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10/8/2007 5:12 PM
 
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SEVEN HOMILIES AT ANGELUS
For live coverage of the Wednesday audience and Sunday Angelus
if you cannot get CTV (since they changed from Real/Windows):

streaming.ecclesia.tv/ktv2.html

Angelus Domini


Sandro Magister today posted an article lamenting the fact that the Pope's Angelus messages may as well be 'secret' because few really get to learn about what he says. The issue is discussed in the post today within the NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT thread.

From the Vatican website, he has put together the following
"sample of this preaching: the last seven little homilies' he has dedicated to the Gospel passage of that day's Mass, Sunday by Sunday.



The parable of the poor man Lazarus
September 30, 2007
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today, Luke's Gospel presents to us the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Lk 16: 19-31). The rich man personifies the wicked use of riches by those who spend them on uncontrolled and selfish luxuries, thinking solely of satisfying themselves without caring at all for the beggar at their door.

The poor man, on the contrary, represents the person whom God alone cares for: unlike the rich man he has a name: "Lazarus", an abbreviation of "Eleazarus", which means, precisely, "God helps him".

God does not forget those who are forgotten by all; those who are worthless in human eyes are precious in the Lord's. The story shows how earthly wickedeness is overturned by divine justice: after his death, Lazarus was received "in the bosom of Abraham", that is, into eternal bliss; whereas the rich man ended up "in Hades, in torment". This is a new and definitive state of affairs against which no appeal can be made, which is why one must mend one's ways during one's life; to do so after serves no purpose.

This parable can also be interpreted in a social perspective. Pope Paul VI's interpretation of it 40 years ago in his encyclical "Populorum Progressio" remains unforgettable. Speaking of the campaign against hunger he wrote: "It is a question of building a world where every man can live a fully human life, where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich man" (n. 47).

The cause of the numerous situations of destitution, the Encyclical recalls, is on the one hand "servitude imposed by other men", and on the other, "natural forces over which the person has not sufficient control" (ibid.).

Unfortunately, some populations suffer from both these factors. How can we fail to think at this time especially of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, affected by serious floods in the past few days? Nor can we forget the many other humanitarian emergencies in various regions of the planet, in which conflicts for political and economic power contribute to exacerbating existing, oppressive environmental situations.

The appeal voiced by Paul VI at that time, "Today the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance" (ibid., n. 3), is still equally pressing today.

We cannot say that we do not know which way to take: we have the Law and the Prophets, Jesus tells us in the Gospel. Those who do not wish to listen to them would not change even if one of the dead were to return to admonish them.

May the Virgin Mary help us to make the most of the present time to listen to and put into practice these words of God. May she obtain for us that we become more attentive to our brethren in need, to share with them the much or the little that we have and to contribute, starting with ourselves, to spreading the logic and style of authentic solidarity.


The parable of the cunning steward
September 23, 2007
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


This morning I made a visit to the diocese of Velletri [...]. During the solemn Eucharistic celebration, by commenting on the liturgical texts, I was able to pause and reflect on the correct use of earthly goods, a theme the Evangelist Luke reproposes for our attention this Sunday in various ways.

Telling the Parable of the dishonest but very crafty administrator, Christ teaches his disciples the best way to use money and material riches, that is, to share them with the poor, thus acquiring their friendship, with a view to the Kingdom of Heaven. "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon," Jesus says, "so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations" (Lk 16: 9).

Money is not "dishonest" in itself, but more than anything else it can close man in a blind egocentrism. It therefore concerns a type of work of "conversion" of economic goods: instead of using them only for self-interest, it is also necessary to think of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself, who, as St Paul wrote: "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (II Cor 8: 9).

It seems paradoxical: Christ has not enriched us with his richness but with his poverty, with his love that brought him to give himself totally to us.

Here one could open up a vast and complex field of reflection on the theme of poverty and riches, also on a world scale, in which two logics of economics oppose each other: the logic of profit and that of the equal distribution of goods, which do not contradict each other if their relationship is well ordered.

Catholic social doctrine has always supported that equitable distribution of goods is a priority. Naturally, profit is legitimate and, in just measure, necessary for economic development.

In his encyclical "Centesimus Annus", John Paul II wrote: "The modern business economy has positive aspects. Its basis is human freedom exercised in many other fields" (n. 32). Yet, he adds that capitalism must not be considered as the only valid model of economic organization (cf. ibid., n. 35).

Starvation and ecological emergencies stand to denounce, with increasing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor and leads to a ruinous exploitation of the planet.

Instead, when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course and direct it towards an equitable, sustainable development.

May Mary Most Holy, who in the Magnificat proclaimed: the Lord "has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away" (Lk 1: 53), help Christians to use earthly goods with Gospel wisdom, that is, with generous solidarity, and inspire politicians and economists with farsighted strategies that favour the authentic progress of all peoples.


The parable of the prodigal son
September 16, 2007
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The liturgy today once again presents for our meditation Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel, one of the loftiest and most moving passages of all Sacred Scripture. It is beautiful to think that on this day throughout the world, wherever the Christian community gathers to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the Good News of truth and salvation rings out: God is merciful love.

The Evangelist Luke has gathered in this Chapter three parables on divine mercy: the two shortest ones which he has in common with Matthew and Mark are the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin; the third, lengthy, articulate and proper to him alone, is the famous parable of the merciful Father, commonly known as the parable of the "Prodigal Son".

In this Gospel passage, we almost seem to hear Jesus' voice revealing to us the Face of his Father and our Father. Basically, this was the reason he came into the world: to speak to us of the Father; to make him known to us, his lost children, and to revive in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire to dwell for ever in his house which is also our house.

Jesus recounted the three parables of mercy because the Scribes and Pharisees were muttering bad things about him since they had noticed he permitted sinners to approach him and even eat with him (cf. Lk 15: 1-3). He then explained in his typical language that God does not want even one of his children to be lost and that his soul overflows with joy whenever a sinner is converted.

True religion thus consists in being attuned to this Heart, "rich in mercy", which asks us to love everyone, even those who are distant and our enemies, imitating the Heavenly Father who respects the freedom of each one and draws everyone to himself with the invincible power of his faithfulness.

This is the road Jesus points out to all who want to be his disciples: "Judge not, condemn not; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6: 36-38). In these words we find very practical instructions for our daily conduct as believers.

In our time, humanity needs a strong proclamation and witness of God's mercy. Beloved John Paul II, a great apostle of Divine Mercy, prophetically intuited this urgent pastoral need. He dedicated his Second Encyclical to it and throughout his Pontificate made himself a missionary of God's love to all peoples.

After the tragic events of 11 September 2001, which darkened the dawn of the third millennium, he invited Christians and people of good will to believe that God's Mercy is stronger than all evil, and that only in the Cross of Christ is the world's salvation found.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, whom we contemplated yesterday as Our Lady of Sorrows at the foot of the Cross, obtain for us the gift of always trusting in God's love and help us to be merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful.


The narrow gate
August 26, 2007
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today's liturgy presents to us enlightening yet at the same time disconcerting words of Christ.

On his last journey to Jerusalem someone asked him: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And Jesus answered: "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Lk 13: 23-24).

What does this "narrow door" mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a few of the chosen?

Indeed, at close examination this way of reasoning by those who were conversing with Jesus is always timely: the temptation to interpret religious practice as a source of privileges or security is always lying in wait.

Actually, Christ's message goes in exactly the opposite direction: everyone may enter life, but the door is "narrow" for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is "narrow" because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one's selfishness.

Once again, as on recent Sundays, the Gospel invites us to think about the future which awaits us and for which we must prepare during our earthly pilgrimage.

Salvation, which Jesus brought with his death and Resurrection, is universal. He is the One Redeemer and invites everyone to the banquet of immortal life; but on one and the same condition: that of striving to follow and imitate him, taking up one's cross as he did, and devoting one's life to serving the brethren. This condition for entering heavenly life is consequently one and universal.

In the Gospel, Jesus recalls further that it is not on the basis of presumed privileges that we will be judged but according to our actions. The "workers of iniquity" will find themselves shut out, whereas all who have done good and sought justice at the cost of sacrifices will be welcomed.

Thus, it will not suffice to declare that we are "friends" of Christ, boasting of false merits: "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets" (Lk 13: 26).

True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life: it is expressed with goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love for justice and truth, a sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.

We might say that this is the "identity card" that qualifies us as his real "friends"; this is the "passport" that will give us access to eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we too want to pass through the narrow door, we must work to be little, that is, humble of heart like Jesus, like Mary his Mother and our Mother. She was the first, following her Son, to take the way of the cross and she was taken up to heaven in glory, an event we commemorated a few days ago. The Christian people invoke her as "Ianua Coeli", gate of heaven. Let us ask her to guide us in our daily decisions on the road that leads to the "gate of heaven".


"I have come to bring division"
August 19, 2007
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


In this Sunday's Gospel there is an expression of Jesus that always attracts our attention and needs to be properly understood.

While he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on a cross awaits him, Christ asked his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division". And he adds: "[H]enceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Lk 12: 51-53).

Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Christ's Gospel knows that it is a message of peace par excellence; as St Paul wrote, Jesus himself "is our peace" (Eph 2: 14), the One who died and rose in order to pull down the wall of enmity and inaugurate the Kingdom of God which is love, joy and peace.

So how can his words be explained? To what was the Lord referring when he said he had come - according to St Luke's version - to bring "division" or - according to St Matthew's - the "sword" (Mt 10: 34)?

Christ's words mean that the peace he came to bring us is not synonymous with the mere absence of conflicts. On the contrary, Jesus' peace is the result of a constant battle against evil. The fight that Jesus is determined to support is not against human beings or human powers, but against Satan, the enemy of God and man.

Anyone who desires to resist this enemy by remaining faithful to God and to good, must necessarily confront misunderstandings and sometimes real persecutions.

All, therefore, who intend to follow Jesus and to commit themselves without compromise to the truth, must know that they will encounter opposition and that in spite of themselves they will become a sign of division between people, even in their own families. In fact, love for one's parents is a holy commandment, but to be lived authentically it can never take precedence over love for God and love for Christ.

Thus, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, in accordance with St Francis of Assisi's famous words, Christians become "instruments of peace"; not of a peace that is inconsistent and only apparent but one that is real, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12: 21) and paying in person the price that this entails.

The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared until his martyrdom her Son Jesus' fight with the Devil and continues to share in it to the end of time. Let us invoke her motherly intercession so that she may help us always to be witnesses of Christ's peace and never to sink so low as to make compromises with evil.


The watchful servants
August 12, 2007
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The Liturgy on this 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time prepares us in a certain way for the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption into Heaven, which we will be celebrating on 15 August. Indeed, it is fully oriented to the future, to Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin Mary has preceded us in the joy of Paradise.

In particular, the Gospel passage, continuing last Sunday's message, asks Christians to detach themselves from material goods, which are for the most part illusory, and to do their duty faithfully, constantly aspiring to Heaven. May the believer remain alert and watchful to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in his glory.

By means of examples taken from everyday life, the Lord exhorts his disciples, that is, us, to live with this inner disposition, like those servants in the parable who were waiting for their master's return. "Blessed are those servants", he said, "whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12: 37). We must therefore watch, praying and doing good.

It is true, we are all travellers on earth, as the Second Reading of today's liturgy from the Letter to the Hebrews appropriately reminds us. It presents Abraham to us in the clothes of a pilgrim, as a nomad who lives in a tent and sojourns in a foreign land. He has faith to guide him.

"By faith", the sacred author wrote, "Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11: 8).

Indeed, Abraham's true destination was "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (11: 10). The city to which he was alluding is not in this world but is the heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise.

This was well known to the primitive Christian community, which considered itself "alien" here below and called its populated nucleuses in the cities "parishes", which means, precisely, colonies of foreigners, in Greek, "pároikoi" (cf. I Pt 2: 11). In this way, the first Christians expressed the most important characteristic of the Church, which is precisely the tension of living in this life in light of Heaven.

Today's Liturgy of the Word, therefore, desires to invite us to think of "the life of the world to come", as we repeat every time we make our profession of faith with the Creed. It is an invitation to spend our life wisely and with foresight, to consider attentively our destiny, in other words, those realities which we call final: death, the last judgement, eternity, hell and Heaven. And it is exactly in this way that we assume responsibility for the world and build a better world.

May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from Heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth we are only passing through, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus, who is "seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead".


The things that are above
August 5, 2007
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today, the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Word of God spurs us to reflect on what our relationship with material things should be.

Although wealth is a good in itself, it should not be considered an absolute good. Above all, it does not guarantee salvation; on the contrary, it may even seriously jeopardize it.

In today's Gospel, Jesus puts his disciples on guard precisely against this risk. It is wisdom and virtue not to set one's heart on the goods of this world for all things are transient, all things can suddenly end.

For us Christians, the real treasure that we must ceaselessly seek consists in the "things above... where Christ is seated at God's right hand"; St Paul reminds us of this today in his Letter to the Colossians, adding that our life "is hid with Christ in God" (cf. 3: 1-3).

The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which we shall be celebrating tomorrow, invites us to turn our gaze "above", to Heaven. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the mountain, we are given a premonitory sign that allows us a fleeting glimpse of the Kingdom of the Saints, where we too at the end of our earthly life will be able to share in Christ's glory, which will be complete, total and definitive. The whole universe will then be transfigured and the divine plan of salvation will at last be fulfilled.

The day of the Solemnity of the Transfiguration remains linked to the memory of my venerable Predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, who in 1978 completed his mission in this very place, here at Castel Gandolfo, and was called to enter the house of the Heavenly Father. May his commemoration be an invitation to us to look on high and to serve the Lord and the Church faithfully, as he did in the far-from-easy years of the last century.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we remember today in particular while we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of the Basilica of St Mary Major, obtain this grace for us. As is well known, this is the first Western Basilica to have been built in honour of Mary; it was rebuilt in 432 by Pope Sixtus III to celebrate the divine motherhood of the Virgin, a Dogma that had been solemnly proclaimed the previous year at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus.

May the Virgin, who was more closely involved in Christ's mystery than any other creature, sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith so that, as the liturgy invites us to pray today, "we do not let ourselves be dominated by greed or selfishness as we toil with our efforts to subdue the earth but seek always what is worthwhile in God's eyes".

__________


The complete collection of Benedict XVI's Angelus messages, on the Vatican website:

> Angelus / Regina Coeli
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2007/inde...

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/26/2007 7:15 AM]
[IMG]http://i601.photobucket.com/albums/tt96/MARITER_7/2011-1/2011-MISCELLANEOUS/0-MTM-FIRMA-1303012_zps59672c47.jpg[/IMG]
10/8/2007 5:13 PM
 
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SEVEN HOMILIES AT ANGELUS

Sandro Magister today posted an article lamenting the fact that the Pope's Angelus messages may as well be 'secret' because few really get to learn about what he says. The issue is discussed in the post today within the NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT thread.

From the Vatican website, he has put together the following
"sample of this preaching: the last seven little homilies' he has dedicated to the Gospel passage of that day's Mass, Sunday by Sunday.



The parable of the poor man Lazarus
September 30, 2007
26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today, Luke's Gospel presents to us the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Lk 16: 19-31). The rich man personifies the wicked use of riches by those who spend them on uncontrolled and selfish luxuries, thinking solely of satisfying themselves without caring at all for the beggar at their door.

The poor man, on the contrary, represents the person whom God alone cares for: unlike the rich man he has a name: "Lazarus", an abbreviation of "Eleazarus", which means, precisely, "God helps him".

God does not forget those who are forgotten by all; those who are worthless in human eyes are precious in the Lord's. The story shows how earthly wickedeness is overturned by divine justice: after his death, Lazarus was received "in the bosom of Abraham", that is, into eternal bliss; whereas the rich man ended up "in Hades, in torment". This is a new and definitive state of affairs against which no appeal can be made, which is why one must mend one's ways during one's life; to do so after serves no purpose.

This parable can also be interpreted in a social perspective. Pope Paul VI's interpretation of it 40 years ago in his encyclical "Populorum Progressio" remains unforgettable. Speaking of the campaign against hunger he wrote: "It is a question of building a world where every man can live a fully human life, where the poor man Lazarus can sit down at the same table with the rich man" (n. 47).

The cause of the numerous situations of destitution, the Encyclical recalls, is on the one hand "servitude imposed by other men", and on the other, "natural forces over which the person has not sufficient control" (ibid.).

Unfortunately, some populations suffer from both these factors. How can we fail to think at this time especially of the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, affected by serious floods in the past few days? Nor can we forget the many other humanitarian emergencies in various regions of the planet, in which conflicts for political and economic power contribute to exacerbating existing, oppressive environmental situations.

The appeal voiced by Paul VI at that time, "Today the peoples in hunger are making a dramatic appeal to the peoples blessed with abundance" (ibid., n. 3), is still equally pressing today.

We cannot say that we do not know which way to take: we have the Law and the Prophets, Jesus tells us in the Gospel. Those who do not wish to listen to them would not change even if one of the dead were to return to admonish them.

May the Virgin Mary help us to make the most of the present time to listen to and put into practice these words of God. May she obtain for us that we become more attentive to our brethren in need, to share with them the much or the little that we have and to contribute, starting with ourselves, to spreading the logic and style of authentic solidarity.


The parable of the cunning steward
September 23, 2007
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


This morning I made a visit to the diocese of Velletri [...]. During the solemn Eucharistic celebration, by commenting on the liturgical texts, I was able to pause and reflect on the correct use of earthly goods, a theme the Evangelist Luke reproposes for our attention this Sunday in various ways.

Telling the Parable of the dishonest but very crafty administrator, Christ teaches his disciples the best way to use money and material riches, that is, to share them with the poor, thus acquiring their friendship, with a view to the Kingdom of Heaven. "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mammon," Jesus says, "so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal habitations" (Lk 16: 9).

Money is not "dishonest" in itself, but more than anything else it can close man in a blind egocentrism. It therefore concerns a type of work of "conversion" of economic goods: instead of using them only for self-interest, it is also necessary to think of the needs of the poor, imitating Christ himself, who, as St Paul wrote: "though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich" (II Cor 8: 9).

It seems paradoxical: Christ has not enriched us with his richness but with his poverty, with his love that brought him to give himself totally to us.

Here one could open up a vast and complex field of reflection on the theme of poverty and riches, also on a world scale, in which two logics of economics oppose each other: the logic of profit and that of the equal distribution of goods, which do not contradict each other if their relationship is well ordered.

Catholic social doctrine has always supported that equitable distribution of goods is a priority. Naturally, profit is legitimate and, in just measure, necessary for economic development.

In his encyclical "Centesimus Annus", John Paul II wrote: "The modern business economy has positive aspects. Its basis is human freedom exercised in many other fields" (n. 32). Yet, he adds that capitalism must not be considered as the only valid model of economic organization (cf. ibid., n. 35).

Starvation and ecological emergencies stand to denounce, with increasing evidence, that the logic of profit, if it prevails, increases the disproportion between rich and poor and leads to a ruinous exploitation of the planet.

Instead, when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course and direct it towards an equitable, sustainable development.

May Mary Most Holy, who in the Magnificat proclaimed: the Lord "has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away" (Lk 1: 53), help Christians to use earthly goods with Gospel wisdom, that is, with generous solidarity, and inspire politicians and economists with farsighted strategies that favour the authentic progress of all peoples.


The parable of the prodigal son
September 16, 2007
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The liturgy today once again presents for our meditation Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel, one of the loftiest and most moving passages of all Sacred Scripture. It is beautiful to think that on this day throughout the world, wherever the Christian community gathers to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, the Good News of truth and salvation rings out: God is merciful love.

The Evangelist Luke has gathered in this Chapter three parables on divine mercy: the two shortest ones which he has in common with Matthew and Mark are the Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin; the third, lengthy, articulate and proper to him alone, is the famous parable of the merciful Father, commonly known as the parable of the "Prodigal Son".

In this Gospel passage, we almost seem to hear Jesus' voice revealing to us the Face of his Father and our Father. Basically, this was the reason he came into the world: to speak to us of the Father; to make him known to us, his lost children, and to revive in our hearts the joy of belonging to him, the hope of being forgiven and restored to our full dignity, the desire to dwell for ever in his house which is also our house.

Jesus recounted the three parables of mercy because the Scribes and Pharisees were muttering bad things about him since they had noticed he permitted sinners to approach him and even eat with him (cf. Lk 15: 1-3). He then explained in his typical language that God does not want even one of his children to be lost and that his soul overflows with joy whenever a sinner is converted.

True religion thus consists in being attuned to this Heart, "rich in mercy", which asks us to love everyone, even those who are distant and our enemies, imitating the Heavenly Father who respects the freedom of each one and draws everyone to himself with the invincible power of his faithfulness.

This is the road Jesus points out to all who want to be his disciples: "Judge not, condemn not; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6: 36-38). In these words we find very practical instructions for our daily conduct as believers.

In our time, humanity needs a strong proclamation and witness of God's mercy. Beloved John Paul II, a great apostle of Divine Mercy, prophetically intuited this urgent pastoral need. He dedicated his Second Encyclical to it and throughout his Pontificate made himself a missionary of God's love to all peoples.

After the tragic events of 11 September 2001, which darkened the dawn of the third millennium, he invited Christians and people of good will to believe that God's Mercy is stronger than all evil, and that only in the Cross of Christ is the world's salvation found.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, whom we contemplated yesterday as Our Lady of Sorrows at the foot of the Cross, obtain for us the gift of always trusting in God's love and help us to be merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful.


The narrow gate
August 26, 2007
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today's liturgy presents to us enlightening yet at the same time disconcerting words of Christ.

On his last journey to Jerusalem someone asked him: "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And Jesus answered: "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Lk 13: 23-24).

What does this "narrow door" mean? Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is it a way reserved for only a few of the chosen?

Indeed, at close examination this way of reasoning by those who were conversing with Jesus is always timely: the temptation to interpret religious practice as a source of privileges or security is always lying in wait.

Actually, Christ's message goes in exactly the opposite direction: everyone may enter life, but the door is "narrow" for all. We are not privileged. The passage to eternal life is open to all, but it is "narrow" because it is demanding: it requires commitment, self-denial and the mortification of one's selfishness.

Once again, as on recent Sundays, the Gospel invites us to think about the future which awaits us and for which we must prepare during our earthly pilgrimage.

Salvation, which Jesus brought with his death and Resurrection, is universal. He is the One Redeemer and invites everyone to the banquet of immortal life; but on one and the same condition: that of striving to follow and imitate him, taking up one's cross as he did, and devoting one's life to serving the brethren. This condition for entering heavenly life is consequently one and universal.

In the Gospel, Jesus recalls further that it is not on the basis of presumed privileges that we will be judged but according to our actions. The "workers of iniquity" will find themselves shut out, whereas all who have done good and sought justice at the cost of sacrifices will be welcomed.

Thus, it will not suffice to declare that we are "friends" of Christ, boasting of false merits: "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets" (Lk 13: 26).

True friendship with Jesus is expressed in the way of life: it is expressed with goodness of heart, with humility, meekness and mercy, love for justice and truth, a sincere and honest commitment to peace and reconciliation.

We might say that this is the "identity card" that qualifies us as his real "friends"; this is the "passport" that will give us access to eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters, if we too want to pass through the narrow door, we must work to be little, that is, humble of heart like Jesus, like Mary his Mother and our Mother. She was the first, following her Son, to take the way of the cross and she was taken up to heaven in glory, an event we commemorated a few days ago. The Christian people invoke her as "Ianua Coeli", gate of heaven. Let us ask her to guide us in our daily decisions on the road that leads to the "gate of heaven".


"I have come to bring division"
August 19, 2007
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


In this Sunday's Gospel there is an expression of Jesus that always attracts our attention and needs to be properly understood.

While he is on his way to Jerusalem, where death on a cross awaits him, Christ asked his disciples: "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division". And he adds: "[H]enceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law" (Lk 12: 51-53).

Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Christ's Gospel knows that it is a message of peace par excellence; as St Paul wrote, Jesus himself "is our peace" (Eph 2: 14), the One who died and rose in order to pull down the wall of enmity and inaugurate the Kingdom of God which is love, joy and peace.

So how can his words be explained? To what was the Lord referring when he said he had come - according to St Luke's version - to bring "division" or - according to St Matthew's - the "sword" (Mt 10: 34)?

Christ's words mean that the peace he came to bring us is not synonymous with the mere absence of conflicts. On the contrary, Jesus' peace is the result of a constant battle against evil. The fight that Jesus is determined to support is not against human beings or human powers, but against Satan, the enemy of God and man.

Anyone who desires to resist this enemy by remaining faithful to God and to good, must necessarily confront misunderstandings and sometimes real persecutions.

All, therefore, who intend to follow Jesus and to commit themselves without compromise to the truth, must know that they will encounter opposition and that in spite of themselves they will become a sign of division between people, even in their own families. In fact, love for one's parents is a holy commandment, but to be lived authentically it can never take precedence over love for God and love for Christ.

Thus, following in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus, in accordance with St Francis of Assisi's famous words, Christians become "instruments of peace"; not of a peace that is inconsistent and only apparent but one that is real, pursued with courage and tenacity in the daily commitment to overcome evil with good (cf. Rom 12: 21) and paying in person the price that this entails.

The Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, shared until his martyrdom her Son Jesus' fight with the Devil and continues to share in it to the end of time. Let us invoke her motherly intercession so that she may help us always to be witnesses of Christ's peace and never to sink so low as to make compromises with evil.


The watchful servants
August 12, 2007
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


The Liturgy on this 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time prepares us in a certain way for the Solemnity of Mary's Assumption into Heaven, which we will be celebrating on 15 August. Indeed, it is fully oriented to the future, to Heaven, where the Blessed Virgin Mary has preceded us in the joy of Paradise.

In particular, the Gospel passage, continuing last Sunday's message, asks Christians to detach themselves from material goods, which are for the most part illusory, and to do their duty faithfully, constantly aspiring to Heaven. May the believer remain alert and watchful to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in his glory.

By means of examples taken from everyday life, the Lord exhorts his disciples, that is, us, to live with this inner disposition, like those servants in the parable who were waiting for their master's return. "Blessed are those servants", he said, "whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12: 37). We must therefore watch, praying and doing good.

It is true, we are all travellers on earth, as the Second Reading of today's liturgy from the Letter to the Hebrews appropriately reminds us. It presents Abraham to us in the clothes of a pilgrim, as a nomad who lives in a tent and sojourns in a foreign land. He has faith to guide him.

"By faith", the sacred author wrote, "Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go" (Heb 11: 8).

Indeed, Abraham's true destination was "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (11: 10). The city to which he was alluding is not in this world but is the heavenly Jerusalem, Paradise.

This was well known to the primitive Christian community, which considered itself "alien" here below and called its populated nucleuses in the cities "parishes", which means, precisely, colonies of foreigners, in Greek, "pároikoi" (cf. I Pt 2: 11). In this way, the first Christians expressed the most important characteristic of the Church, which is precisely the tension of living in this life in light of Heaven.

Today's Liturgy of the Word, therefore, desires to invite us to think of "the life of the world to come", as we repeat every time we make our profession of faith with the Creed. It is an invitation to spend our life wisely and with foresight, to consider attentively our destiny, in other words, those realities which we call final: death, the last judgement, eternity, hell and Heaven. And it is exactly in this way that we assume responsibility for the world and build a better world.

May the Virgin Mary, who watches over us from Heaven, help us not to forget that here on earth we are only passing through, and may she teach us to prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus, who is "seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead".


The things that are above
August 5, 2007
18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C


Today, the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Word of God spurs us to reflect on what our relationship with material things should be.

Although wealth is a good in itself, it should not be considered an absolute good. Above all, it does not guarantee salvation; on the contrary, it may even seriously jeopardize it.

In today's Gospel, Jesus puts his disciples on guard precisely against this risk. It is wisdom and virtue not to set one's heart on the goods of this world for all things are transient, all things can suddenly end.

For us Christians, the real treasure that we must ceaselessly seek consists in the "things above... where Christ is seated at God's right hand"; St Paul reminds us of this today in his Letter to the Colossians, adding that our life "is hid with Christ in God" (cf. 3: 1-3).

The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which we shall be celebrating tomorrow, invites us to turn our gaze "above", to Heaven. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the mountain, we are given a premonitory sign that allows us a fleeting glimpse of the Kingdom of the Saints, where we too at the end of our earthly life will be able to share in Christ's glory, which will be complete, total and definitive. The whole universe will then be transfigured and the divine plan of salvation will at last be fulfilled.

The day of the Solemnity of the Transfiguration remains linked to the memory of my venerable Predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, who in 1978 completed his mission in this very place, here at Castel Gandolfo, and was called to enter the house of the Heavenly Father. May his commemoration be an invitation to us to look on high and to serve the Lord and the Church faithfully, as he did in the far-from-easy years of the last century.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we remember today in particular while we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of the Basilica of St Mary Major, obtain this grace for us. As is well known, this is the first Western Basilica to have been built in honour of Mary; it was rebuilt in 432 by Pope Sixtus III to celebrate the divine motherhood of the Virgin, a Dogma that had been solemnly proclaimed the previous year at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus.

May the Virgin, who was more closely involved in Christ's mystery than any other creature, sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith so that, as the liturgy invites us to pray today, "we do not let ourselves be dominated by greed or selfishness as we toil with our efforts to subdue the earth but seek always what is worthwhile in God's eyes".

__________


The complete collection of Benedict XVI's Angelus messages, on the Vatican website:

> Angelus / Regina Coeli
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/angelus/2007/inde...

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10/9/2007 7:44 PM
 
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Audience of 10th October
I try to look at the Vatican webcams every day - on the new Vatican City website and also the one on the Holy See website. Today you may have noticed that chairs have been put out ready for tomorrow's audience and that there are a lot more than usual. They've been set out right back to the area where the concrete bollards are.
The reason for this? Tomorrow members of the Ancona Football Club will be present at the audience.
Recent reports that the Vatican had "bought" this club/team are not true - see today's Vatican Information Service e-mail.

Mary x
[SM=g27811]
[Edited by maryjos 10/9/2007 7:45 PM]
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10/10/2007 6:17 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 10/10/07
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis and messages at the General Audience today in St. Peter's Square.


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, I wish to speak of a great Father of the Western Church, St. Hilary of Poitiers, one of the great bishops of the fourth century.

Against the Arians who considered the Son of God Jesus as a creature - an excellent one, but a mere creature, nonetheless - Hilary consecrated his entire life to the defense of faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, Son of God, God like the Father who generated him in eternity.

We do not have accurate information on the greater part of Hilary's life. Old sources say he was born in Poitiers, probably around 310. Coming from a well-off family, he received a solid literary formation, which one can well recognize in his writings.

It seems he was not raised in a Christian environment. He himself tells us of his journey in search of truth, which gradually led him to an acknowledgment of God the Creator and God incarnate who died to give us eternal life.

Baptized on or around 345, he was elected bishop of his native city around 353-254. In the following years, Hilary wrote his first work, the Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

In 356, Hilary took part in the Synod of Beziers, in southern France, which he himself called 'the synod of the false apostles', since the synod was dominated by Arian bishops who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ.

These 'false apostles' asked Emperor Constantius to condemn the Bishop of Poitiers to exile. Thus, Hilary was forced to leave Gaul in the summer of 356.

Exiled to Phrygia in present-day Turkey, Hilary found himself in a religious context that was totally dominated by Arianism. But even there, his pastoral solicitude impelled him to work strenuously for the re-establishment of unity within the Church, on the basis of the correct faith formulated by the Council of Nicaea.

For this purpose, he started the draft of his most important and best-known dogmatic work, De Trinitate (On the Trinity). In it, Hilary discloses his own personal journey towards getting to know God and concerned himself with showing that the Scriptures clearly attest to the divinity of the Son and his equality with the Father - not only in the New Testament, but even in many pages of the Old Testament, in which the mystery of Christ is already foreshadowed.

Against the Arians, he insisted on the truth of the names Father and Son and developed all of his Trinitarian theology starting from the formula of Baptism given to us by the Lord himself: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

The Father and the Son are of the same nature. And if any passages in the New Testament might be thought to indicate that the Son is inferior to the Father, Hilary offers precise rules for avoiding such misleading interpretations: Some Scriptural texts speak of Jesus as God while others highlight his humanity. Some refer to him in his pre-existence with the Father; others take into account the state of 'abasement' (kenosis), his descent to human state carried through to death; still others see him in the glory of his resurrection.

In the years of exile, Hilary also wrote the Book of Synods, in which he reproduces and comments for his brother bishops of Gaul the confessions of faith and other documents of the synods convened in the East in the mid-fourth century.

Always firm in his opposition to radical Arians, St. Hilary showed a conciliatory spirit towards those who agreed to profess that the Son resembled the Father in essence, hoping, of course, to lead them towards the full faith, which teaches that beyond mere resemblance, there is a true equality of divinity between the Father and the Son.

I find this characteristic of Hilary: the spirit of conciliation that seeks to comprehend even those who have not yet arrived and helping them with great theological intelligence, to reach full faith in the true divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In 360 or 361, Hilary could finally return from exile and immediately resumed pastoral activity in his Church. However, the influence of his Magisterium actually extended far beyond its confines.

A synod celebrated in Paris in 360 or 361 took up the language of the Council of Nicaea. Some authors of antiquity think that this anti-Arian turn by the bishops of Gaul was due in large part to the firmness and gentleness of the Bishop of Poitiers. In fact, that was his gift: to unite firmness in the faith and gentleness in his personal relations.

In the last years of his life, he wrote the Tracts on the Psalms, a commentary on 58 Psalms, interpreted according to the principle he enunciates in the introduction to the work: "There is no doubt that all the things said in the Psalms should be understood according to the message of the Gospel, such that, whichever voice the prophetic spirit uses, everything relates to a foreknowledge of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ - his incarnation, passion and kingdom - and to the glory and power of our resurrection" (Instructio Psalmorum 5). He sees in all the Psalms this transparency of the mystery of Christ and his Body which is the Church.

On different occasions, Hilary met with St. Martin: Not far from Poitiers, the future Bishop of Tours had founded a monastery which exists to this day.

Hilary died in 367. His liturgical memory is celebrated on January 13. In 1851, Blessed Pius IX proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church.

In summarizing the essence of his doctrine, I wish to say that Hilary found the starting point for his theological reflections in the baptismal vow. In De trinitate, he writes:

"Jesus commanded us to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (cfr Mt 28,19), that is, professing our faith in the Author, the Only-Begotten Son, and the Gift.

"The Author of all things is one alone because there is only one God the Father, from whom all things proceed. Likewise, there is only one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom everything was made (1 Cor 8,6). And there is only one Spirit (Eph 4,4), a gift in everything.

"Nothing can be found lacking in a fullness that is so great, in which the immensity of the Eternal, the revelation of the Image, and joy in Giving converge in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (De Trinitate 2,1).

God the Father, being all love, is capable of communicating his divinity in full to the Son. I find particularly beautiful this formulation by St. Hilary: "God cannot be anything but love, he cannot be anything but the Father. He who loves is not envious, and he who is a Father is one totally. This name does not allow compromises, as though God is a father in some aspects but not in others" (ivi 9,61).

That is why the Son is fully God without any lack or diminution: "He who comes from perfection is perfect, because he who has everything gave him everything" (ivi 2,3). Only in Christ, Son of God, and Son of man, can humanity find salvation. Taking on human nature, He united to himself every man - "He became the flesh of us all" (Tractatus in Psalmos 54,9); "He took on the nature of all flesh, thus becoming the true grapevine who has in himself the root of every shoot" (ivi 51,16).

Because of this, the path towards Christ is open to all - because he has drawn everything into his human being - even if personal conversion is always required. "Through our relation in the flesh, access to Christ is open to all provided they cast away their old selves (cfr Eph 4,22) and nail these to the Cross (cfr Col 2,14);
provided that they abandon their previous actions and convert, so that they may be buried at baptism, with the prospect of new life (cfr Col 1,12; Rm 6,4)» (ivi 91,9).

Faith in God is a gift of grace. That is why St. Hilary asks, at the end of his tract on the Trinity, to be able to keep himself always faithful to his baptismal vows. It is a characteristic of that book: reflection becomes prayer, and prayer turns into new reflection. The whole book is a prayer to God.

I wish to conclude today's catechesis with one of these prayers which is also ours: "Grant, o Lord," Hilary writes, inspired, "that I may be faithful to what I professed in the symbol of my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. That I may adore you, our Father, and together with you, your Son; that I may merit your Holy Spirit, who comes from you through your Only-Begotten Son...Amen. (De Trinitate 12,57).



Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The subject of today’s catechesis is Saint Hilary of Poitiers. He was born around the year 310, baptized when he was about thirty-five, and became Bishop of Poitiers some eight years later.

In opposition to the Arians, who believed Jesus was a created being, Hilary dedicated his life to defending our faith in the divinity of Christ. While exiled to Phrygia, because of the stance he took against the Arians at the Synod of Béziers, he began his most important work, De Trinitate.

In this text he demonstrates how both the old and new testaments clearly attest the divinity of the Son and his equality with the Father with whom he shares one nature.

In his De Synodis, Hilary maintained a conciliatory spirit with those who used deficient theological formulations, while leading them to accept fully the Nicean creed. In 360 he returned home, took up his pastoral duties, and continued to write. The influence of his teaching spread and many were strengthened in their resistance to Arian thought, realising that Christ is our Saviour precisely because he is true God and true man.

Fundamental to Hilary’s insight was the importance of our Trinitarian baptismal vow. Let us join him in praying to the Lord that we remain faithful to this confession, and always bear joyful witness to our baptismal call!

I welcome all the English speaking visitors present today, including members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, participants in the Nato Defence College Senior Course, and the student groups from Scotland and Denmark May your time in Rome be one of spiritual renewal. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace.


After speaking his last greeting- to Italian-speaking pilgrims - the Holy Father made the following appeal:


These days, the 10th Plenary Sesion of the Mixed International Commission for theological dialog between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church in its entirety, is taking place in Ravenna, with a theological theme of particular ecumenical interest: "Ecclesiastical and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church - Ecclesial communion, conciliarity and authority".

I ask you to join me in my prayers so that this important meeting may help us in our journey towards full communion between Catholics and Orthodox, and that we may soon share the same chalice of the Lord.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/10/2007 6:26 PM]
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10/14/2007 1:44 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 10/14/07
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today:

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Dear brothers and sisters:

The Gospel on this Sunday presents Jesus healing ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan and therefore a foreigner, comes back to thank him (cfr Lk 17,11-19). The Lord tells him, "Rise and go, your faith has saved you!" (Lk 17,19).

This Gospel page invites us to a double reflection. Above all, it makes us think of two degrees of healing: one, more superficial, is of the body; the second, more profound, touches the most intimate part of the person, what the Bible calls the 'heart', and from there, radiates to the whole being.

'Salvation' is the complete radical healing. The common language, which makes a distinction between health (salute) and salvation (salvezza), helps us to understand that salvation is far more than healing: it is, in fact, a new life, full and definitive.

Moreover, Jesus, as in other circumstances, says the word, "Your faith has saved you." It is faith which saves man, re-establishing him in his profound relation with God, with himself and with others; and faith is expressed in acknowledgment.

Whoever, like the healed Samaritan, knows how to be grateful, shows that he does not consider everything 'owed' to him, but as a gift which - even if it comes from other men or nature - ultimately comes from God.

Faith therefore means opening up to the grace of the Lord, too acknowledge that everything is a gift, everything is grace. How much treasure is hidden in that small word 'grace'.

Jesus heals 10 men afflicted with leprosy, a sickness considered at that time a 'contagious impurity' which required ritual purification (cfr Lv 14,1-37). In fact, the leprosy that truly disfigures man and society is sin - pride and selfishness which generate indifference, hate and violence in the human spirit.

No one but God, who is Love, can heal this leprosy of the spirit, which disfigures the face of humanity. Opening his heart to God, man is converted and is interiorly healed of evil.

"Be converted and believe in the Gospel' (cfr Mk 1,15): Jesus began his public life with this invitation, which continues to resound in the Church, and even the Most Blessed Virgin in her apparitions, specially in recent times, has always renewed that appeal.

Today, we think especially of Fatima where, 90 years ago, from May 13 to October 13 of 1917, the Virgin appeared to three shepherd children: Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco.

Thanks to radio-TV linkage, I wish to be spiritually present at that Marian sanctuary, where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, presided in my name at the concluding ceremonies of this very significant anniversary.

I warmly greet him, the other cardinals and bishops present, the priests who work in the new Sanctuary, and the pilgrims who have come from every part of the world for this occasion.

Let us ask Our Lady that all Christians may have the gift of true conversion so that the perennial evangelical message may be announced and borne witness to, indicating to mankind the way to authentic peace.


After the Angelus prayers, the Holy Father started his greetings in various languages by addressing the pilgrims in Fatima in Portuguese:

I extend my blessing today for all who join me in the Angelus today - physically present or united by means of media - to the pilgrims gathered at the Sanctuary of Fatima, in Portugal, where, for 90 years, the appeals of the Virgin Mary continue to resound, calling on her children to live according to their baptismal vows in all the moments of existence.

Everything is possible and made easy if we remember the admonition Jesus himself made on the Cross when he said, "Woman, behold your son!" She is the refuge and the way who leads to God.

As I greet Cardinal Legate Tarcisio Bertone, the Bishop of Leiria-Fatima and all the Portuguese bishops, as well as all other bishops present and each of the pilgrims in Fatima, I exhort everyone to personally renew his consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us match this act of worship with a life that is ever more obedient to the divine will and in the spirit of filial service and devout imitation of the celestial Queen. Never forget the Pope!



In English, he said:

I warmly welcome the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. In today’s Gospel our Lord takes pity on the lepers, cleansing them of their infirmities and reminding us all of his desire to heal those who suffer. During your time in Rome may God bless you with the saving power of his peace and love.



To Polish pilgrims, he said:

Today, the Church in Poland celebrates Pope's Day. It is a particular occasion to pray for the beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II, for reflection on his teaching, and for charitable action as he urged. I associate myself spiritually with this initiative, and I bless you all from my heart.


Before delivering his final greetings in Italian, he had special words about Iraq:


Sad news of killings and violence continue to come daily from Iraq to trouble the conscience of all who have at heart the welfare of that nation and peace in the region.

Today I have learned of the kidnapping of two priests in the Syro-Catholic archdiocese of Mosul, who are being threatened with death. I appeal to their abductors to release the two priests soon, and in repeating one more time that violence does not resolve tensions, I raise a heartfelt prayer to the Lord for their immediate liberation, for all those who suffer, and for peace.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/14/2007 3:18 PM]
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10/17/2007 6:25 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 10/17/07
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis and messages at today's General Audience in St. Peter's Square.



Dear brothers and sisters,

This morning, I invite you to reflect on Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, the first bishop of northern Italy about whom we have definite information.

Born in Sardinia at the start of the fourth century, he moved to Rome with his family at a young age. Later, he became a lector, thus becoming part of the clergy of Rome at a time when the Church was sorely tried by the Arian heresy.

The great respect which grew around Eusebius explains his election in 345 to the episcopal seat of Vercelli. The new bishop immediately began an intense work of evangelization in a territory that was still largely pagan, especially in the rural areas.

Inspired by Saint Athanasius - who had written the 'Life of St. Anthony Abbot', founder of eastern monasticism - he founded in Vercelli a priestly community that was similar to a monastic one.

This monastery gave the clergy of northern Italy a significant imprint of apostolic sanctity, and gave rise to important bishop figures, like Limenius and Honoratus, his successors in Vercelli; Gaundentius in NOvara, Esuperantius in Tortona, Eustasius in Aosta, Eulogius in Ivrea, Maximus in Turin - all venerated by the Church as saints.

Solidly educated in the Nicene faith, Eusebius defended with all his strength the full divinity of Jesus Christ, defined by the Nicene creed as 'of the same substance' as the Father. To this end, he allied himself with the great Fathers of the 4th century - especially with St. Athanasius, the leading advocate of Nicene orthodoxy - against the Arian politics of the Roman emperor.

For the emperor, the simpler Arian belief appeared politically more useful as the ideology of the empire. For him, the truth did not matter, but rather, political opportunity - he wanted to use religion as a tool for unifying the empire. But the great Fathers resisted, defending truth from domination by politics.

For this reason, Eusebius was condemned to exile like so many other bishops in both East and West - St. Athanasius himself, St. Hilary of Poitiers, whom we talked about last week; Osius of Cordova.

At Scitopolis in Palestine, to where he was exiled in 355-360, Eusebius wrote an amazing page of his life. Even here, he founded a monastery with a small group of disciples, and from here, he carried on a correspondence with his faithful in Piedmont, demonstrated best by the second of the three Eusebian letters that have been recognized to be authentic.

After 360, he was further exiled to Cappadocia and in the Thebaide, where he underwent severe physical maltreatment. In 361, Emperor Constance II died and was succeeded by Emperor Julian, known as the Apostate, who was not interested in Christianity as the religion of empire, but simply wanted to restore paganism.

He put an end to the exile of bishops and even conceded that Eusebius could take back his seat in Vercelli. In 362, Eusebius was invited by Athanasius to take part in the Council of Alexandria, which decided to pardon Arian bishops provided they reverted to the lay state.

Eusebius was able to exercise the episcopal ministry for another decade at least, until he died, establishing with his city an exemplary relationship which did not fail to inspire the pastoral service of other bishops of northern Italy, whom we shall talk about in subsequent catecheses, like St. Ambrose of Milan and St. Maximus of Turin.

The relationship between the Bishop of Vercelli and his city is made clear above all by two epistolary proofs. The first is in the letter we already referred to, which Eusebius wrote from exile in Scitopolis "to my most beloved brothers and priests, as well as to the holy peoples keeping firm faith in Vercelli, Novara, Ivrea and Tortona" (Ep. secunda, CCL 9, p. 104).

This greeting, which indicated the emotion of the good shepherd when speaking of his flock, has a counterpart at the end of the letter, in the warm greetings of the father to each and everyone of his sons in Vercelli, with expressions overflowing with affection and love.

One must note the explicit relationship between the bishop to the sanctae plebes (holy people) not only of Vercellae/Vercelli - the first, and for many more years, the oly diocese of Piedmont - but also of Novaria/Novara, Eporedia/Ivrea e Dertona/Tortona, those Christian communities within his diocese that had reached a certain consistency and autonomy.

Another interesting element is the farewell with which he concludes the letter: Eusebius asks his sons and daughters to greet "even those who are outside the Church who have sentiments of love for us:
etiam hos, qui foris sunt et nos dignantur diligere". Evident sign that the bishop's relations with his city was not limited to the Christian population, but extended also to those who, from outside the Church, recognized his spiritual authority in some way and loved him as an exemplary man.

The second proof of the singular relationship the bishop had with his city comes from the letter that St. Ambrose of Milan wrote to the people of Vercelli around 394, more than 20 years after Eusebius's death (Ep. extra collectionem 14: Maur. 63).

The Church of Vercelli was going through a difficult time: it was divided and without a bishop. With frankness, Ambrose said he hesitated to acknowledge in them "the descendants of the holy fathers who approved of Eusebius [elected him bishop of Vercelli] as soon as they saw him even without having known him beforehand, to the extent of passing over their own townmates."

In the same letter, the Bishop of Milan attested in the clearest way his esteem for Eusebius: "A man as great as he," he wrote definitively, "truly merits being elected by the whole Church."

Ambrose's admiration for Eusebius was based above all on the fact that Eusebius governed his diocese with the witness of his own life: "He governed the Church with the austerity of fasting."

In fact, Ambrose himself was fascinated - as he himself admitted - by the monastic ideal of contemplating God which Eusebius had pursued in the footsteps of the prophet Elia.

To begin with, Ambrose has noted, the Bishop of Vercelli gathered his own priests into community life and edicated them "in the observance of monastic rules even while living in a city".

The bishopa and his priests had to share the problems of their fellow citizens, and they did this credibly by cultivating at the same time a different citizenship, that of Heaven (cfr Heb 13,14). Thus they truly constructed a genuine citizenship in true solidarity with the citizens of Vercelli.

And so Eusebius, while he took up the cause of the 'sancta plebs' of Vercelli, lived in the midst of the city like a monk, opening his city to God. This trait did not take anything away from his exemplary pastoral dynamism.

It seems, among other things, that he set up parish churches to render stable and systematic church services and that he promoted Marian sanctuaries for the coversion of pagan rural areas. So his monastic 'trait' conferred a particular dimension on the relationship of the bishop with his city.

Like the Apostles, for whom Jesus prayed at the Last Supper, the pastors and the faithful of the Church 'are in the world' (Jn 17,11)but not 'of the world.' Therefore, the pastors, Eusebius reminds us, should exhort the faithful not to consider the cities of the world as their permanent dwelling, but to seek the future city, the definitive Jerusalem in heaven.

This 'eschatological reservation' allows the pastors and the faithful to keep an authentic scale of values, without ever yielding to the fashion of the moment and to the unjust demands of prevailing political power.

The authentic scale of values, Eusebius's whole life seems to tell us, does not come from the emperors of yesterday or today, but from Jesus Christ, the perfect man, equal to the Fahter in divinity, but a man like us.

Referring to this scale of values, Eusebius does not tire of "warmly recommending" to his faithful "to guard the faith with every care, to maintain concord, and to be assiduous in prayer" (Ep. secunda, cit.).

Dear friends, I too recommend to you with all my heart these perennial values, while I greet and bless you with the words which St. Eusebius used to conclude his second letter: "I address you all, my brothers and holy sisters, sons and daughters, the faithful of both sexes and every age ... so that you may bring our greetings even to those who are outside the Church but who deign to nourish sentiments of love for us" (ibid.)



Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the ancient Church, we now turn to Saint Eusebius of Vercelli. Eusebius was born in Sardinia at the beginning of the fourth century, educated in Rome and eventually elected Bishop of Vercelli. There he founded a priestly community inspired by the early monastic communities of Egypt, and helped to spread the ideal of apostolic holiness throughout northern Italy.

Eusebius tirelessly defended the full divinity of Christ proclaimed at the Council of Nicaea, even at the cost of exile. His example of pastoral zeal greatly influenced many of his contemporaries, including Saints Ambrose and Maximus of Turin.

Eusebius’s Letters testify to his closeness to the faithful of Vercelli, as well as his concern for those who were not of the faith. His episcopal ministry was shaped by his commitment to the monastic ideals of contemplation and self-discipline. He thus found the strength to resist every form of external pressure in his faithful service to the Gospel.

May his teachings and example inspire us, in all our life and activity, to "make every effort to preserve the faith, to live in harmony and to be constant in the practice of prayer" (cf. Ep. II).

I warmly greet the Immaculate Heart Sisters from Nigeria who celebrate the seventieth anniversary of their foundation. I likewise greet the members of the national pilgrimage of Tanzania. My welcome also goes to the Lutheran pilgrims from Norway and to the members of Serra International.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, the Philippines and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.



After his final greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, the Pope made this special appeal:


Today we mark the World Day against poverty, recognized by the United Nations as the International Day for the Elimination of Poverty.

How many people still live today in condtions of extreme poverty! The disparity between rich and poor becomes even more evident and disquieting, even in the most economically advanced nations.

This situation weighs on the conscience of humanity, since the conditions in which such a great number of human beings find themselves offend the dignity of the human being and consequently, compromise the authentic harmonious progress of the world community.

I encourage multiplying the efforts to eliminate the causes of poverty and the tragic consequences that result from it.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/17/2007 6:34 PM]
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10/24/2007 3:14 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 10/21/07, NAPLES
POSTED IN 'PASTORAL VISITS...'
BUT WILL POST IT ON THIS THREAD AS WELL


10/24/04
I AM STILL TRANSLATING THE CATECHESIS AT TODAY'S GA.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/24/2007 3:15 PM]
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10/24/2007 5:57 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 10/24/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square today.


Dear brothers and sisters:

Saint Ambrose, bishop, about whom I shall talk to you today, died in Milan in the nighttime between April 3-4 of 397. It was the dawn of Holy Saturday. The day before, around 5 p.m., he started to pray, as he lay in bed, with his arms open as if on the Cross. That is how he took part in the solemn Paschal Triduum, in the death and resurrection of our Lord.

"We could see him moving his lips," said Paulinus, the faithful deacon who wrote the Life of Ambrose, at the invitation of Augustine, "but his voice could not be heard."

Suddenly, the situation turned for the worse. Honoratus, bishop of Vercelli, who was around to assist Ambrose and was sleeping in the floor above, was awakened by a voice which repeated in his ear: "Get up, quick! Ambrose is dying..."

Honoratus descended in haste, Paulinus continues, "and offered the saint the Body of the Lord. After he had taken the Host and swallowed, Ambrose gave his last breath, carrying with him the last Viaticum. Thus, his soul, strengthened by virtue of that food, now enjoys the company of angels." (Vita 47).

On that Good Friday of 397, the open arms of the dying Ambrose expressed his mystical participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord. This was his last catechesis: despite the silence of words, he still spoke with the testimony of his own life.

Ambrose was not old when he died. He was not even 60, having been born around 340 in Trier, where his father was prefect of the Gauls. The family was Christian. At the death of the father, his mother brought him to Rome when he was just a boy and prepared him for a civil career, assuring him of a solid rhetorical and juridical education.

Around 370, he was sent to govern the provinces of the Emilia and Liguria regions, with his seat in Milan. It was there where the struggle between orthodox Christians and Arians was in full ferment, especially after the death of the Arian bishop Aussentius.

Ambrose intervened to pacify the faithful of both factions, and his authority was such that, although he was just a catechumen, he was acclaimed by the people as Bishop of Milan.

Up to that time, Ambrose had been the highest magistrate of the Roman empire in northern Italy. Very prepared culturally, but deficient in his knowledge of Scriptures, the new Bishop applied himself to study with alacrity. He learned to know and comment on the Bible from the works of Origen, the undisputed master of the Alexandrian school.

In this way, Ambrose transferred to the Latin environment the practice of meditating on Scriptures originated by Origen, and started in the West the practice of the lectio divina. The method of the lectio came to guide all of his own preaching and writings, which flowed precisely from prayerful listening to the Word of God.

A famous opening from one of the Ambrosian catecheses shows eminently how the holy bishop applied the Old Testament to Christian living: "When we read the stories of the Patriarchs and the maxims from Proverbs, we are able to draw a moral lesson every day," the Bishop told catechumens and neophytes, "so that, educated and trained by these, you may accustom yourself to enter into the way of the Fathers and follow the path of obedience to divine precepts" (I misteri, 1,1).

In other words, neophytes and catechumens, in the opinion of the bishop, after having learned the art of living right, would then be able to consider themselves prepared for the great mysteries of Christ.

Thus, Ambrose's preaching - which represents the fundamental nucleus of his enormous literary output - derived from his reading of the sacred books ('Patriarchs', meaning the historical books of the Bible, and "Proverbs", meaning the books of Wisdom) to live in conformity with divine Revelation.

It is evident that the personal testimony of the preacher and the exemplary level of the Christian community condition the efficacy of any preaching. From this point of view, a passage in St. Augustine's Confessions is significant. He had come to Milan as a professor of rhetoric - he was a skeptic, not a Christian.

But what moved the heart of the young African rhetoricist, who was skeptical and desperate, was not above all the beautiful homilies of Ambrose, although he appreciated these well enough. Rather, what moved him more was the witness borne by the Bishop and his Milanese church, praying and singing together solidly like one body - a Church capable of resisting the arrogant power of the emperor and his mother, who in early 386, had tried to requisition a Church building for Arian ceremonies.

"In the building that was to be requisitioned," Augustine wrote, "the devout people of Milan stayed put, ready to die with their own bishop." This evidence recounted in the Confessions is invaluable, because it shows that something was moving deep within Augustine, who continues thus, "Even we, though we were still spiritually lukewarm, participated in the fervor of the entire population" (Confessions 9, 7).

From the life and example of Bishop Ambrose, Augustine learned to believe and to preach. We can refer to a famous sermon of the African, which deserved citation many centuries later in the Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum of Vatican-II, which says (N. 25): "All the clergy must hold fast to the Sacred Scriptures through diligent sacred reading and careful study, especially the priests of Christ and others, such as deacons and catechists who are legitimately active in the ministry of the word. This is to be done so that none of them will become" - and here is where
Augustine is cited - "'an empty preacher of the word of God outwardly, who is not a listener to it inwardly...'".

Augustine learned from Ambrose this 'inward listening', this assiduity in reading Sacred Scriptures in a prayerful attitude, in order to truly receive the Word of God and assimilate it in one's heart.

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to propose to you yet another 'patristic icon' which, seen in the light of what we have previously said, effectively represents the heart of Ambrosian doctrine.

In the sixth book of Confessions, Augustine recounts his meeting with Ambrose, a meeting of truly great importance for the history of the Church. He writes textually that when he came to see the Bishop of Milan, the latter was regularly besieged by hordes of persons with problems, and for whose needs he, Ambrose, tried to provide as best he could.

There was always a long line of people waiting to speak to Ambrose hoping to get comfort and hope. When Ambrose was not with these people (and these were only for short periods of time), it was only because he had to eat ['restore his body with the necessary food'] or feed his soul by reading.

In this respect, Augustine expressed wonder because Ambrose read Scriptures silently, only with his eyes (cfr Confess. 6,3). Indeed, in the early centuries of Christianity, reading Scriptures was thought of strictly in terms of being proclaimed, and reading aloud facilitated understanding even for the one who was reading it.

That Ambrose could read through the pages with his eyes only indicated to Augustine not just a singular manner of reading but a familiarity with Scriptures.

So, reading 'in a whisper'- where the heart is involved and achieves a knowledge of the Word of God - is the icon I referred to, in which one can see the method of Ambrosian catechesis: it is Scriptures itself, intimately assimilated, that suggests the content of what one must announce in order to achieve conversion of hearts.

Thus, going by the magisterium of Ambrose and Augustine, catechesis is inseparable from the testimony of one's life. The catechist may also avail of what I wrote in Introduction to Christianity about theologians: He who wishes to educate others in the faith cannot risk appearing like some sort of clown, who recites his lines by rote. Rather, to use an image dear to Origen, a writer who was particularly appreciated by Ambrose, he should be the like the beloved disciple, who rested his head on the Master's heart and there learned how to think, speak and act.

In the end, the true disciple is he who proclaims the Gospel in the most credible and effective way.

Like the apostle John, Bishop Ambrose - who never tired of repeating
'Omnia Christus est nobis!' - Christ is totally for us - remained an authentic witness for the Lord.

We will conclude our catechesis with Ambrose's own words, full of love for Jesus: "Omnia Christus est nobis! If you want to heal a wound, he is the physician; is you burn with fever, he is the fountain; if you are oppressed by iniquity, he is justice; if you need help, he is strength; if you fear death, he is life...Taste, and see how good the Lord is. Blessed is the man who hopes in him" (De virginitate 16,99).

Let us hope in Christ ourselves - thus, we will be blessed and live in peace.


Later, he synthesized the catechesis in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the ancient Church, we now turn to Saint Ambrose of Milan. Born into a Christian family in the middle of the fourth century, Ambrose was educated in Rome and sent as governor to Milan, where, although a catechumen, he was soon acclaimed as Bishop.

He set about mastering the Scriptures, guided by the writings of Origen and the practice of lectio divina, a form of prayerful meditation on the word of God. It was Ambrose who introduced this practice to the West, and it deeply permeated his life and preaching.

Saint Augustine, who was converted in Milan and baptized by Ambrose, relates the profound impression which Ambrose’s engagement with the word of God left upon him. Ambrose, contrary to the custom of the time, did not read the Scriptures aloud, which Augustine interpreted as a sign of how deeply the inspired word had penetrated the holy Bishop’s mind and heart.

This image can serve as an "icon" of Ambrose as a catechist: his teaching was inseparable from his prayer and his entire life. For Ambrose, Christ was everything – Omnia Christus est nobis! – and so it must be for every catechist and indeed for every one of the Lord’s disciples.

I am happy to greet the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother who are gathered in Rome for their Twentieth General Chapter. I also cordially welcome an ecumenical pilgrimage of Catholics and Evangelical Lutherans from the United States of America. Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy.

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10/28/2007 2:23 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 10/28/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

This morning, here in St. Peter's Square, 498 martyrs killed in Spain during the 1930s were proclaimed Blessed. I thank Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, who presided at the celebration and I address my cordial greeting to the pilgrims gathered here for this joyful event.

The enrolment at one time of such a great number of martyrs in the Book of the Blessed shows that the supreme testimony of blood is not an exception reserved only for some individuals, but a realistic eventuality for the entire Christian people.

These martyrs are men and women - very diverse in age, vocation and social condition - who paid with their lives for their loyalty to Christ and to his Church. We can well say of them the statements of St. Paul which echo in this Sunday's liturgy: "I am already being poured out like a libation," he writes to Timothy, "and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4,6-7),

Paul, detained in Rome, sees death approaching, and traces a balance full of acknowledgment and hope. He is at peace with God and faces death serenely, with the consciousness of having spent all his life sparing nothing in the service of the Gospel.

This month of October, dedicated particularly to missionary commitment, thus closes with the luminous witness of the Spanish martyrs, who join the martyrs Albertina Berkenbrock, Emmanuel Gómez Gonzáles and Adilio Daronche, as well as Franz Jägerstätter - all proclaimed Blessed in recent days in Brazil and Austria.

Their example bears witness that Baptism commits Christians to participate with courage in spreading the Kingdom of God - if necessary, with the sacrifice of life itself.

Of course, not everyone is called to a bloody martyrdom. There is also a bloodless martyrdom, which is not less significant, such as that of Celina Chludzińska Borzźcka - wife, mother, widow and religious - who was beatified here in Rome yesterday. She typifies the silent and heroic testimony of so many Christians who live the Gospel without compromises, fulfilling their duty and dedicating themselves generously to the service of the poor.

This martyrdom of ordinary life is testimony that is even more important in the secularized society of our time. It is the pacific battle of love that every Christian, like Paul, should wage tirelessly - the path of spreading the Gospel to which we are committed till we die.

In this daily testimony, may the Virgin Mary, Queen of Martyrs and Star of Evangelization, help and assist us.


Later, he greeted English-speaking pilgrims:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus, including the group from the Oratory Prep School in Oxfordshire, England.

The Gospel invites us to leave aside all arrogance and pride, and to walk in humility before God and with our neighbour.

The Beatifications today remind us of the importance of humbly following our Lord even to the point of offering our lives for the faith.

May your stay in Rome renew your love of Christ, and may God bless you all!


He had a special greeting for Spanish-speaking pilgrims:

I affectionately salute the Spanish-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet my brother Bishops from Spain, the priests, religious, seminarians and laymen who had the joy of participating in the beatification of a great number of martyrs of your nation in the past century, as well as those who are following this Marian prayer on radio and television.

Let us give thanks to God for the great gift of these heroic witnesses for the faith who, moved exclusively by love of Christ, paid with their blood for their fidelity to him and to his Church.

With their testimony, they illuminate our spiritual path to holiness, and inspire us to give our lives over as an offering of love to God and our brothers.

At the same time, their words and gestures of forgiveness towards their persecutors impel us to work tirelessly for mercy, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.

I invite you from the heart to further strengthen everyday the communion withion the Church, to be faithful witnesses for the Gospel in the world - feeling the joy of being active members of the Church, the true Bride of Christ.

Let us ask the new Blessed Ones, through the Virgin Mary, Queen of Martyrs, to intercede for the Church in Spain and in the world. May the fecundity of their martyrdom produce abundant fruits of Christian life among the faithful and in families. May the blood they shed be the seed for blessed and numerous vocations for priests, religious and missionaries. God bless you!


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10/31/2007 4:04 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 10/31/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience at St. Peter's Square this morning.


Dear brothers and sisters!

Between the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, another Father of the Church, after St. Ambrose of Milan, contributed decisively to the spread and consolidation of Christianity in northern Italy.

He is St. Maximus, whom we meet as Bishop of Turin in 398, one year after the death of Ambrose. There is very little information about him. In recompense, a collection of about 90 sermons have come down to us. From these emerges the profound and vital link of the Bishop to his city, which also attests an evident point of contact between the episcopal ministry of Ambrose and that of Maximus.

At that time, serious tensions upset the normal order of civil coexistence. In this context, Maximus succeeded to consolidate the Christian population around him as pastor and teacher.

The city was threatened by scattered groups of barbarians who, having entered through the eastern passes, were pushing towards the western Alps. Because of this, Turin was permanently protected by military garrisons, which became, during critical moments, a refuge for the people fleeing the countryside and unprotected urban centers .

Maximus's interventions in the face of this situation bear witness to his commitment to do something about the civilian degradation and disaggregation.

Even if it is difficult to determine the social composition of the people that his Sermons addressed, it appears that his preaching - not risking generalities - was addressed specifically to a selected nucleus of the Christian community of Turin, consisting of rich landowners who had their possessions in the countryside and their homes in the city.

It was a clear pastoral choice by the Bishop, who saw in this kind of preaching the most effective way to maintain and reinforce his own links to the people.

To illustrate Maximus's ministry in this perspective, I wish to refer, for example, to Sermons 17 and 18, dedicated to a theme that is always topical - that of wealth and poverty in the Christian communities. Because even in this field, serious tensions ran through the city.

Wealth was accumulated and hidden. "No one thinks of the needs of others," the Bishop said bitterly in Sermon 17. "Indeed, many Christians not only do not distribute from their own properties, but plunder those of others. I sayz: not only do they fail to lay down the money they take in 'at the feet of the apostles', but even drag away from the feet of the apostles their brothers who seek assistance."

He concludes: "Many guests and pilgrims come to our city. Do what you promised," adhering to the faith, "so that what was said of Ananias may not be said of you: 'You have not lied to men but to God.'" (Sermon 17, 2-3),

In the next Sermon, the 18th, Maximus stigmatizes recurrent forms of looting and profiteering from the misfortunes of others.

"Tell me, Christian," the Bishop asked his faithful," tell me: why have you taken the plunder abandoned by the plunderers? Why have you brought to your house any 'profit', as you may think of it, which was gained by force and contaminated?"

"Perhaps," he continued, "you thought you had 'bought' it, and thereby think you can avoid being accused of avarice. But this is not the way to establish a sale. It is alright to buy things which, in times of peace, are freely sold, but not to buy that which has been looted in plunder. ...Therefore, act like Christians and as citizens who buy back things in order to return them" (Sermon 18,3).

Maximus thereby was able to preach about the profound relation between the duties of a Christian and of a citizen. In his eyes, to live a Christian life meant taking on civic commitments as well. Vice-versa, every Christian who, "although he could live through his own labor, grabs someone else's loot with the fierceness of beasts"; who "undermines (lays a trap for) his neighbor, who every day tries to gnaw at his neighbor's boundaries, to take possession of his crops" is not only like a fox who beheads chickens but a wolf who preys on pigs" (Sermon 41,4).

Compared to the prudent defensive attitude taken by Ambrose to justify his famous initiative of rescuing prisoners of war, the historical changes that have since taken place in the relations between a bishop and civic institutions emerge clearly.

Supported by a law which called on Christians to redeem prisoners of war, Maximus - with the collapse of the Roman empire's civilian authority - felt fully authorized to exercise a true and proper power of control over the city.

This power would become broader and more effective to the point of substituting for the absence of magistrates and civic institutions. In this context, Maximus did not only move to re-ignite among the faithful a traditional love for their native city, but proclaimed that it was their duty to take on fiscal responsibilities, as serious and unpleasant as they appeared to be (Sermon 26,.2).

In short, the tone and substance of his Sermons assume a mature and growing consciousness of the political responsibility of a bishop in specific historical circumstances.

He was the 'lookout' for the city. Who should be these lookouts and guardians, he asks in Sermon 92, "if not the blessed bishops, who, being mounted, so to speak, on an elevated rock of wisdom for the defense of the people, see from afar the evils that are approaching?"

In Sermon 89, the Bishop of Turin illustrates to the faithful his task, availing of a singular comparison between a bishop's function and that of bees: "Like the bee," he said, "(bishops) observe corporal chastity, offer the food of celestial life, use the sting of the law. They are pure in order to sanctify, gentle in order to restore, and severe in order to punish." That is how St. Maximus described the mission of a bishop in his time.

Ultimately, historical and literary analysis shows his growing awareness of the political responsibility that ecclesiastical authorities had, in a context when the latter was in fact substituting for absent civilian authority.

This, in fact, was how the bishop's ministry developed in northern Italy, starting with Eusebius, who lived in his Vercelli like a monk, to Maximus, situated like a sentinel on the highest rock in the city.

Obviously, the historical, cultural and social context today is profoundly different. The context today is that which my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, described in his post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, in which he offers a detailed analysis of the challenges and signs of hope for Europe today (6-22).

In any case, despite changed conditions, the duties of the believer towards his city and homeland remain valid. The interweaving of the commitment of the 'honest citizen' with that of the 'good Christian' has not grown less.

In conclusion, I wish to recall what the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes says to illuminate one of the most important aspects of the unity of Christian life: the consistency between faith and behavior, between Gospel and culture.

The Council exhorts the faithful to "strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response he Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation" (n. 43).

Following the magisterium of St. Maximus and many other Fathers of the Church, let us make the Council's hope ours as well, that the faithful may ever more "exercise all their earthly activities and their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory" (ibid), and therefore, to the good of mankind.



The following is the English synthesis of the catechesis and the Pope's greeting to English-speaking pilgrims:

In our catechesis on the Fathers of the Early Church, we now turn from Saint Eusebius of Vercelli and Saint Ambrose of Milan to another great Bishop of Northern Italy, Saint Maximus of Turin.

We meet Maximus as Bishop of Turin in 398, a year after the death of Ambrose. It was a time of growing civil unrest, when Turin had become a centre of refuge for those fleeing before the barbarian invaders. His Homilies reflect a growing awareness of the responsibility of Christians to promote a just social order grounded in solidarity with the poor.

Addressed specifically to the wealthy, the Homilies inculcate concern for those in need, readiness to sacrifice for the common good and commitment to public service.

Like many other Bishops of the time, Maximus found himself called upon to take on greater civic authority and responsibility.

His example and teaching remind us that, whatever the age in which they live, Christian believers are called upon to carry out faithfully their duties as citizens, working to imbue temporal society with the spirit of the Gospel, and striving to achieve a vital synthesis between their duties as citizens of the earthly city and their commitment to work for the coming of God’s Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.

I warmly greet the Sisters of the Resurrection present in Rome for the beatification of their foundress Mother Celine Chludjinska Borzencka. May the Lord grant them the grace of following generously in her footsteps.

I also welcome the members of the Risso Kossei-kai Buddhist group from Japan. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, the Philippines and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.


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10/31/2007 4:04 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 10/31/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience at St. Peter's Square this morning.


Dear brothers and sisters!

Between the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, another Father of the Church, after St. Ambrose of Milan, contributed decisively to the spread and consolidation of Christianity in northern Italy.

He is St. Maximus, whom we meet as Bishop of Turin in 398, one year after the death of Ambrose. There is very little information about him. In recompense, a collection of about 90 sermons have come down to us. From these emerges the profound and vital link of the Bishop to his city, which also attests an evident point of contact between the episcopal ministry of Ambrose and that of Maximus.

At that time, serious tensions upset the normal order of civil coexistence. In this context, Maximus succeeded to consolidate the Christian population around him as pastor and teacher.

The city was threatened by scattered groups of barbarians who, having entered through the eastern passes, were pushing towards the western Alps. Because of this, Turin was permanently protected by military garrisons, which became, during critical moments, a refuge for the people fleeing the countryside and unprotected urban centers .

Maximus's interventions in the face of this situation bear witness to his commitment to do something about the civilian degradation and disaggregation.

Even if it is difficult to determine the social composition of the people that his Sermons addressed, it appears that his preaching - not risking generalities - was addressed specifically to a selected nucleus of the Christian community of Turin, consisting of rich landowners who had their possessions in the countryside and their homes in the city.

It was a clear pastoral choice by the Bishop, who saw in this kind of preaching the most effective way to maintain and reinforce his own links to the people.

To illustrate Maximus's ministry in this perspective, I wish to refer, for example, to Sermons 17 and 18, dedicated to a theme that is always topical - that of wealth and poverty in the Christian communities. Because even in this field, serious tensions ran through the city.

Wealth was accumulated and hidden. "No one thinks of the needs of others," the Bishop said bitterly in Sermon 17. "Indeed, many Christians not only do not distribute from their own properties, but plunder those of others. I sayz: not only do they fail to lay down the money they take in 'at the feet of the apostles', but even drag away from the feet of the apostles their brothers who seek assistance."

He concludes: "Many guests and pilgrims come to our city. Do what you promised," adhering to the faith, "so that what was said of Ananias may not be said of you: 'You have not lied to men but to God.'" (Sermon 17, 2-3),

In the next Sermon, the 18th, Maximus stigmatizes recurrent forms of looting and profiteering from the misfortunes of others.

"Tell me, Christian," the Bishop asked his faithful," tell me: why have you taken the plunder abandoned by the plunderers? Why have you brought to your house any 'profit', as you may think of it, which was gained by force and contaminated?"

"Perhaps," he continued, "you thought you had 'bought' it, and thereby think you can avoid being accused of avarice. But this is not the way to establish a sale. It is alright to buy things which, in times of peace, are freely sold, but not to buy that which has been looted in plunder. ...Therefore, act like Christians and as citizens who buy back things in order to return them" (Sermon 18,3).

Maximus thereby was able to preach about the profound relation between the duties of a Christian and of a citizen. In his eyes, to live a Christian life meant taking on civic commitments as well. Vice-versa, every Christian who, "although he could live through his own labor, grabs someone else's loot with the fierceness of beasts"; who "undermines (lays a trap for) his neighbor, who every day tries to gnaw at his neighbor's boundaries, to take possession of his crops" is not only like a fox who beheads chickens but a wolf who preys on pigs" (Sermon 41,4).

Compared to the prudent defensive attitude taken by Ambrose to justify his famous initiative of rescuing prisoners of war, the historical changes that have since taken place in the relations between a bishop and civic institutions emerge clearly.

Supported by a law which called on Christians to redeem prisoners of war, Maximus - with the collapse of the Roman empire's civilian authority - felt fully authorized to exercise a true and proper power of control over the city.

This power would become broader and more effective to the point of substituting for the absence of magistrates and civic institutions. In this context, Maximus did not only move to re-ignite among the faithful a traditional love for their native city, but proclaimed that it was their duty to take on fiscal responsibilities, as serious and unpleasant as they appeared to be (Sermon 26,.2).

In short, the tone and substance of his Sermons assume a mature and growing consciousness of the political responsibility of a bishop in specific historical circumstances.

He was the 'lookout' for the city. Who should be these lookouts and guardians, he asks in Sermon 92, "if not the blessed bishops, who, being mounted, so to speak, on an elevated rock of wisdom for the defense of the people, see from afar the evils that are approaching?"

In Sermon 89, the Bishop of Turin illustrates to the faithful his task, availing of a singular comparison between a bishop's function and that of bees: "Like the bee," he said, "(bishops) observe corporal chastity, offer the food of celestial life, use the sting of the law. They are pure in order to sanctify, gentle in order to restore, and severe in order to punish." That is how St. Maximus described the mission of a bishop in his time.

Ultimately, historical and literary analysis shows his growing awareness of the political responsibility that ecclesiastical authorities had, in a context when the latter was in fact substituting for absent civilian authority.

This, in fact, was how the bishop's ministry developed in northern Italy, starting with Eusebius, who lived in his Vercelli like a monk, to Maximus, situated like a sentinel on the highest rock in the city.

Obviously, the historical, cultural and social context today is profoundly different. The context today is that which my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II, described in his post-synodal exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, in which he offers a detailed analysis of the challenges and signs of hope for Europe today (6-22).

In any case, despite changed conditions, the duties of the believer towards his city and homeland remain valid. The interweaving of the commitment of the 'honest citizen' with that of the 'good Christian' has not grown less.

In conclusion, I wish to recall what the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes says to illuminate one of the most important aspects of the unity of Christian life: the consistency between faith and behavior, between Gospel and culture.

The Council exhorts the faithful to "strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response he Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation" (n. 43).

Following the magisterium of St. Maximus and many other Fathers of the Church, let us make the Council's hope ours as well, that the faithful may ever more "exercise all their earthly activities and their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's glory" (ibid), and therefore, to the good of mankind.



The following is the English synthesis of the catechesis and the Pope's greeting to English-speaking pilgrims:

In our catechesis on the Fathers of the Early Church, we now turn from Saint Eusebius of Vercelli and Saint Ambrose of Milan to another great Bishop of Northern Italy, Saint Maximus of Turin.

We meet Maximus as Bishop of Turin in 398, a year after the death of Ambrose. It was a time of growing civil unrest, when Turin had become a centre of refuge for those fleeing before the barbarian invaders. His Homilies reflect a growing awareness of the responsibility of Christians to promote a just social order grounded in solidarity with the poor.

Addressed specifically to the wealthy, the Homilies inculcate concern for those in need, readiness to sacrifice for the common good and commitment to public service.

Like many other Bishops of the time, Maximus found himself called upon to take on greater civic authority and responsibility.

His example and teaching remind us that, whatever the age in which they live, Christian believers are called upon to carry out faithfully their duties as citizens, working to imbue temporal society with the spirit of the Gospel, and striving to achieve a vital synthesis between their duties as citizens of the earthly city and their commitment to work for the coming of God’s Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.

I warmly greet the Sisters of the Resurrection present in Rome for the beatification of their foundress Mother Celine Chludjinska Borzencka. May the Lord grant them the grace of following generously in her footsteps.

I also welcome the members of the Risso Kossei-kai Buddhist group from Japan. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, the Philippines and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.


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11/1/2007 3:48 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 11/1/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Fahter's words at Angelus today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

On today's Solemnity of All Saints, our hearts, surpassing the limits of time and space, open up to Heaven.

In the early days of Christianity, the members of the Church were called 'the saints' or 'the holy'. In the first Letter to the Corinthians, for example, St. Paul addresses "you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours" (1 Cor 1,2).

In fact, the Christian is already holy, because Baptism unites him to Jesus and the Paschal mystery, but he has to become holy, at the same time, conforming himself to Jesus ever more intimately.

Sometimes it is thought that sainthood or holiness is a condition of privilege reserved only for a few elected ones. Actually, to become a saint is the task of every Christian, we might even say, of every man.

The Apostle wrote that God has always blessed us and has chosen us in Christ who has blessed us in Christ "to be holy and without blemish before him" (Eph 1,3-4).

All human beings are called to sainthood which, ultimately consists in living as children of God, in that 'resemblance' to him as we were created. All human beings are children of God, and therefore everyone should become what they are through the demanding path of freedom. All about God invites us to be part of his holy people. The 'way' is Christ, the Son, the Holy One of God - no one reaches the Father if not through him (cfr Jn 14,6).

The Church has wisely placed in close succession the Feast of All Saints and the commemoration of all the faithful departed. Thus to our prayers of praise to God and veneration of the beatific souls whom today's liturgy presents to us as 'a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue" (Rev 7,9), we add our prayers of remembrance for those who have preceded us from this world to eternal life.

For them, we will specially dedicate our prayers tomorrow and celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Actually, the Church invites us everyday to pray for them, offering our daily sufferings and efforts so that, completely purified, they may be admitted to the eternal joy of the Lord's light and peace.

In the center of the assembly of saints shines the Virgin Mary, "humble and higher than any creature' (Dante, Paradise, XXXIII,2). Placing our hand in hers, we are inspired to walk with greater impetus along the way of sainthood.

To her, let us entrust our daily tasks and let us pray to her today for our dear departed in the intimate hope of findings ourselves together with them one day in the glorious community of saints.



After the Angelus, the Holy Father gave this greeting in English:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus.

The Solemnity of All Saints calls us to deepen our communion with the great figures of the Church who radiate the splendour of God’s kingdom of truth and love.

May we strive to imitate their heroic virtues and follow their example along the path of perfection. I wish you and your families a happy feast day. May God bless you all!


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11/4/2007 1:10 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 11/4/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at the Angelus today.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the liturgy presents for our meditation the noted Gospel episode of the encounter of Jesus with Zacchaeus in the city of Jericho.

Who was Zacchaeus? A rich man who was a 'publican' by occupation, that is, a collector of taxes on behalf of the Roman authority, and because of this, he was considered a public sinner.

Having learned that Jesus was to pass by Jericho, that man was seized by a great desire to see him, but being a short man, he had to climb a tree to do so.

Jesus stopped right under that tree and addressed him by name: "Zacchaeus, come down, because today, I must stay at your house" (Lk 19,5).

What a message in this simple sentence! 'Zacchaeus!" Jesus calls a man despised by all, by his name. "Today" - yes, now was, for Zacchaeus, the moment of salvation. "I must stay at your house." Why 'must'? Because the Father, rich with mercy, wants Jesus to 'find and save him who is lost' (Lk 19,10).

The grace of that unforeseen encounter was such as to completely change Zacchaeus's life: ""Behold," he told Jesus, "half of my possessions, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over."

Once again, the Gospel tells us that love, coming from the heart of God and working through the heart of man, is the power that renews the world.

This truth shines out singularly in the testimony of the saint whose memory we mark today: Carlo Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan. His figure stood out in the 16th century as the model of a pastor exemplary for his charity, doctrine, apostolic zeal, an above all, prayer. "Souls," he said, "are conquered by being on one's knees."

Consecrated bishop at only 25 years of age, he put into practice the dictate of the Council of Trent that required bishops to live in their respective dioceses, and dedicated himself completely to the Ambrosian church.

He visited the length and breadth of the diocese three times. He called six provincial synods and 11 diocesan. He founded seminaries to train a new generation of priests. He constructed hospitals and offered his family wealth in the service of the poor. He defended the rights of the Church against the powers that be. He renewed religious life and instituted a new congregation of secular priests, the Oblates.

In 1576, when the plague raged through Milan, he visited, comforted and spent all he had for the sick. His motto consisted of one word, 'Humilitas'. Humility impelled him, like Jesus, to renounce himself in order to be the servant of all.

Remembering my venerated predecessor John Paul II, who carried St. Charles's name with honor [Karol=Charles], let us entrust to the intercession of St. Charles all the bishops of the world, for whom let us invoke always the heavenly protection of the Most Blessed Mary, Mother of the Church.


After the Angelus, he had this special message:

The news in recent days on events in the border region between Turkey and Iraq are sources of concern for myself and for everyone. I wish, therefore, to encourage every effort to reach a peaceful solution of the problems which have recently emerged between Turkey and Iraq Kurdistan.

I cannot forget that many peoples have found refuge in that region to flee the insecurity and terrorism which have made life difficult in Iran these years. For the sake of those peoples, who include many Christians, I hope very strongly that all sides may work for peaceful solutions.

I wish, moreover, that the relations between migrant populations and the local people may take place in the spirit of the high moral civilization that is the fruit of every nation and people's spiritual and cultural values.

May those who are charged with security and hospitality use measures that will guarantee the rights and duties that are the basis for every true coexistence and encounter among peoples.


In English, he said:

I happily greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus.

In today’s liturgy, the Book of Wisdom tells us that the Lord has "mercy on all" because he is a "lover of souls" (Wis 11:23, 26).

My dear friends, may God’s word and your visit to this holy city inspire you to share Jesus’s love and mercy to everyone you meet. I wish a joyous Sunday to all!


To Polish pilgrims, he said:

I greet the Poles who are present and those who are with us through radio and television. Today we remember St. Charles Borromeo, baptismal patron of John Paul II. Let us thank God for the life and work of these two great men of the Church, far apart in time but close together in the Spirit. God bless you!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/4/2007 1:11 PM]
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11/7/2007 4:19 PM
 
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Jerome, who was responsible for the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate. Jerome made the Scriptures the centre of his life, translating the inspired word of God, commenting upon its teaching and, above all, striving to live his life in accordance with its precepts. Born in Dalmatia in the middle of the fourth century and educated in Rome, he embraced the ascetic life and devoted himself to the study of Hebrew and Greek. After a sojourn in the East, he returned to Rome as secretary to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him in his work of translation. He then retired to the Holy Land, where he founded monasteries and a hospice for pilgrims in Bethlehem. Jerome’s entire life, his vast erudition and the spiritual wisdom born of his ascetic lifestyle were devoted to the service of God’s word, the refutation of heresy and the encouragement of Christian culture. Let us take to heart the words which this great master of the spiritual life once addressed to Saint Paulinus of Nola, and "seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in heaven".

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the United States. My special greeting goes to the members of the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, led by their Bishop. I also thank the orchestral and choral groups for their uplifting music. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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11/7/2007 5:31 PM
 
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AUDIENDE OF 11/7/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at St. Peter's Square today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

We will turn our attention today to St. Jerome, a Father of the Church, who placed the Bible at the center of his life: he translated it to Latin, he commented on it in various works, and above all, set out to live it concretely in his long earthly existence, notwithstanding the difficult and fiery nature for which he was also known.

Jerome was born in Stridone around 347 to a Christian family, who assured him of a thorough education, even sending him to Rome to complete his studies. As a young man, he felt the attractions of worldly living (cfr Ep. 22,7), but his desire for and interest in the Christian religion prevailed.

Baptized around 366, he was drawn to the monastic life, and going to Aquileia, he joined a group of fervent Christians, whom he described as almost 'a choir of the blessed' (Chron. ad amm. 374), who had gathered around the bishop Valerian.

Later, he left for the Orient and lived as a hermit in the desert of Calcide, south of Aleppo (cfr Ep. 14,10),dedicating himself to serious study. He perfected his knowledge of Greek, he began to study Hebrew (cfr Ep. 125,12), transcribed patristic codices and works (cfr Ep. 5,2), and became vividly aware of the contrast between pagan mentality and Christian living - a contrast made famous by the dramatic and vivid 'vision' which he recounted, in which he was flagellated in the presence of God because he was 'Ciceronian and not Christian' (cfr Ep. 22,30).

In 382, he moved to Rome where Pope Damasus, recognizing his fame as an ascetic and his competence as a scholar, took him on as secretary and adviser. He encouraged him to undertake a new Latin translation of Biblical texts for pastoral and cultural motives.

Some members of the Roman aristocracy, above all, noblewomen like Paola, Macella, Asella, Lea and others, who - desiring to commit themselves to the way of Christian perfection and to deepen their knowledge of the Word of God - chose him to be their spiritual guide and teacher in the methodical approach to sacred texts, for which these noblewomen learned Greek and Hebrew themselves.

After the death of Pope Damasus, Jerome left Rome in 385 and undertook a pilgrimage, first to the Holy Land, then to Egypt, a destination chosen by many monks (cfr Contra Rufinum, 3,22; Ep. 108,6-14).

In 386, he returned to Bethlehem, where the generous patronage of Paola had resulted in the construction of a monastery for males and another for females, as well as a hospice for pilgrims to the Holy Land 'in memory of Mary and Joseph who found no room to stay' (Ep. 108,14).

He was to remain in Bethlehem until his death, carrying on his intense activity. He commented on the Gospels; he defended the faith, vigorously opposing various heresies; he exhorted monks to perfection; he taught classical and Christian culture to young pupils; he welcomed pilgrims to the Holy Land like a pastor. He died in his cell near the Grotto of the Nativity on September 30, 419/420.

His literary preparation and vast erudition allowed Jerome to revise and translate many Biblical texts - an invaluable service to the Latin Church and Western culture. On the basis of original texts in Greek and Hebrew, and cmparing them to earlier translations, he realized the revision of the four Gospels in Latin, then the Psaltery, and a great part of the Old Testament.

Taking account of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, of the Septuagint (classic Greek version of the Old Testament dating back to pre-Christian times) and earlier Latin translations, Jerome - with the help of collaborators - could offer a better translation: the so-called 'Vulgate', considered the 'official' text of the Latin Church.

It is interesting to highlight the criteria that the great Biblical scholar used in his work as a translator. He revealed them himself when he stated that he respected even the order of words in Sacred Scripture, because, he said, "even the order of words is a mystery", that is, a revelation.

He also reiterated the need to turn to the original texts: "Whenever a question is raised among Latin readers about the New Testament because of discordant readings of the texts, we must turn to the original, that is, the Greek text in which the New Testament was first written. Likewise for the Old Testament, if there are divergences between the Greek and Latin texts, let us turn to the original text in Hebrew. In this way, everything that flows from the spring, we shall also find in its rivulets" (Ep 106,2).

Jerome also commented on several Biblical texts. For him, commentaries should offer many opinions "so that the astute reader, after reading different explanations and getting to know different opinions - to accept or to reject - may judge which one is most reliable, and like a currency expert, reject the counterfeit" (Contra Rufinum 1, 16).

With energy and liveliness, he refuted the heretics who contested the tradition and faith of the Church. He also showed the importance and validity of Christian literature which was now worthy to confront classical literature. He did this in De viris illustribus, a work in which he presented the biographies of more than a hundred Christian authors. He also wrote biographies of monks, illustrating the monastic ideal alongside other spiritual itineraries, and translated various works by Greek authors.

Finally, in the important Epistolary, a masterpiece of Latin literature, Jerome emerged with his most important characteristics as a man of culture, ascetic and spiritual guide.

What can we learn from St. Jerome? I think, above all, it is this: to love the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. St. Jerome said, "Not to know Scriptures is not to know Christ."

That is why it is important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialog with the Word of God, given to us in Sacred Scripture. This dialog should be truly personal, because God speaks to each of us through Sacred Scripture and has a message for each of us.

We should read Sacred Scripture not as a word from the past, but as the Word of God addressed even to us, and we must seek to understand what the Lord is telling us. But in order not to fall into individualism, we must also keep in mind that the Word of God is given to us in order to build communion, to unite us in the truth along our way to God.

Therefore, the Word of God, while remaining a personal word, is also a word to build community, to build the Church itself. So we should read it in communion with the living Church.

The privileged place for reading and listening to the Word of God is the liturgy, in which, by celebrating the Word and rendering the Body of Christ present in the Sacrament, we actualize the Word in our life and make it alive and present among us.

We should never forget that the Word of God transcends time. Human opinions come and go. What is very modern today will be old tomorrow. But the Word of God is the word of eternal life, it carries eternity in itself ,and therefore is valid for always. Carrying the Word of God, we carry in us the eternal, life eternal.

So I conclude with a statement of St. Jerome to St. Paulinus of Nola, in which the great exegete expresses that fact, that in the Word of God, we receive eternity, life eternal: "Let us seek to learn on earth the truths that will remain valid even in heaven" (Ep. 53,10).


Later, he synthesized the catechesis for English-speaking pilgrims:



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Jerome, who was responsible for the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate.

Jerome made the Scriptures the centre of his life, translating the inspired word of God, commenting upon its teaching and, above all, striving to live his life in accordance with its precepts.

Born in Dalmatia in the middle of the fourth century and educated in Rome, he embraced the ascetic life and devoted himself to the study of Hebrew and Greek. After a sojourn in the East, he returned to Rome as secretary to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him in his work of translation.

He then retired to the Holy Land, where he founded monasteries and a hospice for pilgrims in Bethlehem. Jerome’s entire life, his vast erudition and the spiritual wisdom born of his ascetic lifestyle were devoted to the service of God’s word, the refutation of heresy and the encouragement of Christian culture.

Let us take to heart the words which this great master of the spiritual life once addressed to Saint Paulinus of Nola, and "seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in heaven".

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the United States.

My special greeting goes to the members of the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, led by their Bishop. I also thank the orchestral and choral groups for their uplifting music. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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11/7/2007 5:31 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 11/7/07
Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at St. Peter's Square today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

We will turn our attention today to St. Jerome, a Father of the Church, who placed the Bible at the center of his life: he translated it to Latin, he commented on it in various works, and above all, set out to live it concretely in his long earthly existence, notwithstanding the difficult and fiery nature for which he was also known.

Jerome was born in Stridone around 347 to a Christian family, who assured him of a thorough education, even sending him to Rome to complete his studies. As a young man, he felt the attractions of worldly living (cfr Ep. 22,7), but his desire for and interest in the Christian religion prevailed.

Baptized around 366, he was drawn to the monastic life, and going to Aquileia, he joined a group of fervent Christians, whom he described as almost 'a choir of the blessed' (Chron. ad amm. 374), who had gathered around the bishop Valerian.

Later, he left for the Orient and lived as a hermit in the desert of Calcide, south of Aleppo (cfr Ep. 14,10),dedicating himself to serious study. He perfected his knowledge of Greek, he began to study Hebrew (cfr Ep. 125,12), transcribed patristic codices and works (cfr Ep. 5,2), and became vividly aware of the contrast between pagan mentality and Christian living - a contrast made famous by the dramatic and vivid 'vision' which he recounted, in which he was flagellated in the presence of God because he was 'Ciceronian and not Christian' (cfr Ep. 22,30).

In 382, he moved to Rome where Pope Damasus, recognizing his fame as an ascetic and his competence as a scholar, took him on as secretary and adviser. He encouraged him to undertake a new Latin translation of Biblical texts for pastoral and cultural motives.

Some members of the Roman aristocracy, above all, noblewomen like Paola, Macella, Asella, Lea and others, who - desiring to commit themselves to the way of Christian perfection and to deepen their knowledge of the Word of God - chose him to be their spiritual guide and teacher in the methodical approach to sacred texts, for which these noblewomen learned Greek and Hebrew themselves.

After the death of Pope Damasus, Jerome left Rome in 385 and undertook a pilgrimage, first to the Holy Land, then to Egypt, a destination chosen by many monks (cfr Contra Rufinum, 3,22; Ep. 108,6-14).

In 386, he returned to Bethlehem, where the generous patronage of Paola had resulted in the construction of a monastery for males and another for females, as well as a hospice for pilgrims to the Holy Land 'in memory of Mary and Joseph who found no room to stay' (Ep. 108,14).

He was to remain in Bethlehem until his death, carrying on his intense activity. He commented on the Gospels; he defended the faith, vigorously opposing various heresies; he exhorted monks to perfection; he taught classical and Christian culture to young pupils; he welcomed pilgrims to the Holy Land like a pastor. He died in his cell near the Grotto of the Nativity on September 30, 419/420.

His literary preparation and vast erudition allowed Jerome to revise and translate many Biblical texts - an invaluable service to the Latin Church and Western culture. On the basis of original texts in Greek and Hebrew, and cmparing them to earlier translations, he realized the revision of the four Gospels in Latin, then the Psaltery, and a great part of the Old Testament.

Taking account of the original Greek and Hebrew texts, of the Septuagint (classic Greek version of the Old Testament dating back to pre-Christian times) and earlier Latin translations, Jerome - with the help of collaborators - could offer a better translation: the so-called 'Vulgate', considered the 'official' text of the Latin Church.

It is interesting to highlight the criteria that the great Biblical scholar used in his work as a translator. He revealed them himself when he stated that he respected even the order of words in Sacred Scripture, because, he said, "even the order of words is a mystery", that is, a revelation.

He also reiterated the need to turn to the original texts: "Whenever a question is raised among Latin readers about the New Testament because of discordant readings of the texts, we must turn to the original, that is, the Greek text in which the New Testament was first written. Likewise for the Old Testament, if there are divergences between the Greek and Latin texts, let us turn to the original text in Hebrew. In this way, everything that flows from the spring, we shall also find in its rivulets" (Ep 106,2).

Jerome also commented on several Biblical texts. For him, commentaries should offer many opinions "so that the astute reader, after reading different explanations and getting to know different opinions - to accept or to reject - may judge which one is most reliable, and like a currency expert, reject the counterfeit" (Contra Rufinum 1, 16).

With energy and liveliness, he refuted the heretics who contested the tradition and faith of the Church. He also showed the importance and validity of Christian literature which was now worthy to confront classical literature. He did this in De viris illustribus, a work in which he presented the biographies of more than a hundred Christian authors. He also wrote biographies of monks, illustrating the monastic ideal alongside other spiritual itineraries, and translated various works by Greek authors.

Finally, in the important Epistolary, a masterpiece of Latin literature, Jerome emerged with his most important characteristics as a man of culture, ascetic and spiritual guide.

What can we learn from St. Jerome? I think, above all, it is this: to love the Word of God in Sacred Scripture. St. Jerome said, "Not to know Scriptures is not to know Christ."

That is why it is important that every Christian live in contact and in personal dialog with the Word of God, given to us in Sacred Scripture. This dialog should be truly personal, because God speaks to each of us through Sacred Scripture and has a message for each of us.

We should read Sacred Scripture not as a word from the past, but as the Word of God addressed even to us, and we must seek to understand what the Lord is telling us. But in order not to fall into individualism, we must also keep in mind that the Word of God is given to us in order to build communion, to unite us in the truth along our way to God.

Therefore, the Word of God, while remaining a personal word, is also a word to build community, to build the Church itself. So we should read it in communion with the living Church.

The privileged place for reading and listening to the Word of God is the liturgy, in which, by celebrating the Word and rendering the Body of Christ present in the Sacrament, we actualize the Word in our life and make it alive and present among us.

We should never forget that the Word of God transcends time. Human opinions come and go. What is very modern today will be old tomorrow. But the Word of God is the word of eternal life, it carries eternity in itself ,and therefore is valid for always. Carrying the Word of God, we carry in us the eternal, life eternal.

So I conclude with a statement of St. Jerome to St. Paulinus of Nola, in which the great exegete expresses that fact, that in the Word of God, we receive eternity, life eternal: "Let us seek to learn on earth the truths that will remain valid even in heaven" (Ep. 53,10).


Later, he synthesized the catechesis for English-speaking pilgrims:



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Jerome, who was responsible for the Latin version of the Bible known as the Vulgate.

Jerome made the Scriptures the centre of his life, translating the inspired word of God, commenting upon its teaching and, above all, striving to live his life in accordance with its precepts.

Born in Dalmatia in the middle of the fourth century and educated in Rome, he embraced the ascetic life and devoted himself to the study of Hebrew and Greek. After a sojourn in the East, he returned to Rome as secretary to Pope Damasus, who encouraged him in his work of translation.

He then retired to the Holy Land, where he founded monasteries and a hospice for pilgrims in Bethlehem. Jerome’s entire life, his vast erudition and the spiritual wisdom born of his ascetic lifestyle were devoted to the service of God’s word, the refutation of heresy and the encouragement of Christian culture.

Let us take to heart the words which this great master of the spiritual life once addressed to Saint Paulinus of Nola, and "seek to learn on earth those truths which will remain ever valid in heaven".

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the United States.

My special greeting goes to the members of the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, led by their Bishop. I also thank the orchestral and choral groups for their uplifting music. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/7/2007 5:31 PM]
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11/11/2007 4:07 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 11/11/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

The Church remembers today, November 11, St. Martin, Bishop of Tours (France), one of Europe's most celebrated and venerated saints.

Born to pagan parents around 316 in Pannonia, now Hungary, he was directed to a military career by his father. As an adolescent, Martin encountered Christianity, and overcoming many difficulties, he enrolled as a catechumen to prepare himself for Baptism.

He received the Sacrament when he was about 20, but he still had to serve more time in the army, where he gave ample witness to his new way of life: He was respectful and understanding to all; he treated his manservant like his brother; he avoided vulgar entertainments.

Once dismissed from the army, he went to Poitiers in France, to be with the Bishop Hilarius. Ordained deacon and priest by him, he chose the monastic life , and started, with some disciples, the oldest known monastery in Europe at Liguge.

About ten years later, the Christians of Tours, who were without a pastor, acclaimed him as their Bishop. From then on, Martin dedicated himself with ardent zeal to the evangelization of the countryside and to the formation of priests.

Even if numerous miracles have been attributed to him, St. Martin was famous above all for an act of fraternal charity. As a young soldier,
he encountered a poor man on the street who was shivering from the cold. He took off his cloak, cut it in half with his sword, and gave one piece to the man. That night, Jesus, wrapped in that cloak, appeared to him in a dream.

Dear brothers and sisters, the charitable gesture of St. Martin is the same logic that made Jesus multiply the loaves of bread for a hungry crowd but above all, to leave himself as food for humanity in the Eucharist, supreme sign of God's love, sacramentum caritatis, the sacrament of love.

It is the logic of sharing through which love for neighbor is concretely expressed. May St. Martin help us to understand that only through a common commitment to share is it possible to respond to the great challenge of our time, which is to construct a world of peace and justice, in which every man may live in dignity.

This can happen if a world model of authentic solidarity prevails which is able to assure to every inhabitant of the planet food water, necessary medical care, but also employment and energy resources, as well as cultural benefits and scientific and technological knowledge.

Let us turn to the Virgin Ma5y that she may help all Christians to be, like St. Martin, generous witnesses for the Gospel of love and tireless builders of brotherly sharing.


After the Angelus prayers, he had a special message on Lebanon:

The National Assembly of Lebanon will soon be called to elect a new Head of State. As the numerous initiatives undertaken in recent days have shown, this is a crucial transition on which the very survival of Lebanon and its institutions depends.

I take on myself the concerns expressed recently by the Maronite Patriarch, His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, and his wish that all Lebanese may acknowledge the new President.

Together let us ask Our Lady of Lebanon to inspire all interested parties towards the necessary detachment from their own personal interests and a true passion for the common good.


He also had a special message for Italians and for Argentines:

Italy celebrates today the Day of Thanksgiving with the theme 'Custodians of a beloved land we must serve".

In our day, farmers are not only the producers of essential goods but also guardians of the natural environment and the national patrimony.

Therefore, as we thank God for the gifts of Creation, let us pray that the workers of the land may live and work in serenity and prosperity and take care of the environment for the good of all.

I address a special greeting to the Argentine community in Rome. Dear friends, many of you have come on the occasion of the beatification of Zeffirino Namuncura, which takes place today in Chimpay, Argentina, where the celebration will be presided by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has gone there in my representation.

May the Blessed Zeffirino intercede for you and your families.


In English, he said:

I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today.

At this time the Church remembers Saint Martin of Tours, the saintly monk and bishop who was moved with such great compassion for the sufferings of the poor. Recalling the occasion when he cut his cloak in two, and gave one half to a poor man, we resolve to follow his example by sharing what we have with those less fortunate than ourselves.

Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

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11/14/2007 8:19 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 11/14/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience today, resuming his presentation of St. Jerome started last week.


Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we continue the presentation on St. Jerome. As we said last Wednesday, he dedicated his life to the study of the Bible, such that he was recognized by one of my predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI, as "a Doctor eminent in the interpretation of Sacred Scriptures'.

Jerome underscored the joy and importance of familiarizing oneself with the Biblical texts: "Doesn't it seem as though, here on earth, you are already living in the kingdom of the heavens when you live among these texts, when one meditates on them, when one does not recognize nor need anything else?" (Ep 53, 10).

In fact, to dialog with God, with his Word, is, in some way, the presence of Heaven, that is, the presence of God. To come close to the Biblical texts, expecially the New Testament, is essential for the believer, because "not to know Scripture is not to know Christ". That is a famous statement by St. Jerome which is cited in the Vatican II Pastoral Constitution Dei Verbum (n. 25).

Truly 'enamoured' of the Word of God, he asked himself: "How can one live without knowledge of the Scriptures, through which one learns to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?" (Ep. 30,7).

The Bible, the instrument "through which God speaks to the faithful everyday" (Ep. 133,13), thus becomes a stimulus and a spring for Christian living in all situations and for every person.

To read Scripture is to converse with God: "When you pray," Jerome wrote a young noblewoman of Rome, "you are speaking to the Bridegroom. When you read, it is he who speaks to you" (Ep 22,25).

The study and meditation of the Scriptures make man wise and serene (cfr In Eph., Prol.). Certainly, to penetrate ever more deeply into the Word of God, constant and progressive dedication is ncessary. So Jerome admonished the priest Nepotian: "Read the Sacred Scriptures frequently; or rather, never let the Holy Book lave your hands. Learn from it what you should teach" (Ep 52,7).

To the Roman matron Leta, he gave this advice for the Christian education of her daughter: "Make sure that she learns every day a passage from Scripture...Let her follow prayer with reading, and reading with prayer...so that instead of jewels and silk dresses, she may love the divine Books" (Ep. 107,91,12).

With meditation on and kowledge of the Scriptures, "one keeps spiritual equilibrium" (Ad Eph.,prol.). Only a profound spirit of prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit can introduce us to an understanding of the Bible: "In interpreting Sacred Scripture, we will always need the help of the Holy Spirit" (In Mich. 1,1,10,15).

Thus, an impassioned love for Scriptures pervaded the life of Jerome, a love which he always sought to inspire among the faithful. He advised one of his spiritual daughters: "Love Sacred Scdripture and wisdom will love you; love it tenderly, and it will protect you; honor it and you will receive its caresses. May it be for you as necklace and earrings" (Ep 130,20). Further: "Love the knowledge of Scriptures, and you will reject the vices of the flesh" (Ep. 125,11).

For Jerome, a fundamental criterion in interpreting Scriptures was harmony with the magisterium of the Church. We can never read Scriptures 'by ourselves'- we would find too many closed doors and we could easily slide into error.

The Bible was written by the People of God for the People of God, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Only in this communion with the People of God can we really enter with the 'we' into the nucleus of truth that God himself wishes to tell us.

For Jerome, an authentic interpretation of the Bible should always be in harmonious concordance with the faith of the Catholic Church. This is not an exigency imposed from the outside - the Book is truly the voice of the pilgrim People of God, and only in the faith of this People are we, so to speak, on the right wave length to understand Scred Scripture.

That is why Jerome advised: "Stay firmly attached to the traditional doctrine that you were taught, so that you may exhort based on healthy doctrine and refute those who contradict it" (Ep. 52,7).

In particular, since Jesus Christ founded his Church on Peter, every Christian, he concluded, should be in communion "with the Seat of St. Peter. I know that the Church was built on this rock" (Ep. 15,2). Consequently, without mincing words, he said: "I am with whoever is united to the Seat of Peter" (Ep. 16).

Jerome obviously does not ignore the ethical aspect. Rather, he often reaffirmed the duty to conform our life to the Divine Word and that only by living it can we also find the capacity to understand it. Such consistency is indispensable for every Christian, particularly for the preacher, so that his actions - if they should be discordant with his words - do not place him in embarrassment.

So he advised the priest Nepotian: "Let your actions not belie your words, so that when you preach in church, no one who knows you can comment, 'Then why don't you yourself act accordingly?' What a figure would be the priest who, having a full belly, discourses about fasting! Even a thief can denounce greed. But in a priest of Christ, thought and word should be in agreement" (Ep, 52,7).

In another letter, Jerome reaffirms: "Even if he has splendid doctrine, the person who is condemned by his own conscience remains shameful" (Ep. 127,4).

Still on the subject of consistency, he observed that the Gospel should be translated into attitudes of true charity, because the person of Crhist is present in every human being. Addressing, for example, the presbyter Paulinus {who later became Bishop of Nola and a saint), Jerome advised: "The true temple of Christ is the soul of the faithful - adorn this sanctuary, make it beautiful, place in it your offerings, and you will receive Christ. What use is it to adorn your walls with precious jewels if Christ is dying with hunger in the person of a poor man?" ((Ep. 58,7).

Jerome was quite concrete: one must "dress Christ in those who are poor, visit him in those who suffer, feed him in those who are hungry, give him shelter in those who are roofless" (Ep. 130,14).

Love for Christ, nourished by study and meditation, makes us overcome any difficulty: "Let us love Jesus Christ and alweys aim for union with him - then, even that which is difficult will seem easy to us." (Ep. 22,40).

Jerome, defined by Prosper of Aquitaine as "a model of conduct and teacher of the human species" (Carmen de ingratis, 57), has also left us a rich and varied teaching on Crhistian asceticism. He reminds us that courageous commitment to perfection requires constant vigilance, frequent mortification even if mdoerate and prudent, assiduous mental and manual labor to avoid idleness" (cfr Ep. 125,11 and 130,15), and above all, obedience to God: "Nothing...pleases God more than obedience...which is the highest and only virtue" (Hom. de oboedientia: CCL 78,552).

The practice of pilgrimage can also be part of the ascetic path. Jerome particularly gave importance to those made to the Holy Land, where, in his time, pilgrims were welcomed and lodged in buildings near the monastery at Bethlehem, thanks to the generosity of the noblewoman Paula, spiritual daughter of Jerome (cfr Ep. 108.14).

Finally, we must say something about the contribution made by Jerome to Christian pedagogy (cfr Ep. 107 and 128). He proposes that Christian education must form "a soul that should become a temple of the Lord" (Ep. 107,4), a "most precious gem' in the eyes of God (Ep. 107,13). With profound intuition, he advised that such a soul must be kept from evil and sinful occasions, and exclude doubtful and dissipate friendships (cfr Ep. 107,4 and 8-9).

Above all, he exhorted parents to create an environment of serenity and joy for their children, stimulate them to study and to work, with praise as well as by example (cfr Ep. 107,4 and 128,1), encourage them to overcome difficulties, raise them to have good habits and keep them from taking on bad ones, because - here he cites a statement from Publilius Sirus that he had heard as a schoolboy - "yon will rarely succeed in correcting the things to which you have become accustomed" (Ep. 107,u8).

Parents are the primary educators of their children, their first teachers in life. With much clarity, Jerome addressed the mother of a girl, and the father as well, almost expressing a fundamental requirement for every human creature who must face life: "May she find in you her teacher, and may her untried girlhood look at you with wonder. May she never see in you, nor in her father, attitudes which can lead to sin if they should be emulated. Remember that...you can educate better by example than with words" (Ep. 107,9).

Among Jerome's principal intuitions as a teacher, we must underline the importance he attributed to a healthy integral education from infancy onwards, the special responsibility of parents, the urgency of serious moral and religious formation, the necessity of study for a more complete human education.

Besides that, he advocated an aspect that was barely given attention in ancient times, but something eh considered vital - the promotion of women, for whom he recognized the right to a complete education - human, scholastic, religious and professional.

We see even today that the education of a person in his wholeness, his education in responsibility before God and to Man, is the true condition for every progress, for peace, for reconciliation and for the exclusion of violence. An education before God and before man: and it is Sacred Scripture that offers us a guide to such an education and therefore, to true humanism.

We cannot conclude this rapid comentary on the great Father of the Church without referring to the effective contributions he brought to safeguarding the positive asnd valid elements of ancient Jewish, Greek and Roman cultures in the emerging Christian culture.

Jerome had assimilated the artistic values, the richness of sentiment and the harmony of images present in the classics which edicate the heart and the imagination in noble sentiments.

Above all, in the center of his life and activity, he placed the Word of God, which shows man the pathways of life and reveals to him the secrets of sanctity.

For all this, we cannot but be profoundly grateful today.


In English, he said:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this week’s catechesis we continue our reflections on Saint Jerome, the priest and scholar who was responsible for the Latin translation of the Bible known as the Vulgate.

Convinced that "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ", Jerome everywhere urged the daily, prayerful study of the word of God. He insisted that the correct interpretation of the Scriptures demands not only the interior assistance of the Holy Spirit but also conformity to the Church’s authoritative teaching.

Jerome stressed the importance for all Christians, but especially for preachers, of ensuring that their lives accord with the ethical teaching offered in the sacred texts.

Devotion to the word of God also shaped Jerome’s ascetic doctrine, which emphasized the virtue of obedience and encouraged the pious practice of pilgrimage, particularly to the Holy Land.

Finally, by his spiritual counsel, especially to parents, he emphasized the importance of a broad and disciplined Christian education for the young, including women.

Jerome’s integration of the enduring values of classical civilization and the wisdom of the inspired word of God made him one of the great figures of the emerging Christian culture of late antiquity.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Denmark, Japan, Canada and the United States of America.

I greet especially the Sisters of Saint Anne of Tiruchirapalli, who are preparing to celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of their foundation.

Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.


To Italian-speaking pilgrims, he recalled a tragic anniversary:

I turn my affectionate thoughts to the families of the victims of Nasiriyah, Iraq, who remmeber today the fourth anniversdary of their tragic death.

May the memory of these brothers and all those who have sacrificed the supreme good of life for the noble intentions of peace contribute to sustain the way towards rebirth, full of hope, of the beloved people of Iraq.

[Twenty Italian soldiers were killed by a terrorist bomb in the Nasiriyah event.]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/14/2007 8:20 PM]
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11/18/2007 7:07 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 11/18/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at noonday Angelus today.

Dear brothers and sisters

In today's Gospel, St. Luke re-proposes for our reflection the Biblical vision of history, referring to the words of Jesus, who invites his disciples not to be afraid, but to face difficulties, incomprehension and even persecutions with confidence, persevering in their faith in him.

"When you hear of wars and insurrections," the Lord says, "do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end" (Lk 21,9).

Mindful of this admonition, the Church, from the beginning, lives in the prayerful expectation of the return of its Lord, scrutinizing the signs of the times and warning the faithful against recurring Messianisms, which from time to time announce that the end of the world is imminent.

In fact, history must run its ourse, which includes human tragedies and natural calamities. Within it is situated the plan of salvation which Jesus fulfilled in his incarnation, death and resurrection.

It is this mystery that the Church continues to announce and to actualize in its preaching, in the celebration of the Sacraments, and in the testimony of charity.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept Christ's invitation to face the events of every day, trusting in his providential love. Let us not fear for the future, even when it appears dark to us, because the God of Jesus Christ, entered history in order to open it to transcendent fulfillment, of which he is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (cfr Ap 1,8).

He guarantees us that in every small but genuine act of love, is found all the sense of the universe, and that he who does not hesitate to lose his own life for Christ, will find it back in fullness (cfr Mt 16,25).

Keeping alive this prospect for us, consecrated persons invite us with particular effectiveness, because they have placed theri lives unconitionally in the service of the Kingdom of God. Among them, I would liie to remember particularly the women who heed the call to the cloistered life.

The Church dedicates a special day for them on Wednesday, November 21, memorial of the presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple. We owe so much to these persons who live only by what Providence gives them through the generosity of other faithful.

The monastery "as a spiritual oasis, shows today's world the most imprtant, and in fact, the only decisive thing: that there exists an ultimate reason for which life is worth living, namely, God and his inscrutable love" (Heiligenkreuz, Sept. 9, 2007).

The faith that works through charity is the true antidote to the nihilist mentality, which in our time, continues to extend its influence throughout the world.

May Mary, Mother of the Word incarnate, accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage. We ask her to sustain the testimony of all Christians that it may always rest on a firm and persevering faith.


After the Angelus prayers, he spoke of the victims of the cyclone in Bangladesh:

In recent days, a poweerful cyclone hit the southern part of Bangladesh, with numerous victims and severe destruction. In renewing my expression of sincere condolence to the stricken families and to the entire Bengali nation, which is very dear to me, I call on international solidarity which is already in motion to attend to the imemdiate necessities, and I encourage every possible effort to help our brothers who are so severely tried.

Today, in Jordan, is the opening of the 8th assembly of states who are signatories to the inernational convention prohibitng the use, stockpiling, production and transport of anti-personnel mines and for their destruction.

The Holy See has been one of the principal promoters of this Convention, which has been in force for the past ten years. From my heart, I express my hope and my encouragement for the success of the conference, so that these types of ordnance, which continue to claim new victims, among them many children, may be completely banned.

This afternoon, the venerable Servant of God Antonio Rosmini will be beatified in Novara. He was a great figure as a priest and illustrious man of culture, who was animated by a fervent love of God and the Church.

He bore witness to the virtue of charity in all its dimensions and at the highest level, but what mae him best known was his generous commitment to what he called 'intellectual charity', which is the reconciliation of reason with faith.

May his example help the church, especially the church communities in Italy, to grow in the awareness that the light of human reason and of Grace, working together, constitute a spring of blessings for the human being and for society.



In English, he said:

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the communities of the Neocatechumenal Way from Malta.

Today’s Gospel urges us to be steadfast in our faith, trusting in Christ’s victory and the coming of his Kingdom.

May we find in prayer the strength to remain always faithful to the Lord and his Church! God bless you and your families!

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11/21/2007 4:26 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 11/21/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience in St. Peter's Square today.



Dear brothers and sisters,

In our excursion into the world of the Fathers of the Church, I wish today to guide you to a little-known part of this universe of faith, into the territories in which the Churches of the Semintic language flourished, before the influence of Greek thought.

These churches, throughout the fourth century, developed in the Near East, from the Holy Land to Lebanon and Mesopotamia. In that cnetury, which was a period of formation at the ecclesiastical and literary levels, these communities were characterized by an ascetic-monastic phenomenon with autocthonous characteristics which did not come under the influence of Egyptian monasticism.

The Syriac community of the fourth century thus represented the Semitic world from which the Bible itself had come, an expression of a Christianity whose theological formation had not yet come in contact with various cultural currents, but lived on in their own forms of thought.

They are churches in which asceticism under various eremitic forms (in the desert, in caves, reclusess, stylites) and monasticism in the form of community life exercised a role of vital impotrance in the development of theological and spiritual thought.

I wish to present this world in the great figure of Aphraates, also known as The Sage, one of the most important as well as most enigmatic personages of Syriac Christianity in the fourth Century.

A native of the Nineveh-Mosul area, now in iraq, he lived during the first half of the fourth century. We have little information about his life, but he maintained close rapport with the ascetic-monastic circles of the Syriac Church, which kept records of his work and to which he dedicates part of his reflections.

According to some sources, he was the head of a monastery before he was consecrated a bishop. He wrote 23 dscourses known as Expositions or Demonstrations, in which he deals with various themse of Christian living, like faith, love, fasting, humility, prayer, the ascetic life itself, and even the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, between the Old and New Testaments.

He wrote in a simple style, with brief sentences, parallelisms which usually pointed out contradictions, but he produced a coherent discoursde with a detailed development of the various issues that he confronts.

Aphraates was part of an ecclesial community which was on the frontier between Judaism and Christianity. It was closely related to the Mother Church in Jerusalem, and its bishops were traditionally chosen from among the so-called 'familiars' of Jacob, 'the Lord's brother' (cfr Mk 6,3): thus, they were persons linked by blood and faith to the Church of Jerusalem.

Aphraates's native language was Syriac, a Semitic language like the Hebrew of the Old Testament and like the Aramaic spoken by Jesus himself.

The ecclesial community in which Aphraates lived was a community that sought to remain faithful to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, of which it felt it was a daughter. Thus, it kept close ties with the Jewish world and its sacred books.

Significantly, Aphraates defined himself as 'a disciple of Sacred Scripture', of the Old and New Testaments (Exposition 22,26), which he considered his only source of inspiration, referring to it so much as to make it the center of all his reflections.

Aphraates treats of various themes in his Expositions. Faithful to the Syriac tradition, he often presents the salvation worked by Christ as a healing, and therefore, Christ himself as a physician. He considrerd sin an injury that only penitence could heal.

"A man who has been wounded in battle," Aphraates wrote, "is not ashamed to put himself into the hands of a wise physician... In the same way, whoever has been wounded by Satan should not be ashamed to recognize the injury and distance himself, asking for the medicine of penance" (Exposition, 7,3).

One other important aspect of Aphraates's work is his teaching on prayer, and particularly, on Jesus as a teacher of prayer. The Christian prays following the teaching of Christ and his example as a praying man: "Our Lord taught us to pray, saying 'Pray in secret to Himw ho is hidden but who sees everything', and also "Go into your room and pray to your Father in secret, and the Father who sees the secret will reward you' (Mt 6,6)....What our Lord wants to show us is that God knows the desires and thoughts in our hearts" (Exposition 4,10).

For Aphraates, Christian life is centered on the imitation of Christ, in taking on his yoke and following him along the way of the Gospel. One of the virtues most appropriate for a disciple of Christ is humility. It is not a secondary aspect of Christian life: man's nature is humble, and it is God who exalts it to His glory.

Humility, notes Aphraates, is not a negative value: "If man's roots are planted in the earth, its fruits will come before the Lord of greatness" (Exposition 9,14).

By staying humble, the Christian can enter into a relaitonship with the Lord even in the earthly reality in which he lives: "The humble man is humble, but his heart rises to the suoreme heights. The eyes of his face look on the earth but the eyes of his spirit see the supreme heights" (Exposition 9,2).

The vision Aphraates had of man and his corporal reality is very positive: the human body, like Christ who was humble, is called to beauty, to joy, to light. "God comes near to the man who loves him, and it is right to love huility and to stay in a state of humility.
The humble are simple, patient, quiet, peaceful, merciful, ready to repent, kind, profound, thoughtful, beautiful and desirable" (Exposition 9,14)

In Aphraates, the Christian life is often presented in a clearly ascetic and spiritual dimension: its basis, its foundation, is faith, which makes of man a temple in which Christ himself dwells. Faith makes sincere charity possible, expressed in love for God and for one's neighbor.

Another important aspect in Aphraates's teaching is fasting, which he understands in a very wide sense. He speaks of fasting from meals as a practice that is necessary in order to be charitable and chaste; of fasting in the sense of (sexual) continence with a view to sanctity; of fasting from using vain and detestable words; of fasting from anger; of fasting from owning goods in the context of the priestly ministry; of fasting from sleep to devote more time to prayer.

Dear brothers and sisters, to conclude, let us return to Aphraates';s teaching on prayer. Acccording to this ancient Sage, prayer is realized when Christ lives in the heart of the Christian and invites him to a consistent commitment to love of neighbor.

He wrote:
"Give relief to the defeated, visit the sick.
be concerned about the poor: that is prayer.
Prayer is good, and its works are beautiful.
Prayer is accepted if it gives relief to one's neighbor.
Prayer is answered when it also forgives offenses.
Prayer is strong when it is filled with the power of God."
(Exposition 4,14-16)

With these words, Aphaates invites us to prayer which becomes Christian living, a life realized, a life penetrated by faith, by an opening to God and therefore, to love for our neighbor.


Later, he gave an English synthesis of the catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this week’s catechesis we turn to Aphraates, an outstanding figure of fourth-century Syriac Christianity.

The Syriac Churches, Semitic in their language and thought, remained close to the Jewish-Christian tradition, and were deeply influenced by native forms of asceticism and monasticism. Aphraates was thus part of an ecclesial community on the frontier between Judaism and the Greek world.

According to some sources, he was the head of a monastery and later consecrated a Bishop. He has left us twenty-three talks, known as Demonstrations, on various aspects of the Christian life. His style is vivid and close to that of the Bible.

In the Syriac tradition, he presents Christ as the physician who heals us from the wounds of sin and our great teacher of prayer. Aphraates presents a positive view of man, called in the flesh to beauty, joy and light by the imitation of Christ in his humility.

The Christian life is seen in ascetic and spiritual terms, rooted in faith and flowering in the love of neighbour. Following the teaching of this great master of the spiritual life, let us strive to show charity and forgiveness to all, so that our prayers may be "strong with the strength of God" (cf. Dem. 4:16).

To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors I extend a warm welcome. In a special way I greet Senior Staff members of the USS Harry S. Truman, deaconate candidates from the Diocese of Brownsville, and members of the All American Star Dance Team. May your visit to Rome be a time of growth and renewal.

Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.


After greeting the various language groups present, the Pope made a special appeal about Somalia:

We have been getting sad news about the precarious humanitarian situation in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, which is more and more afflicted by social insecurity and poverty.

I am following developments with trepidation, and I appeal to all who have political responsiblity, at the local and international levels, so that peaceful solutions may be found and relief may be brought to the beloved Somali people.

I also encourage the efforts of all those who, notwithstanding security threats and difficulties, remain in the region to bring help and relief to its residents.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/21/2007 4:26 PM]
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