to participate with faith in the saving power of the Cross.
| 12/08/2007 21.04
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noonday Angelus in Castel Gandolfo today:
Dear brothers and sisters,
The liturgy on this 19th Sunday in ordinary time prepares us in some way for the solemnity of Mary's Assumption to Heaven which we are celebrating on August 15.
In fact, it is oriented completely to the future, to heaven, where the Blessed Virgin has preceded us to the joy of Paradise. In particular, the Gospel today, following the message last Sunday, invites us Christians to detach ourselves from material goods which are mostly illusory, and to faithfully comply with our own obligations while contantly reaching towards heaven.
The believer must be alert and watchful in order to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in his glory. Through examples drawn from daily life, the Lord exhorts his disciples to live with this interior disposition, like the servants in the parable who are waiting for the return of their master.
"Blessed are those servants," he says, "whom the master will find sitll awake when he comes back" (Lk 12,37). We should therefore, be watchful, while praying and doing good.
It is true that on earth, we are all transients, as the second Reading from today's liturgy reminds us, from the Letter to the Hebrews. It presents Abraham to us as a pilgrim, a nomad who lives in a tent and sojourns in a strange land. And it is faith that guides him.
"Out of faith," the sacred author writes, "Abraham, called by God, obeyed and set out for the land which he was to receive as a legacy, without knowing where he was going" (Heb 11,8).
His true goal was, in fact "the city with the firm foundations, whose archiect and builder is God himself" (11,10). The city that is referred to is not of this earth. It is Paradise.
The early Christian community was aware of this, considering what is down here as 'foreign', and calling its residential nuclei in the cities 'parishes' which means precisely, colonies of strangers [parokoi
, in Greek](cfr 1 Pt 2,11).
In this way, the first Christians expressed the most important characteristic of the Church, which is precisely this reaching out toward heaven. Today's liturgy of the Word invites us to think "of life in the world to come", as we repeat every time we make our profession of faith with the Creed.
It is an invitaiton to spend our life in a wise and farsigted manner, considering carefully our destination, namely that which we call the last realities: death, the last judgment, eternity, hell and paradise.
May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth, we are only transients, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to meet Jesus "who is seated at the right hand of the Almighty Father, from whence he shall coime to judge the living and the dead."
After the Angelus, he had this special message:
In the last few days, serious floods have devastated many countries in Southeast Asia, with numerous victims and causing millions to be without shelter.
In expressing my profound participation in the sorrow of the affected people, I exhort the community of the Church to pray for the victims and to support the initiatives for solidarity to alleviate the sufferings of so many people who are so sorely tried. May the international coimmunity not fail to give its timely and generous support to these our brothers and sisters in need.
In English, he said:
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus exhorts his disciples to be watchful, ever ready to greet him when he comes. During these quiet days of summer, may we welcome the Lord ever more fully into our hearts and allow his grace to transform our lives. Upon you and your families, I cordially invoke God’s blessing of joy and peace!
To the Polish pilgrims, he said:
I welcome all Poles who are present. Through you, I wish to send my greeting and my expression of spiritual union with those who these days are making a pilgrimage these days to Jasna Gora and other sanctuaries. May the efforts of the journey and their fervent prayers bring abundant fruits to the life of eveyr pilgrim, their families, and all of Polish society. God bless you.
| 15/08/2007 13.02
Here is a translation of the words of the Holy Father at the Angelus in Castel Gandolfo today:
Dear brothers and sisters!
We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is an ancient feast, which has its ultimate foundation in Sacred Scripture which shows us the Virgin Mary closely united to her divine Son and always one with him.
Mother and Son appear closely associated in the battle against the infernal enemy until full victory is achieved over him. This victory is expressed, particularly, by overcoming sin and death, a victory over those enemies that S., Paul presented to us always conjoined. (cfr Rm 5, 12. 15-21; 1 Cor 15, 21-26).
Thus, just as the glorious Resurrection of Christ was the definitive sign of victory, the glorification of Mary in her virginal body constitutes the final confirmation of her full solidarity with her son in battle as in victory.
Such profound theological significance was expressed by the Servant of God Pius XII in proclaiming on November 1, 1950, the solemn dogmatic definition of this Marian privilege. He said, "In this way, the august Mother of God, arcanely united with Jesus Christ through eternity through the same decree of predestination - immaculate in her conception, virgin undefiled in her divine maternity, generous associate of the Divine Redeemer, who achieved full triumph over sin and its consequence - at the end, as a supreme crown to her privileges, was preserved from corruption in the tomb, and triumphing over death, as her Son did, was taken up body and soul to the glory of Heaven, where she reigns as Queen at the right hand of ehr Son, immortal King of centuries" (Cost. Munificentissimus Deus: AAS 42 , 768-769).
Dear brothers and sisters, assumed into heaven, Mary has not gone away from us. She continues to be near us, and her light shines on our life and on the history of all humanity.
Attracted by the celestial radiance of the Redeemer's Mother, let us look trustingly to her who watches over us and protects us from on high. We all need her help and her comfort in order to face the trials and challenges of every day. We need to feel that she is our Mother and sister in the concrete situations of our existence.
In order that even we may share one day and for always her own destiny, let us emulate her in her obedient following of Christ and her generous service to her brothers.
This is the only way we could have a foretaste, even during our earthly pilgrimage, of the joy and peace that is lived in full by whoever arrives at the immortal destination in Paradise.
After the Angelus, he said in English:
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we too may attain the glory of the Resurrection and the fulfilment of our hope in her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings!
In German, he addressed a special greeting to participants of the Youth Pilgrimage to Mariazell, Austria:
I specially greet today our young friends who are linked to us from Mariazell, in Austria, through television.
Dear young people, you have gathered in a House of Mary that I too will visit next month. The example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, shows us that God sought out men in whom he could make his dwelling. Christ would like to dwell in our hearts.
And the Church, the house of God, will grow when we, the people of God, with our faith, with our prayers, with hope and love, accept Him, and become living stones of this spiritual house.
Dear pilgrims, dear young people, today let us pray specially to Mary, who is an exceptional and perfect stone of the living House of God, for her intercession in our own personal lives. She lives wholly in the presence of God while still remaining deeply bound to us human beings in her motherly heart.
May the protection of Mary accompany you all along your way!
He also had special words for Polish pilgrims:
Today I join in prayer with the bishops and faithful gathered in Jasna Gora. Rendering glory to the Virgin Mary of the Assumption, I entrust the Church in Poland and all Poles to her protection. I bless you all from the heart.
At the end, he said:
I wish everyone a happy Feast of the Assumption.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 15/08/2007 13.04]
| 19/08/2007 13.43
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noonday Angelus in Castel Gandolfo today:
Dear brothers and sisters!
There is a statement by Jesus in the Gospel today that always catches our attention and demands to be well understood.
On his way to Jerusalem, where death on the Cross awaited him,. Jesus confides to his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division."
Then he adds: "From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Lc 12,51-53).
Whoever knows the Gospel of Christ in the least, knows that this is a message of peace par excellence. Jesus himself, as St. Paul writes, "is our peace" (Eph 2,14), who died and resurrected for breaking down the walls of enmity and inaugurate the Kingdom of God, who is love, joy and peace.
How then do we explain the words of the Gospel today? What is the Lord referring to when he says he came to bring, according to St. Luke's version, 'division', or according to St. Matthew, 'the sword' (Mt 10,34)?
The statement by Jesus means that the peace He came to bring is not synonymous to the simple absence of conflicts. On the contrary, the peace of Jesus is the fruit of a constant battle with evil. The challenge that Jesus is determined to sustain is not against men or human powers, but against the enemy of God and men, Satan.
Whoever wants to resist this enemy, remaining faithful to God and to goodness, must necessarily face incomprehension and sometimes, true and actual persecutions. That is why, those who intend to follow Jesus and to commit themselves without compromises to the truth should know that they will encounter opposition and will become, despite themselves, a sign of contradiction among men, even within their own families.
Love for our parents is in fact a divine commandment, but in order to be lived authentically, it can never be placed ahead of love of God and of Christ.
In this way, in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, Christians become 'instruments of his peace', according to the famous phrase of St. Francis of Assisi. Not an inconsistent and only apparent peace, but a real peace, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily task of triumphing over evil with good (cfr Rm 12,21) and personally paying the price that this demands.
The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared in martyrdom of the spirit her Son's battle against Evil, and continues to share that to the end of time. Let us invoke her maternal intercession so she may help us to to always be witnesses for Christ's peace, never stopping to compromises with evil.
After the Angelus, he made this special announcement:
In these days, our thoughts and prayers have constantly turned to the people of Peru, who have been struck by a c=devastating earthquake. I invoke the peace of the Lord for those who died, quick healing for those who are injured, and to those who now find themselves in miserable conditions, I wish to assure you: the Church is with you, with all its spiritual and material solidarity.
My Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who had been planning a trip to Peru before this, will leave in the new few days to convey my personal sentiments as well as the concrete assistance of the Holy See.
This morning, the annual meeting for friendship among peoples opened in Rimini, with the theme this year, "Truth is the destiny for which e were created." In addressing my cordial greeting to the organizers, I assure them of my prayers so that, through the multiple initiatives on the program, the Meeting may be an occasion that will be profitable for reflection and encounter, in order to realize man's most profound calling: to be searchers for the truth and therefore, searchers for God (cfr Enc. Fides et ratio, Proemio).
Later, he said in English:
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. The readings from today’s Mass invite us to lift our eyes to Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith. May you and your families experience the Lord’s closeness during these summer holidays and respond to his love through deeper prayer and more generous acts of charity. Upon all of you I invoke Christ’s blessings of joy and peace!
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 19/08/2007 13.44]
| 22/08/2007 15.38
|Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience today in the Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican. He resumed his discourse on St. Gregory Nazianzene begun on August 8. There was no General Audience on August 15, Assumption Day.
Dear brothers and sisters,
In the series of portraits of the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church which I have been seeking to offer in these catecheses, I spoke last time about St. Gregory Nazianzene, bishop of the fourth century, and today, I wish to complete this portrait of a great teacher. Today we will try to look at some of his teachings.
Reflecting on the mission that God had entrusted to him, St. Gregory concluded: "I was created to ascend towards God through my actions" Oratio 14,6 de pauperum amore: PG 35,865).
Indeed, he placed his talents as writer and orator in the service of God and the Church. He wrote numerous discourses, homilies and panegyrics, as well as letters and poetic works (almost 18,000!) - a truly prodigious activity.
He understood that this was the mission entrusted to him by God: "Servant of the Word, I adhere to the ministry of the Word, and may I never neglect this good. I appreciate this vocation and I am happy about it - I get more joy out of it than all other things put together" (Oratio 6,5: SC 405,134; cfr anche Oratio 4,10).
The Nazianzene was a gentle man, and in his life, he always sought to carry out works of peace in the Church of his time, which was torn apart by discords and heresies. With evangelical daring, he tried to overcome his own timidity in order to proclaim the truth of the faith.
He felt profoundly the desire to be closer to God, to unite himself with him, as he expressed in a poem: in "the great tides of the sea of life/ tossed here and there by impetuous winds/.../only one thing is dear to me: my only wealth,/comfort and relief from all efforts-/the light of the Holy Trinity" (Carmina [historica] 2,1,15: PG 37,1250ss).
Gregory brought out the splendor of the Trinity, defending the faith proclaimed by the Council of Nicaea: one God in three equal and distinct Persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - "triple Light which
comes together in single splendor" (Inno vespertino: Carmina [historica] 2,1,32: PG 37,512).
Thus, St. Gregory always said, quoting from St. Paul (1 Cor 8,6)" "For us, there is one God, the Father, from whom everything is; one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom everything is; and one Holy Spirit, in whom everything is" (Oratio 39,12: SC 358,172).
Gregory highlighted the full humanity of Christ: to redeem man in his totality of body, soul and spirit, Christ took on all the components of human nature, for otherwise, man could not be redeemed.
Against the heresy of Apollinarius, who claimed that Jesus Christ had not taken on a rational spirit, Gregory looked at the question in the light of the mystery of salvation: "What has not been taken on has not been healed" (Ep. 101,32: SC 208,50), and if Christ had not been "endowed with a rational intellect, how could he have become man?" (Ep. 101,34: SC 208,50).
It was our intellect, our reason, which needed and needs a relationship, an encounter, with God in Christ. In becoming man, Christ gave us the possibility to become like him. The Nazianzene exhorts: "Let us seek to be like Christ, because Christ himself became one of us: so let us be gods through him, in the same way that He himself became man for our sake. He took on the worst on himself in order to give the best of himself"(Oratio 1,5: SC 247,78).
Mary, who gave Christ his human nature, is the true Mother of God (Theotókos: cfr Ep. 101,16: SC 208,42), and because of her supreme mission she was 'pre-purified'(Oratio 38,13: SC 358,132, like a distant prelude to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception). Mary is proposed as a model for Christians, especially for virgins, and as a helper to invoke in need (cfr Oratio 24,11: SC 282,60-64).
Gregory reminds us that, as human beings, we should be brotherly towards each other. He writes: "We are all just one in the Lord" (cfr Rm 12,5) - rich and poor, slaves and freemen, healthy and sick; and only one is the head from which everything comes: Jesus Christ. And just as the members of a body do, each must be concerned with the rest, and all about everyone."
Then, referring to the sick and persons in difficulty, he concludes: "This is the only salvation for our body and our soul: charity towards them" (Oratio 14,8 de pauperum amore: PG 35,868ab).
Gregory underscores that man should imitate the goodness and love of God and therefore urges, "If you are healthy and rich, relieve the need of whoever is sick and poor; if you have not fallen, go to the aid of those who have fallen and who live in suffering; if you are happy, console those who are sad; if you are fortunate, help those who are in the grip of misfortune. Give God proof that you acknowledge him, that you are one of those who can do good to others and not one who needs to be helped...Be rich not only with material goods but also with piety - not only with gold, but with virtue, or better still, with virtue alone. Relieve the hunger of your neighbor, showing yourself the best of all. Render God to the unfortunate by imitating the mercy of God" (Oratio 14,26 de pauperum amore: PG 35,892bc).
Above all, Gregory teaches us the importance and the need for prayer. He says that "it is necessary to remember God more often even than we draw breath" (Oratio 27,4: PG 250,78), because prayer is the encounter between God's thirst and ours. "God has thirst that we have thirst of Him" (cfr Oratio 40, 27: SC 358,260).
In prayer, we should address our heart to God, offering it to him to be purified and transformed. In prayer, we see everything in the light of Christ, we drop our masks, and we immerse ourselves in truth and in listening to God, feeding the fires of love.
In a poem which was also a meditation on the purpose of life and an implicit invocation of God, Gregory wrote: "You have a task, my soul/A great task, if you will./Examine yourself seriously,/Your being, and your destiny;/where you come from and where you should go;/Seek to know if that which you live is life/ or if there is something more./ You have a task, my soul:/Therefore, purify your life:/Consider God and his mysteries,/what was before this universe/ and what that means for you-/where did you come from and what is your destiny?/ That is your task, my soul:/Therefore, purify your life. (Carmina [historica] 2,1,78: PG 37,1425-1426).
Continually the holy bishop asked the help of Christ to help him arise and continue with his journey: "I have been disappointed, oh my Christ,/for having presumed too much;/ from the heights I have fallen very low./But raise me up again because I see/that I deceived myself;/If I should once again trust only in myself,/I will quickly fall, and the fall will be fatal" (Carmina [historica] 2,1,67: PG 37,1408).
Gregory therefore felt the need to come close to God in order to overcome the fatigue of his own ego. He experienced the impulse of the soul, the liveliness of a sensitive spirit and the instability of ephemeral happiness.
For him, in a life weighed on by awareness of his own weakness and misery, the experience of God's love always had the upper hand.
"You have a task, my soul," St. Gregory tells us, as well, "the task of finding true light, the true summit of your life. And your life is to encounter God, who has thirst of our thirst."
He synthesized the catechesis in English this way:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on the teachers of the ancient Church, we now continue our reflection on Saint Gregory Nazianzen.
Gregory considered it his mission to employ his learning and literary talent in the service of the Gospel. Inclined to study and prayer, he nonetheless took part in the many controversies which followed the Council of Nicaea.
Gregory forcefully defended the Church’s faith in one God in three equal and distinct persons. He upheld the full humanity of the Incarnate Son, arguing that Christ took on our human nature in its integrity, including a rational soul, in order to bring us the fullness of redemption. He likewise defended Mary’s dignity as the Mother of God, her purity and her intercessory power.
Gregory often stresses our Christian responsibility to imitate God’s goodness and love through charity and solidarity with others, especially the sick and those in need. He also speaks eloquently of the importance of prayer, in which we see everything in the light of Christ, are immersed in God’s truth and inflamed by his love.
The life and teaching of Saint Gregory are a celebration of the divine love which is revealed in Christ. Let us open our hearts to this love, which overcomes our weakness and gives lasting joy and happiness to our lives.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Ireland, Hungary, Sweden, Japan, Australia and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of joy and peace.
He had a special message for Polish-speaking pilgrims:
I greet all Poles, and in particular, the Polish Resurrectionist priests who, for 500 years, have taken care of the Marian sanctuary of Mentorella. This shrine, which John Oaul II loved to visit, is also very dear to me. Today, we celebrate the memorial fo the Queenship of Mary. I entrust to her protection all of you who are present and I blesss you from the heart.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 22/08/2007 15.40]
| 26/08/2007 14.01
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the Angelus in Castel Gandolfo today.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today's liturgy proposes to us a statement of Christ which is illuminating but at the same time disconcerting. During his last journey towards Jerusalem, someone asked him: "Lord, will only a few people be saved?"
Jesus answers: "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough." (Lk 13, 23-24).
What does this 'narrow gate' mean? Why will many not succeed in entering it? Is it perhaps reserved only to a few elect? In effect, we can well see that this has always been the reasoning by Jesus's interlocutors: there has always been the temptation to interpret religious practice as a source of privileges or security.
In fact, Christ's message is exactly the opposite: everyone can enter life, but for everyone the gate is 'narrow'. No one is privileged. The way to eternal life is open to all, but it is 'narrow' because it is demanding, it requires commitment, abnegation, a mortification of our own ego.
Once again, as in the past few Sundays, the Gospel invites us to consider the future which awaits us and for which we should prepare during our pilgrimage on earth.
Salvation, which Jesus effected through his death and resurrection, is universal. He is the only Redeemer and he invites all of us to the banquet of immortal life. But on one and the same condition: that we must try to follow and imitate him, taking upon ourselves, as he did, our own Cross, and dedicating our life to the service of our brothers.
Therefore, this condition for entering into celestial life is singular but universal. On the final day, Jesus reminds us in the Gospel, we are not going to be judged on the basis of presumed privileges but according to our works.
So the 'workers of evil' will find themselves excluded, while those who did good and sought justice, at the cost of sacrifices, will be welcomed. Nor will it suffice to declare ourselves 'friends' of Christ, alleging false merits: "We ate and drank in your presence, and you have taught in our squares" (Lk 13,26).
True friendship with Christ is expressed in how we live: it is expressed with goodness of heart, with humility, kindness and mercy, love for justice and truth, sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.
This, we might say, is the 'identity card' that qualifies us as authentic 'friends' of Christ. This is the 'passport' that will allow us to enter into eternal life.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we wish ourselves to pass through the narrow gate, we should learn to be small, that is, humble of heart like Jesus. Like Mary, his mother and ours. It was she, first among all, who followed the way of the Cross behind her Son, and was assumed to the glory of heaven, as we remembered several days ago.
The Christian people invoke Mary as Ianua Caeli
, gate of heaven. Let us ask her to guide us in our daily choices along the way which will lead us to the 'gate of Heaven.'
Later he said in English:
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. May your stay at Castel Gandolfo and Rome renew your love of the universal Church.
I welcome the new seminarians of the Pontifical North American College, and pray that their formative years in Rome will help them to grow in wisdom and pastoral charity.
Among you I welcome the participants in the cycling pilgrimage from Canterbury Cathedral to Rome. You have cycled the traditional Via Francigena, following in the footsteps of so many men and women of faith on their way to the tombs of Peter and Paul. I pray that your visit will be a time of spiritual and ecumenical enrichment. May Christ keep you and your families in his love.
To the Muslim, Orthodox, Lutheran and Catholic religious leaders from Kazakhstan, present at today’s Angelus, I wish to extend warm greetings. Your gathering in Assisi and in Padua, together with your meetings in the Vatican, are a sure sign of the hope that mutual understanding and respect between religious communities can overcome distrust and promote the way of peace which springs from truth.
Be assured of my prayers for the success of your visit and may your efforts bear much fruit for the noble land of Kazakhstan and beyond!
Once again, he had a special message for Polish pilgrims:
I greet all Poles. Today, the Church in Poland celebrates the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Czestochowa. I join the prayers of teh bishops and faithful gathered in Jasna Gora. I entrust the present and future destinies of your nation to the protection of Mary. God bless you.
| 29/08/2007 21.19
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis and various messages today at the General Audience held at St. Peter's Square:
Dear brothers and sisters!
In the last catecheses, I spoke of two great Doctors of the Church in the fourth century, Basil and Gregory Nazianzene, Bishop of Cappadocia in present-day Turkey.
Today, we will add a third one – Basil’s brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who was a man of meditative character, with a great capacity for reflection and a lively intelligence open to the culture of his time. He proved to be one of the profound and original thinker in the history of Christianity.
He was born around 335. His Christian formation was particularly attended to by his brother Basil, whom he defined as his ‘father and teacher’(Ep. 13,4: SC 363,198) – and their sister Macrina. He finished his studies, particularly attracted to philosophy and rhetoric.
At first, he dedicated himself to teaching and got married. Then, like his brother and sister, he eventually dedicated himself to the ascetic life. Later, he was elected Bishop of Nyssa, and proved to be a zealous pastor who earned the esteem of the community. Accused of financial malversations by his heretic enemies, he had to leave his Episcopal seat for a brief time but returned triumphantly (cfr Ep. 6: SC 363,164-170) and continued to commit himself to the battle to defend the true faith.
Above all, after Basil’s death, virtually taking up his spiritual legacy, he cooperated in the triumph of orthodoxy. He participated in various synods; he sought to conciliate differences among local churches; he took active part in ecclesiastical reorganization, and as a ‘pillar of orthodoxy’, he was a leading player in the Council of Constantinople of 381 which defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
He received various official assignments from Emperor Theodosius, delivered important homilies and funeral eulogies, and dedicated himself to composing various theological works. In 394 he participated in another Synod held in Constantinople. We do not know when he died.
Gregory expressed with clarity the conclusion of all his studies, the supreme goal of his work as theologian: which was, not to waste one’s life in a variety of things but to find the light which allows us to discern what is truly useful (cfr In Ecclesiasten hom. 1: SC 416,106-146).
He found this supreme good in Christianity, thanks to which ‘imitation of divine nature’ is possible (De professione christiana: PG 46, 244C). With his acute intelligence and his vast philosophical and theological knowledge, he defended the Christian faith against heretics who denied the divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit (as Eunomius and the Macedonians did) or compromised on the perfect humanity of Christ (like Appolinarius).
He commented on Sacred Scriptures, dwelling on the creation of man. For him, creation was a central theme. He saw in the human creature the reflection of the Creator and found in this the way to God.
But he also wrote an important book on Moses, whom he presents as a man on a journey towards God: the ascent of Mount Sinai became for him an image of our ascent in human life towards true life, the encounter with God.
He also interpreted the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes. In his “great catechetical discourse” (Oratio catechetica magna), he exposed the fundamental lines of theology – not as an academic theology closed in on itself – but to offer catechists a system of reference to keep in mind when giving their lessons, almost a framework for the pedagogical interpretation of the faith.
Gregory, moreover, was famous for his spiritual doctrine. All his theology was not an academic reflection but the expression of a spiritual life, a life of lived faith. As the great ‘father of mysticism’, he traced in various tracts – such as
De professione christiana
and De perfectione christiana
– the path which Christians should undertake in order to reach true life, perfection.
He exalted consecrated virginity (De virginitate
) and proposed as a model the life of his own sister Macrina, who remained a guide and example for him (cfr Vita Macrinae
Besides his various discourses and homilies, he wrote numerous letters. Commenting on the creation of man, Gregory showed how God, “the best of artists, has forged our nature in a way that adapts it to the exercise of regality. Through the established superiority of the soul, and by a corresponding conformation of the body, God disposes things so that man may be truly qualified for regal power” (De hominis opificio 4: PG 44,136B).
But we see how man – in a tangle of sins, often of abuses of creation, does not exercise true regality. Indeed, to realize true responsibility towards God’s creatures, one must be penetrated by God and live in his light. Man is a reflection of that original beauty which is God: “Everything that God created is excellent,” wrote the holy Bishop.
He adds: “The story of the Creation proves this (cfr Gn 1,31). And among those excellent things was man, adorned with a beauty by far superior to all other beautiful things. Indeed, what could be more beautiful that something made in the image of pure and incorruptible beauty?… A reflection and image of eer5nal life, he was truly beautiful – indeed, most beautiful – with the radiant sign of life on his face” (Homilia in Canticum 12: PG 44,1020C).
Man was honored by God and placed above all other creatures: “It was not heaven that was made in the image of God, not the moon, not the sun, not the beauty of the stars, none of the other things that appear in creation. Only you, the human spirit, were made an image of that nature which is above every intellect, an image of incorruptible beauty, an imprint of divinity, receptacle of blessed life, image of true light, looking at which you become what God is, because through the reflected ray coming from your purity, you imitate He who shines in you. Nothing which exists is great enough to measure up to your greatness” (Homilia in Canticum 2: PG 44,805D).
If we meditate on this eulogy of man, we will see how man has been degraded by sin. Let us then seek to return to that original greatness, but only when God is present can man arrive at his true greatness.
Thus, man recognizes in himself the reflection of divine light. Purifying his heart, he can return to be - as he was in the beginning - a limpid image of God, exemplary Beauty (cfr Oratio catechetica 6: SC 453,174). Man, purifying himself, can see God, like the pure of heart (cfr Mt 5,8): “If, through a diligent and attentive life, you can wash away the horrible things that have been deposited in your heart, the divine beauty will shine in you…Contemplating yourself, you will see him who is your heart’s desire, and you will be blessed” (De beatitudinibus, 6: PG 44,1272AB). Therefore, we should wash away the filth that has been deposited in our hearts so that we can find in ourselves the light of God.
Thus, man’s goal is the contemplation of God. Only in this will he find his fulfillment. To anticipate this objective to some degree in this life, he must progress incessantly towards a spiritual life, a life in dialog with God.
In other words – and this is the most important lesson that St. Gregory of Nissa leaves us – the full realization of man is in holiness, in a life lived in encounter with God, who in this way becomes luminous even for others, and for the world.
Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on the teachers of the ancient Church, we now turn to Saint Gregory of Nyssa, the younger brother and spiritual heir of Saint Basil.
Gregory’s outstanding education and intellectual gifts led him first to teaching. He then embraced the ascetic life, and eventually was ordained Bishop of Nyssa. Like the other Cappadocian Fathers, Gregory contributed greatly to the defense of the faith in the period following the Council of Nicaea, and played a leading role at the Council of Constantinople, which defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
For Gregory, the purpose of all learning and culture is the discernment of the supreme human good, the truth that enables us to find authentic and lasting fulfilment. This supreme good is found in Christianity. In his many catechetical, spiritual and exegetical writings, Gregory emphasizes our creation in the image of God, our royal vocation as stewards of the created order, and our responsibility to cultivate our inner beauty, which is a participation in the uncreated beauty of the Creator. By purifying our hearts and progressing in holiness, we are drawn to the vision of God and thus to the satisfaction of the deepest longings of every human heart.
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s audience, including participants in the Summer University program sponsored by the European Union of Jewish Students, as well as pilgrims from Sweden and from Indonesia. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy.
He had a special greeting once again for Polish pilgrims:
I greet the Poles, particularly the pilgrims from the Diocese of Radom who have come here on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of its creation. I am happy that I was able to visit your city five years ago to consecrate your bishop Zygmunt.
I also gladly bless the crowns which will adorn the image of Our Lady of Sorrows in Kalkow. I entrust you and all present to day to her protection. Praise be to Jesus Christ!
To the Italian pilgrims, he said:
Now I address a warm welcome to all Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the faithful from the various parishes accompanied by their respective parish priests and I hope that this visit strengthens everyone in their faith in Jesus and in giving generous Christian testimony.
Next I greet the Delegation from the Republic of San Marino who have gathered here for the 25th anniversary of the visit to their country by my beloved predecessor John Paul II.
Dear friends, may the memory of such a significant event inspire in you a renewed adherence to God, the fountain of light, hope and peace.
Finally, my thoughts to to the young people, to the sick and afflicted and to the newlyweds. May the heroic example of St. John the Baptist, whose martyrdom we celebrate today, call on you, dear young people, to plan your future with full fidelity to the Gospel. And to those who are afflicted, may it help you to face suffering with courage, finding peace and comfort in the Cross. Dear newlyweds, may it lead you to a profound love of God and for each other so that you may experience every day the comforting joy that comes from mutual giving of oneself.
The Pope ended his messages today with this appeal:
These days, some geographical regions have been devastated by grave calamities. I refer to the flooding in some Asian nations as well as the disastrous fires in Greece, Italy and other European nations.
In the face of such tragic emergencies which have claimed numerous victims and enormous material damages, we cannot but be concerned about the irresponsible actions of those who place the safety of people at risk and destroy our environment, which is an invaluable common asset for all humanity.
I join those who have rightly condemned such criminal actions and I invite everyone to pray for the victims of these tragedies.
| 06/09/2007 03.41
RESERVED FOR ANGELUS AT LORETO -
PREVIOUSLY POSTED IN 'PASTORAL VISITS IN ITALY'
| 06/09/2007 09.25
[So sorry...I just lost the entire translation to this darned system... and I just don't have the strength to do it all over just now!
| 12/09/2007 14.09
RESERVED FOR ANGELUS IN VIENNA, PREVIOUSLY POSTED IN AUSTRIA THREAD
| 12/09/2007 16.00
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the General Audience at St. Peter's Square today.
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today, I intend to reflect on the pastoral visit which I had the joy of making recently to Austria, a country which is particularly familiar to me, both because it adjoins my native land and for the numerous contacts which I have always had with it.
The specific reason for this visit was the 850th anniversary of the Shrine of Mariazell, Austria's most important sanctuary, equally favored by Hungarian faithful, and much visited by pilgrims from other surrounding nations. Therefore, the visit was above all a pilgrimage, with the motto "Look at Christ' - an encounter with Mary who shows us Jesus.
With all my heart, I thank Cardinal Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, and all the bishops of the nation for the great effort with which they prepared for my visit and accompanied me through it.
I thank the Austrian government and all the civilian and military authorities who gave it their valuable collaboration. In particular, I thank the Federal President for the cordiality with which he welcomed me and accompanied me at various events during the visit.
My first stop was at the Marian pillar, a historic monument with the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, where I met thousands of young people and began my pilgrimage. I then went to the adjoining Judenplatz to pay my homage at the memorial which commemorates the Austrian victims of the Shoah.
In view of Austria's history and its close relationship with the Holy See, as well as the importance of Vienna in international politics, the program for my pastoral visit included meetings with the president of the Republic and with the diplomatic corps.
These were valuable occasions on which the Successor of Peter is able to exhort responsible authorities to always work for the cause of peace and authentic economic and social development.
Looking at Europe in particular, I renewed my encouragement to carry on with the current process of unification on the basis of values inspired by our common Christian patrimony. Mariazell itself is one of the symbols of encounter among European peoples centered around the Christian faith.
How can we forget that Europe is the bearer of a tradition of thought which links, faith, reason and sentiment? Illustrious philosophers, even independent of the faith, have acknowledged the central role of Christianity in preserving the modern conscience from the dangerous trends of nihilism or fundamentalism.
The meeting with political and diplomatic authorities in Vienna was therefore a very propitious occasion to place my apostolic voyage in the actual context of the situation in the European continent.
I carried out the true and actual pilgrimage on Saturday, September 8, feast of the Nativity of Mary, to whom the Shrine of Mariazell is dedicated. It all started in 1157, when a Benedictine monk from the nearby abbey of St. Lambrecht, on his way to preach in the region, experienced the miraculous help of Mary, whose small wooden image he was carrying.
The 'cell' (Zell) in which the monk first kept the image eventually began a place of pilgrimage, and after two centuries, an important sanctuary was built in which today we venerate the Madonna of Grace called Magna Mater Austriae (Great Mother of Austria).
For me, it was a great joy to return as the Successor of Peter to that place which is so holy and dear to the peoples of central and eastern Europe. I admired the exemplary courage of thousands of pilgrims who, notwithstanding rain and cold, chose to attend the annual feast of Our Lady with great joy and faith, and to whom I illustrated the central theme of my visit, "Looking at Christ,' a theme that the bishops of Austria developed wisely in the spiritual preparations during the nine months that preceded my visit.
Simply by coming to the Sanctuary, we completely understood the sense of the motto 'to look at Christ'. Before us was the statue of the Madonna who points with one hand to the Baby Jesus, and above the altar of the Basilica was the Crucifix.
Here our pilgrimage reached its goal. We looked at the face of God in that baby held in his mother's arms, and in the Man with his arms spread wide open on the Cross.
To look at Jesus with the eyes of Mary means to meet God who is Love, who, for us, became man and died on the Cross.
At the end of the Mass in Mariazell, I conferred a 'mandate' on the members of the parochial pastoral councils who were recently elected throughout Austria. With this ecclesial gesture, I placed under Mary's protection the great 'network' of parishes in their service of communion and mission.
Later, at the Sanctuary, I experienced moments of joyous brotherhood with the bishops of Austria and the Benedictine community. I met priests, religious, deacons and seminarians, and celebrated Vespers with them.
Spiritually united to Mary, we praised the Lord for the humble dedication of so many men and women who entrust themselves to his mercy and have consecrated themselves to the service of God. These persons, with all their human limitations, but in their very simplicity and humility, try daily to offer to all a reflection of the goodness and beauty of God, following Jesus in their life of poverty, chastity and obedience - three vows which must be understood well in their authentic Christologic significance, not individualistic, but relational and ecclesial.
On Sunday morning, I celebrated the Solemn Eucharist in the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna. In the homily, I wished to speak in depth of the significance and value of Sunday, in support of the movement called 'Alliance for the defense of a free Sunday', which includes many non-Christian groups.
As believers, we of course have deep reasons for living the Lord's day as the Church teaches us. 'Sine dominica non possumus!' - Without the Lord and his day, we cannot live - declared the martyrs of Abitene (in what is now Tunisia) in the year 304. Even we, Christians in the third millennium, cannot live without Sunday - a day which gives sense to both work and rest, makes us realize the meaning of creation and redemption, and expresses the value of freedom and service to one's neighbor - all this is Sunday, which is so much more than a precept.
If the peoples of the early Christian civilizations had abandoned this meaning and allowed Sunday to be reduced to a 'weekend', to an occasion for worldly and commercial interests, it would have meant deciding to renounce their own culture.
Not far from Vienna is the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, of the Holy Cross. It was for me a joy to visit that flourishing community of Cistercian monks which has existed without interruption for 874 years. Annexed to the Abbey is the College of Philosophy and Theology, which was recently named a Pontifical institution. [The pope modestly omits that the college was also formally named for him - the BenedictXVI College of Philosopy and Theology
Addressing the monks in particular, I spoke to them of the teachings of St. Benedict about the Divine Office, which underscores the value of prayer as a service of praise and adoration offered to God for his infinite goodness and beauty.
Nothing should come ahead of such a sacred service, says the Benedictine rule (43,3) - all of life, with its rhythms of work and rest, should be reflected in the liturgy and oriented to God.
Even theological study cannot be separated from the spiritual life and from prayer, as St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who was a Cistercian, once forcefully stated. The presence of a theological academy at the Abbey testifies to this marriage between faith and reason, between heart and mind.
The last encounter during my trip was with the world of volunteer workers. I wished to show my appreciation to so many people, of different ages, who dedicate themselves without pay to service for their fellowmen, within the church community as in civilian society.
Volunteer work is not simply 'doing': above all, it is a way of being, which comes from the heart, from gratitude towards life, which impels one to 'return' and share with others the good th e good that one has received.
In this context, I wished to encourage the culture of volunteer work, which should not be seen as a stopgap measure relative to the work of the state and public institutions, but as a complementary and always necessary presence, to focus attention on those who are considered least in society and to promote a person-to-person manner of intervention. Everyone can be a volunteer - even the most indigent and disadvantaged person has much to share with others in helping to build a civilization of love.
Finally, I renew my thanks to the Lord for this pilgrimage-visit to Austria. My central goal, to repeat, was to visit the Marian shrine of Mariazell where I had a powerful ecclesial experience as I did one week earlier with the youth of Italy in Loreto.
In Vienna as in Mariazell, the living reality of the Catholic Church, faithful and multiform, was evident in all the events. It was the joyful and engaged presence of a Church which, like Mary, is called on to always 'look at Christ' to be able to show and offer him to everyone; a Church which is both teacher and witness of a generous Yes to life in its every dimension; a Church which realizes its bimillennial tradition in the service of a future of peace and true social progress for the entire human family.
Later, he synthesized his report in English, thus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My recent Pastoral Visit to Austria was above all a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Mariazell on its 850th anniversary. The venerable statue of Our Lady pointing to her infant Son inspired the theme of the visit – To Look to Christ.
Austria is a land of ancient Christian culture, and its capital, Vienna, is today a centre of international institutions. In my meeting with the President and the Diplomatic Corps I expressed the Church’s support for global efforts to foster peace and authentic development, and I encouraged the process of Europe’s unification on the basis of values inspired by its shared Christian heritage.
At Mass in Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, I stressed the importance of respecting the rich religious and cultural meaning of our tradition of Sunday rest.
While visiting Heiligenkreuz Abbey I spoke of the value of monasticism and liturgical prayer, and the inseparable link between theology and the spiritual life.
At the end of my journey, I met with representatives of Austria’s impressive network of volunteer organizations and expressed appreciation for their generosity to others.
Throughout my visit, I saw the vitality of the Church, which, in today’s Europe, is called "to look to Christ" ever anew, as she carries out her mission in service of the Gospel and the true progress of the human family.
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Wales, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Malta and the United States. Upon all of you I cordially invoke joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
| 16/09/2007 15.47
Here is a translation of the Pope's words at Angelus today in Castel Gandolfo:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, the liturgy proposes for our reflection Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke, one of the most elevated and moving in all of Sacred Scriptures.
It is good to know that in the whole world, wherever the Christian community is united to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, that the Good News of truth and salvation resounds today in this way: God is merciful love.
The evangelist Luke recounts in this chapter three parables on divine mercy: the two shorter ones, as in Matthew and Mark, are about the lost lamb and the lost coin. The third - long, detailed and found only in Luke - is the famous parable of the Merciful Father, commonly called the parable of the Prodigal Son.
In this page of the Gospel, one can almost here the voice of Jesus who shows us the face of His Father and ours. He came to this world for this: to talk to us of the Father; to make him known to us, lost children, and resurrect in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire to dwell always in his home, which is also our home.
Jesus narrated the three parables of mercy because the Pharisees and the scribes spoke ill of him, because he allowed sinners to come to him and he even ate with them (cfr Lk 15,1-3).
He explained, in language typical of him, that God does not wish even one of his children to be lost and that his heart overflows with joy when a sinner converts. True religion consists, therefore, in being in tune with this heart 'rich with mercy' who asks us to love everyone, even our enemies and those who are distant from us, imitating the heavenly Father who respects the freedom of everyone and draws everyone to him with the invincible force of his faithfulness.
This is the way Jesus indicates to those who wish to be his disciples: "Do not judge...Do not condemn...Forgive and you will be forgiven...Give and you shall receive...Be merciful as your FAther is" (Lk 6,36-38). In these words, we find concrete instructions for our daily behavior as believers.
In our time, mankind has a need that the mercy of God is proclaimed and powerfully borne witness to. The beloved John Paul II, who was a great apostle of Divine Mercy, intuited this pastoral urgency in a prophetic manner. He dedicated his second encyclical to the Merciful Father, and throughout his Pontificate, he made himself a missionary of God's love to all the peoples of the world.
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, which dimmed the dawn of the third millennium, he invited Christians and all men of good will to believe that the mercy of God is stronger than every evil, and that the salvation of the world can be found only in the Cross of Christ.
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercies, whom we commemorated yesterday as the Sorrowful Mother at the foot of the Cross, obtain for us the gift of confiding always in the love of God, and may she help us to be merciful lie our Father who is in heaven.
After the Angelus prayer, the Pope said the following words:
This morning in Poland, in the Sanctuary of Lichen, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, beatified in my behalf Father Stanislaw Papczyński, founder of the Congregation of Marian Clergy.
I address a cordial greeting to the faithful assembled for this happy occasion and to the numerous devotees of the new Blessed One, who venerate in him a priest who was exemplary in his preaching, in the training of laymen, father of the poor, and apostle of praying for the souls of the departed.
Similarly, in Bordeaux today, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the CAuse of Sainthood, beatified Sister
Maria Celina of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, a professed nun of the Second Franciscan Order. She wanted her life, marked by the Cross, to be a sign of Christ's love, as she herself expressed: "I thirst to be a rose of charity."
I similarly honor Fr. Basilio Antonio Maria Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, who was beatified yesterday in Le Mans by Cardinal Saraiva.
To the intercession of these new Blessed Ones, I entrust particularly their spiritual children that they may follow ardently their luminous testimony as prophets of God, Lord of every life.
Today is the 2oth anniversary of the Protocol of Montreal on substances that weaken the ozone layer, which leads to serious damages to the human being and the ecosystem.
In the past two decades, thanks to exemplary collaboration of politics, science and economics in the international community, important results have been obtained, with positive repercussions on present and future generations.
I hope that, on the part of all, cooperation may intensify to promote the common good, development and the protection of creation, consolidating the alliance between man and the environment, which should be a reflection of the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are headed.
In English, he said:
I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear of God’s infinite merciful love for all those who stray from the right path. With great confidence we turn to him and ask his forgiveness for the times we may have offended him. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
To Italian-speaking pilgrims, he said:
I am happy to welcome the Prior-General and members of the Order of St. Augustine who are celebrating their Chapter General. I assure them of remembrance in my prayers, so that the Lord may grant abundant grace to their work and to the life of the entire order in the various places around the world where it is found.
I wish everyone a good Sunday.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/09/2007 13.40]
| 19/09/2007 14.50
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis today:
This year is the sixteenth centenary of the death of St. John Chrysostom (407-2007). John of Antioch, called Chrysostom, or "Golden Mouth", for his eloquence, is very much alive today in his many works.
An anonymous scribe wrote that St. John's writings "traversed the whole globe like lightning flashes." His writings allow us, like the faithful in his time (who were repeatedly deprived of his presence because he underwent so many exiles), to live with his books in his absence. He himself said so in one of his letters (cfr A Olimpiade, Lettera 8,45).
Born around 349 in Antioch of Syria (now Antakya, in present-day Turkey), he was a priest for 11 years until 397 when he was named Bishop of Constantinople, exercising episcopal authority in the capital of the Byzantine Empire, from which he was exiled twice between 403 and 407. Today, we will limit ourselves to the Chrysostom's Antioch years.
Orphaned of his father at an early age, he lived with his mother Antusa who infused in him an exquisite human sensitivity and a profound Christian faith. After his early schooling, he completed studies in philosophy and rhetoric, the latter under the pagan Libanius, the most famous rhetoretician of his time. Under Libanius's guidance, John of Antioch became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.
He was baptized in 368 and received his ecclesiastical training from Bishop Melezius, who made him a lector [lettore] in 371. This marked the official beginning of Chrysostom's ecclesiastical career. From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterium, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of other young men, some of whom later became bishops, under the guidance of the famous exegete Diodorus of Tarsus, who led John into pursuing historico-literary exegesis which was characteristic of the Antiochean tradition.
He then spent 4 years in retreat with the hermits of nearby Mt. Silpius. He extended the retreat for another two years, living alone in a cave, during which he dedicated himself completely to meditating 'the laws of Christ', the Gospels, and especially, teh letters of St. Paul.
But he fell sick and found it impossible to treat himself, so he was forced to return to the Christian community of Antioch (cfr Palladio, Vita 5).
"The Lord," says his biographer, "intervened with this ailment at the right moment to allow John to follow his true vocation. Indeed, he would write that given a choice between the missteps of Church administration and the tranquility of the monastic life, he would choose pastoral service a thousand times over (cfr Sul sacerdozio, 6,7): it was to this that he felt himself called. And it was thus that he fulfilled the decisive turn in his vocational career: as a full-time shepherd of souls. His intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated during his years as a hermit, matured in him the irresistible urgency to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received during his years of meditation. The missionary ideal thus launched this soul on fire into pastoral service.
Between 378-379, he returned to Antioch. Deacon in 381 and priest in 386, he became a famous preacher in the churches of his city. He delivered homilies against the Arians, followed by commemorations of the martyrs of Antioch and other holy persons during the principal liturgical festivities. All this constituted a great lesson of faith in Christ in the light of the lives of the saints.
387 was John's 'heroic year' in the so-called 'revolt against statues.' The people tore down imperial statues as a sign of protest against the raising of taxes. During those days of Lent, marked by anguish over potential punishments by the emperor, he gave 22 homilies about the statues, aimed at encouraging penitence and conversion. This was followed by a decade of untroubled pastoral work (387-397).
The Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Church Fathers: from him has come down to us 17 treatises, more than 700 authenticated homilies, commentaries on Matthew and Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews), and 241 letters.
He was not a speculative theologian. Rather, he transmitted the definitive traditional doctrine of the Church in a time of theological controversies raised above all by Arianism, that is, the negation of the divinity of Christ. It was a consequence of the dogmatic development within the Church during the fourth and fifth centuries.
The Chrysostom's theology is exquisitely pastoral, with a constant concern for consistency between thoughts expressed in words and Christian life as is lived. This is the guiding thread of the splendid catechesis with which he prepared catechumens for Baptism.
When he was near death, he wrote that the value of man is in "exact knowledge of the true doctrine and in the rightness of his life" (Letters from exile). The two things - knowledge of the truth and rightness of life - go together: knowledge should translate into living it.
Everything St. John said was always aimed at developing among the faithful the exercise of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and translate into practice the moral and spiritual demands of the faith.
John Chrysostom was concerned that his writings would guide the integral development of the human being, in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions. He likened the various phases of such growth to the many seas of an immense ocean.
"The first of these seas is infancy" (Homily 81,5 on the Gospel of Matthew), during which "inclinations to vice or to virtue are first manifested." Therefore, the laws of God should be impressed from the very beginning on the soul "as on a wax tablet"(Homily 3,1 on the Gospel of John): indeed, this is the most important age.
We should bear in mind how fundamental it is that in this first phase of life, the great orientations which give the right perspective on existence should truly enter into a man's life. Thus, the Chrysostom recommended: "From the earliest age, provide your children with spiritual weapons and teach them the sign of the Cross" (Homily 12,7 on the first Letter to the Corinthians).
Then come adolescence and youth: "Infancy is followed by the sea of adolescence, where the winds are violent...because concupiscence grows at that time" (Homily 81,5 on the Gospel of Matthew). Then, engagement and matrinomy: "Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature man, in which he undertakes the commitments of family - the time to look for a wife" (ibid).
About matrimony, he recalls its objectives, enriched - exercising the virtue of moderation - with a rich fabric of personal relationships. Spouses who are well-prepared bar the way to divorce: everything is carried out in joy and their children can be educated in virtue. And when the first child is born, a bridge is formed: all three are one flesh, since the child united both parents in him" (Homily 12,5 on the Letter to the Colossians) - all three constitute "a family, a little Church" (Homily 20,l6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).
The preachings of the Chrysostom often took place within the liturgy, the 'place' in which the community builds itself with the Word of God and the Eucharist. In the liturgy, the gathered assembly expresses the one Church (Homily 8,7 on the Letter to the Romans) - the same Word addressed everywhere to everyone (Homily 245,2 on the first Letter to the Corinthians), and the Eucharistic Communion becomes a powerful sign of unity (Homily 32,7 on the Gospel of Matthew).
His pastoral plan was clearly within the life of the Church, in which the lay faithful, through Baptism, take on a priestly function that is at once royal and prophetic. To the lay faithful, he says: "Baptism makes you king, priest and prophet" (Homily 3,5 on the second Letter to the Corinthians).
And so the fundamental obligation of mission comes from that, because each is, to some degree, responsible for the salvation of others: "This is the principle of our social life...not to interest ourselves only in ourselves!" O(Homily 9,2 on Genesis). Everything takes place between two poles: the larger Church and the 'small Church', the family, in reciprocal relationship.
As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, this lesson from the Chrysostom on the authentically Christian presence of laymen in the family and in society, is more than ever relevant today. Let us pray the Lord to make us more obedient to the teachings of this great master of the faith.
Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English this way:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our catechesis today focuses on a great orator of the early Church, Saint John Chrysostom: the "golden-mouthed".
After his schooling in Antioch, Saint John went into the desert to meditate on the "law of Christ". Illness forced him to return to the city, where he heard the Lord calling him to full-time pastoral service. Years of prayer had prepared him to preach the Word of God with tremendous power and persuasion.
Chrysostom constantly strove to connect Christian doctrine to daily living, emphasizing life-long human development in a person’s physical, intellectual and religious dimensions.
Fundamental to this is the first phase when parents must firmly impress God’s law upon their children’s souls. Young people will thus be strengthened to confront the "storms" of adolescence when they must learn to temper concupiscence and eventually to assume the duties of marriage.
Indeed, Saint John taught that the family is a "little Church" within the wider ecclesial community. Consequently, each of us has a responsibility for the salvation of those around us. Through the intercession of this saintly Bishop, may we generously embrace this and all our responsibilities in the Church and in society.
I extend a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s audience, including groups from VietNam, India and Nigeria. I also greet the Catholic and Greek Orthodox pilgrims from the United States. May God bless all of you!
| 23/09/2007 13.41
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noonday Angelus today in Castel Gandolfo.
Dear brothers and sisters!
This morning, I visited the Diocese of Velletri of which I was titular Cardinal for many years. It was a familial encounter which allowed me to relive past moments that were rich in spiritual and pastoral experiences.
During the solemn Eucharistic celebration, commenting on the liturgical texts, I had occasion to reflect on the correct use of earthly resources, a topic which during these past Sundays, the evangelist Luke has called to our attention in various ways.
Recounting the parable of a dishonest but rather cunning administrator, Christ taught his disciples what was the best way to use money and material riches, namely, to share these with the poor, thereby earning their friendship in the light of the Kingdom of God.
"Make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth," Jesus said, "t fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings (Lk 16,9).
Money is not 'dishonest' in itself, but more than anything else, it can enclose man in blind selfishness. Therefore, what is indicated is a sort of 'conversion' of economic goods: instead of using them only for one's own interests, one must also think of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself, who, as St. Paul writes, "being rich he became poor that through his poverty we might be rich" (2 Cor 8,9).
It seems like a paradox. Christ did not enrich us through his wealth but through his poverty, that is, with his love which drove him to give us himself.
We could open a vast and complex field of reflection on the themes of wealth and poverty, even on a global scale, where two types of economic logic confront each other: the logic of profit and that of the equitable distribution of wealth. They are not contradictory if their relationship is properly ordered.
Catholic social doctrine has always maintained that equitable distribution of wealth should take priority. Of course, profit is legitimate and, in the right measure, is necessary for economic development. John Paul II wrote in the Encyclical Centesimus Annus
: "Modern entrepreneurial economy has positive aspects, rooted in the freedom of the individual, which is expressed in the economic sphere as in other fields" (n. 32).
However, he adds, capitalism should not be considered as the only valid model for economic organization (cfr ivi, 35). The crises of hunger and the ecology are growing proof that the logic of profit, if it predominates, increases the disproportionate gap between rich and poor , as well as the ruinous exploitation of the planet.
If instead the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, then it will be possible to correct the course and orient it towards equitable and sustainable development.
May the most Holy Mary, who proclaims in the Magnificat that the Lord "has filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he has sent away empty" (Lk 1,53), aid Christians to use the resources of the earth with evangelical wisdom - that is, with generous solidarity - and inspire those who govern and the economists to far-sighted strategies that favor authentic progress for all peoples.
After the Angelus prayers, he said:
These days in Rome, the first World Meeting of gyspy priests, deacons, and religious, took place, organized by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. I address my most heartfelt greeting to the participants who are gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Dear brothers and sisters: May the theme of your convention, "With Christ in the service of the gypsy people", become ever more real in the life of each of you. I pray for this and entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary.
I also want to remind you that today in Italy, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul starts a campaign against illiteracy, a serious social ill that still affects too many people in various regions of the world.
I wish them the best success for their initiative and I take the occasion to address a cordial greeting to the children and youths who have just started the new school year, as well as to their teachers.
In English, he said:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus.
Today’s Gospel reading calls us to be good stewards; people of integrity seeking God’s justice which is fulfilled in love.
May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your understanding of our faith, and renew in you the desire to lead lives marked by honesty, trust and compassion. Upon you and your families, I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy!
| 26/09/2007 20.45
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience today in St. Peter's Square:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today we will continue our reflection on St. John Chrysostom. After his time in Antioch, he was named in 397 Bishop of Constantinople, capital of the eastern Roman empire.
From the start, John intended a reform of his Church: the austerity of the bishops' palace should be an example to all - the clergy, monks, widows, persons of the court, the wealthy. Unfortunately, not a few of them, feeling themselves adjudged by him, distanced themselves from him.
Much sought after by the poor, John came to be called 'the alms-giver'. A careful administrator, he succeeded to create charitable institutions which were greatly appreciated. His entrepreneurship in various areas made many consider him as a dangerous rival. But, as a true pastor, he treated everyone cordially and in a fatherly manner.
He especially reserved kind tones for women and special attention to marriage and the family. He invited the faithful to take part in liturgical life, which he made splendidly attractive with creative genius.
Notwithstanding his good heart, he did not have a tranquil life. Pastor of the imperial capital, he often found himself involved in political questions and intrigues because of his continuing relationships with civil authorities and institutions.
On the ecclesiastical level, having deposed 5 Asian bishops in 401 for having been improperly elected, he was accused of stepping beyond his jurisdiction, thus becoming an easy target for facile accusations.
Another matter taken against him was the presence in Constantinople of some Egyptian monks who had been excommunicated by the Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and who then sought refuge in the Byzantine capital.
A lively controversy arose from the Chrysostom's criticisms of the Empress Eudoxia and her courtiers, who reacted by hurling back discredit and insults on him. This led to his dismissal as bishop by a Synod organized by Patriarch Theophilus, which condemned him to his first brief exile.
When he came back, the hostility he had aroused by protesting feasts in honor of the Empress - feasts he thought were pagan and lustful - and the witch hunt against the priests responsible for Baptism in the Easter Vigil of 404 signalled the start of persecution against John and his followers.
John then denounced these by letter to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Innocent I. But it was too late. In 406, he was sent into exile again, this time to Cucusa, in Armenia. The Pope was convinced of his blamelessness, but he did not have the power to help him. He was unable to call together a Council which Rome wanted in order to pacify both parts of the empire and reconcile their churches.
An exhausting transfer from Cucusa to Pytius - a destination he never reached - was meant to keep John's supporters from visiting him and wear down their resistance by keeping him in indefinite exile. The exile was virtually a death sentence.
The letters John wrote from exile are moving in which he expresses his pastoral concerns in tones of participation and sorrow for the persecutions against his followers.
Johm's death march ended in Comana, where the dying John was brought to the chapel of St. Basil martyr. There, he drew his last breath and was buried, a martyr next to another martyr. It was September 14, 407, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
The Chrysostom's rehabilitation took place in 438 under Theodosius II. The remains of the sainted bishop were brought to the Church of the Apostles in Constantinople, from which they were brought to Rome in 1204 and kept in the Constantinian Basilica that preceded the construction of the present Basilica in the 16th century. Now they repose in the Chapel of the Canons of the Basilica.
On August 24, 2004, a large part of these remains were turned over by John Paul II to Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. St. John Chrysostom's liturgical commemoration takes place on September 13. Blessed John XXIII named the Chrysostom patron of the Second Vatican Council.
It has been said of John Chrysostom that when he sat on the bishop's throne of the New Rome, Constantinople, God made people see in him the second Paul, a teacher of the Universe. Indeed, the Chrysostom always showed a substantial unity of thought and action, in Antioch as in Constantinople. Only the situations and roles changed.
Meditating on the eight labors completed by God during the six days of Creation narrated in Genesis, the Chrysostom wished to shift the attention of the faithful from what was created to the Creator.
It is good, he said, "to know who is the creature and who is the Creator." He shows us the beauty of creation and the transparency of God through his creations, which thus becomes almost like a 'stairway' towards God and to knowing him.
But to this first step he adds a second: God the Creator is also the God of 'condescension' (synkatabasis). We are weak in making this 'climb' towards God, and our eyes are weak. So God 'condescends' by sending to fallen man his Worcd - Sacred Scripture - and thus, creation and Scriptures complete each other. In the light of Scripture, the Word God has given us, we can decipher creation.
God is called 'tender father' (Philostorgios) (ibid.), healer of souls (Homily 40,3 on Genesis), mother (ibid.) and affectionate friend (On Providence,8,11-12).
But to this second step - first, Creation as 'stairway' to God; and then, God coming down to us through his Word, Sacred Scripture - was a third one. God not only sent down his word to us. Finally, he himself comes down to us, becomes flesh, really 'God with us', our brother up to his death on the Cross.
To these three steps - God is visible in creation, God gives us his word, God comes down and becomes one of us - there is a fourth step.
Within the life and actions of the Christian, the vital and dynamic principle is the Holy Spirit (Pneuma) who transforms the reality of the world. God enters our personal existence through the Holy Spirit and transforms us from within our own heart.
With this as background, John, in his continuing comments on the Acts of the Apostles, proposed the model of the early Church (Acts 4,32-37) as a model for society to develop a social Utopia (almost an 'ideal city'). In short, to give a Christian face and soul to the city.
The Chrysostom understood that it was not enough to give alms or to help the poor now and then, but that it was necessary to create a new structure, a new model of society, one based on the perspective of the New Testament. And the nascent Church showed what the new society could be.
Thus, St. John Chrysostom is truly one of the great Fathers of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The old idea of the Greek polis had to be replaced by the new idea of a city inspired by the Christian idea. Chrysostom agreed with Paul (cfr 1 Cor 8,11) on the primacy of the individual Christian, of the person as such, even if he was a slave or a poor man. This was a change from the Greek vision of the polis or city, in which large parts of the population were excluded from citizenship rights. In the Christian city, all men are brothers and sisters with equal rights.
The primacy of the person is also the consequence of the fact that one can build the city, starting with the individual, whereas in the Greek polis, the country was above the individual, who was totally subordinate to the city as a whole.
Thus, the vision of a society built on and by the Christian conscience began with the Chrysostom, who tells us that our polis is something else, "our homeland is in the heavens" (Fil 3,20), and in this homeland, even here on earth, we are all equal, brothers and sisters, which obliges us to solidarity.
Towards the end of his life, in exile in far Armenia - 'the most remote place on earth' - John returned to his early preaching in 386 and took up a theme dear to him, God's plan for mankind: it is a plan that is 'inexpressible and incomprehensible' but certainly something carried out with love (On Providence, 2,6). This is our certainty. Even if we cannot decipher the details of the plan in our personal and collective lives, we know that it is always inspired by his love.
Notwithstanding his sufferings, the Chrysostom reaffirmed the discovery of a God who loves each of us with infinite love and wants only the salvation of everyone. For his part, the sainted bishop cooperated generously towards this salvation without sparing himself, throughout his life. Indeed he considered the glory of God to be the ultimate end of his existence, and as he lay dying, his last words were: "Glory to God for everything!" (Palladio, Life 11).
Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English this way:
Today we continue our reflections on Saint John Chrysostom. In 397, when he became Bishop of Constantinople, he set an example to the people of the city by his simplicity of life and his constant concern for the poor. He did not hesitate to speak out against corrupt or pagan practices, even in the Imperial Court, and for this he was sent into exile.
In his teaching, he showed how our wonder at the beauty of creation should lead us to give glory to the Creator. Yet God is also a tender father, a healer of souls and an affectionate friend. The Creator of the Universe loved us so much that he did not spare his only Son.
The Holy Spirit also features prominently in Saint John’s writings – the life-force that transforms the world and gives wings to those Christians who are docile to the Spirit’s promptings. This authoritative teaching earned Saint John Chrysostom the title of a second Saint Paul, Teacher of the Universe.
The exiled bishop continued until his death to proclaim the infinite love of God, who wants all to be saved. With his last breath he spoke of the ultimate end of human life – the glory of God. Let us learn from Saint John’s example to love Christ in the poor and to bear faithful witness to the truth of the Gospel.
I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from Britain and Ireland, New Zealand, Thailand, and North America. I greet in particular the new students from the Venerable English College and the priests from Ireland who are taking part in a renewal course here in Rome. May the time that you spend in this city deepen your love for Christ and his Church, and may God’s blessings of peace and joy be with you always!
| 30/09/2007 14.09
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noonday Angelus today in Castel Gandolfo:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today the Gospel of Luke presents the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Lk 16,19-31). The rich man impersonates the iniquitous use of wealth by those who use it for unrestrained and selfish luxury, thinking only of self-satisfaction, without a thought for the beggar who is at their door.
The poor man, on the other hand, represents those whom only God thinks about. Unlike the rich man, he has a name, Lazarus, short for Eleazar, which means 'God helps him'. God does not forget those who are forgotten by everyone else. Those who do not count for anything in the eyes of man are precious in the eyes of the Lord.
The parable shows how earthly iniquity is overturned by divine justice. After he dies, Lazarus is welcomed 'in the bosom of Abraham', that is, into eternal beatitude, whereas the rich man ends up "in the torments of hell'. They have both gone on to a new state which is definitive and unappealable, about which one must provide for in life, because nothing can be done about it it afterwards.
This parable also lends itself to a social reading, about which Pope Paul VI's teaching 40 years ago in the encyclical Popolorum progressio
is memorable. Speaking of the battle against world hunger, he wrote: "It is a question of building a world in which every man...can live a life that is fully human...where the poor Lazarus can sit at the same table as the rich man" (n. 47).
The Encyclical reminds us that the numerous situations of poverty are caused, on the one hand, by "the servitude which comes from other men" and on the other, from "nature that has not been sufficiently mastered' (ibid). Unfortunately, some peoples suffer from both these causes.
How can we not think, especially at this moment, of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, recently hit by grave flooding? Nor can we forget so many other situations of human emergency in different regions of the planet, in which fighting for political and economic power further aggravates human misery as well as the already significant environmental problems.
Pope Paul VI's appeal, "The hungry peoples dramatically confront the peoples of opulence" (Popolorum progressio
, 3), keeps all its urgency today. We cannot say we do not know the course to take: we have the Laws and the Prophets, and Jesus tells us in the Gospel. Whoever does not wish to hear will not change even if someone comes back from the dead to remind them.
May the Virgin Mary help us to avail of the present time to listen and put into practice the Word of God. May she obtain for us that we become more attentive to our brothers in need, to share with them whatever we have and to contribute, starting with ourselves, to spread the logic and the practice of authentic solidarity.
After the Angelus, he said:
I follow with great trepidation the very serious events these days in Myanmar and wish to express my spiritual nearness to the beloved Burmese people during the sorrowful trials they are undergoing.
As I assure them of my supportive and intense prayers and invite the entire Church to do the same thing, I sincerely hope that a peaceful solution may be found for the good of the nation.
I also call on your prayers for the situation in the Korean peninsula, where some important developments in the dialog between the two Koreas give us hope that current reconciliation efforts could consolidate themselves for the good of the Korean people, and the stability and peace of the entire region.
In English, he said:
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus, including members of the Acton Institute, and administrators and benefactors of Seton Hall University.
Today’s Gospel reading reminds us to be generous with the good things we receive in life.
In this spirit, may your visit to Castel Gandolfo and Rome be a time filled with thanksgiving and renewed love of the universal Church. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of Christ the Lord!
To the Polish pilgrims, he said:
The beatification took place today in Nysa, diocese of Opole, of the Servant of God Mary Louise Merkert of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth. She distinguished herself for her concern towards the sick, the poor, and the abandoned. May the life of Mary Louise be an encouragement for us to see in the needy the face of Christ.
I address a warm Arrivederci to the community of Castel Gandolfo. In the next few days, I will be returning to the Vatican. Let us stay together in prayer.
I wish everyone a good Sunday.
| 03/10/2007 16.15
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis today on St. Cyril of Alexandria:
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, continuing our itinerary following the footsteps of the Fathers of the Church, we meet another great figure: St. Cyril of Alexandria.
Linked to the Christologic controversy at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and the last outstanding representative of the Alexandrian tradition, Cyril was later defined by the Greek eastern church 'the custodian of exactitude' - in the sense of being custodian of the true faith - and even more concretely, 'the Fathers' seal of approval.'
These old expressions speak appropriately of a characteristic of Cyril - his constant reference to ecclesiastical authors before him (especially Athanasius) with the view of showing the continuity of his own theology with tradition.
He placed himself deliberately, squarely and explicitly within the tradition of the Church, which is the guarantee of continuity with the Apostles and with Christ himself.
Venerated as a saint in both the eastern and western churches, Cyril was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882, at the same time as another important advocate of Greek patristics, St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
This demonstrated the attention and love for Oriental Christian traditions of this Pope, who would also name yet another eastern figure, St. John Damascene, as Doctor of the Church, showing that the eastern and western traditions alike expressed the one Church of Christ.
There is little information about Cyril's life before he was elected bishop of the important See of Alexandria. He was a nephew of Theophilus, who as Bishop starting in 385, guided the diocese with firmness and prestige.
Cyril was probably born in Alexandria itself some time between 370 and 380. He was quickly drawn to the ecclesiastical life and received a good cultural and theological education.
In 403, he was in Constantinople in the delegation of his powerful uncle, and participated in the Synod referred to as the Quercia, which deposed the Bishop of Constantinople (John Chrysostom). This marked the triumph of the Alexandrian See over its traditional rival, that of Constantinople, where the Byzantine emperor lived.
On the death of his uncle Theophilus, Cyril was elected his successor as Bishop of Alexandria in 412. He governed for 32 years with great energy, always zealous to establish its primacy in the East while keeping strong its traditional links with Rome.
In 417 or 418, the Bishop of Alexandria showed himself to be a realist when he resumed relations with Constantinople, broken in 406 after the deposition of the Chrysostom.
But the rivalry with Constantinople flared again some ten years later, when in 428, Nestorius - an authoritative and severe monk from the Antioch school - was elected Bishop of Constantinople.
Indeed, the new bishop soon drew opposition because he preferred to refer to Mary as the 'Mother of Christ' (Christotokos) instead of that which was already very dear to the people, "Mother of God' (Theotokos).
The reason for Nestorius's choice was his advocacy of Antiochean Christology which, in wishing to safeguard the importance of Christ's humanity, ended up by splitting it off from his divinity. Thus, if God and man were not united in Christ, then one could not speak of 'the Mother of God'.
The reaction from Cyril - who was at the time the greatest advocate of Alexandrian Christology, which underscored the oneness of Christ's person - was almost immediate. From 429, he used every measure to reinforce this, including letters to Nestorius himself. In the second letter (PG 77,44-49) dated February 430, we read a clear statement about the duty of pastors to preserve the faith of the People of God.
This was his criterion, which is valid even today: the faith of the People of God is an expression of tradition, it is a guarantee of sound doctrine
. So he wrote Nestorius: "We must expose the people to the teaching and interpretation of the faith in the most unimpeachable manner, and remember that he who would scandalize even just one among the 'little people' who believe in Christ will undergo intolerable punishment."
In the same letter to Nestorius - which, subsequently in 451, would be approved by the Council of Chalcedony, the fourth ecumenical council - Cyril wrote out his Christological faith clearly: "We affirm that two different natures are united in true oneness, but from both, come one Christ and Son, not because unity has eliminated the difference between his two natures, but rather because divinity and humanity, joined in inexpressible and unutterable union, have given us the one Lord and Christ and Son of God."
This is important: that true humanity and true divinity were concretely united in one Person, our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why, Cyril continued, "we profess one Christ and Lord, not in the sense that we adore the man together with the Logos - we cannot even imply the idea of separation by saying 'together' - but in the sense that we adore one and the same One, because his body is not extraneous to the Logos, it is the body which sits next to the Father, beside whom there are not two sons but only one who is united with his own flesh."
Soon, the Bishop of Alexandria, thanks to wise alliances, succeeded in having Nestorius condemned repeatedly: first by the Roman See, then through a series of 12 anathemas composed by himself, and finally by the Council of Ephesus in 431, the third ecumenical council.
That assembly, which was marked by conflict and tumultuous conditions, ended with the first great triumph of Marian devotion and with the exile of the Bishop of Constantinople who refused to accept the title 'Mother of God' for the Virgin Mary, persisting in his erroneous Christology that brought division to Christ himself.
After having prevailed over his rival and his doctrine, Cyril nevertheless, by 431, had wisely arrived at a theological formula of compromise and reconciliation with the Antiocheans. Even this is significant: on the one hand, the clarity of his faith, and on the other, an intense quest for unity and reconciliation within the Church.
In subsequent years, he dedicated himself in every way to defend and clarify his theological position up to the day he died on June 27, 444.
Cyril's writings - truly numerous and already widely disseminated in Latin and Oriental translations during his lifetime, demonstrating their immediate success - are of primary importance for the history of Christianity.
He wrote important comments on many books of the Old and New Testaments - among them, the entire Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), Isaiah, Psalms and the Gospels of John and Luke.
His many doctrinal works - in which there is a recurrent defense of the Trinitarian doctrine against Arian and Nestorian theses - continue to be relevant.
The basis of Cyril's teaching was ecclesiastical tradition, in particular, as I mentioned earlier, the writings of Athanasius, his great predecessor in the See of Alexandria.
Among his other writings are the books Against Julian
, his last great response to anti-Christian polemics, dictated by him probably in the last years of his life as a reply to the work Against the Galileans
that came out in 363, written by the emperor who was called the Apostate for having abandoned Christianity, the faith in which he had been educated.
Christian faith is above all an encounter with Jesus, "a Person who gives a new horizon to life" (Deus caritas est
, 1). Of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, St. Cyril of Alexandria was a tireless and firm witness, underscoring above all his oneness, as he repeated in 433 in his first letter(PG 77,228-237) to Bishop Succensus: "The Son is One, the Lord Jesus Christ is one, before the Incarnation or after. The Logos born from God the Father is not different from the Jesus born of the Virgin Mary. Rather, we believe that He who was before time was also born through the flesh of a woman."
This statement, beyond its doctrinal significance, shows that the faith in Jesus-Logos born from the Father then becomes well-rooted in history because, as St. Cyril writes, this same Jesus entered time by being born through Mary, the Theotokos, and will therefore be, as he promised, always with us.
This is important: God is eternal, he was born of a woman, and remains with us everyday. We live in this trust, and in this trust we find our way in life.
Later, the Pope synthesized the catechesis in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The subject of today’s catechesis is Saint Cyril of Alexandria, known as the "pillar of faith" and the "seal of all the Fathers".
He was born somewhere between 370 and 380, and at a young age became Bishop of Alexandria. Cyril was a zealous defender of the faith. He took care to ensure that his theology was firmly situated within the tradition of the Church by referring to preceding ecclesiastical authorities, especially Athanasius.
Through a series of letters countering the position of Nestorius, the Bishop of Constantinople, Cyril made a very significant contribution to Christology defending the divinity and humanity of Christ united in the one Lord, Christ and Son.
He was also of utmost influence at the Council of Ephesus, supporting the recognition of the Virgin Mary as the "Mother of God". This led to the deposition of Nestorius as Bishop of Constantinople.
Saint Cyril, a prolific writer whose works were read throughout the Church, was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. May our remembrance of this outstanding figure in the history of Christianity remind us that the centre of our faith is the encounter with Jesus Christ, who gives each one of us a new horizon and a decisive direction!
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience, especially those from Australia, Denmark, Scotland and the United States. In a special way I greet the Maryknoll Missionaries, the priests from the Diocese of Wheeling–Charleston, the students from the Pontifical Beda College and Deacon Candidates from the Pontifical North American College.
May God continue to strengthen you as you strive to serve his people. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace.
At the end of his greeting to the Italian=speaking faithful which generally concludes the public greetings, the Pope referred to St. Francis of Assisi:
Finally, my thoughts turn to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the luminous memory of St. Francis of Assisi, whose memory we celebrate tomorrow, inspire you, dear young people, to always live in full faithfulness to the Gospel; help you, who are afflicted, to face suffering with courage, looking to the crucified Christ for peace and comfort; and lead you, dear newlyweds, an ever more profound love for God and for each other, so that you may experience the joy that comes from your reciprocal open-hearted gift to life.
NB: The AsiaNews report on today's audience contained this paragraph about St. Francis, but it does not appear in the text posted online by the Vatican:
During the audience, Benedict XVI also invited the faithful to learn from the example of St. Francis, whose feast day falls tomorrow, and his “evangelical radicalism”. The pope underlined how by “imitating Christ, he renounced all worldly goods” and thus “showed us that we must be simple, humble and pure, because leaving this world we will be recompensed for our love”.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 04/10/2007 00.25]
| 07/10/2007 12.29
Registrato il: 27/11/2005
Today's Angelus: October 7th
I've just watched the Anglus live on CTV - tiny screen, but who cares?
Papa was wonderful, looked terrific, on top form. His message today was the Rosary, the month of October being dedicated to it. He stressed the importance of praying the Rosary for individuals, for families and for the whole world.
He also talked about the problems of Sudan and the whole of central Africa.
There was a special message to the young people of Rome. I didn't understand all of this, so I'll leave it until we have the full translation.
An enthusiastic crowd in the square - OF COURSE!!! - there were a few drops of rain as Papa first appeared and some people opened their umbrellas......but the rain soon stopped.
When Papa had disappeared the bells of Saint Peter's started ringing in utter joy [choy!!!!]. I love that....it makes me go all cold.
| 07/10/2007 13.34
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the noonday Angelus today - his first from the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican since July.
Dear brothers and sisters,
This first Sunday of October offers us two reasons for prayer and reflection: the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary which we celebrate today, and missionary commitment, to which this month is specially dedicated.
The traditional image of Our Lady of the Rosary shows Mary who carries the Baby Jesus in one arm, and with the other, offers a rosary to St. Dominic. This significant iconography shows thatthe Rosary is a means offered by the Virgin to contemplate Jesus and, in meditating on his life, to love and follow him even more faithfully.
It is the message that Our Lady has left behind in her many apparitions. I think, in particular, of her apparitions in Fatima 90 years ago. To the three shepherd children Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, presenting herself as 'The Lady of the Rosary', she recommended insistently that the rosary be recited daily to obtain an end to the war [First World War].
We too wish to comply with the maternal request of the Virgin, committing ourselves to recite the Rosary for peace in our families, among nations and in the entire world.
We know that true peace is disseminated wherever men and institutions open themselves to the Gospel. The month of October helps us to remember this fundamental truth through a special inspiration which tends to keep alive the missionary fervor in every community, and to support the work of those - priests, religious and laymen - who work on the frontiers of the Church's mission.
With special care, we are preparing to celebrate on October 21, the World Day of Missions which will have the theme "All the churches for all the world".
The proclamation of the Gospel remains the first service that the Church owes to humanity - to offer the salvation of Christ to the man of our time, who has been humiliated and oppressed in so many ways, and to orient, in the Christian sense, the cultural, social and ethical transformations which are going on in the world.
This year, another reason impels us to a renewed missionary commitment: the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Fidei donum
by the Servant of God Pius XII, which promoted and encouraged cooperation among churches for the mission ad gentes
It also gives me pleasure to recall that 150 years ago, 5 priests and a layman from the Istituto di Don Mazza of Verona left for what is the Sudan today. Among them was St. Daniel Comboni, future bishop of central Africa and patron of its peoples, and whose liturgical memory we mark on October 10.
Let us entrust all our missionaries to the intercession of this pioneer of the Gospel and to the countless missionary saints and blessed ones, and to the maternal protection of the Queen of the Holy Rosary.
May Mary help us to remember that every Christian is called on to announce the Gospel with words and with his life.
After the Angelus prayer, he said:
I am happy to greet the young people who in the past few days have animated the fourth edition of the Mission of Rome called "Jesus at the center."
I congratulate you, dear friends, because you have brought the word of God's love through the streets, to hospitals and schools of the city. Missionary experience is part of Christian formation, and it is important that adolescents and youth can live it at first hand.
Continue to bear witness to the Gospel every day, and commit yourselves generously to the further missionary initiatives of the Diocese of Rome.
I address a special greeting to the thousands of young people gathered in the Basilica of St. Paul outside the walls, where they are taking part in a Holy Mass celebrated by Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, on the occasion of the Third Sports Festival with the theme "Sport, Friendship, Prayer".
Dear young people, you have come from all of Lazio region for this important appointment. May you always know how to unite sport, friendship and spiritual life...
In English, he said:
I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. In this month of October, dedicated to the Holy Rosary, we ponder with Mary the mysteries of our salvation, and we ask the Lord to help us grow in our understanding of the marvellous things he has done for us. May God fill you with his love and may he grant you and all those dear to you his blessings of joy and peace.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 07/10/2007 23.26]