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Facebook   HOMILIES, ANGELUS, AND OTHER SPIRITUAL TEXTSLast Update: 4/26/2009 7:14 PM
3/12/2008 6:18 PM
 
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Listen to Papa in Latin!!!!!!!!
de.youtube.com/watch?v=zLwIqswfaxw

benedetto.fan sent me the link to You Tube. I have asked her permission to post it and hope she doesn't mind my doing it now. Listen to our remarkable Papa giving his greeting in Latin!!!!

He should do it every week and not just for certain students. It might make people wake up to the fact that Latin is the official language of the Church and its universality should serve to unite Catholics. This is just one reason why there should be more frequent use of the Novus Ordo in Latin and, of course, of the extra-ordinary rite.

Vivat Benedictus XVI !!!!!!!!!!
[IMG]http://img130.imageshack.us/img130/5674/sacredimmaculatehearts.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img704.imageshack.us/img704/7908/papalvisituk.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img17.imageshack.us/img17/6796/prayingcropped.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img191.imageshack.us/img191/1670/myheartiu.jpg[/IMG]
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3/12/2008 11:53 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 3/12/08

I am re-posting the translations on this page, as there was a page change after I posted it this morning. This post is also updated with a translation of the greeting by the Holy Father at St. Peter's Basilica before he proceeded to Aula Paolo VI for the catechesis.


GREETING TO ITALIAN STUDENTS

Dear brothers and sisters!

I am happy to welcome you to this Basilica and I address my heartfelt greeting to this, your festive assembly, predominantly composed of young students.

I greet particularly representatives of the Folklore Groups of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the students of the city of Paola and students of various scholastic institutes from various parts of Italy.

Dear friends, schools today face remarkable challenges emerging in the field of educating the new generations. For this reason, school cannot simply be a place for learning ideas, but it is called on to offer its students the possibility of examining in depth valid messages of cultural, social, ethical and religious character.

Those who teach cannot but perceive the moral aspect of every human field of knowledge, because man learns in order to act, and action is the fruit of that knowledge.

In today's society, which is characterized by rapid and profound changes, you, dear young people, who wish to follow Christ, be attentive to updating your spiritual formation, seeking to understand ever more the contents of the faith.

This way, you will be ready to respond without hesitation to whoever asks you for the reason of your adherence to the Lord.

With such wishes, I invoke on each of you the abundance of gifts from the Spirit and ask you to prepare yourselves well for the coming Easter festivities.


C]Here is a translation of the catechesis later delivered by the Holy Father in Aula Paolo VI.



TODAY'S CATECHESIS


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, I wish to speak about two ecclesiastical writers, Boethius and Cassiodorus, who lived during some of the most trying years of the Christian West, particularly, of the Italian peninsula.

Odoacre, king of the Eruli, a Germanic tribe, had rebelled, bringiing an end to the Western Roman Empire in 476, but soon he succumbed to the Ostrogoths under Theodoric who would control the Italian peninsula for the next several decades.

Boethius, born around 480 in the noble house of the Anicii, entered public life as a young man, becoming senator by the age of 25. Faithful to his family's traditions, he entered politics, convinced that the principles of Roman society could be integrated with the values of the new populations.

In that new era of an encounter between cultures, he considered it his mission to reconcile and bring together classic Roman culture with the nascent culture of the Ostrogoths. He became very active in politics, even under Theodoric, who respected him greatly at the start.

Notwithstanding his public activity, Boethius did not ignore his studies, dedicating himself in particular to an examination of philosophical and religious themes. But he also wrote manuals of arithmetic, gemoetry, music and astronomy: all with the intention of passing on to the new generations, in those new times, the great Greco-Roman culture.

In this context, namely, in the promotion of the encounter between cultures, he used the categories of Greek philosophy to propose the Christian faith, even here, in search of a synthesis between the Hellenistic-Roman patrimony and the Gospel message. Because of this, Boethius has been described as the last representative of ancient Roman culture and the first of the medieval intellectuals.

His best-known work is De consolatione philosophiae, which he wrote while in prison to make sense of his unjust detention. He was, in fact, accused of plotting against King Theodoric because he had taken on the defense of a friend, Senator Albinus.

But it was simply a pretext. In fact, Theodoric, Arian and barbarian, suspected that Boethius harbored sympathies for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Boethius was tried, condemned to death, and finally executed on October 23, 524, at the age of 44.

Because of his tragic end, he can speak of his own experience even to contemporary man, and above all, to so many persons who are undergoingg the same fate because of the injustice present in much of 'human justice'.

In his prison text, he looks for comfort, for light, for wisdom. He writes that he was able to distinguish, precisely in his situation, between apparent 'good' - which is absent in jail - and true 'good', like authentic friendship, which can be found even in prison.

The highest good is God. Boethius learned - and teaches us - never to yield to fatalism which extinguishes hope. He teaches us that fate does not govern, but Providence, and it has a face. One can speak to Providence, because Providence is God.

That is why even in prison, there is the possibility of prayer, of dialog with him who saves us. At the same time, even in his situation, he kept a sense of the beauty of culture, and recalls the teachings of the great Greek and Roman philosophers - like Plato and Aristolte, whom he had begun to translate into Latin - and Cicero, Seneca, and poets like Tibullus and Virgil.

Philosophy, as the search for true wisdom, is, according to Boethius, the real medicine for the soul (ibid., Book I). On the other hand, man can experience authentic happiness only in his interiority (ibid., Bk II). And so, Boethius could think about his own personal tragedy in the light of a Wisdom text from the Old Testament (Wis 7,30-8,1), which he cites: "Wickedness prevails not over Wisdom; indeed, she reaches from end to end mightily and governs all things well" (Bk III, 12: PL 63, col. 780).

The so-called prosperity of evil ones, moreover, turns out to be false (Bk IV), and proves the providential nature of adverse fortune. The difficulties of life reveal not only how ephemeral the latter is but also that it is eventually useful for identifying and maintaining authentic inter-personal relationships.

Bad fortune, in fact, allows us to distinguish false friends from the true, and makes us understand that nothing is more precious to man than true friendship.

To fatalistically accept a condition of suffering is absolutely dangerous, says the believer Boethius, because "it eliminates at the root the possibility of prayer itself and of theological hope which are the bases of man's relationship with God" (Bk V, 3: PL 63, COL. 842).

The final peroration of De consolatione philosophiae may be considered s synthesis of Boethius's entire teaching which he addresses to himself and to all who may find themselves in similar conditions. He writes in prison: "And therefore to fight against the vices, dedicate yourself to a virtuous life oriented by hope which elevates the heart until it reaches heaven with prayers nourished by humility. The impositions you have undergone can change, sometimes refuted as lies, with the enormous advantage that you always have before your eyes the Supreme Judge who sees and knows how things really are" (Bk. V, 6: PL 63, col. 862).

Every detained person, for whatever reason he ends up in jail, knows how onerous this particular human condition is, especially when it is made brutal, as it was with Boethius, by the use of torture. Especially absurd is the condition of those who, like Boethius - whom the city of Pavia honors and celebrates as a martyr to the faith - are tortured to death without any other reason but their political and religious convictions.

Boethius, symbol of countless prisoners unjustly detained through all the ages and in all latitudes, is an objective doorway to contemplating the mystery of the Curcifixion on Golgotha.

A contempoary of Boethius was Marcus Aurelius Cassiodorus, a Calabrian native born in Squillace around 485, who died in the fullness of youth in Vivarium around 580.

He too, born into a high social level, dedicated himself to political life and cultural commitment as few others did in the Western Roman Empire in his time. Perhaps the only ones equal to him in this double commitment were Boethius himself and the future Pope, Gregory the Great (590-604).

Conscious of the need not to allow the human and humanistic patrimony accumulated in the golden age of the Roman empire to vanish into oblivion, Cassiodorus collaborated generously - and at the highest levels of political responsibility - with the new peoples who had entered the confines of the empire and had now settled in Italy.

He too was a model of cultural encounter, dialog and reconciliation. But historical events did not allow him to realize his cultural and political dreams which aimed to creeate a synthesis between Italy's Roman-Christian tradition and the new Gothic culture.

Those same events convinced him, however, of the providentiality of the monastic movement, which was then affirming itself in Christian lands. He decided to support it, giving over to it all his mateerial wealth and his spiritual forces.

He conceived the idea of entrusting to the monks the task of recovering, conserving and transmitting to posterity the immense cultural patrimony of the ancients so that it would not be lost. For this, he founded Vivarium, a monastery in which everything was organized so that one could appreciate just how invaluable and irrenunciable was the intellectual labor of the monks.

He made sure that even those monks who had no special intellectual training did not only perform material work in agriculture, but also transcribed manuscripts and thus aided in transmitting the great culture of antiquity to future generations.

All this, without minimizing the monks' monastic and Christian commitment and their charitable activites with the poor.

In his teaching, distributed in various works, but above all in his treatise De anima e nelle Institutiones divinarum litterarum, prayer (cfr PL 69, col. 1108), nourished by Sacred Scripture and the Psalms (cfr PL 69, col. 1149), always has a central place as the nourishment that was needed by everyone.

For example, here is how that most cultured Calabrian introduces his
Expositio in Psalterium: "Having rejected and abandoned in Ravenna all the demands of a political career characterized by the disgusting flavor of worldly concerns, and having benefited with joy from the Psaltery - a book from heaven that is authentic honey to the soul - I plunged avidly like a thirsty man into studying it ceaselessly to allow myself to be permeated by its salutary sweetness after having had enough of the countless bitternesses of active life" (PL 70, col. 10).

The search for God, the impulse to contemplate him, notes Cassiodorus, remains the permanent goal of monastic life (cfr PL 69, col. 1107). But he adds that, with the aid of divine grace (cfr PL 69, col. 1131.1142), one can reach a better fruition of the revealed Word by using the sientific conquests and the 'profane' cuultural instruments already possessed by the Greeks and Romans (cfr PL 69, col. 1140).

Personnaly, Cassiodorus dedicated himself to philosophical, theological and exegetical studies without perticular creativity, but he was always attentive to intuitions which he recognized as valid in others. Above all, he read Jerome and Augustine with respect and devotion.

About Augustine, he wrote: "In Augustine, there is such richness that it seems impossible for me to find anything that he has not already treated abundantly" (cfr PL 70, col. 10).

Citing Jerome, he exhorted the monks at Vivarium: "Those who gain the palm of victory are not only those who shed blood or who live in virginity, but all those who, with the help of God, triumph over the vices of the body and keep the right faith. But in order that you may, always with God's help, more easily defeat the temptations of the world, while being in the world as pilgrims continually on the move, seek above all to guarantee to yourselves the salutary assistance suggested by the first Psalm which recommends meditating night and day on the law of the Lord. Indeed, the enemy will find no breach through which it can attack if all your attention is taken up by Christ" (De Institutione Divinarum Scripturarum, 32: PL 69, col. 1147).

It is an admonition that we can welcome as valid, even for us. In fact, we too live in a time of an encounter of cultures, of the dangers of violence which destroys cultures, and the necessary task of transmitting the great values and teaching the new generations the way of reconciliation and peace.

We find this way by orienting ourselves towards the God with the human face, the God revealed to us in Jesus Chirst.



In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I wish to speak to you about two great Christian writers from the Italian peninsula during the period after the fall of the Roman Empire in the West: Boethius and Cassiodorus.

Both were anxious to preserve the heritage of Greek and Roman learning, handed down through generations of Christian believers, in the context of the Gothic culture that dominated Italy at the time.

Boethius, born in Rome in 480, entered public life and became a senator, though he continued his philosophical and religious studies alongside his public responsibilities. Unjustly imprisoned and later executed by King Theodoric, he wrote his greatest philosophical work in prison.

Reflecting on the injustice of his situation, in the light of Biblical Wisdom literature and Classical authors, he concluded that true happiness lies in continuing to hope in God, despite adversity.

Indeed, harsh fortune helps us to distinguish true friends from false ones, and there can be few greater consolations than that of true friendship.

His contemporary, Cassiodorus, devoted much time and energy to promoting the monastic movement, in the belief that monks were the people best placed to preserve and hand on the heritage of Classical Christian culture.

We would do well to take note of his advice to them: "Meditate day and night on the law of the Lord and always focus your attention upon Christ."

I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including groups from England, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Scandinavia, and North America. I greet especially the many students and teachers who are present, including those from Saint Augustine’s College, Wiltshire, England. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.


The Pope also spoke a greeting in Latin to students of a Latin academy who were in the audience.

Sueciam deinde ipsam longinquam consalutare Latino sermone cupimus cuius hodie "Schola Cathedralis Scarensis" adest cum linguae Latinae discipulis viginti septem ac magistro Ioanne Hjertén aliisque praeceptoribus. Volumus omnino eorum confirmare et incitare studia, dum hic Romae antiquitates degustant tum christianas tum etiam veterum Romanorum, ut inde magnopere augescat spiritalis illorum et humana haereditas.

The translation -

Now we wish to greet in Latin the far country of Sweden, from which present today is the Schola Cathedralis Scarensis, with 27 students of the Latin language, their teacher Ioanne Hjerten adn other teachers. We wish to encourage and urge each of them in their studies, so that here in Rome, they may be able to experience the antiquities, both Christian and Roman, in a way that will increase their spirituality and (appreciation of) the human legacy.




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3/19/2008 9:32 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 3/19/08


The General Audience this week was again divided into two. At 10:15, the Holy Father greeted participants of the 2008 University Encounter UNIV inside St. Peter's Basilica. Afterwards, he proceeded to Aula Paolo VI for the regular catechesis, in which he offered a meditation on the meaning of the Paschal Triduum, which culminates the Lenten journey. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words.


GREETING TO THE PARTICIPANTS
OF 'UNIV 2008'


The first part was delivered in English:


Dear Friends,

I offer a cordial welcome to all of you who have come to Rome from various countries and universities to celebrate Holy Week together, and to take part in the International UNIV Congress.

In this way, you will be able to benefit from moments of common prayer, cultural enrichment and a helpful exchange of the experiences gained from your association with the centres and activities of Christian formation sponsored by the Prelature of Opus Dei in your respective cities and nations.


He continued in Spanish:

You all know that with serious personal commitment, inspired by Gospel values, it is possible to respond adequately to the great questions of our present time. The Christian knows that there is an inseparable link between truth, ethics and responsibility.

Every authentic cultural epxression contributes to shape conscience and stimulates the individual to surpass himself in order to help improve society. In this way, one takes responsibility with respect to the truth, in the service of which one must place his personal freedom.

It certainly means a committed mission, and to realize this, the Christian is called on to follow Jesus, to cultivate an intense friendship with him through prayer and meditation.

To be friends with Christ and give testimony of him wherever weare, also requires of us the effort to go against the current, remembering the words of the Lord: you are in the world but you are not of the world (cfr Jn 15,19). Therefore, do not be afraid when necessary to be non-conformists in the university, at school and everywhere else.


He ended in Italian:

Dear young people of UNIV, be the yeast of hope in this world which yearns to meet Jesus even if it is not always aware of it. In order to make a better world, try above all to change yourselves first through an intense life in the sacraments, expecially availing of the sacrament of Penance and taking part assiduously in Eucharistic celebration.

I entrust each of you and your families to Mary, who never stops conemplating the face of her Son Jesus. On all of you, I invoke the protection of St. Josemaria (Escriva de Balaguer) and all the saints of your native countries.

I wish you all a happy Easter.


THE CATECHESIS


Dear brothers and sisters,

We have reached the eve of the Paschal Triduum. The next three days have been commonly called 'holy' because we relive the central event of our Redemption: they lead us, in fact, to the essential nucleus of the Christian faith - the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are days we may consider as a single day: they constitute the heart and fulcrum of the entire liturgical year and of the life of the Church. At the end of the Lenten itinerary, we are entering ourselves into the same atmosphere that Jesus experienced in those days in Jerusalem.

We want to revive in us the living memory of the sufferings which the Lord underwent for us and to prepare ourselves to celebrate with joy next Sunday "the true Passover, which the Blood of Christ has covered with glory, the Passover on which the Church celebrates the Feast that is the origin of all feasts," as it is written in the Preface for Easter of the Ambrosian rite.

Tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, the Church remembers the Last Supper during which the Lord, on the eve of his passion and death, instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and that of the ministerial priesthood. On that same night, Jesus left us the new commandment - mandatum novum - the commandment of fraternal love.

Before entering the Holy Triduum, but already closely linked to it, every diocesan community will celebrate tomorrow morning the Mass of the Chrism, during which the Bishop and the priests of the diocese will renew the vows of Ordination.

The Mass will also feature the blessing of the oils for sacramental celebrations: the oil for the catechumens, for the sick and the sacred Chrism. It is a moment that is highly significant for every diocesan community who, gathered around its pastor, strengthens its unity and faithfulness to Christ, the one Supreme and Eternal Priest.

In the evening, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, we remember the Last Supper, when Christ gave himself to all of us as the food of salvation, as the drug of immortality - this is the mystery of the Eurcharist, source and summit of Christian life.

In this sacrament of salvation, the Lord has offered and realized for all who believe in him the most intimate union possible between our life and his. With the humble but thereby even more expressive act of washing the disciples' feet, we are invited to remember how much the Lord did for his Apostles: in washing their feet, he proclaimed concretely the primacy of love - a love that serves even to the point of giving oneself for others - anticipating the supreme sacrifice of his life which would be fulfilled the next day on Calvary.

According to a beautiful tradition, the faithful close Maundy Thursday with a prayer vigil and Eucharistic adoration to relive more intimately the agony of Jesus at Gethsemane.

Good Friday commemorates the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus. On this day, the liturgy of the Church does not call for the celebration of Holy Mass, but the Christian congregation gathers together to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin which oppress humanity, in order to relive - in the light of the Word of God and helped by emotion-filled liturgical acts, the sufferings of r=the Lord which expiated all evil.

After listening to the narration of the passion of Christ, the community prays for all the needs of the Church and of the world, it adores the Cross and comes to the Eucharist, partaking of the species from the Mass of the Lord's Supper the day before.

As an additional invitation to meditate on the passion and death of the Redeemer and to express the love and participation of the faithful in the sufferings of Christ, Christian tradition has given birth to various manifestations of popular piety, processions and sacred presentations aimed to impress more profoundly on toe spirit of the faithful a feeling of true participation in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.

Among such practices, the Way of the Cross stands out as a pious exercise which in the course of centuries has been enriched with multiple spiritual and artistic expressions according to the sensibilities of different cultures.

Thus, in many countries, shrines have been established called 'Calvary' which the faithful reach by climbing a hill to recall the sorrowful path of Christ's Passion, allowing the faithful to participate in the Lord's climb towards the mount of the Cross, the mount of love offered to the very end.

Holy Saturday is marked by profound silence. The Churches are stripped and no particular liturgies are prescribed. While awaiting the great event of the Resurrection, believers persevere with Mary, praying and meditating during the wait.

Indeed, there is need for a day of silence to meditate on the reality of human life, on the power of evil and the greater power of the good that flows from the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord.

Great importance is given on this day to participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the indispensable way to purify the heart and predispose it to celebrate Easter intimately renewed. At least once a year, we need this interior purification, this self-renewal.

This Saturday of silence, of meditation, of forgiveness and reconciliation, leads to the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most important Sunday in history, the Sunday of Christ's Passover.

The Church holds vigil next to the newly blessed fire and meditates on the great promise contained in the Old and New Testaments, of the conclusive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death. In the darkness of the night, the Easter candle is lit from the new fire as a symbol of Christ who rises again in glory.

Christ the light of mankind disperses the shadows from the heart and spirit, and enlightens every man who comes into this world.

Next to the Easter candle now resounds the great Easter proclamation: Christ is truly risen, death no longer has power over him. With his death, he defeated evil for always, and made a gift to all men of the life of God himself.

By ancient tradition, it is during the Easter Vigil that the catechumens receive Baptism, to underscore the participation of Christians in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ,.

From the brilliant night of Easter, the joy, the light and the peace of Christ expand into the life of the faithful in every Christian community and reach every point of space and time.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these singular days, let us orient our life decisively in generous and convinced adherence to the plans of the heavenly Father. Let us renew our 'Yes' to the divine will as Jesus did with his sacrifice on the Cross.

The evocative rites of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the prayer-rich silence of Holy Saturday, and the solemn Easter Vigil offer us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the sense and value of our Christian calling, which flows from the Easter mystery, and to concretize it by faithfully following Christ in every circumstance, and as he did, even to the generous gift of our existence.

To commemorate the mysteries of Christ also means to live in profound and harmonious adherence to the story, convinced that what we celebrate is living actual reality. So let us bear in our prayers the tragedy of the facts and situations which afflict so many of our
brothers in every part of the world today.

We know that hatred, divisions, and violence will never have the last word in historical events. These days revive great hope in us: Christ who was crucified has risen and has conquered the world.

Love is stronger than hatred, it has triumphed, and we should associate ourselves with this victory of love. We should therefore start out with Christ, and work in communion with him for a world based on peace, justice and love.

In this commitment which must involve us all, let us allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, who accompanied her divine Son on the way of his Passion and the Cross, and took part, with the power of faith, in the realization of his plan of salvation.

With these sentiments, I express my most heartfelt wishes for a happy and blessed Easter to all of you, to those dear to you and to your communities.



In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Easter Triduum, which the Church now prepares to celebrate, invites us to share in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. These days are the heart of the liturgical year.

On Holy Thursday the Church recalls the Last Supper. At the Chrism Mass, the Bishop and his priests renew their priestly promises and the sacramental oils are blessed. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’ institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood and his commandment that we should love one another.

On Good Friday, we ponder the mystery of sin as we listen to the account of the Lord’s passion and venerate the wood of his Cross.

Holy Saturday, a day of silence and prayer, prepares for the joy of the Easter Vigil, when the light of Christ dispels all darkness, and the saving power of his Paschal Mystery is communicated in the sacrament of Baptism.

May our sharing in these solemn celebrations deepen our conversion to Christ, particularly through the sacrament of Reconciliation, and our communion, in the hope of the resurrection, with all our suffering brothers and sisters throughout the world.

I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrims from Ireland, Canada and the United States. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!


After his last greeting, directed to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he made this appeal:

I am following with great trepidation the news which has been coming from Tibet these days. My heart as a father feels sorrow and pain in the face of suffering by so many people.

May the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus, which we are reliving this Holy Week, help us to be particularly sensitive to their situation.

Problems are not resolved with violence, which can only aggravate them. I ask you to join me in prayer. Let us ask almighty God, source of light, to enlighten the minds of everyone and give each one the courage to choose the way of dialog and tolerance.


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3/19/2008 9:32 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 3/19/08


The General Audience this week was again divided into two. At 10:15, the Holy Father greeted participants of the 2008 University Encounter UNIV inside St. Peter's Basilica. Afterwards, he proceeded to Aula Paolo VI for the regular catechesis, in which he offered a meditation on the meaning of the Paschal Triduum, which culminates the Lenten journey. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words.


GREETING TO THE PARTICIPANTS
OF 'UNIV 2008'


The first part was delivered in English:


Dear Friends,

I offer a cordial welcome to all of you who have come to Rome from various countries and universities to celebrate Holy Week together, and to take part in the International UNIV Congress.

In this way, you will be able to benefit from moments of common prayer, cultural enrichment and a helpful exchange of the experiences gained from your association with the centres and activities of Christian formation sponsored by the Prelature of Opus Dei in your respective cities and nations.


He continued in Spanish:

You all know that with serious personal commitment, inspired by Gospel values, it is possible to respond adequately to the great questions of our present time. The Christian knows that there is an inseparable link between truth, ethics and responsibility.

Every authentic cultural epxression contributes to shape conscience and stimulates the individual to surpass himself in order to help improve society. In this way, one takes responsibility with respect to the truth, in the service of which one must place his personal freedom.

It certainly means a committed mission, and to realize this, the Christian is called on to follow Jesus, to cultivate an intense friendship with him through prayer and meditation.

To be friends with Christ and give testimony of him wherever weare, also requires of us the effort to go against the current, remembering the words of the Lord: you are in the world but you are not of the world (cfr Jn 15,19). Therefore, do not be afraid when necessary to be non-conformists in the university, at school and everywhere else.


He ended in Italian:

Dear young people of UNIV, be the yeast of hope in this world which yearns to meet Jesus even if it is not always aware of it. In order to make a better world, try above all to change yourselves first through an intense life in the sacraments, expecially availing of the sacrament of Penance and taking part assiduously in Eucharistic celebration.

I entrust each of you and your families to Mary, who never stops conemplating the face of her Son Jesus. On all of you, I invoke the protection of St. Josemaria (Escriva de Balaguer) and all the saints of your native countries.

I wish you all a happy Easter.


THE CATECHESIS


Dear brothers and sisters,

We have reached the eve of the Paschal Triduum. The next three days have been commonly called 'holy' because we relive the central event of our Redemption: they lead us, in fact, to the essential nucleus of the Christian faith - the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are days we may consider as a single day: they constitute the heart and fulcrum of the entire liturgical year and of the life of the Church. At the end of the Lenten itinerary, we are entering ourselves into the same atmosphere that Jesus experienced in those days in Jerusalem.

We want to revive in us the living memory of the sufferings which the Lord underwent for us and to prepare ourselves to celebrate with joy next Sunday "the true Passover, which the Blood of Christ has covered with glory, the Passover on which the Church celebrates the Feast that is the origin of all feasts," as it is written in the Preface for Easter of the Ambrosian rite.

Tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, the Church remembers the Last Supper during which the Lord, on the eve of his passion and death, instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist and that of the ministerial priesthood. On that same night, Jesus left us the new commandment - mandatum novum - the commandment of fraternal love.

Before entering the Holy Triduum, but already closely linked to it, every diocesan community will celebrate tomorrow morning the Mass of the Chrism, during which the Bishop and the priests of the diocese will renew the vows of Ordination.

The Mass will also feature the blessing of the oils for sacramental celebrations: the oil for the catechumens, for the sick and the sacred Chrism. It is a moment that is highly significant for every diocesan community who, gathered around its pastor, strengthens its unity and faithfulness to Christ, the one Supreme and Eternal Priest.

In the evening, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, we remember the Last Supper, when Christ gave himself to all of us as the food of salvation, as the drug of immortality - this is the mystery of the Eurcharist, source and summit of Christian life.

In this sacrament of salvation, the Lord has offered and realized for all who believe in him the most intimate union possible between our life and his. With the humble but thereby even more expressive act of washing the disciples' feet, we are invited to remember how much the Lord did for his Apostles: in washing their feet, he proclaimed concretely the primacy of love - a love that serves even to the point of giving oneself for others - anticipating the supreme sacrifice of his life which would be fulfilled the next day on Calvary.

According to a beautiful tradition, the faithful close Maundy Thursday with a prayer vigil and Eucharistic adoration to relive more intimately the agony of Jesus at Gethsemane.

Good Friday commemorates the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus. On this day, the liturgy of the Church does not call for the celebration of Holy Mass, but the Christian congregation gathers together to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin which oppress humanity, in order to relive - in the light of the Word of God and helped by emotion-filled liturgical acts, the sufferings of r=the Lord which expiated all evil.

After listening to the narration of the passion of Christ, the community prays for all the needs of the Church and of the world, it adores the Cross and comes to the Eucharist, partaking of the species from the Mass of the Lord's Supper the day before.

As an additional invitation to meditate on the passion and death of the Redeemer and to express the love and participation of the faithful in the sufferings of Christ, Christian tradition has given birth to various manifestations of popular piety, processions and sacred presentations aimed to impress more profoundly on toe spirit of the faithful a feeling of true participation in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.

Among such practices, the Way of the Cross stands out as a pious exercise which in the course of centuries has been enriched with multiple spiritual and artistic expressions according to the sensibilities of different cultures.

Thus, in many countries, shrines have been established called 'Calvary' which the faithful reach by climbing a hill to recall the sorrowful path of Christ's Passion, allowing the faithful to participate in the Lord's climb towards the mount of the Cross, the mount of love offered to the very end.

Holy Saturday is marked by profound silence. The Churches are stripped and no particular liturgies are prescribed. While awaiting the great event of the Resurrection, believers persevere with Mary, praying and meditating during the wait.

Indeed, there is need for a day of silence to meditate on the reality of human life, on the power of evil and the greater power of the good that flows from the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord.

Great importance is given on this day to participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the indispensable way to purify the heart and predispose it to celebrate Easter intimately renewed. At least once a year, we need this interior purification, this self-renewal.

This Saturday of silence, of meditation, of forgiveness and reconciliation, leads to the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most important Sunday in history, the Sunday of Christ's Passover.

The Church holds vigil next to the newly blessed fire and meditates on the great promise contained in the Old and New Testaments, of the conclusive liberation from the ancient slavery to sin and death. In the darkness of the night, the Easter candle is lit from the new fire as a symbol of Christ who rises again in glory.

Christ the light of mankind disperses the shadows from the heart and spirit, and enlightens every man who comes into this world.

Next to the Easter candle now resounds the great Easter proclamation: Christ is truly risen, death no longer has power over him. With his death, he defeated evil for always, and made a gift to all men of the life of God himself.

By ancient tradition, it is during the Easter Vigil that the catechumens receive Baptism, to underscore the participation of Christians in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ,.

From the brilliant night of Easter, the joy, the light and the peace of Christ expand into the life of the faithful in every Christian community and reach every point of space and time.

Dear brothers and sisters, in these singular days, let us orient our life decisively in generous and convinced adherence to the plans of the heavenly Father. Let us renew our 'Yes' to the divine will as Jesus did with his sacrifice on the Cross.

The evocative rites of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the prayer-rich silence of Holy Saturday, and the solemn Easter Vigil offer us the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the sense and value of our Christian calling, which flows from the Easter mystery, and to concretize it by faithfully following Christ in every circumstance, and as he did, even to the generous gift of our existence.

To commemorate the mysteries of Christ also means to live in profound and harmonious adherence to the story, convinced that what we celebrate is living actual reality. So let us bear in our prayers the tragedy of the facts and situations which afflict so many of our
brothers in every part of the world today.

We know that hatred, divisions, and violence will never have the last word in historical events. These days revive great hope in us: Christ who was crucified has risen and has conquered the world.

Love is stronger than hatred, it has triumphed, and we should associate ourselves with this victory of love. We should therefore start out with Christ, and work in communion with him for a world based on peace, justice and love.

In this commitment which must involve us all, let us allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, who accompanied her divine Son on the way of his Passion and the Cross, and took part, with the power of faith, in the realization of his plan of salvation.

With these sentiments, I express my most heartfelt wishes for a happy and blessed Easter to all of you, to those dear to you and to your communities.



In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Easter Triduum, which the Church now prepares to celebrate, invites us to share in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. These days are the heart of the liturgical year.

On Holy Thursday the Church recalls the Last Supper. At the Chrism Mass, the Bishop and his priests renew their priestly promises and the sacramental oils are blessed. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’ institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood and his commandment that we should love one another.

On Good Friday, we ponder the mystery of sin as we listen to the account of the Lord’s passion and venerate the wood of his Cross.

Holy Saturday, a day of silence and prayer, prepares for the joy of the Easter Vigil, when the light of Christ dispels all darkness, and the saving power of his Paschal Mystery is communicated in the sacrament of Baptism.

May our sharing in these solemn celebrations deepen our conversion to Christ, particularly through the sacrament of Reconciliation, and our communion, in the hope of the resurrection, with all our suffering brothers and sisters throughout the world.

I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrims from Ireland, Canada and the United States. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!


After his last greeting, directed to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he made this appeal:

I am following with great trepidation the news which has been coming from Tibet these days. My heart as a father feels sorrow and pain in the face of suffering by so many people.

May the mystery of the passion and death of Jesus, which we are reliving this Holy Week, help us to be particularly sensitive to their situation.

Problems are not resolved with violence, which can only aggravate them. I ask you to join me in prayer. Let us ask almighty God, source of light, to enlighten the minds of everyone and give each one the courage to choose the way of dialog and tolerance.


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3/24/2008 6:39 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 3/24/08


At 12 noon today, Easter Monday - known in Italy as the Monday of the Angel, in honor of the angel at the Sepulcher who told Mary Magdalene and her companions that the Lord had risen - the Holy Father led the recitation of the Regina Caeli from the balcony overlooking the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo.

The Pope arrived at the papal lakeside residence yesterday afternoon for a period of rest following the Holy Week activities. The noonday event was broadcast live to St. Peter's Square for the benefit of the faithful gathered there.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily and messages:



Dear brothers and sisters:

In the solemn Easter Vigil, after the days of Lent, the chant of Alleluia - a universally known Hebrew word which means "Praise the Lord" - resounded once more.

During these days of Eastertide, this invitation to praise the Lord will echo on everyone's lips and in everyone's heart. It re-echoes from an event that is always absolutely new: the death and resurrection of Christ.

'Alleluia' sprung in the hearts of the first disciples of Christ, men and women, on that Easter morning in Jerusalem... We can almost hear their voices: That of Mary of Magdala, who was the first to see the risen Lord in the garden near Calvary. The voices of the women who met him while they were running, frightened but happy, to give the Apostles the news of the empty tomb. The voices of the two disciples, who were on their way to Emmaus with sad faces, and in the evening, returned to Jerusalem full of joy for having heard his words and recognizing him when 'he broke the bread'. The voices of the eleven Apostles, who that same evening, saw him appear in their midst at the Cenacle, to show them the wounds caused by the nails and the soldier's lance and to tell them: "Peace be upon you!"

This experience has inscribed 'Alleluia' forever in the heart of the Church.

From that same experience comes the prayer which we recite today and every day during Eastertide in place of the Angelus - the Marian antiphon, Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven).

The text is brief, and has the direct form of an announcement: it is like a new 'annunciation' to Mary, this time made not by an angel, but by Christians who invite the Mother to rejoice because her Son, whom she had borne in the womb, had risen as he promised.

Indeed, "Rejoice' was also the first word addressed to the Virgin Mary in Nazareth by the heavenly messenger, to mean: "Rejoice, Mary, because the Son of God is become Man in you."

And now, after the drama of the Passion, a new call to joy resounds: "Rejoice and be happy, Mary, alleluia, because the Lord has truly risen, alleluia!"

Dear brothers and sisters, let us allow the Easter Allelulia to be imprinted profoundly in us, so that it is not only a word but the expression itself of our life, of the existence of persons who invite everyone to praise the Lord and do so by behaving as 're-risen' persons.

"Pray to the Lord for us," we ask Mary, so that he who, in the resurrection of his Son, gave back joy to the whole world, will grant us this joy today and in life without end.


Regina Coeli

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia:
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia;
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia:
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.
Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia:
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus
Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare
dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genitricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae
capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Gloria Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto.
R. Sicut erat in principio et nunc et semper
et in secula seculorum. Amen.

Réquiem aetérnam dona eis Dómine:
R. Et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace.

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of
the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Glory be to the Father....

Eternal rest grant unto them...



After the prayer, the Pope greeted the various language groups. In English, he said:

To the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for today’s Regina Caeli, I offer greetings of Easter joy.

Christ has conquered the world! His victory over sin and death fills our hearts with burning hope.

As we celebrate the Paschal feast, let us radiate his peace, grace and love in all we say and do. Happy Easter!


Before his final greeting in Italian, he had these special messages:

In the light of the Risen Christ, the annual Day of Prayer and Fasting for the Missionary Martyrs which takes place today acquires special value.

To remember and pray for these our brothers and sisters - bishops, priests, religious and laymen - who fell in 2007 while carrying out their missionary service, is a duty of gratitude for the whole Church and a stimulus for each of us to bear witness in an ever more courageous way to our faith and our hope in him who, on the Cross, conquered for always the power of hate and violence with the omnipotence of his love.

Today we also mark the annual World Day for the fight against tuberculosis. I feel particularly close to the afflicted and their families, and I hope that commitment may grow on the itnernational level to eliminate this scourge.

My appeal is addressed above all to Catholic institutions, so that those who suffer may acknowledge, through their work, the Risen Lord who will give them healing, comfort and peace.

Finally, I greet all the Italian-speaking pilgrims, with a special thought for the authorities and residents of Castel Gandolfo who are always so hospitable.

To each and everyone, I hope that you may spend serenely this Monday of the Angel, on which the joyous anoouncement of Easter resounds so strongly.

A Happy and blessed Eastertide to all.


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3/26/2008 8:03 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 3/26/08


The Holy Father held his Wednesday General Audience today in St. Peter's Square, flying in by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, where he is staying during the Easter Octave. It was the first GA held outdoors since the venue shifted to Aula Paolo VI at the start of winter last year.

Here is a translation of his words:



Dear brothers and sisters!

"Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas" – "And on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures".

Every Sunday, with the Credo, we renew our profession of faith in the resurrection of Christ, a surprising event that represents the keystone of Christianity.

In the Church, everything is understood from the perspective of this great mystery which changed the course of history and which becomes actual in every Eucharistic celebration.

But there is a liturgical period when this central reality of the Christian faith - in all its dostrinal richness and inexhaustible vitality - is proposed to the faithful in a more intense manner, so that the more they rediscover it, the more they can live it more faithfully. That is at Eastertide.

Every year, in the "Most Holy Triduum of Christ crucified, dead and resurrected", as St. Augustine called it, the Church retraces, in an atmosphere of prayer and penitence, the conclusive stages of the earthly life of Jesus - his condemination to death, his ascent to Calvary carrying the Cross, his sacrifice for our salvation, his deposition in the sepulchre.

Then on the 'third day', the Church relives his resurrection: it is Easter, Jesus's 'passover' from death to life, in total fulfillment of ancient prophecies. All the liturgy of Eastertide sings the certainty and joy of the resurrection of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, we should constantly renew our adherence to Christ who died and rose again for us. His Easter is also ours, because in the Risen Christ we are given the certainty of our own resurrection.

The news of his resurrection from the dead never grows old and Jesus is always alive. His Gospel is always alive. "The faith of Christians", St. Augustine observed, "consists of the resurrection of Christ."

The Acts of the Apostles explain it clearly: "God has provided confirmation of Jesus for all by raising him from the dead" (17,31).

Death alone, in fact, was not enough to show that Jesus is truly the Son of God, the awaited Messiah. In the course of history, how many have consecrated their lives to a cause they believed in and died for it! But they have remained dead.

The Lord's death shows the immense love that he had for us to the point of sarificing himself for us. But only his resurrection is the 'sure proof', the guarantee of certainty that what he says is the Truth which is valid even for us, for all men, for all time.

In resurrecting Jesus, the Father glorified him. Thus, St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (10,9).

It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith, the historical truth of which has been amply documented, even if now, as in the past, there is no lack of those who would cast doubt on it or even deny it outright.

The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus consequently renders weak the testimony of believers. If indeed there should be a diminution in the Church of faith in the resurrection, then everything would stop, everything woudl fall apart.

On the other hand, our adherence with mind and heart to Christ who died and rose again changes the life of pesons and peoples and illuminates their entire existence.

Was it not the certainty that Christ rose again that gave courage, prophetic audacity and perseverance to the martyrs of every epoch? Was it not the encounter with a living Jesus that has converted and fascinated so many men and women who, from the beginnings of Christianity, have left and continue to leave everything, in order to follow Christ and place their life in the service of his Gospel?

"If Christ has not been raised," wrote the Apostle Paul, "then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith." (1 Cor 15,14). But he is risen!

The announcement that in these days we shall hear constantly is precisely this: Jesus is risen, he is the Living One, and we can meet him. Like the women met him, who, on the morning of the third day, the day after the Sabbath, came to his tomb. Like the disciples did, who were surprised and greatly affected by what the women had told them. As many other eyewitnesses did, who met him in the days that followed his resurrection.

Even after his Ascension, Jesus continued to be present among his friends as he had promised: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time" (Mt 28,20).

The Lord is with us, with his Church, to the end of time. Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the members of the early Church started to proclaim the Easter message openly and without fear. This announcement, transmitted from generation to generation, has come down to us to resound every year at Easter with an ever new power.

Particularly in this Easter Octave, the liturgy invites us to personally encounter the Risen Lord and to acknowledge the vivfying force of that event on history and on our daily life.

Today, for instance, Easter Wednesday, we are asked to meditate on the very moving episode of the two disples at Emmaus (cfr Lk 24,13-35). After the Crucifixion of Jesus, immersed in sorrow and disappointment, they were headed home, disconsolate. Along the way, they spoke of the things that had happened in Jerusalem in recent days.

At which point, Jesus approached them, joined their discussion and advised them: "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24,25-26).

Starting with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them everything in Scriptures that referred to him. Christ's teaching - his explanation of the prophecies - was for the two disciples at Emmaus a revelation that was unexpected. luminous and comforting. Jesus gave them a new key to read the Bible and everything then became clear, priented precisely towards that moment.

Won over by the words of the unknown traveller, they asked him to have supper with them. He accepted and sat down at table with them. The evangelist Luke says: "While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them" (Lk 24,290-30)

At that moment, the disciples' eyes were opened and they recognized him, "but he vanished from their sight" (Lk 24,31). Full of wonder and joy, they said to each other: "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" (Lk 24,32).

During the entire liturgical year, but msot especially during Holy Week and the Easter Octave, the Lord is walking beside us and explaining the Scriptures to us, to make us understand the mystery: that everything [in Scriptures] speaks of him.

This should make our own hearts 'burn' so that even our eyes may be opened. The Lord is with us - he is showing us the true way. And just as the two disciples recognized Jesus when he broke the bread, so too, we today recognize his presence in the breaking of the (Eucharistic) bread.

The disciples at Emmaus recognized him and remembered the moments when Jesus had broken bread. This breaking of the bread reminds us in fact of that first Eucharist celebrated in the context of the Last Supper, when Jesus broke bread and thus anticipated his death and resurrection, giving of himself to the disciples.

Jesus breaks bread even with us and for us, he is present with us in the Holy Eucharist, he gives us himself and opens our hearts. In the Holy Eucharist, in the encounter with his Word, we too can encounter and recognize Jesus, in this double meal of the Word and consecrated Bread and Wine.

Every Sunday, the Christian community relives the Easter of the Lord and receives from the Savior his testament of love and fraternal service.

Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of these days makes even more firm our faithful adherence to the Crucified and Risen Christ. Above, all let us allow ourselves to be conquered by the fascination of his resurrection.

May Mary help us to be messengers of the light and joy of Easter for so many of our brothers.

Once again, to all of you, my most heartfelt wishes for a Happy Easter.


Later, he said in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Christ is risen! The mystery of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead stands at the heart of the Christian faith.

Throughout this Easter season, the Church contemplates the infinite richness of this mystery and strives to live the new life brought to us by the Risen Lord.

Christ’s resurrection is also our resurrection; in his passover from death to life, Jesus has assured us of our salvation. The Church’s joyful proclamation that Christ is risen has the power to change lives and to shed new light upon human history.

Today, as in every age, Christ comes to meet us and to remain in our midst with his saving power. During these days of the Octave of Easter, the Liturgy invites us to reaffirm our faith in the Risen Lord, to hope more firmly in his promises, and, like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, to recognize him in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:31).

In the Eucharist, the living memorial of Christ’s sacrifice and the celebration of his real presence, we truly encounter the Risen Jesus in his word and in the sacrament of his body and blood.

Through the prayers of the Virgin Mary, may the joy of this Easter make us faithful messengers of the light and hope of the resurrection. Happy Easter to you and your families!

I offer a warm welcome to the international group of School Sisters of Saint Francis gathered in Rome. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Japan, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/26/2008 8:04 PM]
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3/30/2008 2:13 PM
 
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'REGINA CAELI' OF 3/30/08


The Holy Father today led the Regina Caeli prayers from the balcony overlooking the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo. The event was telecast to the faithful in St. Peter's Square.

He is expected to return to the Vatican this afternoon after a week's rest at the summer residence.

The Pope's homily was devoted to the significance of Divine Mercy Sunday today, and to recall the death of John Paul II on the eve of this feast in 2005.



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Dear brothers and sisters:

During the Jubilee Year of 2000, the beloved Servant of God John Paul II decreed that in the whole Church the Sunday after Easter, also called Domenica in Albis (White Sunday), should also be designated as Divine Mercy Sunday.

This came about together with the canonization of Faustina Kowalska, the humble Polish nun (1905-1938) who was a zealous messenger of the Merciful Jesus.

Mercy is really the nucleus of the Gospel message - it is the name of God himself, the face with which he revealed himself in the Old Alliance and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive love.

This merciful love also illuminates the face of the Church, and is manifested both through the Sacraments, particularly that of Reconciliation, and through works of charity, individual and communal.

Everything that the Church says and does shows the mercy that God has for man. When the Church needs to remind the faithful about a misunderstood truth, or a virtue that has been betrayed, it always does so with merciful love, so that men may have life and have it in abundance (cfr Jn 10,10).

It is from divine mercy, which pacifies hearts, that peace in the world will come, peace among different peoples, cultures adn religions.

Like Sister Faustina, John Paul II became in his turn the apostle of Divine Mercy. That unforgettable evening of April 2, 2005, when he closed his eyes to this world, was the eve of the second Sunday of Easter, and many noted the singular coincidence that the date united in itself the Marian dimension, being the first Saturday of the month, and that of Divine Mercy.

In fact, his long and multiform Pontificate also has that at its nucleus: his entire mission in the service of the truth about God and man and of peace in the world, is summarized in the message that he gave in Cracow-Lagiewniki in 2002, when he inaugurated the Shrine of Divine Mercy: "Beyond the mercy of God, there is no other source of hope for human beings".

His message, like that of Sr. Faustina, leads us to the face of Christ, supreme revelation of God's mercy. To contemplate that face constantly is the legacy he has left us, and which we have welcomed joyfully and have made our own.

In the next few days, there will be much reflection on Divine Mercy at the first World Apostolic Congress on Divine Mercy in Rome, which will open with a Mass which, God willing, I will preside over on Wednesday morning, April 2, on the third anniversary of the pious death of the Servant of God John Paul II.

Let us place the Congress under the heavenly protection of Mary, our most Blessed Mater Misericordiae (Mother of Mercy). To her, let us entrust the great cause of peace in the world, so that God's mercy may fulfill what is impossible through men's efforts alone, and instill in men's hearts the courage for dialog and reconciliation.


After the prayers, he said:

I address my heartfelt greetings to the many pilgrims who are gahtered today in St. Peter's Square, and particularly to those who took part in the Holy Mass celebrated at the church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on the occasion of this feast of Divine Mercy.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the intercession of St. Faustina and the Servant of God John Paul II help you to be authentic witnesses to merciful love.

As an example to imitate, I am happy to cite Mother Celestina Donati, founder of the Congregation of the Poor Daughters of St. Joseph Calasanzio, who will be proclaimed Blessed in Florence today.


In English, he said:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today.

This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us that through faith we recognize the presence of the Risen Lord in the Church, and that we receive from him the gift of the Holy Spirit.

During this Easter season may we strengthen our desire to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ calling us to a life of peace and joy.

Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of happiness and wisdom.


In Polish, he had a special message:

I greet all the Polish pilgrims, but in particular, the faithful who are gathered at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow-Lagiewniki.

I entrust your personal concerns and the affairs of the Church in Poland to the Mercy of God.

May the peace brought to us by the Risen Lord be always in your hearts. God bless you.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 3/30/2008 3:07 PM]
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4/6/2008 6:10 PM
 
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REGINA CAELI ON 4/6/08

Here is a translation of the words of the Holy Father at the Regina Caeli prayers today.


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Dear brothers and sisters,

The Gospel of this Sunday, the third in Eastertide - is the famous story about the so-called disciples of Emmaus (cfr Lk 24,13-35).

It tells of two followers of Christ who, on the day after the Sabbath, that is, the third day after his death, left Jerusalem sad and depressed, and were headed toward a nearby village called Emmaus.

Along the road, the Risen Jesus joined them but they did not recognize him. Hearing why they were disconsolate, he explained to them, on the basis of Scriptures, that the Messiah had to suffer and die to reach his glory.

Reaching Emmaus with them, he sat with them at table, blessed the bread and broke it - and at that point, they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight, leaving them full of wonder at the broken bread, a new sign of his presence.

They then returned to Jerusalem and recounted what had happened to the other disciples.

The place called Emmaus has not been identified with certainty. There are various hypotheses, and this is not devoid of significance, because it allows us to think that Emmaus really represents every place. The road that leads to it is the way of every Christian, or of every man.

On our individual roads, the Risen Christ is our travelling companion, to rekindle in our hearts the flame of faith and hope, and to share the bread of eternal life.

In the conversation of the two disciples with the unrecognized traveller, we are struck by the expression that the evnagelist Luke puts into the mouth of one of them: "We were hoping..." (24,21).

This verb in the past tense says: "We believed, we followed, we hoped... but now, all is over. Even Jesus of Nazareth who showed himself to be a prophet in word and deed, failed, and we are disappointed."

This drama of the disciples at Emmaus appears to mirror the situation of many Christians in our time. It seems that their hope in faith has failed. Faith comes into crisis because of negative experiences which make us feel abandoned by the Lord.

But this road to Emmaus on which we are walking can become the way of purification and maturation of our belief in God. Even today, we can enter into a conversation with Jesus, listening to his Word. Even today, he breaks the bread for us and gives himself to us as our Bread.

Thus the encounter with the Risen Christ, which is possible even today, gives us a more profound and authentic faith, tempered, one might say, through the flame of the Paschal event - a robust faith because it is nourished not by human ideas but by the Word of God and his real presence in the Eucharist.

This wonderful Gospel text already contains the structure of the Holy Mass: in the first part, listening to the Word through Sacred Scriptures. In the second, the eucharistic liturgy and the communion with Christ present in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Nourished by this double offering, the Church builds itself incessantly and renews itself every day in faith, hope and charity.

Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Mary, let us pray so that every Christian and every community, reliving the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, may rediscover the grace of a transforming encounter with the risen Lord.


After the Regina Caeli, he had these special greetings:

With a Eucharistic celebration at St. Peter's Basilica, the first International Cognress on Divine Mercy ended this morning. I thank the organizers, particularly the Vicariate of Rome, and I address my most heartfelt greeting, which is also a wish, to the participants: Go forth and be witnesses to the mercy of God, the spring of hope for every man and for the whole world.

May the risen Lord be always with you!

Today we also celebrate the Day of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, in memory of the Servant of God Armida Barelli, co-founder of the institution with Father Gemelli, and the great inspiration for girls of the Catholic Action movement in the first half of the 20th century.

I hope that today's anniversary may contribute to renew the commitment of this important institution to promoting a Catholic popular culture.

I greet the numerous members of the Focolari movement who are committed to being catechists in parishes, and who have gathered here from many parts of the world, and wish them every good for the service that they render in spreading the word of God and its reception.


In English, he said:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Regina Caeli prayer.

On this Third Sunday of Easter, Saint Luke relates how the Risen Christ walks with his disciples, makes their hearts burn within them by his words, and reveals himself in the breaking of the bread.

Let us pray that our Easter journey will teach us to open our hearts with joy to the living Christ present in his Church. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 4/6/2008 6:32 PM]
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4/9/2008 5:22 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 4/9/08


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


Dear brothers and sisters,

I wish to speak today about St. Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, and also the Patron of my pontificate.

I will begin with a statement by St. Gregory the Great, who wrote of St. Benedict: "The man of God who shone on this earth with so many miracles does not shine any less for the eloquence with which he knew how to present his teaching" (Dial. II, 36).

The great Pope wrote these words in 592. The sainted monk had died some 50 years earlier and was still alive in the memory of the faithful, above all, in the flourishing religious Order that he established.

St. Benedict of Norcia, with his life and his work, has exercised a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture.

The most important source about his life is the second book of Dialogues by St. Gregory the Great. It is not a biography in the classical sense. According to the idea of his times, the great Pope wanted to illustrate, through the concrete example of a person - of St. Benedict's, precisely - the ascent on the slope of meditation. Thus, he gave us a model of human life as an ascent towards the peak of perfection.

St. Gregory the Great also recounts, in this book of Dialogues, many miracles performed by the saint. Even in this, he did not simply want to narrate something wondrous, but to show how God - by admonishing, aiding and even punishing man - intervenes in the concrete situations of human life.

He wanted to show that God is not a remote hypothesis situated at the origins of the world but that he is present in the life of man, of every man.

This perspective taken by the 'biographer' can also be explained in the general context of Pope Gregory's time: on the cusp of the fifth adn 6th centuries, the world was involved in a tremendous crisis of values and institutions caused by the fall of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples and the decadence of customs.

By presenting St. Benedict as a 'luminous star', Gregory wished to show - in that grave situation, right here in the city of Rome - a way out of the 'dark night of history' (cfr John Paul II, Teachings, II/1, 1979, p. 1158).

In fact, the work of St. Benedict, particularly his Rule, proved to be the bearer of an authentic spiritual ferment, which, in the course of centuries - far beyond the confines of his native land and his time - changed the face of Europe, by inspiring, after the collapse of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, a new spiritual and cultural unity: that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the continent.

That is exactly how the reality we call Europe came into being.

St. Benedict is thought to have been born around 480, and according to St. Gregory, he came "ex provincia Nursiae" – out of the region of Nursia. His well-to-do parents sent him to Rome to be educated.

St. Gregory points out quite credibly that the young Benedict found the lifestyle of many of his schoolmates distasteful - they lived dissolutely, and he did not wish to make the same mistakes. He wanted 'to please God only': "soli Deo placere desiderans" (II Dial., Prol 1).

Therefore, before he could complete his studies, Benedict left Rome and retreated to the solitude of the mountains east of the city. After first staying in a village called Effide (today Affile), where he was associated for some time weith a 'religious community' of monks, he became a hermit in nearby Subiaco.

He lived there for three years competely alone in a cave, which since the High Middle Ages, has been the heart of the Benedictine monastery called Sacro Speco.

Benedict's time in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was for him a time of maturation. Here he had to bear and overcome the three basic temptations to every human being: the temptation of self-assertion and the desire to place oneself at the center of things; the temptation of the senses; and finally, the temptation of anger and revenge.

In fact, Benedict was convinced that it was only after having conquered these temptations that he would be able to say anything useful to others who were in need.

Thus, with his soul becalmed, he became able to fully control the impulses of the ego to become a man who could create peace around him. It was only then that he decided to found his first monasteries in the Anio valley, near Subiaco.

In 529, Benedict left Subiaco to establish himself in Montecassino. Some have interpreted his move as a flight from the intrigues of an envious local prelate. But this has been shown to be unconvincing since the prelate's sudden death did not cuase Benedict to return (II Dial. 8).

In fact, his decision came about because he had entered a new phase of interior maturation and of his monastic experience. According to Gregory the Great, Benedict's transfer from the remote Anio valley to Monte Cassino - a height which dominates the surrounding plains and is visible from afar - had a symbolic nature: that a hidden monastic life has its reasons, but that a monastery also has a public purpose for the life of the Church and of society - it should give visibility to faith as a force of life.

In fact, when, on March 21, 547, Beneict's earthly existence ended, he left - with his Rule and the Benedictine family he founded - a patrimony which has borne fruit throughout the world in the centuries that followed, to the present time.

In the entire second book of Dialogs, St. Gregory shows us how the life of St. Benedict was immersed in prayer, the defining foundation of his existence. Without prayer, there is no experience of God.

But Benedict's spirituality was not an interiority remote from reality. In the unease and confusion of his time, he lived under the eye of God, and thus, he never lost sight of the duties of daily life and of man with his concrete needs.

Seeing God, he understood the reality of man and his mission. In his Rule, he desscribed monastic life as "a school in the service of the Lord" (Prol. 5) and asked his monks "not to place anything ahead of the Work of God" (that is, the Divine Office and the Liturgy of the Hours)(43,3).

But he underscored that prayer is, in the first place, an act of listening to God (Prol 9-11), which must then be translated into concrete action.

"The Lord expects us to respond daily with deeds to his holy teachings", he says (Prol. 35). Thus, the life of a monk becomes a fruitful symbiosis between action and contemplation "so that God may be glorified in everything" (57,9).

In contrast to facile, egocentric self-realization, which is often exalted today, the first and irrenuciable commitment of a disciple of St. Benedict is the sincere quest for God (58,7) along the humble and obedient way shown by Christ (5,13), to whose love nothing and no one should come ahead (4,21; 72,11), thus becoming, in the service of others, a man of service and peace.

In the exercise of obedience as an act of faith inspired by love (5,2), the monk achieves humility (5,1), to which the Rule devotes an entire chapter (7). In this way, man conforms ever more to Christ and attains true self-realization as a creature in the image and likeness of God.

To the obedience of the disciple must correspond the wisdon of the Abbot, who, in the monastery, 'takes the place of Christ' (2,2; 63,13). His figure, described above all in the second chapter of the Rule, with a profile of spiritual beauty and demanding commitment, could be considered a self-portrait of Benedict since, as Gregory the Great writes - "the Saint could not teach what he himself had not lived" (Dial II,6).

The Abbot should be a tender father as well as a severe teacher (2,24), a true educator. Inflexible against vices, he is called above all to imitate the kindness of the Good Shpeherd (27,8), and "to help rather than to dominate" (64,8), "to emphasize more with deeds than with words everything that is good and holy" and to "illustrate the divine commandments with his example" (2,12).

In order to be able to decide ressponsibly, the Abbot should himself listen to "the advice of his brothers" (3,2), because "often God reveals the best solution to the youngest" (3,3). This disposition makes a Rule written almost 15 centuries ago surprisingly modern! A man with public responsibility, even in small circles, should always know how to listen and to learn from what he hears.

Benedict describes the Rule as "minimal, intended only as a beginning"(73,8). In fact, it offers instructions useful not only to monks, but to all those who seek a guide in their way towards God.

Because of its measured perspective, its humanity and its sober discernment between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, the Rule has been able to maintain its illuminating power up to our day.

Paul VI, proclaiming St. Benedict a Patron of Europe on October 22, 1964, wished thereby t oacknowledge the marvelous work carried out by the Saint through his Rule towards the formation of European civilization and culture.

Europe today - just emerging from a century profoundly wounded by two world wars and the collapse of major ideologies that proved to be tragic utopias - is in search of its identity.

To create a new and lasting unity, political, economic and juridical instruments are certainly important, but an ethical and spiritual renewal drawing from the Christian roots of the continent must also be inspired, otherwise Europe cannot be reconstructed.

Without this vital lymph, man remains exposed to the danger of falling to the ancient temptation of self-redemption - a utopia which caused, in various ways during the 20th century, as John Paul II pointed out, "an unprecedented regression in the tormented history of mankind" (Teachings, XIII/1, 1990, p. 58).

In seeking true progress, let us heed the Rule of St. Benedict even today as a light for our way. The great monk remains a true teacher in whose school we can learn the art of living true humanism.


Here is how the Holy Father synthesized his catechesis in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today is concerned with Saint Benedict, the Father of Western monasticism.

The most important source of information on his life is the Second Book of the Dialogues of Pope Saint Gregory the Great. Writing in a time of turmoil and moral decadence following the fall of the Roman Empire, Pope Gregory believed that the life and Rule of Benedict could be a light leading the people of Europe out of darkness.

Benedict was born in 480 in the region of Nursia. He came to Rome to study but soon left the city so as to live in silence and to please God alone. He spent some time in a religious community before becoming a hermit in a cave.

After struggling victoriously against the fundamental human temptations of pride, sensuality and anger, he decided to found a monastery at Subiaco.

Years later he established a new community on a mountain, Montecassino, to symbolize the public role of a monastery called to be a light shining for the good of the Church and society.

Indeed, when he died in 547 Saint Benedict left behind a thriving spiritual family and a Rule, which invites us to search for God in prayer, obedience and humility while attending faithfully to daily duties and to those in need.

In 1964 Pope Paul VI proclaimed Saint Benedict Patron of Europe recognizing the role that his teaching and his disciples had played in shaping Europe’s spiritual life and culture.

Let us continue to pray that Europe’s new unity may be enlightened and nourished by a religious and moral renewal drawn from its Christian roots.

I am happy to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Manila, and the many groups from England and the United States.

May your lives, after the example of Saint Benedict, be lived in humility, prayer, obedience to God and faithful service to your neighbour. May the Lord bless you and your families!



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4/27/2008 1:57 PM
 
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REGINA CAELI, 4/27/08


After the Holy Mass at St. Peter's Basilica for the priestly ordination of 29 deacons, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square to lead the faithful in the recitation of the Regina Caeli. Here is a translation of the Pope's words before and after the prayers.



Dear brothers and sisters,

We just concluded a celebration at the Basilica of St. Peter during which I ordained 29 new priests. Every year, this is a moment of special grace and great festivity: new lymph is infused into the tissue of the community, both ecclesial as well as civic.

If the presence of priests is indispensable for the life of the Church, it is precious for everyone. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the deacon Phillip brought the Gospel to a city in Samaria: the people adhered with enthusiasm to his preaching, having also seen the prodigious signs that he worked with sick people; and "there was great joy in that city" (1,8).

As I reminded the new priests during the Eucharistic celebration, this is the sense of the mission of the Church, and in particular, of priests: to sow in the world the joy of the Gospel!

Where Christ is preached with the power of the Holy Spirit and is received with an open spirit, society, even with so many problems, becomes 'a city of joy' - the title of a famous book dedicated to the work of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Therefore, this is the wish I have for the new priests, for whom I invite you all to pray: May they be able to spread, wherever they are assigned, the joy and the hope that spring forth from the Gospel.

In fact, this was also the message that I brought in recent days to the United States of America, with an apostolic voyage that had as its theme "Christ our Hope". I thank God that he blessed so much what was for me a singular missionary experience and has allowed me to be an insturment of Christ's hope for that Chruch and that nation.

At the same time, I thank him because I myself was confirmed in the hope of the Catholics of America - indeed, I found in them a great vitality and the determined will to live and testify to the faith in Jesus.

Next Wednesday, at the General Audience, I intend to deal more amply about my visit to America.

Today, many Oriental Churches celebrate, according to the Julian calendar, the great solemnity of Easter. I wish to express to these our friends and sisters my fraternal spiritual closeness.

I greet them from the heart, praying to the one and triune God to confirm them in the faith, to fill them with the brilliant light that emanates from the Resurrection of the Lord, and to comfort them in the uneasy situations in which often they must live and bear witness to the Gospel.

I invite everyone to join me in invoking the Mother of God so that the road of dialog and collaboration that we have taken for some time may bring us soon to a more complete communion among all the disciples of Christ, that they may be an ever more luminous sign of hope for all mankind.


After the prayer, he said:

The news which comes from some African countries continues to be cause for profound suffering and great concern. I ask you not to ignore these tragic events and our brothers and sisters who are involved in them. I ask you to pray for them and to be their voice!

In Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, bitter armed encounters are bringing increasing tragedy in the humanitarian crisis of those dear people who have been oppressed so many years by the weight of brutality and poverty.

Darfur, despite momentary glimmers of hope, remains an endless tragedy for hundreds of thousands od defenseless people who have been left to themselves.

Finally Burundi. After the bombardment in the past few days which have struck and terrorized the residents of the capital Bujumbara and which struck even the Apostolic Nunciature there, and in the face of the risk of a new civil war, I invite all parties in the dispute to resume without delay the way of dialog and reconciliation.

I trust that the local political authorities, responsible officials in the international community and every person of good will will not neglect any effort to put an end to the violence, and to honor commitments that have been undertaken to place a solid basis for peace and development.

Let us entrust our intentions to Mary, Queen of Africa.


In English, he said:

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

In today’s Gospel Our Lord speaks to us of the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May we always remain faithful to this divine communion by living the commandments that he has given us.

God’s blessings of joy and peace be with you all!


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4/30/2008 3:20 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 4/30/08


The General Audience was held today at St. Peter's Square, with some 30,000 faithful present.

Before the 10:30 audience, the Holy Father went to Via della Fondamenta to bless the statue of San Giovanni Loenardi (1541-1609), founder of the Chierici della Madre di Dio.

As he announced earlier, the Holy Father used the occasion to report on his recent trip to the United States and visit to United Nations headquarters. Here is a translation of his report.



Dear brothers and sisters,

Although several days have elapsed since my return, I wish to dedicate today's catechesis, as is usual, to the apostolic voyage that I made to the United Nations Organization and the United States of America on April 15-21.

First of all, I renew my most heartfelt acknowledgment to the United States Catholic bishops conference and to President Bush for having invited me and for the warm welcome that I was accorded.

My 'thank you' extends to all those who, in Washington and New York, came to greet me and to show their love for the Pope, or who accompanied and sustained me with prayer and offering their sacrifices.

As you know, the occasion for the visit was the bicentennnial of the elevation to a metropolitan see of the country'[s first diocese, Baltimore, and the foundation of the dioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.

On such an ecclesial occasion, I had the joy of coming, for the first time as the Successor of Peter, to visit the beloved people of the United States of America, to confirm Catholics in their faith, to renew and increase fraternity with all Christians, and to announce to all the message of 'Christ our Hope', which was the theme of the visit.

In the meeting with the President at his residence, I paid tribute to that great nation which, from its beginnings, was founded on the basis of a happy conjunction between religious, eethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy secularity, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but valued as the 'spirit' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of human rights and responsibilities.

In such context, the Church can develop with freedom and commitment its mission of evangelization and human promotion, and even of being a 'critical conscience', contributing to the construction of a society worthy of the human being, and at the same time, stimulating a nation like the United States - which everyone looks to as one of the principal actors on the international scene - towards global solidarity, which is ever more necessry and urgent, and towards the patient exercise of dialog in international relations.

Naturally, the mission and the role of the church community were at the center of my encounter with the bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. In the liturgical context of Vespers, we praised the Lord for the path taken by the People of God in the United States, for the zeal of its pastors, and the fervor and generosity of its faithful, manifested in their high and open regard for the faith, and in innumerable charitable and humanitarian initiatives within the country and abroad.

At the same time, I sustained my brother bishops in their not-easy task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by not a few contradictions which threatens the coherence of Catholics and even the clergy themselves.

I encouraged them to make their voices heard on actual moral and social questions and to form faithful lay persons in such a way that they may be good 'yeast' for the civilian community, starting with the fundamental cell of society which is the family.

In this sense, I exhorted them to re-propose the sacrmament of Matrimony as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment for nurturing and educating children.

The Church and the family, together with schools - especially those of Christian inspiration - should cooperate to offer young people a solid moral education. But in this task, those who work in communications and entertainment also have a great responsibility.

Thinking of the sorrowful events of sexual abuses committes by ordained ministers against minors, I wished to express to the bishops my closeness, encouraging them in the committment to bind up the wounds and to strengthen their relationship with their priests.

Responding to some questions posed by the bishops, I was able to underline some important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and 'natural law'; a sane concept of freedom with includes love and is realized in love; the ecclesial dimension of the Christian experience; the exigency of announcing in a new way, especially to young people, 'salvation' as the fullness of living, and to educate them in prayer, from which generous responses to the call of the Lord may germinate.

In the great festive Eucharistic celebration at the Nationals Park Stadium of Washington, we invoked the Holy Spirit on the entire Church in the United States of America, so that, firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by their fathers, profoundly united and renewed, it may face present and future challenges with courage and hope - that hope which "does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

One such challenge is certainly that of education, and therefore, at the Catholic University of America, I met the rectors of Catholic universities and colleges, the diocesan officials responsible for teaching, professors and student rerpresenatives.

The educational task is an integral part of the mission of the Church, and the ecclesial community in the United States has always been very engaged in it, rendering at the same time a great social and cultural service to the entire nation. It is important that this goes on.

It is equally important to look after the quality of Catholic institutions, so that they may truly be able to form students according to 'the full stature' of Christ (cfr Eph 4,13), uniting faith and reason, freedom and truth. It was with joy that I confirmed the educators in this, their precious task of intellectual charity.

In a multicultural country like the United States of America, my meetings with the representatives of other religions were especially important: in Washington at the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the visit to a synagogue.

These were very heartfelt moments, especially the latter, which confirmed a common commitment to dialog and to the promotion of peace and spiritual and moral values.

In that nation which may be called the homeland of religious freedom, I wished to underscore that this must always be defended with united efforts to avoid any form of discrimination or prejudice. And I pointed to the great responsibility of religious leaders, both in teaching respect and non-violence as well as in keeping alive the most profound questions of the human mind.

The ecumenical celebration in the parish church of St. Joseph was likewise characterized by great cordiality. Together we prayed to the Lord so that he may increase in Christians the capacity to give reason - especially with increasing unity - for the great hope that is in us (cfr 1 Pt 3,15) through our common faith in Jesus Christ.

Another principal objective for my trip was the visit to the central headquarters of the Untied Nations Organization - the fourth by a Pope, after that of Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II's two visits in 1979 and in 1995.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Providence gave me the opportunity to confirm, in the widest and most authoritative [forum for] universal consensus, the value of that declaration, recalling its universal basis, namely, the dignity of the human being, created by God in his image and likeness, in order to cooperate on earth with his great design of life and peace.

Like peace, even respect for human rights is rooted in 'justice' - that is to say, an ethical order that is valid for all times and for all peoples, that can be summarized in the famous maxim, "Do not do to others what you do not wish done to you", or expressed positively in the words of Jesus: "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." (Mt 7,12).

On this basis, which constitutes the typical contribution of the Holy See to the United Nations, I renewed - and even today, I renew - the concrete commitment of the Catholic Church to contribute to the strengthening of international relations that are imprinted with the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

Also firmly impressed in my spirit are other moments of my stay in New York.

At St. Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan - truly a 'house of prayer for all people' - I celebrated the Holy Mass for priests and consecrated persons who came from every part of the counhtry.

I will never forget the warmth with which they wished me well on the third anniversary of my election to Peter's Chair. It was a moving moment, during which I directly experienced - in sensory form - the support of the entire Church for my ministry.

I can say the same for my meeting with the young people and seminarians which took place in the diocesan seminary, preceded by a very significant visit among handicapped children and youths, along with their families.

To the young people, by nature thirsting for truth and love, I proposed the example of some men and women who testified in exemplary manner on Amerian soil to the Gospel of truth which gives us freedom to love and to serve in a life spent for others.

Facing the shadows which threaten their lives today, the youth may find in the saints the light which disperses these shadows: the light of Christ, hope for every man!

This hope, stronger than sin or death, also inspired the emotion-charged moments which I spent in silence at the vortex of Ground Zero, where I lit a candle and prayed for all the victims of that terrible tragedy.

Finally, my visit culminated in the Eucharistic celebration at New York's Yankee Stadium. I still carry in my heart that feast of faith and fraternity with which we celebrated the bicentennials of North America's oldest dioceses.

The small flock from those beginnnings has developed enormously, enriching itself in faith and with the traditions of successive immigrant waves. To that Church, which is facing the challenges of today, I had the joy of announcing once more "Christ our Hope" -yesterday, today and always.

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in giving thanks for the comforting success of this apostolic voyage and in asking God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that it may produce abundant fruits for the Church in America and in all parts of the world.


In English, he said:


My recent Apostolic Journey to the United Nations and the United States of America was inspired by the theme, "Christ our Hope". I am most grateful to all who helped in any way to make the Journey a success.

My visit was meant to encourage the Catholic community in America, especially our young people, to bear consistent witness to the faith, and to carry on the Church’s mission, especially with regard to education and concern for the poor.

American society traditionally values religious freedom and the need for faith to play its part in building a sound civic life. In my meetings with President Bush, and with Christian leaders and representatives of other religions, I reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to cooperation in the service of understanding, peace and spiritual values.

My address to the United Nations stressed the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grounds respect for human dignity in a universally valid ethical order.

In a particular way, my visit to Ground Zero, charged with sober silence and prayer, was a moving testimony to the hope which is stronger than evil and death.

I ask all of you to join me in praying that this Visit will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the growth of the faith in America and for the unity and peace of the whole human family.

I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the third Christian-Buddhist Symposium, meeting in Castel Gandolfo during these days. Upon all of you and upon the English-speaking pilgrims from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Malta, South Africa, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.


Later, in his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he said:

Today, the liturgy commemorates the Holy Pontiff Pius V who, moved by profound love for the Church, promoted with tireless ardor the propagation of the faith and the reform of liturgical worship.

May his example and intercession ecnourage you, dear young people, to realize in an authentic and consistent way your Christian vocations; support you, dear people with afflictions, to persevere in hope and offer your sufferings in union with those of Christ for the salvation of mankind; and make you grow, dear newlyweds, in a reciprocal commitment of faithfulness and love.



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5/5/2008 12:02 AM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 4/30/08

The General Audience was held at St. Peter's Square, with some 30,000 faithful present. As he announced earlier, the Holy Father used the occasion to report on his recent trip to the United States and visit to United Nations headquarters. Here is a translation of his report.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Although several days have elapsed since my return, I wish to dedicate today's catechesis, as is usual, to the apostolic voyage that I made to the United Nations Organization and the United States of America on April 15-21.

First of all, I renew my most heartfelt acknowledgment to the United States Catholic bishops conference and to President Bush for having invited me and for the warm welcome that I was accorded.

My 'thank you' extends to all those who, in Washington and New York, came to greet me and to show their love for the Pope, or who accompanied and sustained me with prayer and offering their sacrifices.

As you know, the occasion for the visit was the bicentennnial of the elevation to a metropolitan see of the country'[s first diocese, Baltimore, and the foundation of the dioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.

On such an ecclesial occasion, I had the joy of coming, for the first time as the Successor of Peter, to visit the beloved people of the United States of America, to confirm Catholics in their faith, to renew and increase fraternity with all Christians, and to announce to all the message of 'Christ our Hope', which was the theme of the visit.

In the meeting with the President at his residence, I paid tribute to that great nation which, from its beginnings, was founded on the basis of a happy conjunction between religious, eethical and political principles, and which still constitutes a valid example of healthy secularity, where the religious dimension, in the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but valued as the 'spirit' of the nation and the fundamental guarantee of human rights and responsibilities.

In such context, the Church can develop with freedom and commitment its mission of evangelization and human promotion, and even of being a 'critical conscience', contributing to the construction of a society worthy of the human being, and at the same time, stimulating a nation like the United States - which everyone looks to as one of the principal actors on the international scene - towards global solidarity, which is ever more necessry and urgent, and towards the patient exercise of dialog in international relations.

Naturally, the mission and the role of the church community were at the center of my encounter with the bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. In the liturgical context of Vespers, we praised the Lord for the path taken by the People of God in the United States, for the zeal of its pastors, and the fervor and generosity of its faithful, manifested in their high and open regard for the faith, and in innumerable charitable and humanitarian initiatives within the country and abroad.

At the same time, I sustained my brother bishops in their not-easy task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by not a few contradictions which threatens the coherence of Catholics and even the clergy themselves.

I encouraged them to make their voices heard on actual moral and social questions and to form faithful lay persons in such a way that they may be good 'yeast' for the civilian community, starting with the fundamental cell of society which is the family.

In this sense, I exhorted them to re-propose the sacrmament of Matrimony as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural environment for nurturing and educating children.

The Church and the family, together with schools - especially those of Christian inspiration - should cooperate to offer young people a solid moral education. But in this task, those who work in communications and entertainment also have a great responsibility.

Thinking of the sorrowful events of sexual abuses committes by ordained ministers against minors, I wished to express to the bishops my closeness, encouraging them in the committment to bind up the wounds and to strengthen their relationship with their priests.

Responding to some questions posed by the bishops, I was able to underline some important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and 'natural law'; a sane concept of freedom with includes love and is realized in love; the ecclesial dimension of the Christian experience; the exigency of announcing in a new way, especially to young people, 'salvation' as the fullness of living, and to educate them in prayer, from which generous responses to the call of the Lord may germinate.

In the great festive Eucharistic celebration at the Nationals Park Stadium of Washington, we invoked the Holy Spirit on the entire Church in the United States of America, so that, firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by their fathers, profoundly united and renewed, it may face present and future challenges with courage and hope - that hope which "does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us" (Rm 5,5).

One such challenge is certainly that of education, and therefore, at the Catholic University of America, I met the rectors of Catholic universities and colleges, the diocesan officials responsible for teaching, professors and student rerpresenatives.

The educational task is an integral part of the mission of the Church, and the ecclesial community in the United States has always been very engaged in it, rendering at the same time a great social and cultural service to the entire nation. It is important that this goes on.

It is equally important to look after the quality of Catholic institutions, so that they may truly be able to form students according to 'the full stature' of Christ (cfr Eph 4,13), uniting faith and reason, freedom and truth. It was with joy that I confirmed the educators in this, their precious task of intellectual charity.

In a multicultural country like the United States of America, my meetings with the representatives of other religions were especially important: in Washington at the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the visit to a synagogue.

These were very heartfelt moments, especially the latter, which confirmed a common commitment to dialog and to the promotion of peace and spiritual and moral values.

In that nation which may be called the homeland of religious freedom, I wished to underscore that this must always be defended with united efforts to avoid any form of discrimination or prejudice. And I pointed to the great responsibility of religious leaders, both in teaching respect and non-violence as well as in keeping alive the most profound questions of the human mind.

The ecumenical celebration in the parish church of St. Joseph was likewise characterized by great cordiality. Together we prayed to the Lord so that he may increase in Christians the capacity to give reason - especially with increasing unity - for the great hope that is in us (cfr 1 Pt 3,15) through our common faith in Jesus Christ.

Another principal objective for my trip was the visit to the central headquarters of the Untied Nations Organization - the fourth by a Pope, after that of Paul VI in 1965 and John Paul II's two visits in 1979 and in 1995.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Providence gave me the opportunity to confirm, in the widest and most authoritative [forum for] universal consensus, the value of that declaration, recalling its universal basis, namely, the dignity of the human being, created by God in his image and likeness, in order to cooperate on earth with his great design of life and peace.

Like peace, even respect for human rights is rooted in 'justice' - that is to say, an ethical order that is valid for all times and for all peoples, that can be summarized in the famous maxim, "Do not do to others what you do not wish done to you", or expressed positively in the words of Jesus: "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you." (Mt 7,12).

On this basis, which constitutes the typical contribution of the Holy See to the United Nations, I renewed - and even today, I renew - the concrete commitment of the Catholic Church to contribute to the strengthening of international relations that are imprinted with the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

Also firmly impressed in my spirit are other moments of my stay in New York.

At St. Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan - truly a 'house of prayer for all people' - I celebrated the Holy Mass for priests and consecrated persons who came from every part of the counhtry.

I will never forget the warmth with which they wished me well on the third anniversary of my election to Peter's Chair. It was a moving moment, during which I directly experienced - in sensory form - the support of the entire Church for my ministry.

I can say the same for my meeting with the young people and seminarians which took place in the diocesan seminary, preceded by a very significant visit among handicapped children and youths, along with their families.

To the young people, by nature thirsting for truth and love, I proposed the example of some men and women who testified in exemplary manner on Amerian soil to the Gospel of truth which gives us freedom to love and to serve in a life spent for others.

Facing the shadows which threaten their lives today, the youth may find in the saints the light which disperses these shadows: the light of Christ, hope for every man!

This hope, stronger than sin or death, also inspired the emotion-charged moments which I spent in silence at the vortex of Ground Zero, where I lit a candle and prayed for all the victims of that terrible tragedy.

Finally, my visit culminated in the Eucharistic celebration at New York's Yankee Stadium. I still carry in my heart that feast of faith and fraternity with which we celebrated the bicentennials of North America's oldest dioceses.

The small flock from those beginnnings has developed enormously, enriching itself in faith and with the traditions of successive immigrant waves. To that Church, which is facing the challenges of today, I had the joy of announcing once more "Christ our Hope" -yesterday, today and always.

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in giving thanks for the comforting success of this apostolic voyage and in asking God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that it may produce abundant fruits for the Church in America and in all parts of the world.


In English, he said:


My recent Apostolic Journey to the United Nations and the United States of America was inspired by the theme, "Christ our Hope". I am most grateful to all who helped in any way to make the Journey a success.

My visit was meant to encourage the Catholic community in America, especially our young people, to bear consistent witness to the faith, and to carry on the Church’s mission, especially with regard to education and concern for the poor.

American society traditionally values religious freedom and the need for faith to play its part in building a sound civic life. In my meetings with President Bush, and with Christian leaders and representatives of other religions, I reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to cooperation in the service of understanding, peace and spiritual values.

My address to the United Nations stressed the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which grounds respect for human dignity in a universally valid ethical order.

In a particular way, my visit to Ground Zero, charged with sober silence and prayer, was a moving testimony to the hope which is stronger than evil and death.

I ask all of you to join me in praying that this Visit will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the growth of the faith in America and for the unity and peace of the whole human family.

I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the third Christian-Buddhist Symposium, meeting in Castel Gandolfo during these days. Upon all of you and upon the English-speaking pilgrims from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Malta, South Africa, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.


Later, in his greeting to Italian-speaking pilgrims, he said:

Today, the liturgy commemorates the Holy Pontiff Pius V who, moved by profound love for the Church, promoted with tireless ardor the propagation of the faith and the reform of liturgical worship.

May his example and intercession ecnourage you, dear young people, to realize in an authentic and consistent way your Christian vocations; support you, dear people with afflictions, to persevere in hope and offer your sufferings in union with those of Christ for the salvation of mankind; and make you grow, dear newlyweds, in a reciprocal commitment of faithfulness and love.


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5/5/2008 12:03 AM
 
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REGINA CAELI ON 5/4/08

At 12 noon today, the Holy Father led the recitation of the Regina caeli from the steps of St. Peter's Basilica before an audience of more than 100,000 faithful. Most of them were members of Catholic Action in Italy, which celebrates today its 140th anniversary. Earlier, they attended a Mass on the Square celebrated by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words before the Regina caeli:



Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, various nations including Italy celebrate the solemnity of the Ascension of Christ to heaven, a mystery of faith which, according to the Acts of the Apostles, took place 40 days after the Resurrection (cfr Acts 1,3-11). Therefore, in the Vatican and in some nations, it was celebrated last Thursday.

After the Ascension, the first disciples remained together in the Cenacle around the Mother of God, fervently awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been promised by Jesus (cfr Acts 1,14).

On this first Sunday of May, month of Mary, even we relive this experience, feeling more intensely than ever the spiritual presence of Mary. And St. Peter's Square presents itself today like a Cenacle in the open, full of faithful, in large part members of Italian Catholic Action, whom I will address after this Marian prayer.

In his farewell discourses to his disciples, Jesus insisted very much on the importance of his 'return to the Father', which would crown his entire mission: Indeed, he came to the world to bring back man to God, not on the plane of ideas - like a philosopher or a sage - but in reality, as a shepherd who wishes to bring back the sheep to the fold.

This 'exodus' towards the celestial homeland, which Jesus lived first hand, was something he took on totally for us. It is for us that he came down from heaven, and it is for us that he ascended, after having made himself like man in every way, humiliated to the point of death on the Cross, and after having touched the abyss of the maximum possible distance from God.

It is for this that the Father was 'well pleased' in Him and 'greatly exalted' him (Phil 2,9), giving him back the fullness of his glory, but now, with our humanity. God in man - man in God! This has become truth which is not theoretical but real.

That is why, Christian hope, founded in Christ, is not an illusion, but as the Letter to the Hebrews says, "This we have as an anchor of the soul," (Heb 6,19), an anchor that penetrates Heaven where Christ has preceded us.

What does man at any time need but this: a firm anchor for his own existence? And here once again is the amazing sense of Mary's presence among us. Turning our eyes to her, like the first disciples, we are immediately brought to the reality of Jesus: the Mother points to the Son, who is no longer physically among us but awaits us in the House of the Father.

Jesus invites us not to remain looking upward, but to be together united in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, only he who is 'reborn from above', that is, in the Spirit of God, will find the entrance to the Kingdom of the heavens open (cfr Jn 3m,3-5), and the first person 'reborn from above' was the Virgin Mary herself. That is why we turn to her in the fullness of our Paschal joy.

[After the Regina caeli, he addressed greetings in various languages to the pilgrims present, and then proceeded to address the Catholic Action assembly. Text translation be posted in HOMILIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/11/2008 10:09 PM]
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5/8/2008 1:13 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 5/7/08


The Holy Father held his regular General Audience today at St. Peter's Square, at which His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenia, was present. First, he greeted the Armenian Patriarch, in English:


It is my great joy today to greet His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and the distinguished delegation accompanying him.

Your Holiness, I pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will illumine your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the important meetings you will have here, and particularly our personal conversations. I ask all who are present today to pray for God’s blessing upon this visit.

Your Holiness, I thank you for your personal commitment to the growing friendship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic Church. In 2000, soon after your election, you came to Rome to meet Pope John Paul II, and a year later, you graciously received him in Holy Etchmiadzin. You came once again to Rome together with many Church leaders from East and West, for the funeral liturgy of Pope John Paul II. I am sure that this spirit of friendship will be further deepened during the coming days.

In an external niche of Saint Peter’s Basilica, there is a fine statue of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the Armenian Church. It serves to remind us of the severe persecutions suffered by Armenian Christians, especially during the last century. Armenia’s many martyrs are a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit working in times of darkness, and a pledge of hope for Christians everywhere.

Your Holiness, dear Bishops and dear friends, together with you I implore Almighty God, through the intercession of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, to help us grow in unity, in one holy bond of Christian faith, hope and love.

Afterwards, he gave his catechesis, this week on the subject of "The action of the Holy Spirit in the service of unity". Here is a translation.


Dear brothers and sisters,

As you see, with us this morning is His Holiness, Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, accompanied by a distinguished delegation.

I renew my expression of joy for the possibility given me today to welcome him: his presence today revives hope in the full unity of all Christians.

I gladly take the occasion to thank him for the friendly welcome that he gave in Armenia recently to my Cardinal Secretary of State.

It is a pleasure for me to recall the unforgettable visit that the Catholicos made to Rome in the year 2000, shortly after his election.
Meeting him, my beloved predecessor John Paul II gave him a notable relic of St. Gregory the Illuminator, and subsequently, he went to Armenia to reciprocate the visit.

The commitment of the Apostolic Church of Armenia to ecumenical dialog is well-known, and I am sure that even this visit of the venerated Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians will contribute to intensify the relationship of brotherly friendship which links our Churches.

These days of immediate preparation for the Solemnity of Pentecost stimulate us to revive hope in the help of the Holy Spirit to advance along the road of ecumenism.

We have the certainty that the Lord Jesus will never abandon us in the search for unity, since his Spirit is tirelessly at work to sustain our efforts to overcome every division and to repair every laceration in the living fabric of the Church.

This was exactly what Jesus promised to the disciples in the last days of his earthly mission, as we heard earlier today in the Gospel reading: He assured them of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, which he would send so that they would continue to feel his presence (cfr Jn 14,16-17).

This promise became reality when, after the Resurrection, Jesus entered the Cenacle, greeted the disciples with the words "Peace be with you" and, breathing on each of them, he said, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn 20,22), and he authorized them to forgive sins.

Thus, the Holy Spirit appears here as a force for the forgiveness of sins, for the renewal of our hearts and our existence; and thus, he renews the earth and creates unity where there has been division.

Then on the feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit manifested himself through other signs: a strong wind, tongues of fire, and the Apostles spoke in all the languages.

This is a sign that the Babylonian dispersion [the tower of Babel] - fruit of the pride that separates men - is overcome in the Spirit, who is charity and who gives unity in diversity.

From the first moment of its existence then, the Church spoke in all the languages - thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire - and lives in all cultures. He does not destroy anything of their various gifts, of different charisms, but brings together everything and everyone in a great new unity which reconciles: unity and multiformity.

The Holy Spirit, who is eternal charity, the link of unity in the Trinity, unites dispersed men in divine charity through his power, thus creating the great multiform community of the Church in the whole world.

In the days between the Ascension of our Lord to Pentecost Sunday, the disciples and Mary gathered in the Cenacle to pray. They knew that they themselves could not create and organize the Church: the Church had to be born and be organized by divine initiative - it is not a creation of ours but a gift of God.

Thus, only the Church can create unity, a unity which should grow. The Church in every age - in particular, during these nine days between Ascension and Pentecost - unites spiritually in the Cenacle with the Apostles and Mary to implore incessantly for the effusion of the Holy Spirit. Impelled by his strong wind, it can thus be capable of announcing the Gospel up to the extreme ends of the earth.

That is why, even in the face of difficulties and divisions, Christians cannot resign themselves to discouragement nor yield to it. This is what the Lord asks of us: to persevere in prayer in order to keep alive the flame of faith, charity and hope, which nourish the desire for full unity.

Ut unum sint!, says the Lord - that they may be one. This invitation of Christ always resounds in our heart: an invitation that I had a chance to make again during my recent apostolic journey to the United Sates of America, where I referred to the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement.

In this age of globalization but also of fragmentation, "without prayer, ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be devoid of heart and soul" (Ecumenical encounter in the Church of St. Joseph, New York, April 18, 2008).

Let us give thanks to the Lord for the goals we have reached so far in the ecumenical dialog thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. Let us remain obedient, listening to his voice, so that our hearts, filled with hope, may continue without pause along the road that leads to the full communion of all the disciples of Christ.

St. Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians, recalls that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (5,22-23)

These are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that even we invoke today for all Christians, so that in a common and generous service to the Gospel, they may be a sign in the world of God's love for mankind.

Let us trustingly turn our eyes to Mary, Sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, and through her, let us pray, "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love". Amen.


In English, he said:

Today we welcome to our Audience His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, together with a delegation from the Armenian Apostolic Church.

His presence among us, in these days before the Solemnity of Pentecost, spurs us to pray more fervently for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all Christians as we seek to advance along the path of ecumenism.

The Risen Lord sent the Spirit upon his disciples, and from the day of Pentecost, the Church has constantly implored the Spirit’s gifts, which impel her to proclaim the Gospel before all the world.

The presence and activity of the Spirit remind us that Christ never abandons his Church. The Spirit sustains our efforts to overcome division, to persevere in prayer and to work for Christian unity.

Prayer is the heart and soul of the ecumenical movement. Today, let us join in thanking the Lord for the Spirit’s work in fostering ecumenical dialogue and inspiring the hope of full unity.

May the gifts of the Spirit lead all Christians to serve the Gospel with generosity and to be a sign of God’s love for all humanity. With Mary, let us pray: "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love! Amen."

I offer a warm welcome to the Delegates taking part in the Annual Conference of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland. I am also pleased to greet the pilgrims from Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Qatar.

Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from England, Scotland, Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Canada, Guam and the United States, I cordially invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace.


At the very end, the Holy Father made this appeal in behalf of the people of Myanmar:

I personally take on the cry of sorrow and help from the dear people of Myanmar who have seen the unexpected destruction by the violence of cyclone Nargis of numerous lives, in addition to properties and means of subsistence.

As I assured in my message expressing solidarity to the president of the Myanmar bishops conference, I am spiritually close to all affected persons.

Moreover, I wish to repeat to all my invitation to open your heart to mercy and generosity so that, thanks to the cooperation of everyone who are able and willing to give aid, the sufferings caused by this immense tragedy may be alleviated.




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5/11/2008 10:56 PM
 
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REGINA CAELI ON 5/11/08


After celebrating Pentecost Sunday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father appeared at his study window to lead the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square in the noonday Regina caeli. Here is a translation of his words before and after the prayer.


Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, an ancient Jewish feast which commemorated the Alliance entered by God with his chosen people on Mt. Sinai (cfr Ex 19).

It then became a Christian feast for what happened on the Pentecost 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples were gathered in prayer at the Cenacle, when the power of the Holy Spirit descended on them as wind and fire.

They then began to proclaim in many languages the good news of the resurrection of Christ (cfr 2,1-4). It was the 'baptism of the Holy Spirit' that was pre-announced by John the Baptist: "I am baptizing you with water," he said, "but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I... He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire" (Mt 3,11).

In effect, Jesus's entire mission was intended to give men the Spirit of God and to baptize them in his 'bath' of regeneration. This was realized with his glorification (cfr Jn 7,39), that is, through his death and resurrection. Then, the Spirit of God was effused in abundance, like a cascade capable of purifying every heart, of extinguishing the fires of evil, and of lighting in the world the flame of divine love.

The Acts of the Apostles present Pentecost as a fulfillment of that promise and therefore, as a crowning of Jesus's entire mission. He himself, after his resurrection, ordered his disciples to remain in Jerusalem, because, he said, "in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1,5).

He added: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1,8).

Pentecost is therefore, in a special way, the baptism of the Church to undertake its universal mission, starting in the streets of Jerusalem, with that prodigious preaching in the many languages of mankind.

In this baptism of the Holy Spirit, the personal and community dimensions are inseparable - the 'I' of the disciple and the 'we' of teh Church. The Spirit consecrates the person and at the same time makes him a living member of the mystical Body of Christ, a participant in the mission to bear witness to his love.

This is realized through the Sacraments of Christian initiation, Baptism and Confirmation. In my message for the coming World Youth Day of 2008, I called on the youth to rediscover the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life, and therefore, the importance of these Sacraments.

Today, I wish to extend the invitation to everyone: Let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us renew our awareness of our Baptism and our Confirmation, springs of grace that is always actual.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to obtain for the Church today a new Pentecost, which will instill in everyone, especially the youth, the joy of living and bearing witness to the Gospel.


After the prayer, the Pope made a special appeal for Lebanon:

I have followed with profound concern in recent days the situation in Lebanon, where a stalemate in political initiatives resulted first in verbal violence, and then in armed encounters with numerous dead and wounded.

Even if, in the past several hours, tensions appear to have lessened, I consider it my duty to call on the Lebanese to abandon all logic of aggressive confrontation which could bring their beloved nation towards the irreparable.

Dialog, mutual understanding and a quest for reasonable compromise is the only way that can restore its institutions to Lebanon and ,to its people, the necessary security for daily life that is dignified and rich in hope for tomorrow.

May Lebanon, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, respond with courage to its calling to be - for the Middle East and for the entire world - a sign of the real possibility of peaceful constructive coexistence among men.

The different communities that make up the nation - as pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation 'A new hope for Lebanon' (cfr No. 1) - are at the same time "a wealth, an original thing and a difficulty, but to make Lebanon live is the common task of all its inhabitants."

With Mary, Virgin in prayer at Pentecost, let us ask the Almighty for an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and concord, which can inspire thoughts of peace and reconciliation in everyone.


Later, he said this in English:


I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the group from Magdalen College in the United States.

On this Pentecost Sunday let us pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. May the Spirit’s gifts of life and holiness confirm us in our witness to the Risen Lord and fill our hearts with fervent hope in his promises!

Upon all of you I cordially invoke Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace. God bless you!

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5/15/2008 12:57 AM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 5/14/08


At the General Audience at St. Peter's Square today, the Holy Father resumed his catechetical cycle on the Fathers of the Church, speaking about Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. After his greetings at the end of the catechesis, he made an appeal for the people of Sichuan, central China, who have been struck by a catastrophic earthquake.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words:



Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, in the course of the catecheses on the Fathers of the Church, I wish to speak of a rather mysterious figure - a theologian of the sixth century whose name is unknown but who wrote under the pseudonym Dionysius the Areopagite.

His pseudonym alludes to the passage of Scripture that we heard today, the episode that St. Luke narrates in Chapter XVII of the Acts of the Apostles, which says that Paul preached in Athens on the Areopagus for the elite world of Greek intellectuals, but that in the end, a great part of his listeners proved to be uninterested and walked away, deriding him.

Nonetheless, some - a few, St. Luke tells us - approached Paul and opened themselves up to the (Christian) faith. The evangelist gives us two names: Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus (circle), and a woman named Damaris.

If the author of these books chose the pseudonym Dionysius the Areopagite five centuries later, it means that his intention was to place Greek wisdom in the service of the Gospel, to help the encounter between Greek intelligence and culture, on the one hand, and the good news about Christ, on the other. He wanted to do as the earlier Dionysius intended, namely, that Greek thinking should encounter St. Paul's preaching, and as a Greek person, to become a disciple of St. Paul and therefore of Christ.

Why did he hide his true name and choose this pseudonym? One part of the answer has been given - he wished to express the fundamental intention of his thinking.

But there are two hypotheses on his (choice of) anonymity. The first one says it was a deliberate falsification, in which, by seemingly dating his works back to the first century, to St. Paul's time, he wanted to confer on his writings an almost apostolic authority.

But better than that hypothesis - which I find barely credible - is the other: that he wished it to be an act of humility. Not to glorify his own name, not to create a monument for himself through his works, but truly to serve the Gospel, to create an ecclesial theology and not an individual theology based on himself.

In fact, he succeeded to construct a theology that we can certainly date to the sixth century but that could not be attributed to any of the figures of the time. It is a theology that is a bit 'dis-individualized', that is, a theology that expresses common thinking in common language.

It was a time of most bitter controversies following the Council of Chalcedon. But he, for instance, in his Seventh Epistle, says: "I do not want to create polemics: I simply speak of the truth, I seek the truth."

The light of truth itself allows errors to fall off and whatever is good to shine. With this principle, he purified Greek thought and reconciled it with the Gospel. This principle, that he affirms in that seventh letter, is also the expression of a true spirit of dialog: to seek not the things which separate, but to seek the truth in Truth itself, which will then shine and let errors fall.

Therefore, even if the theology of this author is what we might describe as 'supra-personal' - in reality, ecclesial - we can situate him in the sixth century. Why? Because he encountered the Greek spirit which he placed at the service of the Gospel in the books of one Proclus, who died in Athens in 485.

Proclus belonged to late Platonism, a current of thought that had transformed Plato's philosophy into a sort of religion, whose ultimate goal was to create a great apologia for Greek polytheism and turn back, after the success of Christianity, to the ancient Greek religion. It wanted to demonstrate that, in reality, divinities (gods) were the operating forces in the cosmos. The intended consequence was that polytheism would be considered more true than monotheism with its single Creator God.

What Proclus sought to demonstrate was a great cosmic system of divinities with mysterious powers, and that man could find access to divinity through this deified cosmos. But he distinguished between the way for simple people, those who are not able to reach the summits of truth - for whom certain rites would suffice - from the ways for wiser ones who must purify themselves in order to reach pure light.

This thinking, as we can see, is profoundly anti-Christian. It was a late reaction to the triumph of Christianity. An anti-Christian use of Plato, even while a Christian use of the great philosopher was already under way.

It is interesting that the Pseudo-Dionysius had dared to use that thinking in order to show the truth of Christ - to transform that polytheistic universe into a cosmos created by God, into the harmony of God's cosmos where all the forces are in praise of God, and to show that great harmony itself, that symphony of the cosmos that ranges from the seraphim, angels and archangels to man and all creatures who together reflect the beauty of God and who in themselves constitute praise of God.

Thus he transformed polytheistic images into a eulogy for the Creator and his creatures. We can discover in this the essential characteristics of his thinking: it is, above all, cosmic praise.

All creation speaks of God and is a eulogy to God. Since the created being is himself a praise to God, the theology of the pseudo-Dionysius becomes a liturgical theology: God can be found above all by praising him, not merely reflecting on him. And liturgy is not something constructed by us, something invented to constitute a religious experience for a certain period of time. Liturgy is singing with the chorus of all creatures and entering into cosmic reality itself.

And that is how liturgy, apparently only ecclesiastic, becomes large and great, it becomes our union with the language of all creatures: One cannot speak of God in an abstract way, he said. To speak of God is always - he uses a Greek word - a 'hymnein', a singing to God with the great song of all creatures which is reflected and concretized in liturgical praise.

But although his theology is cosmic, ecclesial and liturgical, it is also profoundly personal. He created the first great mystical theology. Rather, the word 'mystical' acquired a new meaning with him.

Until then, this word was, for Christians, equivalent to 'sacramental', namely, something that belongs to the 'mysterion', the sacrament. But with him the word 'mystical' became more personal, more intimate - expressing the path of the soul towards God.

And how to find God? Here we find once more an important element in his dialog between Greek philosophy and Christianity, particularly, Biblical faith. It had been made to appear that what Plato said and what the great philosophies say about God is much more elevated and much more true. By comparison, the Bible was seen as rather 'barbarous', simple, pre-critical, one might say today.

But the pseudo-Dionysius observed that this was precisely what was needed, because that way, we would understand that the highest concepts about God will never really approach his true greatness - they would always be inadequate. The (Biblical) images make us understand that God is above and beyond all concepts. In the simplicity of such images, we find more truth than in grand concepts.

The face of God is our inability to really express what He is. Thus one speaks - and the Pseudo-Dionysius himself does so - of a "negative theology": We can say more easily what God is not, rather than express what he really is.

Only through images can we guess at his true face, but on the other hand, the face of God is also very concrete: it is Jesus Christ. And although Dionysius shows us, following Proclus, the harmony of celestial choirs in which it seems that everything depends on everything else, it remains true that our path to God is often very far from him. The Pseudo-Dionysius demonstrates that ultimately, the road to God is God himself, who made himself close to us in Jesus Christ.

That is how a great and mysterious theology also becomes very concrete, whether in the interpretation of liturgy or when discussing Christ. With all this, Dionysius the Areopagite had a great influence on all of medieval theology, on all the mystical theology of the East as well as the West.

He was practically rediscovered in the 13th century, above all by St. Bonaventure, the great Franciscan theologian who in his mystical theology found the conceptual instrument to interpret the legacy of St. Francis that is at once so simple and so profound.

The Poverello said, at the end, along with Dionysius, that love sees more than reason. Where the light of love is, the shadows of reason no longer have a place. Love sees: love is seeing, and experiencing it gives us more than reflection does.

What such experience was, Bonaventure saw in St. Francis: it is the experience of a very humble, very realistic path - this day-to-day walking with Christ, accepting his Cross. In this poverty and in this humility, a humility that lives even in ecclesiality, is an experience of God that is higher than what one can reach through reflection. In it, we truly touch the heart of God.

Today there is a new relevance and actuality for Dionysius the Areopagite. He appears a great mediator in the modern dialog between Christianity and the mystical theologies of Asia, whose well-known characteristic is the belief that one cannot say who God is, that one can only talk of God in negative forms, one can only speak of what he is not, and that only by entering into this experience of what he is not, does one reach him.

So we see a kinship between the Areopagite's thinking and that of the Asian religions, and he can be a mediator today just as he was between the Greek spirit and the Gospel.

One sees that dialog cannot accept superficiality. Precisely when one enters into the profundity of the encounter with Christ, then the vast space for dialog opens up. When one meets the light of truth, one realizes that it is a light for all; controversies disappear and it becomes possible to understand each other, or at least talk to each other, come close to each other.

The path of dialog is precisely by being near to God in Christ, in the profundity of the encounter with him, in the experience of the truth which opens to light and which helps us to go forth and encounter others - the light of truth, the light of love.

Ultimately, he tells us: take the road of experience, of humble experience of the faith, day by day. Then the heart opens up in order to see - and can therefore illuminate reason because it sees the beauty of God.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us even today to place the wisdom of our time in the service of the Gospel, discovering anew the beauty of faith and of the encounter with God in Christ.


In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s catechesis we turn to the teaching of a sixth-century author whose writings have been attributed to the first-century disciple of Saint Paul, Dionysius the Areopagite.

His two principal works, The Divine Names and Mystical Theology, strive to present a knowledge of God which surpasses rational understanding and culminates in spiritual perfection and transforming contemplation.

Pseudo-Dionysius stresses the apophatic or "negative" understanding born of pondering God’s infinite transcendence and otherness. By contemplating what God is not, and by entering more deeply into the rich symbolic language of Scripture, we grow in our relationship with the One who reveals himself in hiddenness.

Contemplation is thus an ascent leading from purification to illumination, perfection and union with God. In the West, Dionysius’s writings influenced the early scholastics and Saint Thomas, as well as Saint Teresa of Avila and Saint John of the Cross.

His vision of a great cosmic harmony reflecting the beauty of the Creator and the love freely bestowed on us in Christ, can also inspire our efforts to work for unity, reconciliation and peace in our world.

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present today, including the groups from England, Ireland, Japan, The Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States of America. May your visit to Rome be a time of deep spiritual renewal. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace.


After his greetings to various language groups, the Holy Father made this special appeal:

My thoughts at this moment go to the populations of Sichuan and its surrounding provinces in China, which have been severely struck by an earthquake which has caused serious loss in human lives, many more missing or dispersed, and incalculable damages.

I ask you to join me in a fervent prayer for all those who lost their lives. I am spiritually close to all the persons tried by such a devastating calamity. Let us implore God to alleviate their sufferings.

May the Lord grant support to all those who are committed to face the immediate requirements of first aid.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/15/2008 1:06 AM]
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5/21/2008 7:54 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 5/21/08

Because of bad weather and heavy rain, the outdoor audience scheduled for today was moved indoors. Accordingly, the Holy Father first greeted the faithful inside St. Peter's Basilica, then proceeded to Aula Paolo VI for his catechesis. Despite the bad weather, some 15,000 faithful showed up for the audience.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's catechesis:



Dear brothers and sisters,

In the series of catecheses on the Fathers of the Church, I wish to speak today about a little-known figure: Romanus the Melodist, born around 490 in Emesa (present-day Homs) in Syria.

A theologian, poet and composer, he belongs to that great line of theologians who transformed theology to poetry. We may think of his compatriot, St. Ephraim of Syria, who lived 200 years earlier than he.

But we can also think of the theologians of the West, like St. Ambrose, whose hymns still form part of our liturgy and continue to touch our hearts; or a theologian-thinker of great strength like St. Thomas, who gave us the hymns for Corpus Domini which we celebrate tomorrow. We think of St. John of the Cross and so many others.

Faith is love, and therefore, it creates poetry and music. Faith is joy, so it creates beauty.

And Romanus the Melodist is one of these - a theologian poet and composer. Having learned the first elements of Greek and Syrian culture in his native city, he transferred to Beritus (now Beirut), to complete his classical education and perfect his rhetorical skills.

Ordained a permanent deacon around 515, he became a preacher in that city for three years. He transferred to Constantinople towards the end of the reign of Anastasius I (around 518), and settled in the monastery of the Church of the Theotokos, Mother of God.

It was there that a long key episode in his life took place: the Sinassarium tells us that the Mother of God appeared to him in a dream and he received the gift of poetic charism. That Mary, in fact, asked him to swallow a rolled-up paper. When he woke up the next day - Feast of the Lord's Nativity - Romanus preached from the pulpit: "Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent" (Hymn 'On the Nativity' I. Proemium). And that is how he became a homilist-cantor up to his death (after 555).

Romanus lives in history as one of the most representative authors of liturgical hymns. The homily was, for the faithful of his time, practically the only occasion for catechetical instruction.

Thus, Romanus is not only an eminent witness to the religious sentiment of his era, but also of a lively and original way of catechesis. Through his compositions, we realize the creativity of this way of catechesis, the creativity of theological thinking, and of the sacred aesthetics and hymnography of that time.

The place where Romanus preached was a shrine in the outskirts of Constantinople. He would ascend the pulpit in the center of the church and spoke to the community using a rather elaborate 'setting' - he used depictions on the church murals or icons decorating the pulpit to illustrate his homilies, and even used dialog.

His homilies were in sung metric verse called kontakia. The term 'kontakion' - a small staff - appears to refer to the rod which holds the scroll of a manuscript, liturgical or otherwise.

There are 89 kontakia that have lived to our day under the name of Romanus, but tradition attributes thousands to him.

In Romanus, every kontakion is composed of stanzas, mostly 18 or 24, with a similar number of syllables structured according to the pattern of the first stanza (irmo); the rhythmic accents of the verses in all the stanzas are modelled after the irmo. Each stanza ends with a refrain (efimnio) that is usually identical, to create poetic unity.

Moreover, the first letters of every stanza indicated acrostically the name of the author, often preceded by the adjective 'humble'. A prayer referring to the lessons celebrated or evoked concludes the hymn.

After the Biblical reading, Romanus would sing the Proemium, often in the form of a prayer or supplication. Thus, he announced the theme of the homily and explained the refrain to be repeated together at the end of every stanza, which he recited aloud in cadence.

We are offered a significant example in the kontakion for Passion Friday: it is a dramatic dialog between Mary and her Son which takes place during the way of the Cross.

Mary says: "Where are you going, my Son? Why have you completed so quickly the course of your life?/ Never did I think, my Son, to see you in this state/ Nor ever imagine to what point of fury the wicked would come/ To lay their hands on you against everything that is just."

Jesus responds: "Why do you cry, my mother? ... Should I not suffer? Should I not die?/ How otherwise would I be able to save Adam?"

Mary's son comforts his mother, but also reminds her of his role in the story of salvation: "Therefore, my mother, lay down your sorrow/ It is not fitting that you weep, because you have been called 'full of grace'" [Mary at the foot of the Cross, 1-2; 4-5).

In the same hymn, regarding the sacrifice of Abraham, Sara reserves for herself the decision on Isaac's life. Abraham says, "When Sara hears your words, my Lord/ and will have known your will, then she will tell me:/ 'If he who gave him to you will take him back now, why did he give him, to begin with?... You, o watchful one, leave my son to me,/ and when he who called you wants him, he should say so to me" (The sacrifice of Abraham, 7).

Romanus did not use the solemn Byzantine Greek used in the imperial court, but simple Greek that was close to the language of the people. I would like to cite here an example of his lively and very personal way of speaking about the Lord Jesus: he calls him 'the spring that does not burn and light against the shadows', and says: "I burn to have you in my hand like a lamp;/ indeed, whoever carries an oil lamp among men is illuminated without being burned./ Illuminate me then, you who are the inextinguishable lamp" (he Presentation, or Feast of encounter, 8).

The power of conviction in his preachings was based on the great consistency between his words and his life. In one prayer he says: "Make my tongue clear, my Savior, and open my mouth/ and after having filled it, pierce my heart, so that what I do/ should be consistent with what I say" (Mission of the Apostles, 2).

Let us examine some of his principal themes. A fundamental theme of his preaching was the unity of God's action in history, the unity between creation and the story of salvation, the unity between the Old and New Testaments.

Another important theme was pneumatology, the doctrine about the Holy Spirit. On the Feast of Pentecost, he underlined the continuity between Christ ascended to heaven, and the apostles, that is, the Church, and exalts missionary action in the world: "...with divine virtue, they have conquered all men;/ they have taken up the Cross of Christ like a pen;/ they have used words like fishnets to fish among men;/ they have used the Word of God like a sharp fish-hook/ and as bait, the flesh of the Sovereign of the Universe" ( Pentecost 2;18).

Another central theme is, of course, Christology. He does not go into difficult concepts of theology, much discussed in those days, and which had so torn apart not only the unity among theologians but also among Christians.

He preached a simple but fundamental Christology - that of the great Councils. But above all, he kept close to popular piety - after all, the concepts of the Councils were born from popular piety and knowledge of the Christian heart - and thus, Romanus underscored that Christ was true God and true man, and being the true man-God, was one person, the synthesis of creation and creature, in whose human words we hear the Word of God himself.

He said: "He was a man, Christ was, but he was also God/ though not divided in two: He is One, son of a Father who is only One" (The Passion 19).

As for Mariology, Romanus, who was grateful to her for the gift of poetic charism, remembers her at the end of almost every hymn, and dedicates to her some of his most beautiful kontakia: Nativity, Annunciation, Divine Motherhood, the New Eve.

Finally, his moral teachings have to do with the Last Judgment (The Ten Virgins [II]). He leads us to this moment of truth in our life, the confrontation with the just Judge, and so, he exhorts to conversion in penitence and fasting. Positively, the Christian must practice charity and alms.

He emphasizes the primacy of charity over chastity in two hymns, the Marriage at Cana and The Ten Virgins. Charity is the greatest of virtues: "... Ten virgins possessed the virtue of virginity intact/ but for five of them, the practice proved fruitless./ The others shone with their lamps of love for mankind/ and for this, the Bridegroom asked them in" (The Ten Virgins, 1).

A pulsing humanity, the ardor of faith and profound humility pervade the songs of Romanus the Melodist. This great poet and composer reminds us of the whole treasury of Christian culture, born of faith, born from the heart that has encountered Christ, the Son of God.

From this contact of the heart with the Truth that is Love, culture is born - the entire Christian culture was born. And if the faith remains alive, this cultural legacy will not be dead, it will remain alive and present.

Icons continue to speak today to the heart of believers - they are not things of the past. Cathedrals are not medieval monuments but houses of life, where we feel 'at home': where we meet God and where we meet each other.

Neither is great music - Gregorian chant, Bach or Mozart - a thing of the past. It lives in the vitality of liturgy and in our faith.

If faith is alive, Christian culture will never become 'past' but will remain alive and present. And if the faith is alive, even today we can respond to that command that is repeated ever anew in the Psalms: "Sing a new song to the Lord."

Creativity, innovation, new song, new culture, and the presence of the entire cultural heritage are not mutually exclusive, but one reality: the presence of the beauty of God and the joy of being his children.


In English, he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today’s catechesis we turn to the Christian poetry of Romanus the Melodist. Born in Syria at the end of the fifth century, Romanus received a classical education, was ordained a deacon, and settled in Constantinople.

His preaching took the form of chanted metrical hymns known as "kontakia", consisting of an introduction and a series of stanzas punctuated by a refrain. Some eighty-nine of these have come down to us, and they testify to the rich theological, liturgical and devotional content of the hymnography of that time.

Composed in simple language accessible to his hearers, these kontakia are notable for their dramatic dialogues and their use of sustained metaphors.

Romanus was a catechist concerned to communicate the unity of God’s saving plan revealed in Christ. His hymns, steeped in Scripture, develop the teaching of the early Councils on the divinity of the Son, the mystery of the Incarnation, the person and role of the Holy Spirit, and the dignity of the Virgin Mary.

Romanus shows us the power of symbolic communication which, in the liturgy, joins earth to heaven, and uses imagery, poetry and song to lift our minds to God’s truth.

I offer a warm greeting to the delegation from the Allied Joint Force Command Naples, together with the members of their families. Dear friends, may your cooperation in the service of peace contribute to a future of hope for coming generations.

I also welcome the seminarians from the Diocese of Richmond and the many student groups present. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song.

Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from England, Denmark, Nigeria, Australia and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.


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5/25/2008 5:59 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 5/25/08


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



Dear brothers and sisters:

Italy and other countries celebrate today the Solemnity of Corpus Domini, which the Vatican and some places already celebrated last Thursday.

It is the Feast of the Eucharist, a wonderful gift of Christ, who at the Last Supper, wanted to leave us a memorial to his Resurrection, the sacrament of his Body and Blood, pledge of his immense love for us.

One week ago, we honored the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. Today, we are invited to look at the Sacred Host. It is the same God! The same Love!

This is the beauty of Christian truth: the Creator and Lord of all things made himself into a tiny grain to be sowed on earth, in the furrows of our history. He became bread to be broken, shared and eaten. He made himself our food to give us life, his own divine life.

He was born in Bethlehem - which means 'house of bread' in Hebrew - and when he started to preach, he disclosed that the Father had sent him into the world as 'the living bread descended from heaven', as the 'bread of life'.

The Eucharist is a school of charity and solidarity. Whoever nourishes himself with the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent to those who, even in our days, are deprived of their daily bread. So many parents can barely get enough food for themselves and their children. It is a problem that is increasingly serious, which the international community is finding difficult to resolve.

The Church not only prays to "give us this day our daily bread", but following the Lord's example, it tries in every way to "multiply the five loaves and two fishes" with its countless initiatives for human promotion and sharing so that no one may lack the necessities for living.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Feast of Corpus Domini be an occasion for us to grow in concrete attention to our brothers, especially the poor.

May this grace be obtained for us by the Virgin Mary, from whom the Son of God took flesh and blood, as we repeat in a famous Eucharistic hymn that has been set to music by famous composers: "Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine" [Hail true Body born of the Virgin Mary), which concludes with the invocation, "O Iesu dulcis, o Iesu pie, o Iesu fili Mariae!" (O sweet Jesus, o holy Jesus, O Jesus Son of Mary).

May the Virgin Mary, who bore Jesus in her womb and was the living 'tabernacle' of the Eucharist, communicate to us the same faith in the sacred mystery of the Body and Blood of her divine Son, that he may truly be the center of our life.

Let us find ourselves together again on Saturday, May 30, gathered around her, at 8 p.m., here in St. Peter's Square, for a special celebration to conclude the Marian month.


After the Angelus, he had a special message for the Catholics of China:


I greet with great affection all Chinese-speaking pilgrims who have come to Rome from all parts of Italy on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China.

I entrust to God's merciful love all your fellow citizens who perished as a result of the recent earthquake which hit a vast area of your country. I renew my spiritual closeness to those who are still living through anguish and tribulation.

Thanks to the fraternal solidarity of everyone, many the affected population return to the normality of daily life soon.

Together with you, I ask Mary, Help of Christians, Our lady of Sheshan, to support "the commitment of all in China who, in the midst of daily labors, continue to believe, hope and love, so that they may never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus", remaining 'credible witnesses always" of his love and "remaining united to the Rock of Peter on which the Church is built".


In English, he said:

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

Today the Church celebrates in different places the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. On Thursday with many of the faithful, I had the joy of taking part in the Corpus Christi procession and venerating this Holy Sacrament in prayer and adoration.

Our faith invites us to receive the Body and Blood of Christ with pure hearts so as to enter into communion with him.

May his presence always renew our Christian love as we journey with him to Eternal Life. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!


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5/28/2008 4:51 PM
 
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AUDIENCE OF 5/28/08


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



Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Wednesday I spoke of a Father of The Church who is little known int eh West, Romanus the Melodist. Today, I wish to present the figure of one of the greatest Fathers in the history of the Church, one of the four Doctors of the West, Pope St. Gregory, who was Bishop of Rome from 590-604, and who has earned the traditional title of Magnus or Great.

Gregory was truly a great Pope and a great Doctor of the Church. Born in Rome around 540 to a rich patrician family of the Anicia clan, which had distinguished itself not only by noble blood, but also for its dedication to the Christian faith and for services rendered to the Apostolic See.

The family also gave the Church two other Popes, Felix III (483-492), great great grand-uncle of Gregory, and Agapitus (535-536.

The house where Gregory grew was on the Clivus Scauri, surrounded by solemn edifices that testified to the grandeur of ancient Rome and the spiritual force of Christianity.

Inspiring him to elevated Christian sentiments were the examples of his parents Gordianus and Silvia, both of them also venerated as saints, and those of his two paternal aunts, Emiliana and Tarsilia, who lived at home as consecrated virgins in a life of prayer and asceticism.

Gregory entered early into an administrative career, following his father, and culminating in becoming Prefect of Rome in 572. This office, complicated by the sadness of the times, allowed him to apply himself to a vast range of administrative problems, bringing light to them for his future tasks.

In particular, a profound sense of order and discipline remained with him. As Pope, he suggested to the bishops to model themselves in the management of church affairs after the diligence and respect for law shown by civilian functionaries.

But this life must not have satisfied him, because much later, he decided to leave every civilian responsibility to retire and start a monastic life, transforming the family home into the monastery of St. Andrew in Celio.

This period of monastic life, a life of permanent dialog with the Lord and listening to his Word, left him with a perennial nostalgia which always and ever more became apparent in his homilies. In the middle of nagging pastoral worries and concerns, he would recall it many times in his writings as a happy time spent in contemplation of God, dedicated to prayer and serene immersion in study. That is how he was able to acquire a profound knowledge of Sacred Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church which served him later in his own works.

But Gregory's cloistered retreat did not last long. The invaluable experience that matured in civilian administration during a time of serious problems, the relationships he had developed with the Byzantine world while in office, the universal esteem that he had earned, led Pope Pelagius to name him a deacon and send him to Constantinople as his 'apocrisarius' [ambassador to the imperial court], which we would call Apostolic Nuncio today, in order to help over come the last after-effects of the monophysite controversy [controversy between the Church of Alexandria and the Church of Antioch, each of which tended to emphasize only one aspect of Christ's nature - either the divine or the human], and above all, to get the Byzantine emperor's support in Roman efforts to contain the pressure from Longobard (Lombard) invaders. [The Longobards were a Germanic people originally from Northern Europe who settled in the valley of the Danube and from there invaded Byzantine Italy in 568.]

His stay in Constantinople, where he resumed the monastic life with a group of monks, was most important for Gregory, because it gave him direct experience in the Byzantine world, as well as with facing the Longobard problem, which would later severely test his ability and energies during his Pontificate.

After several years, he was recalled to Rome by the Pope, who named him his secretary. Those were difficult years: continuous rains, flooding and famine afflicted many areas of Italy and Rome itself. Towards the end, there was an eruption of plague which took numerous victims, among them Pope Pelagius II himself.

The clergy, the people and the Senate were unanimous in choosing Gregory himself to be his successor on Peter's Chair. He tried to resist this, even attempting to flee, but he had no choice: In the end, he had to yield. It was the year 590.

Recognizing that this was the will of God, the new Pope immediately set to work apace. From the beginning, he showed a singularly lucid vision of the reality against which he had to measure himself, an extraordinary capacity for work in both ecclesiastical and civilian affairs, a constant equilibrium in the decisions, often courageous, that the office imposed on him.

There exists ample documentation of his governance, thanks to a registry of his letters (almost 800), in which he reflected on his daily confrontation with the complex questions that came to his desk - questions that came from bishops, abbots, priests, and even civilian authorities of every order and rank.

Among the problems that afflicted Italy and Rome in those days was one which was particularly outstanding in both the civilian and ecclesiastical fields: the Lombard question, to which the Pope dedicated every possible energy towards a truly peacemaking solution.

In contrast to the Byzantine Emperor who started from the premise that the Longobards were simply crude predators to be defeated or exterminated, St. Gregory saw them with the eyes of a good pastor, concerned with announcing to them the word of salvation and establishing fraternal relationships with them for a future peace founded on reciprocal respect and peaceful coexistence among Italians, the subjects of empire and the Lombards themselves.

He concerned himself with the conversion of the new peoples in Italy and the new civilian order in Europe. The Visigoths in Spain, the Franks, the Saxons, the immigrants to Britain and the Lombards were the priority objects of his evangelizing mission.

Yesterday, we observed the liturgical commemoration of St. Augustine of Canterbury, the head of a group of monks tasked by Gregory to go to Britain to evangelize that land.

To obtain peace from the barbarian incursions in Rome and Italy, the Pope committed himself thoroughly - he was a true peacemaker - undertaking detailed negotiations with the Lombard king Agilulfo. These negotiations led to a truce that lasted three years (598-601), after which it became possible to stipulate a more stable armistice in 603.

This positive outcome was also helped by parallel contacts which, in the meantime, the Pope had with Queen Theodolinda, a Bavarian princess, who unlike the heads of other Germanic peoples [who invaded Italy] , was Catholic, profoundly Catholic. A series of letters of Pope Gregory to that queen has been conserved, which reveals his esteem and friendship for her. Theodolinda managed gradually to lead the king himself to Catholicism, thus paving the way for peace.

The Pope also took upon himself to send the queen relics for the Basilica of St. John the Baptist which she had ordered built in Monza [northern Italy, near Milan, capital of what became the Lombardy region], and he did not fail to send his best wishes and precious gifts for this Basilica on the occasion of the birth and baptism of Theodolinda's son Adaloaldo. The episode of Queen Theodolinda constitutes a beautiful testimony of the importance of women in the history of the Church.

Basically, the three objectives that Pope Gregory aimed for constantly were: to contain the expansion of the Lombards in Italy; to take away Theodolinda from the influence of schismatics and to reinforce her Catholic faith; and to mediate between the Lombards and the Byzantines towards an agreement that would guarantee peace in the Italian peninsula and at the same time allow evangelical activity to be undertaken among the Lombards.

Therefore, he had a constant two-sided orientation in these complex events: to promote his objectives on the he political and diplomatic levels; and to to spread the proclamation of the true faith among the people.

Besides his spiritual and pastoral activities, Pope Gregory was also an active protagonist in many forms of social work. With the income from the conspicuous patrimony that the Roman See possessed in Italy, especially in Sicily, he bought and distributed grains, assisted those who were in need, helped priests, monks and nuns who lived in indigence, ransomed citizens who were captured by the Lombards, negotiated armistices and truces.

Besides this, he carried out in Rome and other parts of Italy a careful administrative reorganization, with precise instructions that the goods of the Church necessary for its subsistence and evangelizing work should be managed with absolute rectitude and according to the rules of justice and mercy.

He demanded that the people be protected from the deceptions of the concessionaires of Church properties, and that in case of fraud, they should be promptly restituted so that the face of Christ's Bride would not be smirched by dishonest profits.

Gregory carried out these intense activities despite ill health which often forced him to stay in bed for many days. The fasts he observed during his monastic years had resulted in serious disturbances to his digestive system. His voice was so weakened that he often had to entrust his deacon with reading his homilies so that the faithful in the Roman basilicas could hear them.

But he did everything possible to celebrate the Missarum sollemnia, the Solemn Mass, himself on religious feast days, during which he personally encountered the People of God, for whom he felt great affection, because he saw them as the authoritative reference point from which to draw certitude. There is reason he was soon being called consul Dei.

Notwithstanding the most difficult circumstances in which he had to operate, he succeeded - thanks to the sanctity of his life and his rich humanity - in winning the confidence of the faithful, achieving for his time and for the future results that were truly grandiose.

He was a man immersed in god. The desire for God was always very vivid in him, and because of this, he was very close to his fellowmen, to the needs of the people of his time.

In a disastrous and desperate time, he knew how to create peace and hope. This man of God shows us where the true springs of peace are, from where true hope comes, and is thus a leader and guide even for us today.


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6/1/2008 3:31 PM
 
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ANGELUS OF 6/1/08


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


Dear brothers and sisters,

On this Sunday coincides with the start of June, I am pleased to recall that this month is traditionally dedicated to the Heart of Christ, symbol of Christian faith that is particularly dear to the people as it is to mystics and theologians, because it expresses in a simple and authentic way the 'good news' of love, embodying the mystery of the Incarnation and of Redemption.

Last Friday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the third and last of the feasts immediately following Eastertide, after those of the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Domini.

This succession makes us think of a movement toward the center: a movement of the spirit which God himself leads. From the infinite horizon of his love, in fact, God entered the confines of history adn the human condition, he took flesh and heart. Thus we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable mystery of the human Heart of Jesus the Nazarene.

In my first encyclical on the theme of love, the starting point was precisely a look at the pierced side of Christ, which John speaks about in his Gospel (cfr 19,37; Deus caritas est, 12). This center of faith is also the source of hope in which we are saved, hope which I made the topic of the second Encyclical.

Every person needs a 'center' in his life, a spring of truth and goodness to draw from in dealing with different situations and our day-to-day efforts.

Each of us, when we pause in silence, needs to feel not only the beating of our own heart, but more profoundly, the pulse of a presence that is we can trust, perceptible with the senses of faith and yet much more real: the presence of Christ, heart of the world.

I invite each and everyone then to renew in this month of June one's own devotion to the Heart of Christ, making the most of the traditional prayer of offering for the day and keeping in mind the prayer intentions that I have proposed for all of the Church.

Next to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the liturgy invites us to venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us always entrust ourselves to her with great confidence.

I wish to invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin yet again for the people of China and Myanmar who have been struck by natural calamities, and for all those who are going through situations of pain, sickness, and the material and spiritual poverty that mark man's journey.


After the Angelus prayers, he said this in English:

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

In today’s liturgy we are reminded that Jesus has opened the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven for all who come to believe.

May we take the path that leads to the Kingdom by saying "yes" to Jesus, living according to his message and following his example.

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



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