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Facebook   HOMILIES, ANGELUS, AND OTHER SPIRITUAL TEXTSLast Update: 4/26/2009 7:14 PM
11/25/2007 8:10 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 11/25/07

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


Here is a translation of the words of the Holy Father at the Angelus today. He led the Angelus from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica after the Mass held to celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King today and the consignment of rings to the new cardinals:


Dear brothers and sisters!

On Tuesday, in Annapolis, USA, Israelis and Pelstinians, with the help of the international community, intend to re-start the negotiating process to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict which has bloodied the Holy Land for sixty years and has brought on so many tears and suffering to the two peoples.

I ask you to join the Day of Prayer declared for today by the United Sattes Catholic Bishops Conference to implore God for peace in that region which is dear to us, and for the gifts of wisdom and courage for all the protagonists of this important meeting.

After the end of the solemn celebration today, I wish to address my heartfelt greeting to everyone present, including those who have followed it from outsisde the Basilica.

I express special thanks to the faithful who have come from afar to accompany the new cardinals and participate in this event, which demonstrates in a singular way the unity and universality of the Church. And I renew my deferential thoughts to the civilian authorities who are here.


In English, he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims who have come to attend the Consistory, especially those from Iraq, Ireland, India, Kenya and the United States of America.

Let us give thanks to God for the gift of these new Cardinals and strive to follow closely in the footsteps of Christ our King, bearing constant witness to his saving truth!

I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!


[He expressed similar sentiments to Spanish-speaking pilgrims and to the pilgrims from Brazil and Poland who are in Rome for their respective new cardinals. To the Poles, he mentioned that their new cardinal, Cardinal Rylko, was a close collaborator of John Paul II.]


Finally, he said in Italian:

I extend a heartfelt geeting to all Italian-speaking pilgrims, who are present here in great numbers despite the rain, to show their affection and devoted closeness to the six new Italian cardinals and all the other new cardinals.

As we prepare to recite the Angelus prayers as usual, we note that on occasions such as this, we feel even more vividly the spiritual presence of the Most Blessed Mary. As in the Cenacle in Jerusalem, she is in our midst today, accompanying us in this stage of the Church's journey.

Let us entrust to the Virgin the new members of the College of Cardinals so that each of them, as all other ministers of the Church, may always imitate Christ in generous service to God and his People, and participate in his glorious kingliness.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/27/2007 7:04 PM]
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11/28/2007 4:43 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 11/28/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience held today in the Aula Paolo VI.



Dear brothers and sisters,

According to common thinking today, Christianity is a European religion, which was later exported with European culture to other nations. But the fact is much more complex, because the roots of the Christian religtion are found in the Old Testament, and therefore in jerusalem and the Semitic world. Christianity haa always nourished itself from its roots in the Old Testament.

Even its expansion in the first centuries took place in both directions: to the West - the Greek and Latin world, where it then inspired European culture; and towards the East, to Persia and as far as India, thus contributing to raise a specific culture, in the Semitic languages, with its own identity.

To show this cultural pluriformity of the only Christian faith in the beginning, last Wednesday I spoke of a representative of this other Christianity, Aphraate the wise Persian, almost unknown to us.

In the same line, I wish to speak today of St. Ephrem the Syrian, born in Nisibi around 306 to a Christian family. He was the most important representative of Christianity in the Syriac language, one who succeeded to reconcile uniquely the vocations of thelogian and poet.

He was educated and grew alongside Jacob, Bishop of Nisibi (303-338), and together with him, founded the theological school of their city. Ordained a deacon, he intensely shared the life of the local Christian community until 363, when Nisibi fell to the Persians.

Ephrem then moved to Edessa, where he continued his activity as a peracher. He died in this city in 373, victim of the plague he contracted from caring for those who had been stricken.

It is not known for certain whether he was a monk, but in any case, he remained a deacon all his life and embraced both chastity and poverty. The common and fundamental Christian identity appears in his specificity cultural expression: faith, hope - the hope which allows one to live poor and chaste in this world, placing every expectation only in the Lord - and finally, charity, up to the gift of himself in caring for the victims of the plague.

St, Ephrem has left us a graat theological legacy. His considerable output can be grouped in four categories: works written in ordinary prose (his polemical works and Biblical commentaries); works in poetic prose; homilies in verse; and finally, the hymns, surely Ephrem's most extensive work.

He is a rich and interesting author in many ways, but especially in his theological profile. The specificity of his work is that theology and poetry encounter each other.

In approaching his doctrine, we must insist from the beginning on this: that he cast theology in poetic form. Poetry allowed him to deepen theological reflection through paradoxes and images. So at the same time, his theology becomes liturgy, it becomes music. He was, in fact, a great composer, a musician.

Theology, reflection on the faith, poetry, song, and praise of God all go together; and divine truth appears precisely in the liturgical character of Ephrem's theology. In his quest for God, in his theology, he followed the way of paradox and symbol. He largely favored contrasting images because they serve to underline the mystery of God.

I cannot now present very much of his work, if only because poetry is not easily translatable, but to give at least an idea of his poetic theology, I would like to cite parts of some hymns. Above all, especially in view of the coming Advent, here are some splendid images from the hymn on the nativity of Christ.

Before the Virgin, Eophrem manifests his wonder in inspired words:


"The Lord came to you
to become a servant.
The Word came to you
to be still in your womb.
Lightning came to you
without making any noise.
The Shepherd came to you -
to become the newborn Lamb
with his submissive plaint.

The womb of Mary
has changed the roles:
He who created all things
took possession in poverty.
The Highest came to you (Mary)
but he entered with humility.
Splendor came to you,
but dressed in humble rags.
He who makes all things grow
knew hunger.
He who waters everything
knew thirst.
Bare and stripped, he came from you,
he who clothes everything in beauty."
(Hymn "De Nativitate"11, 6-8).

To express the mystery of Christ, Ephrem used a great diversity of expressions and images. In one of his hymns, he effectively links Adam in Paradise with Christ in the Eucharist:

"It was the cherubin's spade
that closed the path
to the Tree of LIfe.
But for the people,
the Lord of this tree
gave himself as food -
he himself as offering (Eucharistic).

The trees of Eden
were given as food
to the first Adam.
For us, the Gardener in person
has made himself food for our souls.

Indeed we all left Paradise with Adam,
who left it all behind.
Now that the sword has been taken away,
there (on the Cross), we find it again
in the lance that pierced.
(Hymn, 49,9-11).


To speak of the Eucharist, Ephrem used two images: the ember or burning coal, and the pearl. The ember comes from Isaiah (6.6), in the image of the seraphin who picks up an ember with tongs and simply brushes it across the lips of the prophet in order to purify it. The Christian, on the other hand, takes and swallows the Ember, who is Christ himself.

"In your Bread is hidden the Spirit
which cannot be consumed.
In your wine is the fire
which cannot be drunk.
The Spirit in the bread,
the fire in your wine:
behold the wonder
that we welcome to our lips.

The seraphin could not, with his fingers, touch the ember
which he could only bring close to Isaiah's mouth.
The fingers did not hold it, nor did the mouth ingest it.
But the Lord has conceded both to us.

Fire descends with ire to destroy sinners
but the fire of grace descends on the bread and stays.
Instead of the fire which destroyed people,
we have eaten the fire in the bread
and we have been revived.
(Hymn "De Fide"10,8-10).

Finally, a last example of St. Ephrem's hymns, where he describes the pearl as a symbol of the richness and beauty of the faith:

"I place the pearl, my brothers,
in the palm of my hand to examine it.
I look at it from one side, then the other -
and it looks the same from every side.

So it is with our search
for the inscrutable Son -
because he is all light.

In its limpidity, I see the Limpid
which does not become opaque.
In its purity, I see the symbol
of the pure Body of our Lord.
And in its indivisibility, I see
the truth which is indivisible.
(Hymn "Sulla Perla" 1, 2-3).

The figure of Ephrem is still fully relevant in the life of the various Christian churches. We discover him, first of all, as a theologian who, starting from Sacred Scripture, reflects poetically on the mystery of the redemption of man by Christ, the Word of God incarnate.

His is a theological reflection with images and symbols taken from nature, from daily life and from the Bible. Ephrem confers a didactic and theological character on poetry and hymns for liturgy, Ephrem used these hymns to spread, on liturgical occasions, the doctrine of the Church. And in those times, they proved to be extremely effective as a catechetical means for the Christian community.

Ephrem's reflections on the theme of God the Creator are important: Nothing in the world is isolated, and the world, alongside Sacred Scripture, is the Bible of God, but using his freedom in the wrong
way, man overturns the order of the cosmos.

The role of women was very relevant to Ephrem. The way in which he spoke about women was always inspired by sensitivity and respect: Jesus dwelling in the womb of Mary had raised the dignity of all women. For Ephrem, just as there is no Redemption without Jesus, there could be no Incarnation without Mary.

The divine and human dimensions of the mystery of our Redemption are found in the texts of Ephrem: poetically and with fundamentally Scriptural images, he anticipated the theological background and in some way, the language itself, of the great Christologic definitions made by the Councils of the fifth century.

Ephrem, honored by Christian tradition with the title 'Scepter of the Holy Spirit', remained a deacon of the church all his life. It was a decisive and emblematic choice: he was a deacon, therefore, a servant, both in the liturgical ministry as, more radically, he was a servant of the love of Christ, which he sung in unparalleled way, and in his charity towards his brothers, whom he introduced with rare mastery to a knowledge of divine revelation.


In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this week’s catechesis we turn to Saint Ephrem, the greatest of the Syriac Fathers and the most renowned poet of the patristic age.

Saint Ephrem’s theology, deeply grounded in the Scriptures and profoundly orthodox in content, was expressed in poetic language marked by striking paradoxes and vivid imagery.

Through his mastery of poetic symbolism, Ephrem sought to communicate, especially in his Hymns, the mystery of the trinitarian God, the incarnation of the eternal Son born of the Virgin Mary, and the spiritual treasures contained in the Eucharist.

His poetry and hymns not only enriched the liturgy; they also proved an important means of catechesis for the Christian community in the fourth century.

Particularly significant is Ephrem’s teaching on our redemption by Christ: his poetic descriptions of the interplay of the divine and human aspects of this great mystery foreshadowed the theology and, to some extent, even the language of the great christological definitions of the Councils of the next century.

In his life-long service to the Church as a deacon, Saint Ephrem was an example of fidelity to the liturgy, meditation on the mystery of Christ and charitable service to his brothers and sisters.

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Australia, Canada and the United States. I offer a special welcome to the students from the University of Sunbury, Melbourne; and to the students and staff of the University of Dallas, Texas. I also greet the members of the pilgrimage from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, led by their Archbishop. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.


After finishing with all the greetings to the pilgtrims, the Pope made this special appeal:

December 1 is the annual World Day against AIDS. I am spiritually close to those who suffer this terrible illness as well as their families, particularly those who have lost a family member to it. I assure them all of my prayers.

Moreover, I wish to exhort all persons of good will to multiply efforts to stop the spread of the HIV virus, to oppose the scorn which often further afflicts its victims, and to take care of the afflicted, especially the children.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 12/4/2007 7:34 PM]
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11/29/2007 12:22 AM
 
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The Audience today......from EWTN
I watched today's audience. It was held in the Paul VI Hall, though I don't know why. Do we know if the audiences move indoors after a certain date and until some time in the new year? I didn't think there was any particular rule. It could have been raining in Rome today. EWTN's coverage started abruptly as the Psalm 149 was being read in Italian, so we didn't see Papa at once. We don't know if he walked down the aisle or came straight on to the platform. I think he may not have done the long walk today. He definitely had a bad throat and Don Giorgio gave him something to drink - water or soothing medicine - before he began the short addresses in other languages. He was very croaky when chanting the Pater Noster, but he never gives up!
Thanks for the full text above, Teresa!

[SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822] [SM=g27822]
P.S. No wonder Papa had a bad throat after his strenuous liturgies of the weekend - all that intoning in Latin! - but it was absolutely marvellous. Thank you, dear Holy Father, but sorry it gave you a bad throat!
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12/2/2007 4:54 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/2/07

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



Dear brothers and sisters!

A new liturgical year begins with this first Sunday of Advent. The People of God resume the journey to relive the mystery of Christ in history.

Christ is the same yesterday, today and always (cfr Heb 13,5), whereas history changes, thus requiring constant evangelization. It always needs to be renewed internally, and the only true news is Christ: it is he who is history's fulfillment, the luminous future of man and the world.

Resurrected from the dead, Jesus is the Lord to whom God the Father subjects all enemies, including death itself (cfr 1 Cor 15,25-28). Advent is the propitious time to reawaken in our hearts the expectation of him "who is, who was, and who is to come" (Ap 1,8).

The Son of God came to Bethlehem twenty centuries ago, he comes every moment to every soul and community ready to receive him, he will come again at the end of time to 'judge the living and the dead.'

Thus, the believer must always be vigilant, inspired by the intimate hope of meeting the Lord, as the Psalm says: "I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for his word. My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak..." (Ps 129[130],5-6)

This Sunday is, therefore, a day more than appropriate to offer to the whole church and to all men of goodwill my second encyclical that I dedicated precisely to the theme of Christian hope.

It is called Spe salvi, because it opens with the statement of St. Paul, "Spe salvi facti sumus" (Rm 8,24) - In hope we have been saved. In this, as in other passages of the New Testament, the word 'hope' is closely tied to the word 'faith'. It is a gift that changes the life of those who receive it, as the experience of so many saints has shown.

What does this hope consist of? how great and trustworthy is it that makes us say that in hope we have salvation? In substance, it consists of knowing God, discovering his heart, the heart of a good and merciful Father.

Jesus, with his death on the Cross and his Resurrection, showed us his face, the face of God with a love so great as to give us an unshakable hope that not even death can begin to shatter, because the life of whoever entrusts himself to this Father opens up to the prospect of eternal beatitutde.

The development of modern science has more and more confined faith and hope to the private and individual sphere, so that today it is quite evident, often tragically so, that man and the world have need of God - of the true God! - or else, they will remain deprived of hope.

Science contributes much to the good of humanity, without a doubt, but it is not able to redeem it. Man is redeemed by love, which makes personal and social life both good and beautiful.

For this, the great hope, that which is full and definitive, is guaranteed by God, God who is love, who in Jesus visited us and gave his life for us, and in him will come back at the end of time.

In Christ we hope, and it is him we await. With Mary his mother, the Church goes towars a meeting with the Bridegroom. It does this with works of charity, because hope, like faith, is shown through love.

I wish all a good Advent.



In English he said:

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for our Angelus prayer. My special greeting goes to the pilgrims from Brisbane in Australia.

This Sunday marks the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent. May this time of joyful expectation and spiritual preparation for the Lord’s coming be one of genuine conversion and interior renewal for Christians everywhere. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s richest blessings!


He had no special messages this time.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 12/2/2007 4:55 PM]
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12/5/2007 4:02 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 12/5/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience held today in the Aula Paolo VI.



Dear brothers and sisters!

In the last catecheses, we made an excursion to the Semitic-speaking Churches of the East, meditating on the Persian Aphraates and the Syrian St. Ephrem. Today, we return to the Latin world, in the North of the Roman Empire, with St. Chromatius of Aquileia.

This bishop carried out his ministry in the ancient Church of Aquileia, fervent center of Christian life in the tenth region of the Roman Empire, which was composed of Venetia and Histria.

In 368, when Chromatius ascended the episcopal seat of the city, the local Christian community had already matured with a glorious history of loyalty to the Gospel. Between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth, the persecutions of Decius, Valerian and Diocletian had reaped a great number of martyrs.

Moreover, the Church of Aquileia was threatened like many other churches at the time by the Arian heresy. Athanasius himself - standard bezarer of the Nicene Creed, whom the Arians had chased into exile - found refuge in Aquileia for a time. Under the leadership of its bishops, the Christian community resisted the snares of heresy, reinforcing its adherence to the Catholic faith.

In September 381, Aquileia was the site of a Synod which convened 35 bishops from the African coast, the valley of the Rhone, and all of the empire's tenth region. The Synod was called to vanquish the last traces of Arianism in the West.

Taking part in the Synod was the priest Chromatius, as an expert for the Bishop of Aquileia, Valerian (370/1-387/8). The years around the Syond of 381 constituted the 'golden age' of the Aquileian community.

St. Jerome, who was a native of Dalmatia, and Rufinus of Concord, spoke with nostalgia about their stay in Aquileia (370-373), in that sort of theoligical cenacle which Jerome did not hesitate to define as tanquam chorus beatorum - like a choir of blessed ones' (Cronaca: PL XXVII,697-698).

This cenacle - which recalled in certain aspects the communal experiments carried out by Eusebius of Vercelli and by Augustine - formed the most noteworthy personages of the Churches of the Upper Adriatic region.

Already within his family, Chromatius had learned to know and love Christ. St. Jerome himself spoke about this with great admiration, likening Chromatius's mother to the prophetess Anna, his two sisters to the prudent virgins of the Gospel parable, Chromatius himself and his brother Eusebius to the young Samuel (cfr Ep VII: PL XXII,341).

Of Chromatius and Eusebius, Jerome further wrote: "The blessed Chromatius and St. Eusebius were brothers by blood but not less in the identity of their ideals" ((Ep. VIII: PL XXII,342).

Chromatius was born in Aquileia around 345. He was ordained deacon and later priest, finally being elected Pastor of that Church, around 388. After receiving his episcopal ordination from Bishop Ambrose, he dedicated himself with courage and energy to a task that was enormous for the sheer vastness of the terriotry entrusted to his ministry: the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Aqwuileia extended from northern Italy to the territories of present-day Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia, up to the borders of Hungary.

One can deduce how well-known and respected Chromatius was in the Churches of his time from an episode in the life of St. John Chyrsostom. When the Bishop of Constantinople was exiled from his seat, he wrote three letters to those he considered the most important Bishops of the West, to ask them to get him support from the emperors - he wrote one to the Bishop of Rome, the second to the Bishop of Milan, and the third to the Bishop of Aquileia, Chromatius.

But even for Chromatius, those were difficult times because of the precarious political situation. Most probably, he died in exile, in Grado, while he was trying to flee from barbarian incursions in 407, the same year when the Chrysostom also died.

In prestige and importance, Aquileia was the fourth in the Italian peninsula, and the ninth in the Roman empire - which made it a target for the Goths and the Huns. Besides causing grave wars and destruction, the barbarian invasions seriously compromised the transmission of the works of the Fathers preserved in the episcopal library which had a wealth of codices.

And so, even the writings of St. Chromatius were dispersed here and there, often ending up being attributed to other authors such as John Chrysostom (mostly because both names started with 'Chr'), or Augustine or Ambrose, or even Jerome himself, whom Chromatius had helped a lot in the textual review and Latin translation of the Bible.

The rediscovery of a great part of Chromatius's work is owed to happy and fortunate circumstances that in recent years has allowed a reconstruction of a body of writing that is quite consistent: more than 40 sermons, about 10 of which are fragmentary, and more than 60 treatises of commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

Chromatius was a wise teacher and zealous pastor. His first and primary task was to listen to the Word in order to be able to annouce it himself. In his teachings, he always started with the Word of God and led back up to it. Some themes were particularly dear to him: above all, the mystery of the Trinity, reflecting on it, as it is revealed throughout the history of salvation.

Then, the subject of the Holy Spirit: Chromatius constantly called the attention of the faithful to the presence and action int he life of the Church of the Third Person in the Most Holy Trinity.

But Chromatius was particularly persistent on the mystery of Christ: The Word incarnate as true God and true man, who assumed complete humanity to make a gift of his own divinity. These truths, which he insistently reaffirmed even for anti-Arian purposes, would come to be formalized 50 years later in the Council of Chalcedon.

His strong emphasis on the human nature of Christ led Chromatius to speak often of the Virgin Mary: his Mariologic doctrine was terse and precise. To him we owe some evocative descriptions of the Most Holy Virgin: Mary is the "evangelical virgin who was capable of sheltering God"; she is the 'immaculate and inviolate lamb' who gave birth to 'the lamb draped in red' (cfr Sermo XXIII,3: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/1, p. 134).

The Bishop of Aquileia often spoke of the Virgin in relation to the Church: both, in fact, are 'virgins' and 'mothers'. But his ecclesiology was developed above all in his commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew.

Here are some of his recurrent concepts: the church is unique; it was born from the blood of Christ; it is a precious garment woven by the Holy Spirit; the Church is the place which proclaims that Christ was born of the Virgin and where brotherhood and concord flourish.

An image that Chromatius was particularly fond of was that of a ship at sea in a storm - he lived in tempetuous times, as we heard earlier: "There is no doubt," the holy Bishop said, "that this ship represents the Church." (cfr Tract. XLII,5: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/2, p. 260).

As the zealous pastor that he was, Chromatius knew how to speak to his people in a language that was fresh, colorful and incisive. Although he knew Latin perfectly, he prefered to use popular language which was rich in easily understandable images.

Thus, for example, using the sea as a metaphor, he contrasts, on the one hand, the act of fishing in which fish, once out of the water, die; and on the other, the preaching of the gospel, thanks to which men are saved from the muddy waters of death and introduced to true life (cfr Tract. XVI,3: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/2, p. 106).

Still looking at him as a good pastor, who lived in a stormy era darkened by barbarian incursions, he placed himself alongside his flock to comfort them and open up their spirits to trust in God, who never abandones his children.

Let us pick up, at the end of these reflections, an exhortation of Chromatius which is still perfectly valid today: "Let us pray to the Lord with all our heart and all our faith," the Bishop of Aquileia, recommended in one of his Sermons. "Let us pray that he may liberate us from every incursion by enemies, from every fear of adversaries. He does not look at our merits - he who in the past deigned to liberate the children of Israel not because of their merits but by his mercy. May he protect us with his usual merciful love, and work for us what the holy Moses told the children of Israel: 'The Lord will fight in your defense, and you will remain silent. It is him who fights, it is him who gains victory'...And so that he may deign to do this, we must pray as much as we can. He himself tells us through the prophet's mouth: I will liberate you, and you will give me glory." (Sermo XVI,4: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/1, pp. 100-102).

Thus, at the start of Advent, St. Chromatius reminds us that Advent is a time of prayer, in which we must enter into contact with God. God knows us, he knows me, he knows each of us, he wishes me well, he will not abandon me.

Let us move forward with such confidence in God during this liturgical period that has just begun.


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12/5/2007 4:02 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 12/5/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience held today in the Aula Paolo VI.



Dear brothers and sisters!

In the last catecheses, we made an excursion to the Semitic-speaking Churches of the East, meditating on the Persian Aphraates and the Syrian St. Ephrem. Today, we return to the Latin world, in the North of the Roman Empire, with St. Chromatius of Aquileia.

This bishop carried out his ministry in the ancient Church of Aquileia, fervent center of Christian life in the tenth region of the Roman Empire, which was composed of Venetia and Histria.

In 368, when Chromatius ascended the episcopal seat of the city, the local Christian community had already matured with a glorious history of loyalty to the Gospel. Between the middle of the third century and the beginning of the fourth, the persecutions of Decius, Valerian and Diocletian had reaped a great number of martyrs.

Moreover, the Church of Aquileia was threatened like many other churches at the time by the Arian heresy. Athanasius himself - standard bezarer of the Nicene Creed, whom the Arians had chased into exile - found refuge in Aquileia for a time. Under the leadership of its bishops, the Christian community resisted the snares of heresy, reinforcing its adherence to the Catholic faith.

In September 381, Aquileia was the site of a Synod which convened 35 bishops from the African coast, the valley of the Rhone, and all of the empire's tenth region. The Synod was called to vanquish the last traces of Arianism in the West.

Taking part in the Synod was the priest Chromatius, as an expert for the Bishop of Aquileia, Valerian (370/1-387/8). The years around the Syond of 381 constituted the 'golden age' of the Aquileian community.

St. Jerome, who was a native of Dalmatia, and Rufinus of Concord, spoke with nostalgia about their stay in Aquileia (370-373), in that sort of theoligical cenacle which Jerome did not hesitate to define as tanquam chorus beatorum - like a choir of blessed ones' (Cronaca: PL XXVII,697-698).

This cenacle - which recalled in certain aspects the communal experiments carried out by Eusebius of Vercelli and by Augustine - formed the most noteworthy personages of the Churches of the Upper Adriatic region.

Already within his family, Chromatius had learned to know and love Christ. St. Jerome himself spoke about this with great admiration, likening Chromatius's mother to the prophetess Anna, his two sisters to the prudent virgins of the Gospel parable, Chromatius himself and his brother Eusebius to the young Samuel (cfr Ep VII: PL XXII,341).

Of Chromatius and Eusebius, Jerome further wrote: "The blessed Chromatius and St. Eusebius were brothers by blood but not less in the identity of their ideals" ((Ep. VIII: PL XXII,342).

Chromatius was born in Aquileia around 345. He was ordained deacon and later priest, finally being elected Pastor of that Church, around 388. After receiving his episcopal ordination from Bishop Ambrose, he dedicated himself with courage and energy to a task that was enormous for the sheer vastness of the terriotry entrusted to his ministry: the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Aqwuileia extended from northern Italy to the territories of present-day Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and Slovenia, up to the borders of Hungary.

One can deduce how well-known and respected Chromatius was in the Churches of his time from an episode in the life of St. John Chyrsostom. When the Bishop of Constantinople was exiled from his seat, he wrote three letters to those he considered the most important Bishops of the West, to ask them to get him support from the emperors - he wrote one to the Bishop of Rome, the second to the Bishop of Milan, and the third to the Bishop of Aquileia, Chromatius.

But even for Chromatius, those were difficult times because of the precarious political situation. Most probably, he died in exile, in Grado, while he was trying to flee from barbarian incursions in 407, the same year when the Chrysostom also died.

In prestige and importance, Aquileia was the fourth in the Italian peninsula, and the ninth in the Roman empire - which made it a target for the Goths and the Huns. Besides causing grave wars and destruction, the barbarian invasions seriously compromised the transmission of the works of the Fathers preserved in the episcopal library which had a wealth of codices.

And so, even the writings of St. Chromatius were dispersed here and there, often ending up being attributed to other authors such as John Chrysostom (mostly because both names started with 'Chr'), or Augustine or Ambrose, or even Jerome himself, whom Chromatius had helped a lot in the textual review and Latin translation of the Bible.

The rediscovery of a great part of Chromatius's work is owed to happy and fortunate circumstances that in recent years has allowed a reconstruction of a body of writing that is quite consistent: more than 40 sermons, about 10 of which are fragmentary, and more than 60 treatises of commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.

Chromatius was a wise teacher and zealous pastor. His first and primary task was to listen to the Word in order to be able to annouce it himself. In his teachings, he always started with the Word of God and led back up to it. Some themes were particularly dear to him: above all, the mystery of the Trinity, reflecting on it, as it is revealed throughout the history of salvation.

Then, the subject of the Holy Spirit: Chromatius constantly called the attention of the faithful to the presence and action int he life of the Church of the Third Person in the Most Holy Trinity.

But Chromatius was particularly persistent on the mystery of Christ: The Word incarnate as true God and true man, who assumed complete humanity to make a gift of his own divinity. These truths, which he insistently reaffirmed even for anti-Arian purposes, would come to be formalized 50 years later in the Council of Chalcedon.

His strong emphasis on the human nature of Christ led Chromatius to speak often of the Virgin Mary: his Mariologic doctrine was terse and precise. To him we owe some evocative descriptions of the Most Holy Virgin: Mary is the "evangelical virgin who was capable of sheltering God"; she is the 'immaculate and inviolate lamb' who gave birth to 'the lamb draped in red' (cfr Sermo XXIII,3: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/1, p. 134).

The Bishop of Aquileia often spoke of the Virgin in relation to the Church: both, in fact, are 'virgins' and 'mothers'. But his ecclesiology was developed above all in his commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew.

Here are some of his recurrent concepts: the church is unique; it was born from the blood of Christ; it is a precious garment woven by the Holy Spirit; the Church is the place which proclaims that Christ was born of the Virgin and where brotherhood and concord flourish.

An image that Chromatius was particularly fond of was that of a ship at sea in a storm - he lived in tempetuous times, as we heard earlier: "There is no doubt," the holy Bishop said, "that this ship represents the Church." (cfr Tract. XLII,5: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/2, p. 260).

As the zealous pastor that he was, Chromatius knew how to speak to his people in a language that was fresh, colorful and incisive. Although he knew Latin perfectly, he prefered to use popular language which was rich in easily understandable images.

Thus, for example, using the sea as a metaphor, he contrasts, on the one hand, the act of fishing in which fish, once out of the water, die; and on the other, the preaching of the gospel, thanks to which men are saved from the muddy waters of death and introduced to true life (cfr Tract. XVI,3: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/2, p. 106).

Still looking at him as a good pastor, who lived in a stormy era darkened by barbarian incursions, he placed himself alongside his flock to comfort them and open up their spirits to trust in God, who never abandones his children.

Let us pick up, at the end of these reflections, an exhortation of Chromatius which is still perfectly valid today: "Let us pray to the Lord with all our heart and all our faith," the Bishop of Aquileia, recommended in one of his Sermons. "Let us pray that he may liberate us from every incursion by enemies, from every fear of adversaries. He does not look at our merits - he who in the past deigned to liberate the children of Israel not because of their merits but by his mercy. May he protect us with his usual merciful love, and work for us what the holy Moses told the children of Israel: 'The Lord will fight in your defense, and you will remain silent. It is him who fights, it is him who gains victory'...And so that he may deign to do this, we must pray as much as we can. He himself tells us through the prophet's mouth: I will liberate you, and you will give me glory." (Sermo XVI,4: Scrittori dell’area santambrosiana 3/1, pp. 100-102).

Thus, at the start of Advent, St. Chromatius reminds us that Advent is a time of prayer, in which we must enter into contact with God. God knows us, he knows me, he knows each of us, he wishes me well, he will not abandon me.

Let us move forward with such confidence in God during this liturgical period that has just begun.


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12/8/2007 11:00 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/8/07

Here is a translation of the Pope's words at the Angelus today on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On our Advent journey shines the star of Mary Immacyulate, 'sign of certain hope and comfort' (Vatican Council II, Pastoral Const. Lumen gentium, 68).

To reach Jesus, true light, the sun that dissipatedsall the shadows of history, we need lights close to us, human persons who reflect the light of Christ and thus illumine the road we are to take.

What person could be more luminous than Mary? Who can be for us a better star of hope than she, the dawn that announced the day of salvation? (cfr Enc. Spe salvi, 49).

Because of this, the liturgy has us celebrate today, not far off from Christmas, the solemn feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception: the mystery of God's grace that enveloped, from the first moment of her existence, the creature destined to be the Mother of the Redeemer, preserving her from the contagion of original sin.

Looking to her, we recognize the magnitude and beauty of God's plan for every man: to become holy and immaculate before him [who, in love, he destined for adoption to himself through Jesus] (cfr Eph 1,4-5), in the image of our Creator.

What a great gift to have Mary Immaculate for our Mother! A mother resplendent in beauty, transparent to the love of God.

I think of the youth today, who grow up in an environment saturated with messages that propose false models of happiness. These boys and girls risk losing hope because often, they seem orphaned of true love which fills life with significance and joy.

This was a topic dear to my venerated predecessor John Paul II, who, so many times, proposed Mary as the 'mother of beautiful love' to the youth of our time.

Unfortunately, not a few experiences tell us that adolescents, young people and even children are easy victims of corrupted love, deceived by unscrupulous adults who, lying to them and to their own selves, draw them into the dead ends of consumerism.

Even the most sacred realities, such as the human body, the temple of the God of love and life, has become an object of consumerism. and this is taking place ever earlier, now in the pre-teen years.

How sad it is when young people lose the sense of wonder, the enchantment of the most beautiful sentiments, the value of respect for the body, which is a manifestation of the person and his unfathomable mystery!

All of this should remind us of Mary Immaculate, whom we contemplate in all her beauty and holiness. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted her to John and all the disciples (cfr Jn 19,27), and since then, she has been for all mankind the Mother, Mother of hope.

Let us address with faith our prayers to her, as we spiritually make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, where today, a special Jubilee Year begins to mark the 150th anniversasry of her apparitions in the Grotto of Massabielle.

Mary Immaculate, "Star of the Sea, shine on us and guide us on our way!" (Enc. Spe salvi,50).


After the prayer, the Pope had a special message:

On this Marian solemnity, I address a customary special greeting to the Pontifical Academy of the Immacolata [Immaculate One] and its president, Cardinal Andrea Maria Deskur. On all the members and friends of the Academy, I invoke the constant protection of the Virgin Mary.

I wll see you all this afternoon at Piazzza di Spagna.


To English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

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

With immense joy, the Church celebrates this Solemn Feast of the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from the stain of original sin to prepare a worthy dwelling place for his beloved Son.

Dear friends, I pray that by gazing upon her, you will see the purest sign of hope in God’s saving mercy. A happy feast day to all!




[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 12/8/2007 11:08 PM]
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12/9/2007 2:10 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/9/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily and messages at Angelus today.


Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the liturgy invited us to turn our eyes to Mary, Mother of Jesus and our mother, Star of Hope for every man.

Today, the second Sunday of Advent, it presents to us the austere figure of the Precursor, whom the evangelist Matthew introduces this way: In those days, "John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea, saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'" (Mt 3,1-2).

His mission was to prepare the way for the Messiah, calling on the people of Israel to repent of their sins and to correct every iniquity.

With demanding words, John the Baptist announced the coming judgment: "Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Mt 3,10).

He warned above all against the hypocrisy of whoever felt sure of himself simply because he belonged to the chosen people: Before God, he said, no one can boast of any entitlement, but must "produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance" (Mt 3,8).

As the Advent journey continues, as we prepare ourselves to celebrate the Nativity of Christ, this call of John the Baptist to repentance resounds in our communities. It is an urgent invitation to open our heart to welcome the Son of God who comes to our midst in order to make divine justice manifest.

The Father, writes the evangelist John, does not judge anyone, but has entrusted to the Son the power to judge because he is the Son of Man (cfr Jn 5,22-27).

It is today, in the present, that our future destiny is in play - it is with our concrete behavior in this life that we decide our eternal fate. In the sunset of our days on earth, at the moment of death, we will be judged on the basis of our similarity or lack of it to the Baby born in the humble grotto of Bethlehem, because he is the measure that God has given mankind.

The heavenly Father, who manifested his merciful love for us in the birth of his Only-Begotten Son, calls us to follow his steps, making of our existence, as he did, a gift of love.

The fruits of love are those worthy 'fruits of repentance' that St. John the Baptist referred to, when he addressed stinging words to the Pharisees and Sadducees among the crowds who gathered around him for baptism.

Through the Gospel, John the Baptist continues to speak through the centuries, to every generation. His clear and harsh words are ever more salutary for us, men and women of our time, in whom even the way we live and perceive Christmas too often reflects, unfortunately, a materialistic mentality.

The 'voice' of the great prophet calls on us to prepare the way for the Lord in the deserts of today, exterior and interior deserts, thirsting for the living water that Jesus is.

May the Virgin Mary guide us to a true repentance from the heart so we may carry out the choices necessary to place our thoughts in harmony with the Gospel.


After the prayers, the Holy Father made this announcement:

On the afternoon of Thursday, December 13, I will meet the students of the Roman universities, after the Holy Mass to be presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

I expect to see you present in great numbers, dear young people, as we prepare ourselves for the Holy Nativity invoking the Spirit's gift of wisdom for the entire university community.


In English, he said:

I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. In this holy season of Advent, I pray that the glory of the Lord’s coming will fill your hearts with redeeming hope. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the grace and peace of Jesus Christ!



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12/12/2007 3:16 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 12/12/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General audience today held in the Aula Paolo VI:


The Father of the Church to whom we turn our attention today is St. Paulinus of Nola. A contemporary of St. Augustine, to whom he was linked by a warm friendship, Paulinus exercised his ministry in Campania [Italian region of which Naples is the capital], at Nola, where he was a monk, then a priest and bishop.

But he was a native of Aquitaine in the south of France, from Bordeaux, where he was born to a well-placed family. Here he received a fine literary education, having the poet Ausonius as his teacher.

He left his homeland for the first time to pursue a precocious political career which saw him rise, while still young, to be governor of Campania. In this public position, he became admired for his gifts of wisdom and kindness. It was at this time that grace allowed the seed of conversion to germinate in his heart.

The stimulus came from the simple and intense faith with which the people honored the tomb of a saint, the martyr Felix, in the sanctuary of present-day Cimitile. As the public authority, Paulinus became interested in the shrine and ordered the construction of a hospice for the poor and a road in order to facilitate and provide more convenient access for so many pilgrims.

But while he worked to build a city on earth, he was also discovering the road towards the heavenly city. Thje encounter with Christ was the point of arrival in a laborious journey that was sown with trials. Sad circumstances, starting with the diminution of political authority, made him experience at first hand the transience of things.

Once he came to the faith, he would write: "Man without Crhist is dust and shadows" (Carme X, 289). Wanting to cast light on the sense of existence, he went to Milan to study in the school of St. Ambrose. He completed his Christian formation in his native land, where he was baptized by Bishop Delphin of Bordeaux.

His course of faith also included matrimony. He married Terasia, a pious noblewoman from Barcelona, with whom he had a son. He would have continued to live as a good Christian layman, had not the death of their son just a few days after his birth intervened to shake him up, showing him that God had a different plan for his life.

In effect, he felt himself called on to vow himself to Christ in a rigorous life of asceticism.

With the full consent of his wife Terasia, he sold all his possessions to give to the poor, and together with her, he left Aquitaine for Nola, where the couple took up lodging next to the Basilica of St. Felix, lving together in chaste fraternity, in a form of life which others soon joined.

The community rhythm was typically monastic, but Paulinus, who had been ordained a priest in Barcelona, took to engaging himself in the priestly ministry by attending to the pilgrims.

This earned him the sympathy and trust of the Christian community who, upon the death of their bishop, around 409, chose him to be his successor in the Seat of Nola.

His pastoral activity intensified, characterized by a particular attention to the poor. He left behind an image of an authentic Pastor of charity, as St. Gregory the Great describes him in Chapter II of his Dialogs, in which Paulinus is sculptured in the heroic gesture of offering himself to be prisoner in place of a widow's son.

The episode is historically questioned, but he remains the figure of a Bishop with a big heart, who knew how to be near his people in the sad contingencies of the barbarian invasions.

The conversion of Paulinus impressed his contemporaries. But his teacher Ausonius, a pagan poet, felt 'betrayed' and wrote him sharp words, reproaaching him on the one hand with 'scorn' - thought to be foolish - of material things, and on the other hand, of abandoning the vocation of a man of letters.

Paulinus replied that giving to the poor did not mean a disdain for earthly goods, but rather an appreciation of them for the higher purpose of charity.

As for his literary efforts, Paulinus took leave, not of his poetic talent, which he would continue to cultivate, but of the poetic models inspired by pagan mythology and ideals. A new aesthetic now governed his sensibility: the beauty of God incarnate, crucified and risen, of whom he made himself minstrel.

He had not left poetry at all, but now drew his inspiration from the Gospel, as he says int his verse: "For me the only art is faith, and Christ my poetry" ("At nobis ars una fides, et musica Christus": Carme XX, 32).

His poems are songs of faith and love, in which the daily stories of ordinary men and great events are seen as part of the story of salvation, as the story of God with us. Many of these compositions, the so-called 'Carmi natalizi' (Birthday peoms), are linked to the annual feast of the martyr Felix whom Paulinus had chosen to be his heavenly patron.

In remembering St. Felix, he meant to glorify Christ himself, convinced that the intercession of the saint had obtained for him the grace of conversion: "In your light, oh joyous one, I have loved Christ" (Carme XXI, 373).

He wanted to express this same concept in widening the space of the sanctuary with a new basilica, which he ordered decorated such that the paintings, with appropriate captions, would constitute for the pilgrims a visible catechism.

He explained his plan in a poem deidcated to another great catechist, St. Niceta of Remesiana, as he accompanied him on a visit of his different churches: "Now I would like you to contemplate the pictures which unfold in a long series on the walls...It seemed useful to us to represent sacred subjects in pictures throughout the house of Felix, in the hope that, on seeing these pictures, the image may inspire further interest in the amazed minds of country folk" (Carme XXVII, vv. 511.580-583).

Even today we can still admire what remains of those paintings, which give the Saint of Nola full right to being among the referernce points of Christian archaeology.

In the ascetic community of Cimitile, life went on in poverty and prayer, everything imemrsed in 'lectio divina' - Scripture that was read, meditated, assimilated, was the light under wich the Saint of Nola scrutinized his own soul in its drive to perfection.

To those who admired his decision to abandon material wealth, he reminded them that the gesture was still far from representing full conversion: "The abandonment or the sale of the temporal goods one possessed does not constitute the fulfillment but only the beginning of the course to be run... It is not the goal but only the starting point. In fact, the athlete does not win until he strips himself, because he takes off his clothes to begin the struggle, and only he who has fought out of duty is worthy of being crowned victor" (cfr Ep. XXIV, 7 to Sulpicio Severo).

Besides asceticism and the Word of God, there was charity: in the monastic community, the poor were at home. Paulinus did not limit his help to alms: he welcomed them as if they were Chtrist himself. He had reserved for them a part of the monastery, and doing so, it seemed to him that he was not giving as much as receiving, in the exchange of gifts between the hospitality that is offered and the prayerful gratitude of the recipients.

He called the poor his 'patrons' (cfr Ep. XIII,11 to Pammachio) and, observing that they were lodged in the lower floor, he loved to say that their prayers made up the foundation of the house (cfr Carme XXI, 393-394).
\
St, Paulinus did not write theological treatises, but his poems and his dense epistolary are rich with a theology that was lived, interwoven with the Word of God that was constantly scrutinized as light for life.

In particular, there emerges a sense of the Church as a mystery of unity. Communion was lived by him above all through a distinctive practice of spiritual friendship. Paulinus was a true master of this, making his life a crosssroads of chosen souls: from Martin of Tours to St. Jerome, from Ambrose to Augustine, from Deplhin of Bordeaux to Njceta of Remesiana, from Vitritius of Rouen to Rufinus of Aquileia, from Pammachius to Sulpicius Severus, and so many others, well-known or less.

Hidden among all this are the intense pages he wrote to Augustine. Beyond the contents of the individual letters, one is impressed by the warmth with which the Saint of Nola sings about friendship itself as a manifestation of the only Body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit.

Here is a significant excerpt at the start of the correspondence between the two friends: "It is not to be wondered if we, though far apart, are present to each other, and without having met, we know each other, because we are members of the smae body, we have one head, we are flooded by the same grace, we live of the same bread, we walk along one path, we live in the same house" (Ep. 6, 2).

We can see it is a beautiful description of what it means to be a Christian, to be the Body of Christ, to live in the communion of the Church.Tthe theology of our time has found precisely in the concept of communion the key to approaching the mystery of the Church.

The testimony of St. Paulinus of Nola helps us to feel the Church as it is presented to us by the Second Vatican Council - as a sacrament of intimate union with God, and therefore the unity of us all, and finally, that of the entire human race (cfr Lumen gentium, 1).

In this perspective, I wish you all a good Advent season.



Here is how he synthesized the lesson in English:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the great teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola in southern Italy.

A native of Bordeaux in Gaul, Paulinus became the Roman governor of Campania, where, after encountering the depth of popular devotion to Saint Felix Martyr, he was led to embrace the Christian faith.

After the tragic loss of their first child, he and his wife sold their goods and undertook a life of chastity and prayer. Ordained a priest and then Bishop of Nola, Paulinus distinguished himself by his charity to the poor during the troubled times of the barbarian invasions.

A man of letters and a gifted poet, Paulinus placed his art at the service of Christ and the Church. In his poetry and his vast correspondence, Paulinus expressed his deep faith and his love of the poor.

His letters to such contemporary churchmen as Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Martin of Tours, reflect his asceticism, his deep sense of the Church’s communion and his cultivation of the practice of spiritual friendship as a means of experiencing that communion within the mystery of Christ’s mystical Body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the newly professed Missionaries of Charity. In this Advent season, may your hearts be filled with hope as you prepare for the coming of our Saviour.

Upon all of you, and upon those who have travelled here from Sweden, Malta, Australia, Singapore, Canada and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

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12/12/2007 3:16 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 12/12/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General audience today held in the Aula Paolo VI:


The Father of the Church to whom we turn our attention today is St. Paulinus of Nola. A contemporary of St. Augustine, to whom he was linked by a warm friendship, Paulinus exercised his ministry in Campania [Italian region of which Naples is the capital], at Nola, where he was a monk, then a priest and bishop.

But he was a native of Aquitaine in the south of France, from Bordeaux, where he was born to a well-placed family. Here he received a fine literary education, having the poet Ausonius as his teacher.

He left his homeland for the first time to pursue a precocious political career which saw him rise, while still young, to be governor of Campania. In this public position, he became admired for his gifts of wisdom and kindness. It was at this time that grace allowed the seed of conversion to germinate in his heart.

The stimulus came from the simple and intense faith with which the people honored the tomb of a saint, the martyr Felix, in the sanctuary of present-day Cimitile. As the public authority, Paulinus became interested in the shrine and ordered the construction of a hospice for the poor and a road in order to facilitate and provide more convenient access for so many pilgrims.

But while he worked to build a city on earth, he was also discovering the road towards the heavenly city. Thje encounter with Christ was the point of arrival in a laborious journey that was sown with trials. Sad circumstances, starting with the diminution of political authority, made him experience at first hand the transience of things.

Once he came to the faith, he would write: "Man without Crhist is dust and shadows" (Carme X, 289). Wanting to cast light on the sense of existence, he went to Milan to study in the school of St. Ambrose. He completed his Christian formation in his native land, where he was baptized by Bishop Delphin of Bordeaux.

His course of faith also included matrimony. He married Terasia, a pious noblewoman from Barcelona, with whom he had a son. He would have continued to live as a good Christian layman, had not the death of their son just a few days after his birth intervened to shake him up, showing him that God had a different plan for his life.

In effect, he felt himself called on to vow himself to Christ in a rigorous life of asceticism.

With the full consent of his wife Terasia, he sold all his possessions to give to the poor, and together with her, he left Aquitaine for Nola, where the couple took up lodging next to the Basilica of St. Felix, lving together in chaste fraternity, in a form of life which others soon joined.

The community rhythm was typically monastic, but Paulinus, who had been ordained a priest in Barcelona, took to engaging himself in the priestly ministry by attending to the pilgrims.

This earned him the sympathy and trust of the Christian community who, upon the death of their bishop, around 409, chose him to be his successor in the Seat of Nola.

His pastoral activity intensified, characterized by a particular attention to the poor. He left behind an image of an authentic Pastor of charity, as St. Gregory the Great describes him in Chapter II of his Dialogs, in which Paulinus is sculptured in the heroic gesture of offering himself to be prisoner in place of a widow's son.

The episode is historically questioned, but he remains the figure of a Bishop with a big heart, who knew how to be near his people in the sad contingencies of the barbarian invasions.

The conversion of Paulinus impressed his contemporaries. But his teacher Ausonius, a pagan poet, felt 'betrayed' and wrote him sharp words, reproaaching him on the one hand with 'scorn' - thought to be foolish - of material things, and on the other hand, of abandoning the vocation of a man of letters.

Paulinus replied that giving to the poor did not mean a disdain for earthly goods, but rather an appreciation of them for the higher purpose of charity.

As for his literary efforts, Paulinus took leave, not of his poetic talent, which he would continue to cultivate, but of the poetic models inspired by pagan mythology and ideals. A new aesthetic now governed his sensibility: the beauty of God incarnate, crucified and risen, of whom he made himself minstrel.

He had not left poetry at all, but now drew his inspiration from the Gospel, as he says int his verse: "For me the only art is faith, and Christ my poetry" ("At nobis ars una fides, et musica Christus": Carme XX, 32).

His poems are songs of faith and love, in which the daily stories of ordinary men and great events are seen as part of the story of salvation, as the story of God with us. Many of these compositions, the so-called 'Carmi natalizi' (Birthday peoms), are linked to the annual feast of the martyr Felix whom Paulinus had chosen to be his heavenly patron.

In remembering St. Felix, he meant to glorify Christ himself, convinced that the intercession of the saint had obtained for him the grace of conversion: "In your light, oh joyous one, I have loved Christ" (Carme XXI, 373).

He wanted to express this same concept in widening the space of the sanctuary with a new basilica, which he ordered decorated such that the paintings, with appropriate captions, would constitute for the pilgrims a visible catechism.

He explained his plan in a poem deidcated to another great catechist, St. Niceta of Remesiana, as he accompanied him on a visit of his different churches: "Now I would like you to contemplate the pictures which unfold in a long series on the walls...It seemed useful to us to represent sacred subjects in pictures throughout the house of Felix, in the hope that, on seeing these pictures, the image may inspire further interest in the amazed minds of country folk" (Carme XXVII, vv. 511.580-583).

Even today we can still admire what remains of those paintings, which give the Saint of Nola full right to being among the referernce points of Christian archaeology.

In the ascetic community of Cimitile, life went on in poverty and prayer, everything imemrsed in 'lectio divina' - Scripture that was read, meditated, assimilated, was the light under wich the Saint of Nola scrutinized his own soul in its drive to perfection.

To those who admired his decision to abandon material wealth, he reminded them that the gesture was still far from representing full conversion: "The abandonment or the sale of the temporal goods one possessed does not constitute the fulfillment but only the beginning of the course to be run... It is not the goal but only the starting point. In fact, the athlete does not win until he strips himself, because he takes off his clothes to begin the struggle, and only he who has fought out of duty is worthy of being crowned victor" (cfr Ep. XXIV, 7 to Sulpicio Severo).

Besides asceticism and the Word of God, there was charity: in the monastic community, the poor were at home. Paulinus did not limit his help to alms: he welcomed them as if they were Chtrist himself. He had reserved for them a part of the monastery, and doing so, it seemed to him that he was not giving as much as receiving, in the exchange of gifts between the hospitality that is offered and the prayerful gratitude of the recipients.

He called the poor his 'patrons' (cfr Ep. XIII,11 to Pammachio) and, observing that they were lodged in the lower floor, he loved to say that their prayers made up the foundation of the house (cfr Carme XXI, 393-394).
\
St, Paulinus did not write theological treatises, but his poems and his dense epistolary are rich with a theology that was lived, interwoven with the Word of God that was constantly scrutinized as light for life.

In particular, there emerges a sense of the Church as a mystery of unity. Communion was lived by him above all through a distinctive practice of spiritual friendship. Paulinus was a true master of this, making his life a crosssroads of chosen souls: from Martin of Tours to St. Jerome, from Ambrose to Augustine, from Deplhin of Bordeaux to Njceta of Remesiana, from Vitritius of Rouen to Rufinus of Aquileia, from Pammachius to Sulpicius Severus, and so many others, well-known or less.

Hidden among all this are the intense pages he wrote to Augustine. Beyond the contents of the individual letters, one is impressed by the warmth with which the Saint of Nola sings about friendship itself as a manifestation of the only Body of Christ animated by the Holy Spirit.

Here is a significant excerpt at the start of the correspondence between the two friends: "It is not to be wondered if we, though far apart, are present to each other, and without having met, we know each other, because we are members of the smae body, we have one head, we are flooded by the same grace, we live of the same bread, we walk along one path, we live in the same house" (Ep. 6, 2).

We can see it is a beautiful description of what it means to be a Christian, to be the Body of Christ, to live in the communion of the Church.Tthe theology of our time has found precisely in the concept of communion the key to approaching the mystery of the Church.

The testimony of St. Paulinus of Nola helps us to feel the Church as it is presented to us by the Second Vatican Council - as a sacrament of intimate union with God, and therefore the unity of us all, and finally, that of the entire human race (cfr Lumen gentium, 1).

In this perspective, I wish you all a good Advent season.



Here is how he synthesized the lesson in English:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the great teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Paulinus, the Bishop of Nola in southern Italy.

A native of Bordeaux in Gaul, Paulinus became the Roman governor of Campania, where, after encountering the depth of popular devotion to Saint Felix Martyr, he was led to embrace the Christian faith.

After the tragic loss of their first child, he and his wife sold their goods and undertook a life of chastity and prayer. Ordained a priest and then Bishop of Nola, Paulinus distinguished himself by his charity to the poor during the troubled times of the barbarian invasions.

A man of letters and a gifted poet, Paulinus placed his art at the service of Christ and the Church. In his poetry and his vast correspondence, Paulinus expressed his deep faith and his love of the poor.

His letters to such contemporary churchmen as Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Martin of Tours, reflect his asceticism, his deep sense of the Church’s communion and his cultivation of the practice of spiritual friendship as a means of experiencing that communion within the mystery of Christ’s mystical Body, enlivened by the Holy Spirit.

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the newly professed Missionaries of Charity. In this Advent season, may your hearts be filled with hope as you prepare for the coming of our Saviour.

Upon all of you, and upon those who have travelled here from Sweden, Malta, Australia, Singapore, Canada and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

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12/16/2007 2:46 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/16/07

Upon returning from his pastoral visit this morning to the Roman parish of Santa Maria del Rosario di Pompeii, the Holy Father led the Sunday noon Angelus from his study window as usual. Here is a translation of his homily and messages today.


Dear brothers and sisters!


"Gaudete in Domino semper" – Rejoice in the Lord always! (Fil 4,4).

These words of St. Paul open the Holy Mass of the third Sunday of Advent, which is therefore called Gaudete Sunday. The Apostle exhorts Christians to rejoice because the coming of the Lord - that is, his glorious return - is certain and won't be long in coming.

The Church makes this its own invitation while it prepares to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord, looking ever more to Bethlehem these days.

In fact, we await with certain hope the second coming of Christ because we have known the first. The mystery of Bethlehem reveals God-with-us, the God who is near us, not simply in a spatial and temporal sense. He is near us because he has 'wedded', one might say, our humanity. He took the human condition upon himself, choosing to be like us in every way, except in sin, so that we may become like him.

Christian joy comes from this certainty: God is near, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in pain, in health and in sickness, as a friend and as a faithful spouse. This joy remains even through trial, in suffering itself, and it remains not superficially, but in the depth of the person who trusts in God and confides in him.

Some might ask: Is this joy still possible today? The answer is given, with their lives, by men and women of every age and social condition, who are happy to consecrate their existence to others.

Was not Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, in our day, an unforgettable witness of true evangelical joy? She lived daily in contact with poverty, human degradation, death. Her soul knew the ordeal of the dark night of faith, and yet, she gave everyone the smile of God.

We read in one of her writings: "We await Paradise with impatience, where God is, but it is in our power to be in Paradise starting here and starting now. To be happy with God means to love like him, to help others like him, to give like him, to serve like him" (La gioia di darsi agli altri [The joy of giving oneself to others], Ed. Paoline, 1987, p. 143).

Yes, joy enters the heart of whoever places himself in the service of the little ones and the poor. God takes up his dwelling in he who loves this way, and the soul is in a state of joy.

If instead one makes happiness an idol, then one loses his way and it is truly difficult to find the joy whereof Jesus speaks. Unfortunately, this is the proposition of cultures which place individual happiness in place of God, a mentality which finds its emblematic effect in the search for pleasure at any cost, in the use of drugs for escape, as a refuge in artificial paradises which then prove to be totally illusory.

Dear brothers and sisters, even at Christmas, we can lose our way, replacing the true feast with something that does not open the heart to the joy of Christ.

May the Virgin Mary help all Christians and men in search of God to arrive at Bethlehem and encounter the Baby born for us, for the salvation and happiness of all mankind.


After the Angelus, he had a special message for the children of Rome:

I wish to greet first of all the children and youth of Rome, who are here this year in such numbers to receive the blessing for the Baby Jesus to place in their Christmas creches. Dearest ones, with great affection, I wish you and your families a happy Christmas.

As I thank the Centro Oratori Romani which organizes this beautiful initiative, I call on all priests, parents and catechists to work together with enthusiasm for the Christian education of our young ones.


In English, he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus.

On this Third Sunday of Advent we are called to renew our hope in Christ, the Saviour who has been promised to us. As we look forward to his coming may we experience the joy of his salvation.

I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

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12/19/2007 4:26 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 12/19/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis today at the General Audience. He deviated from his catechetical cycle about the Fathers of the church to deliver a reflection on Christmas.


Dear brothers and sisters!

In these days, as we come nearer to the great feast of Christmas, the liturgy urges us to intensify our preparation, offering for our disposition several Biblical texts from both the Old and New Testaments which stimulate us to focus properly on the sense and value of this annual occasion.

If, on one hand, Christmas reminds us of the incredible miracle of the birth of God's Only Son to the Virgin Mary in that cave in Bethlehem, on the other hand, it exhorts us to await, in vigilance and prayer, our Redeemer who on the he last day "will come to judge the living and the dead'.

Perhaps, today, not even we believers truly await the Judgment, but all men expect justice. We see so much injustice in the world - in our small world, in the home, in our neighborhood, as well as in the large world of states and society. And we expect justice to be done.

We expect someone to come forth who can concretely render justice. And in this sense, we pray: 'Come, Lord Jesus Christ as Judge, come in your own way'. The Lord knows how to enter the world to create justice. Let us pray that the Lord, as Judge, answers us and truly creates justice in the world.

We expect justice, but this cannot be only the expression of certain demands with respect to others. To expect justice in the Christian sense means, first of all, that we ourselves start to live under the eyes of the Judge, according to his criteria - that we begin to live in his presence by doing justice in our own lives. Thus, by doing justice ourselves, placing ourselves in the presence of the Judge, we can truly hope for justice.

This is the sense of Advent, of vigilance. The Advent vigilance means living under the eyes of the Judge and thus preparing ourselves and the world for justice. By living under the eyes of God as Judge, we can open the world for the coming of his Son and predispose our hearts to 'The Lord who is coming'.

The Baby, who, two thousand years ago, the shepherds adored in a cave that night in Bethlehem, never tires of visiting us in our daily life, as we proceed like pilgrims towards the Kingdom of God. In waiting for him, the believer becomes representative of the hope of all humanity. Mankind yearns for justice, and so, even if unconsciously, it awaits God - it awaits the salvation that only God can give us.

For us Christians, this waiting is marked by assiduous prayer, as indicated by the particularly evocative series of invocations which are proposed to us, in the nine days preceding Christmas - in the Mass and in the Gospel, as well as in the celebration of Vespers before the Magnificat is sung.

Each of the invocations, which ask for the coming of Wisdom, of the Sun of justice, of God-with-us, contains a prayer addressed to the One who is awaited by all peoples, that his coming may be hastened.

But to invoke the birth of the promised Savior also means committing ourselves to prepare the way, to prepare for him a dwelling worthy not only in the environment around us, but above all, in the spirit.

Allowing ourselves to be guided by the evangelist John, let us seek to address our minds and hearts these days to the eternal Word, Logos, the Word which became flesh and from whose fullness we have received grace upon grace (cfr 1,14-16).

This faith in the Logos-Creator, in the World which created the world, in Him who came as a Baby, this faith and its great hope appear today, unfortunately, to be remote from the reality of life lived daily, whether public or private. The reality seems too huge, and we ourselves have been trying to adapt as best we can, or so it seems.

But in this way, the world only becomes more chaotic and even violent, as we can see every day. And the light of God, the light of truth, becomes extinguished. Life becomes dark and without a compass.

How much more important then that we should be truly believers, and as believers, to reaffirm forcefully, with our life, the mystery of salvation which brings with it the celebration of Christ's Nativity!

In Bethlehem, the Light which illumines our life was made manifest to the world; the Way which leads to the fullness of our humanity was revealed to us.

If we do not acknowledge that God became man, what sense is there in celebrating Christmas? The celebration would be empty. We Christians above all should reaffirm the profoundly felt conviction of the truth about Christ's birth, in order to testify to all our awareness of the unprecedented gift not only for us but for everyone.

From this comes the duty to evangelize, which means precisely the communication of this 'eu-angelion', this 'good news'. This was referred to in the recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called "Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization", which I wish now to pass on for your reflection and to study in depth, personally as well as communally.

Dear friends, in these days when Christmas is imminent, the prayer of the Church is ever more intense that the expectations of peace, salvation and justice, which the world urgently needs today, may be realized.

Let us ask God that violence may be overcome by the power of love, that conflicts give way to reconciliation, that the will to overcome be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace.

May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange these days reach into all the areas of our daily life. May peace be in our hearts that we may be open to the action of God's grace.

May peace dwell in all families so they may spend Christmas together before the creche and a lighted Christmas tree. May the message of brotherhood and hospitality that comes with Christmas contribute to create deeper sensitivity towards the aged and the new forms of poverty, towards the common good in which we are all called upon to take part.

May all the members of the family - above all the children, the aged and the weaker ones - feel the warmth of this feast, and may that warmth spread out through every day of the year.

May Christmas be for all a feast of peace and joy - joy at the birth of he Savior, Prince of Peace. Like the shepherds, let us hasten on our way to Bethlehem. And in the heart of that Holy Night, in our hearts, even we will contemplate the "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, who lies in a manger" (Lk 2,12-16).

Let us ask the Lord to open our spirits so that we can enter into the mystery of his Nativity. May Mary, who gave her virginal womb to the Word of God, who looked at him as an infant in her arms, and who continues to offer him to everyone as the Redeemer of the world, help us to make of this Christmas an occasion to grow in the knowledge and love of Christ.

This is the wish I affectionately have for all of you who are present here, for your families and those who are dear to you.



Later, the Holy Father synthesized his reflections in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Advent season, the Church invites us to reflect on Christ’s birth and to prepare ourselves, in watchfulness and prayer, for his second coming.

Advent is thus a time of joyful expectation that our hope, and indeed the hopes of all humanity, will find fulfilment in the peace and salvation which only God can give.

"Waiting in joyful hope" for the Lord’s coming also means preparing his way, and welcoming him as the incarnate Son of God, the Truth which gives meaning to every human life.

How important it is, then, to proclaim this mystery in all its saving power: the Son of Mary, born in Bethlehem, is the Light which illumines our life, the Way that leads to human fulfilment.

The Good News of our salvation in Christ must be made known to a world which longs for this message of reconciliation, solidarity and hope.

May this Christmas be for everyone a celebration of peace and joy: joy at the birth of the Prince of Peace. Together with Mary and Joseph, let us contemplate the new-born Child lying in the manger. Through the prayers of the Virgin Mother, may we grow in the knowledge and love of Christ the Saviour.

A happy Christmas to you and your families!

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and students present at this Audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of health and joy during this holy Season.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 12/19/2007 4:31 PM]
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12/23/2007 8:46 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/23/07

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


Dear brothers and sisters !

Just one day separates this fourth Sunday of Advent from Christmas Eve. Tomorrow night, we shall reunite to celebrate the great mystery of love which never ceases to astound us: God became the Son of man so that we can become children of God.

During Advent, from the heart of the church, we implored "come, Lord, to visit us with your peace, your presence, and fill us with joy."

The evangelizing mission of the Church is the answer to the cry "Come, Lrod Jesus!" which runs throughout the history of salvation and continues to arise from the lips of believers.

Come, Lord, to transform our hearts so that justice and pace may spread throughout the world. This is the significance behind the doctrinal note on some aspects of evangelization, recently issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In effect, the document serves to remind all Christian - in a situation where, often the very reason for evangelization is no longer clear even to many faithful - that "the acceptance of the Good News in faith' by itself urges us to communicate the salvation we have received as a gift.

Indeed,"the truth which saves one’s life inflames the heart of the one who has received it with a love of neighbour that motivates him to pass on to others in freedom what he has freely been given." (No. 7).

Having received it from the presence of God, who is particularly near us at Christmas time, it is a priceless gift. A gift that enables us to "live in the universal embrace of the friends of God" (ibid), in that "network of friendship with Christ that links heaven and earth' (ibid, 9), which impels human freedom towards its fulfillment and which, if lived in truth, will flourish in "a love that is freely given and which overflows with care for the good of all people" (ibid.,7).

Nothing is more beautiful, urgent and important than to give back freely to other what we have freely received from God! Nothing can exempt or relieve us of this onerous but fascinating task. The joy of Christmas, of which we already have a foretaste, fills us with hope but also urges us to announce to all the presence of God in our midst.

The unequalled model of evangelization is the Virgin Mary who communicated to the world not an idea, but Jesus himself, the Word incarnate. Let us invoke her with confidence so that the Church may announce, even in our time, Christ the Savior.

May every Christian and every Christian community feel the joy of sharing with others the Good News that "God so loved the world he gave his only Son so that the world may be saved through him" (Jn 3,16-17).

This is the authentic sense of Christmas, which we should always rediscover and live intensely.


After the Angelus prayers, he had this special message:

I address my heartfelt greeting to the personnel of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, who are undertaking today in St. Peter's Square a gesture of solidarity for the children of Uganda.

While I express my appreciation for the attention that the newspaper is giving to humanitarian emergencies in various parts of the world, I praise the fact that it finds expression in concrete gestures such as this [fund raising], for which I wish all success.



In English, he said:

I extend warm greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus.

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we contemplate God’s ancient promise to send us his Son, "Emmanuel" – "God is with us". As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, I pray that you may open your hearts to welcome him with joy.

God bless you all!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 12/26/2007 6:46 PM]
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12/26/2007 7:11 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/26/07

Although today is a Wednesday, no General Audience was scheduled, but the Holy Father led noonday Angelus prayers even if the Feast of St. Stephen today is not a major religious holiday.


Dear brothers and sisters!

The day after Christmas, the liturgy celebrates the 'birth in heaven' of the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen.

'Filled with faith and the Holy Spirit' (Acts 6,5), he was chosen as a deacon by he community if Jerusalem, along with six other disciples who had a Greek education.

With the power given to him by God, Stephen performed many miracles and announced the Gospel in the synagogues with "inspired wisdom.' He was stoned at the gates of the city and died, like Jesus, invoking forgiveness for his executioners (Acts 7,59-60).

The profound link that united Christ to his first martyr Stephen was divine charity: the same love that made the Son of God strip himself and be obedient up to dying on the Cross (cfr Phil 2,6-8) later impelled the Apostles and other martyrs to give their life for the Gospel.

It is necessary always to note this distinctive characteristic of Christian martyrdom: it is exclusively an act of love, for God and for men, including their persecutors. That is why today, in the Holy Mass, we prayed to the Lord to teach us to "love even our enemies as Stephen did, who, in dying, prayed for his persecutors" (Collect prayer).

How many sons and daughters of the Church, in the course of centuries, have followed his example! From the first persecutions in Jerusalem, to those of the Roman emperors, down to the ranks of martyrs in our time.

In fact, it is not rare that even today, we get news from various parts of the world about missionaries, priests, bishops, religious and lay faithful, who are persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of freedom or prevented from exercising freedom because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel. And some suffer and die because of their communion with the universal Church and loyalty to the Pope.

In the encyclical letter Spe salvi (cfr par. 37), recalling the experience of the Vietnamese martyr Paul Le Bao Thin, I note how suffering is transformed to joy through the strength of hope which comes from faith.

The Christian martyr, like Christ, and through union with him, "accepts the Cross and death in his most intimate being, transforming these into an act of love. That which is brutal violence seen from the outside becomes interiorly an act of completely self-giving love. Thus, violence is transformed to love, and death to life" (Homily at Marienfeld, Cologne, Aug. 20, 2005).

The Christian martyr actualizes the victory of love over hate and death.

Let us pray for those who suffer because of their loyalty to Christ and his Church. Most Holy Mary, Queen of Martyrs, help us to be credible witnesses for the Gospel, replying to our enemies with the disarming force of truth and charity.



In English, he said:

I greet all those present for today’s Angelus.

On this Feast of Saint Stephen the Martyr, Christians throughout the world are reminded that those who stand firm with Christ to the end will be saved. Confident of our Lord’s love for us, may we always make a place for him in our hearts and in our lives.

During these Christmas days, may God bless you with the saving power of his peace and love.

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12/30/2007 1:49 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 12/30/07

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today. Most unusually, the Angelus was broadcast live to Plaza Colon in Madrid to address a Family Day rally sponsored by the bishops of Spain. For this reason, the second half of his main Angelus message was delivered in Spanish.


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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. Following the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we focus today on Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and adore the mystery of a God who wanted to be born of a woman, the Blessed Virgin, and enter this world in the same way as all men do.

In doing so, God sanctified the reality of the family, filling it with divine grace and fully revealing its vocation and mission .

The Second Vatican Council dedicated great attention to the family. Spouses, it said, are for each other and for their children witnesses for the faith and the love of Jesus Christ (cfr Lumen gentium, 35).

The Christian family thus participates in the prophetic vocation of the Church: with its way of life, "to proclaim aloud the virtues of the Kingdom of God and hope in the blessed life" (ibid).

As my venerated predecessor John Paul II repeated tirelessly, the good of the individual and of society is closely linked to the 'good health' of the family (cfr G5, 47). That is why the Church is committed to defend and promote "the natural dignity and the supremely sacred value" - in the words of the Council - of matrimony and the family (ibid).

With this end, an important initiative is under way right now in Madrid, whose participants I now address in Spanish.

I greet all the participants of this Encounter of Families which is taking place this Sunday in Madrid, as well as to the cardinals, bishops and priests who are with yo.

In contemplating the mystery of the Son of God who came to the world surrounded by the love and affection of Mary and Joseph, I invite all Christian families to experience the loving presence of the Lord in their lives.

Likewise, I encourage all those who, inspired by Christ's love for mankind, give testimony to the world of the beauty of human love, matrimony and family.

The family, founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, is the privileged place within which human life is welcomed and protected, from its very beginning to its natural end.

That is why parents have the right and fundamental obligation to educate their children in the faith and in those values which dignify human existence.

It is worthwhile working for the family and matrimony because it is worthwhile working for the human being, God's most precious creation.

I especially address the children so that they may pray for their parents, brothers and sisters; to young people, so that, stimulated by the love of their parents, they may generously follow their vocations for matrimony, priesthood or the religious life; to older persons and the sick, that they may receive the care and understanding that they need. And may you, beloved spouses, always count with the grace of God, so that your love may be ever more fecund and faithful.

Into the hands of Mary, "who with her Yes opened the door of the world to God" (Spe salvi, 49), I place the fruits of this celebration.

Many thanks and a happy holiday season!


Switching back to Italian, he then introduced the Angelus prayers:

Let us now turn to the Blessed Virgin, to pray for the good of the family and for all the families in the world.


After the prayers, he said this in English:

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer.

Today, in the heart of the Christmas season, the Church celebrates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

May the mystery of God’s love, made incarnate in the Child Jesus and reflected in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, dwell in your hearts and in your families throughout the coming year.

Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of Christmas joy and peace!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/2/2008 1:22 AM]
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1/1/2008 6:00 PM
 
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NEW YEAR'S DAY ANGELUS

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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words at Angelus today, after celebrating the Mass marking the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and the 41st World Day for Peace.


Dear brothers and sisters!

We have started a new year and I wish that it may be peaceful and prosperous for all. I entrust this to the celestial protection of Our Lady whom we implore today, according to the liturgy, by her most important title, Mother of God.

With her Yes to the Angel on the day of the annunciation, the Virgin conceived in her womb, through the Holy Spirit, the eternal Word, and brought him forth on Christmas night.

In Bethlehem, in the fullness of time, Jesus was born of Mary. The Son of God became man for our salvation, and the Virgin became the true Mother of God.

This immense gift received by Mary was not reserved for her alone, but for all of us. In her fecund virginity, God had given "to men the benefits of eternal salvation, because through her, we received the author of life" (cfr Collect Prayer).

Therefore, Mary, after having given mortal flesh to the Only Son of God, became the mother of all believers and of the entire mankind.

And it is in the name of Mary, Mother of God and of men, that for the past 40 years, on the first day of the year, the Church has celebrated the World Day for Peace. The theme that I chose for this year is "The human family: A community of peace".

The same love that constructs a family - vital cell of society - and keeps it united, favors the establishment among the peoples of the world of those relationships of solidarity and collaboration necessary within the one human family.

The Second Vatican Council pointed this out in saying that "all peoples constitute one single community; they have single origin - and also have a common end, God" (Nostra aetate, 1).

There is a close relationship between family, society and peace. "Whoever, even if unconsciously, holds the institution of the family hostage," I wrote in the Message for today's World Day for Peace, "makes peace fragile in the entire community, national and international, because he weakens that which is, in fact, the principal agent for peace" (No. 5).

Also, "we do not live next to each other by chance: we are all going along the same path as men, and therefore as brothers and sisters" (No. 6). Thus, it is truly important that each of us assumes his own responsibility before God and recognize in him the original spring of our own existence and that of others.

This awareness gives rise to a commitment to make mankind a true community of peace, guided by 'a common law which allows the freedom to be oneself - and which protects the weak from the abuse of those who are stronger" (No. 11).

May Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace, sustain the Church in its tireless work in the service of peace, and help the community of peoples, which celebrates in 2008 the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to proceed along the path of authentic solidarity and stable peace.



After the Angelus, he added a special message in Italian:

From the heart I thank all those who have sent me their greetings and wishes for the new Year. I am particularly grateful to the President of the Republic, who extended his wishes last night in his television message to the nation. I gladly reciprocate his greeting, and express every good wish for his important mission and for the concord and prosperity of the beloved Italian people.

On the occasion of the World Day for Peace, the church communities in every continent have promoted numerous initiatives. To all the organizers and participants, I extend my appreciation and encouragement that they may always and everywhere be witnesses for peace and reconciliation.

In particular, I greet those who have inspired the demonstrations called "Peace on all the earth" organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio in Rome and in many other cities around the world.


In English, he said:

I greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer on New Year’s Day.

On this, the Octave of Christmas, the Church honours Mary, the ever-virgin Mother of God, whose complete openness to God’s saving plan bore fruit in the birth of the Prince of Peace.

May the peace proclaimed by the angels at Bethlehem take ever deeper root in men’s hearts, and inspire the whole human family to live in harmony, justice and fraternal solidarity.

To you and your families I offer cordial good wishes for a happy New Year!



At the end, he said in Italian:

I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially those who belong to the Movement for Family Love, which kept vigil in St. Peter's Square last night to pray for all families and the great Family of the Church.

And I also greet the Orionist youth, who have come from all over Italy and other European countries to pledge friendship and commitment togetheron New Year's Day.

I also greet the Centro Sportivo Italiano and gladly bless the Torch of Peace, that a marathon relay will eventually bring to the Holy Land.

My thoughts go to all present here, wishing you abundance and peace in the New Year.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/1/2008 8:08 PM]
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1/2/2008 12:31 PM
 
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General Audience of 2nd January
Thanks to EWTN I watched the audience live this morning. I don't know if Papa walked down amongst the people first. He was already on the platform when the broadcast started. His message was a beautiful catechesis about Mary, Theotokos. I look forward to reading it in English.
Everyone was in lively, happy mood!!! There was much cheering from the various pilgrim groups. A delightful choir from Mainz Cathedral sang. I do wish the camera would show us Papa's reaction to the singing; I know he must have loved it.
It seems that the Paul VI Hall is now going to be the venue until the spring.
Love to you all - Mary xxx
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[Edited by maryjos 1/2/2008 5:54 PM]
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1/2/2008 4:18 PM
 
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FIRST GENERAL AUDIENCE OF 2008

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis at Aula Paolo VI today, in which he breaks from his current teaching cycle on the Fathers of the Church to speak about the Divine Maternity of Mary.


Dear brothers and sisters!

A very old formula of blessing, reported in the Book of Numbers, says: "The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace! (Nm 6,24–26).

With these words which the liturgy offered to us yesterday, the first day of the year, I wish to extend my heartfelt wishes to you who are present today and to all those who have sent me expressions of spiritual closeness during this Christmas season.

Yesterday, we celebrated the solemn feast of Mary, Mother of God. 'Theotokos' - Mother of God - is the title that was officially given to Mary in the fifth century by the Council of Ephesus in 431, but something which had been affirmed in popular devotion since the third century in the context of the heated discussion at that time over the person of Christ.

The title 'Mother of God' underscored that Christ is God and was really born as a man, of Mary - and thus, intended to preserve (the doctrine of) his unity as true God and true man. Indeed, whenever the debate seems to be about Mary, it is essentially about her Son.

Wishing to protect the (doctrine of) the full humanity of Jesus, some of the early Fathers of the Church suggested a more attenuated term : instead of Theotokos, they proposed 'Christotokos', Mother of Christ. But rightly, this proposal was seen to endanger the doctrine of the unity between Christ's full divinity and his full humanity.

That is why, after much ample discussion, the Council of Ephesus solemnly confirmed, on the one hand, the unity of the two natures - divine and human - in the person of the Son of God (cfr DS, n. 250), and on the other, the legitimacy of attributing to the Virgin the title of Theotokos, Mother of God (ibid., n. 251).

After that Council, a veritable explosion of Marian devotion took place, and many churches were constructed which were dedicated to the Mother of God. In first rank among these was the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore here in Rome.

The doctrine on Mary, Mother of God, was reaffirmed by the Council of Chalcedon (451), during which Christ was declared "true God and true man...born as a human for us and for our salvation, of Mary, Virgin and Mother of God" *(DS, n. 301).

As we know, the Second Vatican Council summarized Catholic doctrine on Mary in Chapter 8 of its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, reaffirming her divine maternity. Chapter 8 is entitled "The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the mystery of Christ and the Church".

The attribute "Mother of God', so profoundly linked to the Christmas celebrations, is the fundamental appelative by which the community of believers continues to honor the Blessed Virgin and always will, we might say, because it expresses very well the mission of Mary in the history of salvation.

All the other titles attributed to Our Lady find their basis in her calling to be the Mother of the Redeemer, the human creature elected by God to carry out his plan for the salvation of mankind, centered on the great mystery of the Incarnation of the divine Word.

In these days of celebration, we have paused to contemplate in the Christmas creche the mystery of the Nativity. In the center of the Nativity scene is the Virgin Mother who offers Baby Jesus to the contemplation of those who have come to adore the Savior: the shepherds, the poor folk of Bethlehem, the Magi from the East.

Later, in the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, which we will celebrate on February 2, it will be the old Simeon and the prophetess Anna who will receive the Baby from his Mother and adore him.

Christian popular devotion has always considered the birth of Jesus and the divine motherhood of Mary to be two aspects of the same mystery of the Incarnation and have therefore never considered the Nativity as a thing of the past.

We are 'contemporaries' of the shepherds, of the Magi, of Simeon and Anna, as we join them full of joy because God wanted to be God-with-us and has a human mother, who is also our mother.

All the other titles with which the Church honors Mary come from the title 'Mother of God', but this is the fundamental one. Let us think of the privilege of her Immaculate Conception, meaning that she was exempt from original sin from the moment she was conceived: Mary was preserved from every stain of sin because she was to be the Mother of the Redeemer.

The same thing applies to her title as the Assunta [the one who was assumed into heaven]: She who generated the Savior could not be subject to the (corporeal) corruption that derives from original sin.

We know that all these privileges were not granted to distance her from us, but in fact, to make her closer to us: being totally with God, this Lady is very close to us, helping us as mother and sister.

Even the unique and unrepeatable place that Mary has for the community of believers comes from her fundamental calling as the Mother of the Redeemer. As such, Mary is also the Mother of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. Rightly, then during the Second Vatican Council, on November 21, 1964, Paul VI solemnly gave Mary the title of "Mother of the Church'.

Because she is the Mother of the Church, she is also Mother to each of us, who are members of the mystical Body of Christ. From the Cross, Jesus entrusted his Mother to every disciple of his, and at the same time, entrusted each disciple to the love of his Mother.

The evangelist John ends his brief evocative narration of the event with the words: "And from that hour the disciple took her into his home" (Jn 19,27). That is how the Greek text 'eis ta idia' is commonly translated, which actually says, "he welcomed her into his own being" - to become part of his life, so that their lives compenetrated each other.

This 'eis ta idia', this acceptance into one's life, is the Lord's testament. At the supreme moment of the fulfillment of his Messianic mission, Jesus left to each of his disciples, as a precious legacy, his own Mother, the Virgin Mary.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these first days of the new year, we are invited to consider attentively the importance of Mary's presence in the life of the church and in our own personal existence.

Let us entrust ourselves to her so that she may guide our steps in this new period of time that the Lord gives us to live, and that she may help us to be authentic friends of her Son, and therefore, also courageous authors of his Kingdom in this world, a Kingdom of light and truth.

A Happy New Year to all! This is the wish that I wish to address to all you present and to those dear to you in this first general audience of 2008.

May the new year, which began under the sign of the Virgin Mary, make us feel more strongly her maternal presence so that, sustained and comforted by her protection, we may contemplate with new eyes the face of her son Jesus and more easily walk along the pathos of goodness.

Once more, a Happy New Year to all!



Here is what he said to the English-speaking faithful:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the beginning of this New Year, I offer prayerful good wishes to all of you and to your families!

Yesterday, the Church joyfully celebrated the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This ancient title of Our Lady – Theotokos – reflects the truth that Jesus, her Son, is true God and true man.

The confirmation of this title at the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century led to ever greater devotion to Mary and the dedication of numerous churches in her honour, including the Basilica of Saint Mary Major here in Rome.

During this Christmas season, we can sense the close relationship between the Incarnation and our Lady’s dignity as the Mother of God. Indeed, the title "Mother of God" expresses Mary’s special mission in the history of salvation and her particular role in the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Our Lady’s divine motherhood is in fact the basis of every other title by which the Church honours her. Mother of God and Mother of the Church, Mary was also entrusted by Christ to be the Mother of each of his disciples (cf. Jn 19:27).

In this New Year, may we turn to her with confidence and, through her protection and prayers, be strengthened in our love for Jesus her Son and our service to the coming of his Kingdom.

I greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States. I especially greet the various pilgrimages of priests and seminarians, and the many student groups in our midst. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song.

May the New Year bring God’s richest blessings to you and your families!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/2/2008 4:19 PM]
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1/6/2008 4:30 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 1/6/08

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


Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate with joy the Epiphany of the Lord - his manifestation to the peoples of the entire world, represented by the Magi who came from the East to render homage to the King of the Jews.

Observing the celestial phenomena, these mysterious personages saw a new star rise and, knowing the ancient prophecies, they recognized in it the sign of the birth of the Messiah, descendant of David (cfr Mt 2,1-12).

From its first appearance, then, the light of Christ already attracted men 'whom God loves' (Lk 2,14) of every language, people and culture. It is the power of the Holy Spirit which moves hearts and minds to a search for truth, beauty, justice and peace.

As the servant of God John Paul II affirmed in his encyclical Fides et ratio: "Man finds himself in a search that is humanly interminable: a search for truth and a search for a person in whom to trust" (N. 33). The Magi found both of these in the Baby of Bethlehem.

Men and women of every generation, in their earthly pilgrimage, need to be oriented: What star can they follow? After having stopped "over the place where the child was" (Mt 2,9), the star that had guided the Magi had fulfilled its function, but its spiritual light is always present in the words of the Gospel, which continues to guide every man to Jesus.

This same word, which is none other but the reflection of Christ, true God and true man, is authoritatively echoed by the Church for every soul who is ready for it. Even the Church carries out for mankind the mission of that star.

But this can also be said of every Christian, who is called on to light up the steps for his fellowmen through his words and the testimony of his life. How important it is then that we Christians be faithful to our vocation!

Every authentic believer is always on the path of his personal itinerary of faith, but at the same time, with the light he carries him, he can and should be of help to whoever is by his side, perhaps someone who is also trying to find the road that leads to Christ.

While we prepare ourselves for the Angelus prayers, I address my most heartfelt wishes to our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches, who, following the Julian calendar, celebrate the Nativity of Christ tomorrow. It is a great joy to share the celeberation of the mysteries of faith in the multiform richness of the rites which attest to the bimillenary history of the Church.

Together with the Oriental Christian communities, who are very devoted to the Mother of God, let us invoke the protection of Mary on the universal church, so that it may spread through the world the Gospel of Christ, Lumen gentium, light of all the peoples.


After the prayers, the Pope had a special message:

Today we also celebrate World Missionary Day for Children. For over 106 years, at the initiative of the French bishop Charles de Forbin Janson, the Infant Jesus has become the icon for Christian children who help the Church in its work of evangelization with prayer, sacrifice and gestures of solidarity.

Thousands of children go out to help needy children, impelled by the love which the Son of God - who became a child - brought to earth. I say Thank you to all these children and I pray that they may always be missionaries of the Gospel.

I also thank their organizers who accompany them on their path of generosity, brotherhood, and joyous faith which generates hope.


For English-speaking pilgrims, he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus.

Today we celebrate the Solemn Feast of the Epiphany when our Lord made himself known to the Gentiles. Christ continues to manifest himself to men and women of all nations inviting them to share in the inheritance of grace.

Let us all cooperate in this task and bear joyful witness to Jesus our Saviour by following closely his teachings and example.

I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a happy Feast Day!

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1/9/2008 4:45 PM
 
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Live on EWTN this morning
I recorded and watched the General Audience [it's our Rosary morning]. Once again, Papa emerged straight on to the platform, accompanied by Bishop Harvey and Monsignor Gaenswein and others whose names I don't know. I'm glad he seems to have given up walking down the aisle, as I always worried about this - so many hands reaching out to touch him, so many cameras, the flashes from which must be terrible for him to bear. Not all these people are "obsessed" of course - hee hee hee! - many are probably there for a once in a lifetime experience.

There was a choir from somewhere in the USA; they sang Ave Maria to a tune I didn't know - sounded modern, but it was beautiful and they sang beautifully too.

The new series of catecheses is to be about Saint Augustine. I was able to follow quite a lot of what Papa said, so my Italian must be improving. He speaks the language very clearly and not too quickly.

Well, that's my little review from this morning!
Luff to all - Mary x
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