Wednesday, February 08, 2012 2:51 PM
Pope: The cry of Jesus from the Cross
Feb. 8, 2012
“In our relationship with the Lord, in front of the most difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not listen, we need not fear to entrust to Him all the weight we carry in our hearts, we must not be afraid to cry out to Him in our suffering”, said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he continued his series of lessons on Christ’s prayer in his General Audience, this week focusing on the cry of Jesus from the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”.
He said : “This cry comes after a three-hour period when there was darkness over the whole land. Darkness is an ambivalent symbol in the Bible – while it is frequently a sign of the power of evil, it can also serve to express a mysterious divine presence. Just as Moses was covered in the dark cloud when God appeared to him on the mountain, so Jesus on Calvary is wrapped in darkness. Even though the Father appears to be absent, in a mysterious way his loving gaze is focussed upon the Son’s loving sacrifice on the Cross.
In comments in Italian Pope Benedict said: “Jesus prays at the time of ultimate rejection by men, at the time of abandonment; he prays, however, aware of the presence of God the Father in this hour in which he feels the human drama of death. But we wonder: how could a God so powerful not intervene to save his Son from this terrible ordeal? It is important to understand that the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of one who goes to meet death with despair, nor is it the cry of one who knows himself to be abandoned. Jesus then makes his Psalm 22, the Psalm of the people of Israel that suffers, and in this way not only takes upon Himself the punishment of his people, but also that of all men who suffer from the oppression of evil and at the same time, brings all of this to the heart of God himself in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the resurrection”.
“This prayer of Jesus encloses the utmost confidence and abandonment in God's hands, even when He seems absent, even when He seems to remain silent, according to a design that is incomprehensible to us. His is a suffering in communion with us and for us, that comes from love and already carries within redemption, the victory of love”.
The Holy Father concluded: “Dear friends, in prayer we bring our daily crosses to God, in the certainty that He is present and hears us. The cry of Jesus reminds us that in prayer we must overcome the barriers of our "self" and our problems and open ourselves to the needs and suffering of others. The prayer of the dying Jesus on the Cross teaches us to pray with love for so many brothers and sisters who feel the weight of everyday life, who are experiencing difficult moments, who are in pain, without a word of comfort, so that they too can feel the love of the God who never abandons”.
Following his catechesis Pope Benedict launched an appeal for all the victims of a deadly cold snap that has gripped much of Europe this week: “In recent weeks a wave of cold and frost has swept some regions of Europe causing great inconvenience and considerable damage. I wish to express my closeness to people affected by this intense bad weather, while I invite prayers for the victims and their families. At the same time I encourage solidarity so that those who are suffering from these tragic events are generously supported”.
And finally he had greetings for pilgrims present in the Paul VI hall: “I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States of America. I extend a special welcome to the many students who are here, and I pray that your studies may serve to deepen your knowledge and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whatever darkness you experience in your lives, may you always remain firm in faith, hope and love. May God bless all of you!”
Thursday, February 09, 2012 9:29 AM
God bless our Holy Father!
Friday, February 10, 2012 2:30 PM
CONSISTORY FOR CANONISATION OF SEVEN BLESSEDS, COURTESY VISITS OF NEW CARDINALS
Vatican City, 10 February 2010 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday 18 February Benedict XVI will celebrate an ordinary public consistory for the creation of twenty-two new cardinals during which he will impose the biretta, consign the ring and assign them their title or diaconate, according to a communique released today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.
At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father will celebrate an ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following Blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay catechist and martyr; Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and of the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord; Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching; Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A.; Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman, and Anna Schaffer, German laywoman.
That same afternoon, from 4.30 to 6.30 p.m. in various rooms of the Apostolic Palace, the new cardinals will receive all those who wish to pay them a courtesy visit. A list of these locations follows:
Atrium of the Paul VI Hall: Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz, Edwin Frederick O'Brien, George Alencherry, Lucian Muresan, Julien Ries and Prosper Grech, O.S.A.
Paul VI Hall: Cardinals Francesco Coccopalmerio, Thomas Christopher Collins, Dominik Jaroslav Duka O.P., Willem Jacobus Eijk, Giuseppe Betori, Timothy Michael Dolan, Rainer Maria Woelki and John Tong Hon.
Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace: Cardinals Fernando Filoni, Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Giuseppe Bertello.
Galleria Lapidaria of the Apostolic Palace: Cardinals Santos Abril y Castello and Antonio Maria Veglio.
Sala Ducale of the Apostolic Palace: Cardinals Domenico Calcagno and Giuseppe Versaldi.
Also in St. Peter's Basilica, at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 19 February, Solemnity of the Cathedra of St. Peter, the Holy Father will preside at a concelebrated Mass with the new cardinals.
Sunday, February 12, 2012 2:47 PM
Pope appeals to Damascus and all to "end violence" and "favour the path of dialogue"
Feb. 12, 2012
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A new "urgent appeal" to "end the violence and bloodshed" in Syria, along with an invitation to "give priority to the path of dialogue, reconciliation and commitment to peace "was launched today by Benedict XVI after the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St Peter's Square.
Speaking from his study window, the pope made it clear that his call for dialogue and reconciliation is for "all - and above all the political authorities in Syria." Since the beginning of the riots, 11 months ago, the Assad government had promised some reforms (electoral and political), but they have stalled, leaving room for violence and attacks, to which the regime responded with brutal force. Such violence has been claimed and / or attributed to Free Syrian Army (the army of military deserters), to al-Qaeda or other radical Islamic groups, once kept in check by the Assad regime. Two days ago, in Aleppo, two car bombs killed at least 28 people and left hundreds of wounded soldiers and civilians.
"I follow with great apprehension - the pope said - the dramatic and growing incidents of violence in Syria. In recent days they have caused numerous deaths. I remember in prayer the victims, among which there are children, the wounded and those suffering the consequences of an increasingly worrying conflict. "
In some sections of the international community the idea of military intervention similar to a "Libyan model" for the expulsion of Qaddafi is growing, but the results of the Arab League mission of reconciliation are still unknown.
In his appeal, the pope seems to give priority to dialogue and engagement particularly within the nation itself, pushing the Syrian authorities to act: "There is an urgent need to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the various components of the nation, as well as the wishes of the international community, concerned the common good of the whole society and the Region ".
Previously Benedict XVI reflected on the Sunday Gospel (Mk 1.40 to 45) in which Jesus heals a leper who begs him. "Jesus - says the pontiff - is not immune to contact with this man, indeed, driven by intimate participation in his condition, he stretches out his hand and touches it - overcoming the legal ban - and says: I do will it. Be made clean!' .In that gesture and the words of Christ is the whole history of salvation, there is embodied the will of God to heal, to cleanse us from evil that disfigures and destroys our relationship with Him. In that contact between the hand of Jesus and the leper all barriers between God and human impurities were knocked down, between the sacred and its opposite, not to deny the evil and its negative force, but to show that the love of God is stronger than any evil, even of the most contagious and horrible. Jesus took upon himself our infirmities; he became 'leper' that we may be purified“.
The pope then added a "existential comment ", taken from the life of St. Francis of Assisi as told in his Testament: " The Lord gave to me, Brother Francis, thus to begin to do penance; for when I was in sin it seemed to me very bitter to see lepers, and the Lord Himself led me amongst them and I showed mercy to them. And when I left them, that which had seemed to me bitter was changed for me into sweetness of body and soul. And afterwards I remained a little and I left the world. ".
He added: "In those lepers who met Francis when he was still 'in sin', Jesus was present, and when Francis approached one of them, and, overcoming his revulsion, embraced him, Jesus healed him of his leprosy, that is, his pride, and converted him to the love of God is the victory of Christ, which is our deep healing and our resurrection to new life. "
The Pope concluded with an invitation to remember the appearances of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes (yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes). "Dear friends, let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, whom we celebrated yesterday by the memory of her apparitions at Lourdes. Our Lady gave a timeless message to St. Bernadette: the call to prayer and penance. Through his mother it is always Jesus who comes to us, to deliver us from all sickness of body and soul. Let us allow ourselves to be touched and purified by Him and we show mercy to our brothers and sisters. "
GOD'S LOVE IS STRONGER THAT ANY EVIL
Vatican City, 12 February 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square below. Benedict XVI introduced the Marian prayer by recalling how "Jesus, in His public life, healed many sick people, thus revealing that what God wants for man is life, life in abundance".
Today's Gospel reading shows us Jesus "in contact with a form of sickness considered at that time to be the most serious", leprosy, which made the sufferer "unclean" and excluded him from social life. While Jesus was preaching in Galilee a leper came up to Him asking to be healed. "Jesus did not seek to avoid contact with the man. Quite the contrary, moved by intimate concern for his condition, He stretched out His hand - breaking the legal proscription - and said: 'I do choose. Be made clean'. Christ's gesture and words encapsulate the entire history of salvation, they incarnate God's will to heal us, to purify us from the evil which disfigures us and blights our relationships.
"That contact between Jesus' hand and the leper broke down all barriers between God and human impurity; between the sacred and its opposite, certainly not in order to deny evil and its negative power but to demonstrate that the love of God is stronger than all evil, even the most contagious and terrible. Jesus took our infirmities upon Himself. He became a 'leper' that we might be purified. ... The victory of Christ is our profound healing and our resurrection to a new life".
In closing, Benedict XVI encouraged the faithful to pray to the Virgin Mary. "Through His Mother, it is always Jesus Who comes to us, to free us from all sickness of body and soul. Let us allow ourselves to be touched and purified by Him, and let us show mercy to our fellows".
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:54 PM
Pope Benedict meets UK government delegation
Feb. 15, 2012
The right to religious freedom, the need to promote disarmament and sustainable development, to support peace and democracy in North Africa and the Middle East and to promote a culture of social responsibility as the basis of a healthy society. Those were some of the wide ranging issues discussed by a British government delegation and top Vatican officials on Wednesday during a visit marking the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of full diplomatic relations between the UK and the Holy See.
A joint communiqué following the working meeting said Britain and the Holy See look forwards “to working together to combat intolerance and discrimination based on religion, wherever it is manifest.”
The delegation also met with Pope Benedict and spoke of his successful 2010 visit to the UK which paved the way for this follow up meeting. Leading the delegation was Britain’s only Muslim Cabinet Minister Baroness Warsi, who told Philippa Hitchen [of Vatican Radio] more about the talks and about the audience with the Pope……
“This is a historic visit, a visit that we discussed at the very successful State papal visit in September 2010….this delegation is unprecedented really in the history of the UK, but also in the history of the Vatican, to have 4 cabinet minister and 3 ministers of state with a big delegation to visit and have bilateral discussions, as well as enjoy an audience with the Holy Father…”
“It’s the privilege of a 2nd meeting I’ve had with the Pope – the first time he asked me to continue to make the case for faith and I explained that my speech here and the work that we’ve been doing with the government over the past 20 months was trying to make the case for faith and he blessed us….I handed him a gift of a King James Bible from the Prime Minister …he opened it and read the message from the Prime Minister…I also handed him a personal gift of a translation of the Koran ...”
“I think the most important thing that’s come out for me is that the Vatican, being the smallest state in the world, has one of the biggest global reaches …there are many issues on which we agree…the world, as we go forward, we know is not based on geographical relations but on networks and the Holy See is one of the most networked states in the world….we spoke about international aid, disarmament, climate change, the importance of interfaith relations and the importance of making the case for faith…”
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:58 PM
JESUS' PRAYER BEFORE DYING
Vatican City, 15 February 2012 (VIS) - For the second consecutive week the Holy Father focused his catechesis during his general audience on Jesus' prayer before dying, basing his remarks on three phrases Christ pronounced from the cross, as narrated in the Gospel of St. Luke. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of some 6,000 pilgrims from all over the world.
Jesus' first phrase: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing", was pronounced as soon as He had been crucified and while the soldiers were dividing His garments. "This first prayer to the Father", the Pope explained, "was a request to forgive His executioners". At the same time, however, "it is an interpretation of what is happening. The men who crucified Him 'do not know what they are doing'. In other words, Christ presents ignorance, 'not knowing', as a reason for requesting forgiveness of the Father, because that ignorance opens the way to conversion".
The second phrase: "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise", addressed to the "good thief" crucified at Christ's side, is "a word of hope", the Holy Father said. Jesus thereby reaffirmed "that God's goodness can touch us even in the final instant of existence, and that sincere prayer, even after a misspent life, encounters the open arms of the good Father Who awaits the return of His child".
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit", the last words Christ pronounced, are "a prayer of 'entrustment', full of faith in God's love. Jesus' prayer before dying is as dramatic as its is for all men and women but, at the same time, it is pervaded by that profound calm which arises from faith in the Father and the desire to entrust oneself to Him completely".
"When life was about to leave Him, He sealed His final decision in a prayer. Jesus allowed Himself to be consigned 'into human hands', but it was into the hands of the Father that He placed His spirit. Thus, as John the Evangelist says, all things were accomplished, the supreme act of love was carried to the end".
"Jesus' words on the cross in the final instants of His earthly existence provide binding guidelines for our own prayer, but they also open the way to serene trust and firm hope. By asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying Him, Jesus invites us to make the difficult gesture of praying for the people who do us wrong, ... that the light of God may illuminate their hearts. In other words, He invites us to adopt, in our prayer, the same attitude of mercy and love which God shows towards us", the Pope said.
"At the same time Jesus, at the extreme moment of death, entrusted Himself entirely into the hands of God the Father, communicating to us the certainty that, however difficult our trials ... or burdensome our suffering, we will never fall out of God’s hands, the hands which created us, and which support and accompany us on life’s journey".
Thursday, February 16, 2012 2:38 PM
POPE WARNS AGAINST THE POWER OF FINANCE AND OF THE MEDIA
Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon the Holy Father visited the Major Seminary of Rome for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust, which falls on Saturday. The Holy Father visited the chapel before going on to meet with auxiliary bishops of Rome, superiors of diocesan seminaries and 190 seminarians.
Following the reading of the Gospel, Benedict XVI pronounced a "lectio divina" on the passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans in which the Apostle invites the faithful not to conform to this world but to transform themselves and renew their minds in order to discern the will of God, "the good and acceptable and perfect".
"We can reflect upon the Church today", he said in his off-the-cuff remarks. "There is much talk about the Church of Rome, many things are said. Let us hope that people also talk about our faith. Let us pray to God that it may be so".
The Pope then went on to refer to the force of evil which, in today's world, also emerges "in two great powers which are good and useful in themselves but easily open to abuse: the power of finance and the power of the media. Both are necessary, both are useful, but so subject to misuse that they often go against their true goals".
Today "we see how the world of finance can dominate mankind. Possession and appearance dominate and enslave the world. ... Finance is no longer a tool to promote well being and to support the life of man, but a force that oppresses him, one which almost has to be worshipped". The Pontiff called on his audience not to conform to this power. "Be non conformists. What counts is not possession but existence", he said. Christians must not bow to this power, but use it as "as a means, with the freedom of the children of God".
Turning then to consider the question of public opinion, Benedict XVI highlighted how "we have a great need of information, knowledge about the truth of the world; but there is a power of appearance which in the end counts even more than reality itself". Appearance "overlies the truth and becomes more important. Man no longer pursues the truth but wants above all to appear". Here too "there is a Christian non conformism. ... We want not appearance but truth, and this will give us true freedom".
"Christian non conformism redeems us and restores us to truth. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to be free in this non conformism, which is not against the world but is authentic love for the world".
PASTORAL COMMUNION AND COOPERATION BETWEEN AFRICA AND EUROPE
Vatican City, 16 February 2012 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican Benedict XVI received participants in the Second Symposium of European and African Bishops, which began on 13 February and is examining the theme of "Evangelisation today: pastoral communion and cooperation between Africa and Europe". The event will come to an end tomorrow with a pilgrimage to the Italian shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello.
"For the Church in Europe", the Pope said, "the encounter with the Church in Africa is always a moment of grace, because of the hope and joy with which ecclesial communities in Africa live and communicate their faith. ... Moreover, it is a pleasure to see how the Church in Africa, though experiencing so many difficulties and having such need of peace and reconciliation, is open to sharing her faith".
In the relationship between the two Churches, bishops must "take account of the fundamental bond between faith and charity, because these two aspects illuminate one another in their truth. Charity favours openness towards modern men and women in their concrete reality, in order to bring them to Christ and His love for each individual and each family, especially those who are poor and alone".
The Holy Father also turned his attention to the difficulties facing the prelates, including religious indifference "which causes many people to live as if God did not exist, or to make do with a vague religiosity incapable of measuring up against the question of truth or the requirement to be coherent". In the same context he also mentioned "the influence of a secularised environment often hostile to Christian faith" and "hedonism which has helped to make the crisis of values penetrate into daily life". Another symptom of "serious social malaise is the spread of pornography and prostitution". However, "these things must not discourage you", he told the bishops. "Rather, they should be a reason for renewed commitment and hope; the hope that arises from the awareness that ... the risen Christ is always with us".
Benedict XVI reiterated the central role the family plays in pastoral care, because it is "the firmest guarantee for the renewal of society. The family conserves usages, traditions, customs and rites impregnated with faith, and is fertile terrain in which vocations can flower". In this context he invited the participants in the symposium "to pay particular attention to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
"The family is also the forge of youth", the Pope added. "Europe and Africa have need of young people who are generous, who can take responsibility for their own future. At the same time, all the institutions must be aware that young people are the keys to the future and that everything must be done to ensure their journey is not hindered by uncertainty and darkness".
"The cultural dimension is also important in the formation of young people", the Holy Father went on. "The Church respects all discoveries of truth, because all truth comes from God, but she knows that the gaze of faith fixed upon Christ opens man's mind and heart to the First Truth, which is God. Thus culture nourished by faith leads to authentic humanisation, while false cultures end up by leading to dehumanisation: we have seen sad examples of this in Europe and in Africa".
Pope Benedict concluded his remarks: "Your symposium has given you the chance to reflect upon the problems of the Church on the two continents. Certainly there is no lack of difficulties, and some of them are great; yet they are also proof that the Church is alive, that she is growing and is unafraid to carry out her evangelising mission. To do this, she needs the prayer and commitment of all the faithful. ... As pastors, however, you have a particular responsibility. ... The moral authority and the prestige that uphold the exercise of your juridical power can only come from the holiness of your life".
Friday, February 17, 2012 2:37 PM
CARDINALS PREPARE FOR TOMORROW'S CONSISTORY
Vatican City, 17 February 2012 (VIS) - This morning, in preparation for tomorrow's consistory, the members of the College of Cardinals and the new cardinals-elect met in the Vatican's New Synod Hall for a day of reflection and prayer, presided by the Holy Father. Benedict XVI had called the day at the beginning of this month.
According to a communique made public today by the Holy See Press Office, the Day began with the celebration of Lauds, followed by an introductory address by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. The main theme of the day - "the announcement of the Gospel today, between 'missio ad gentes' and new evangelisation" - was introduced with a long talk by one of the cardinals-designate: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. He was followed by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, who delivered a report on the forthcoming Year of Faith, and its significance in the light of the Apostolic Letter 'Porta fidei'. He also outlined a series of initiatives for the Year, currently being studied by various dicasteries.
The participants in the day of reflection and prayer then rose to speak and the morning session concluded with the praying of the Angelus guided by the Holy Father. The meeting will continue this afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers at 5 p.m.
Saturday, February 18, 2012 5:42 AM
Catholics must know truth if they are to share it, pope tells cardinals
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Feb. 17, 2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If objective truth does not exist, "there is no compass and we won't know where to go," Pope Benedict XVI told members and almost-members of the College of Cardinals.
An awareness of the truth of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ makes life "rich and beautiful" and is essential for sharing the Christian faith with others, the pope said Feb. 17 at the end of a daylong meeting of the College of Cardinals.
The pope thanked Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan of New York, who gave the day's main presentation on missionary activity and the new evangelization. The pope said the New York prelate's talk was "enthusiastic, joyful and profound."
In his morning address to the group, which included most of the 21 other churchmen who were to be made cardinals with him Feb. 18, Cardinal-designate Dolan said secularism has had an easy time spreading through many traditionally Christian cultures because so many Christians do not know their faith and do not grasp the truth it teaches.
While the New York prelate did not downplay the challenges the church faces in reviving the faith of its members and bringing the Gospel to those who have never heard it, he delivered his assessment with his characteristic smile and broad gestures, telling Pope Benedict and the cardinals that evangelization requires joy and love.
"When I became the archbishop of New York, a priest told me, 'You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan or you'll be arrested,'" he said, but he still believes Christians must show the world that faith is saying yes "to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble."
The meeting was attended by 133 prelates, including at least 20 of the 22 who were to receive their red hats from the pope the following morning.
During the morning session, Pope Benedict did not address the assembly and was not one of the seven participants who commented on the presentation by Cardinal-designate Dolan, although the pope did laugh when the New York archbishop made fun of his speaking Italian "like a child."
The morning session also featured a brief presentation by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, on plans for the 2012-2013 Year of Faith.
The pope spoke at the end of the evening session, after another 20 cardinals and cardinals-designate had taken the floor to speak.
Pope Benedict told the assembly that the teachings of the Second Vatican Council were important for "rediscovering the relevance of Jesus and of faith" today, and he echoed Cardinal-designate Dolan's call for a true renewal of catechesis to combat what has been defined as "religious illiteracy."
In his morning presentation, Cardinal-designate Dolan said that when Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, asked him to be the main presenter, he hinted that he did so because New York "might be the 'capital of secular culture.'"
"New York -- without denying its dramatic evidence of graphic secularism -- is also a very religious city," he said, where even those "who boast of their secularism" exhibit an openness to the divine and have questions about God.
While secularism "is invading every aspect of daily life," the New York prelate said, it also is true that most people, on some level, still question the ultimate meaning of life and still ponder the idea of God.
"Even a person who brags about being secular and is dismissive of religion has within an undeniable spark of interest in the beyond, and recognizes that humanity and creation is a dismal riddle without the concept of some kind of creator," he said.
The cardinal-designate said those people don't want to be considered objects of missionary activity, but Christians have an obligation to help them maintain their search for meaning in life.
Humility, joy and love are key to the success of the evangelization efforts of the church and its members, he said.
"Triumphalism in the church was dead" after the Second Vatican Council, he said, but "so was confidence."
Catholics recognize that they and their church need conversion, too, he said. And, they must be convinced that what they are sharing with others is not a doctrine, but the person of Jesus.
At the same time, because Jesus is the truth, Catholics must make a commitment "to combat catechetical illiteracy," he said.
"True enough, the new evangelization is urgent because secularism has often choked the seed of faith, but that choking was sadly made easy because so many believers really had no adequate knowledge or grasp of the wisdom, beauty and coherence of the truth," he said.
Cardinal-designate Dolan said that on the eve of receiving his red hat from the pope, he also had to speak of the fact that Christians are called to love and serve the church and their neighbors, even to the point of shedding their blood if necessary.
The cardinals, he said, "are but 'scarlet audiovisual aids' for all our brothers and sisters," who also are called "to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus."
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, did not release the names of the 27 cardinals who intervened in the discussion, but he summarized the points that were made. Several of the cardinals, he said, spoke about the difficulties evangelizing in their specific countries or cultures.
Mention was made of the growing number of Christians in China, "despite the difficulties," presumably with government control over religion; about interreligious dialogue and the fight against poverty in India; the important role of popular religious devotions for evangelization in Latin America; and about secularism's attempts to marginalize religion in the West.
Participants insisted on the importance of ecumenism for fostering a common Christian witness to the faith, on the continuing relevance of the Second Vatican Council as a guide for the church today and on the value of Christian joy and holiness for evangelization, he said.
EVANGELISTATION, YEAR OF FAITH, ECUMENISM: CENTRAL THEMES OF CARDINALS' DAY OF REFLECTION AND PRAYER
Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a communique released yesterday evening by the Holy See Press Office at the end of the day of reflection and prayer which brought together the members of the College of Cardinals in preparation for today's consistory.
"This afternoon, following the celebration of Vespers, the cardinals present continued to make their contributions. Counting both the morning and afternoon sessions, a total of twenty-seven talks were given, touching upon a wide range of subjects associated with new evangelisation and the Year of Faith.
"Attention was given to the problems of evangelisation in various parts of the world and in different cultures: The increasing numbers of Christians in China despite difficulties; inter-religious dialogue and the struggle against poverty in India; the trials faced by Christians in the countries of the Middle East; the importance of popular religiosity for evangelisation in Latin America; the challenge of secularism which tends to marginalise religion from social life in the West; challenges and difficulties as well as encouraging prospects and events that are signs of hope, such as new and vivacious ecclesiastical experiences like World Youth Days and International Eucharistic Congresses.
"Discussion also focused on the educational emergency, the renewal of catechesis, the transmission of faith to young people, the formation of evangelisers (lay people, religious and priests), and the importance of a mature faith capable of witness and discernment before the realities of today's world.
"Suggestions were made for the forthcoming Year of Faith. These included in-depth analyses to accompany the various periods of the liturgical year, encouraging pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Rome, and favouring new forms of popular mission.
"Emphasis was given to the ecumenical commitment of Christians in announcing their shared faith in Christ, the validity of Vatican Council II as a compass to guide the Church's journey today, the importance of bearing witness to Christian joy and sanctity, and the enduring fascination of the saints.
"Before praying the Angelus at around 7 p.m., the Holy Father concluded the session with some words of his own. He thanked the relators", cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Fisichella, "and all the participants. Their words had represented a 'broad mosaic of ideas and proposals', he said. The Pope also highlighted the importance Vatican Council II has for "rediscovering of the contemporary importance of Jesus and the faith". He underlined the need for an authentic renewal of catechesis in order to highlight its precious content of truth, and to react against what has been defined as 'religious illiteracy'. He reaffirmed the need for profound conviction of the truth of God's revelation in His Son Jesus Christ, because 'if there is no truth, we have no compass and do not know where to go', and 'only if there is truth can life be rich and beautiful". Without this conviction, 'we cannot re-evangelise humankind today'.
"Since God is love, truth is expressed in charity, and charity in turn "reveals the truth". The Pope concluded by saying that the motto of the Year of Faith could be summarised in the words: 'Living truth in charity'".
Saturday, February 18, 2012 2:18 PM
NEW CARDINALS MUST LOVE GOD, THE CHURCH AND THEIR FELLOW MAN
Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Basilica at 10.30 a.m. this morning, Benedict XVI celebrated the fourth ordinary public consistory of his pontificate, during which he created twenty-two new cardinals.
Following the opening prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel, the Holy Father pronounced his homily, extracts of which are given below:
"'Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam'. ... With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public consistory. ... They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter - the Rock - in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God".
"The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. ... In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, Who for love of Christ gave Himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice will be an example".
"It is with this meaning that the placing of the red biretta is also to be understood. The new cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for His Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the colour of their robes. Furthermore, they are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs. They are to be eminent servants of the Church that finds in Peter the visible foundation of unity.
"In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed there is offered a model to imitate and to follow. ... Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world".
Today's Gospel reading in which James and John asked Christ to be allowed to sit with Him in His glory, one on His right and one on His left, "gives Jesus a way to address each of the disciples and 'to call them to Himself', almost to pull them in, to form them into one indivisible body with Him, and to indicate which is the path to real glory, that of God: 'You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all'.
"Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: He does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but He lives it in His own flesh. He explains, in fact, 'For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many'. These words shed light upon today’s public Consistory with a particular intensity. They resound in the depths of the soul and represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.
"According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the One Who receives power and dominion from God. Jesus interprets His mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering servant, described in Isaiah. ... His service is realised in total faithfulness and complete responsibility towards mankind. In this way the free acceptance of His violent death becomes the price of freedom for many, it becomes the beginning and the foundation of the redemption of each person and of the entire human race.
"Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals, may Christ’s total gift of self on the Cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity. May your mission in the Church and the world always be 'in Christ' alone, responding to His logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord. On the ring which I will soon place on your finger, are represented Sts. Peter and Paul, and in the middle a star which evokes the Mother of God. Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two Apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful. The example of the Virgin Mother will always be for you an invitation to follow her who was strong in faith and a humble servant of the Lord".
"Dear brothers and sisters, pray that [the new cardinals'] lives will always reflect the Lord Jesus, our sole Shepherd and Teacher, Source of every hope, Who points out the path to everyone. And pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand".
Following his homily the Pope pronounced the the formula of creation of the new cardinals, their names and the diaconate or presbyteral order to which they have been assigned. The new cardinals then recited the Creed and swore their faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors. They then received their biretta and ring from the hands of the Pope who also assigned them their title or diaconate.
Following the ceremony Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, introduced the ordinary public consistory for the canonisation of the following blesseds: Jacques Berthieu, French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits); Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay catechist and martyr; Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and of the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord; Maria del Carmen (nee Maria Salles y Barangueras), Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching; Maria Anna Cope (nee Barbara), German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A.; Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman, and Anna Schaffer, German laywoman. The Holy Father has decreed that the canonisation ceremony will take place on Sunday 21 October. The consistory concluded with the apostolic blessing.
TITULAR AND DIACONATE CHURCHES OF THE NEW CARDINALS
Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - Following are the names of the twenty-two new cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI in this morning's consistory, and the titular or diaconate churches he assigned to them:
- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, diaconate of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio.
- Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman.
- Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, diaconate of San Ponziano.
- Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, diaconate of San Cesareo in Palatio.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, diaconate of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia.
- Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.
- Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, diaconate of Sant’Elena fuori Porta Prenestina.
- Cardinal Edwin Frederick O'Brien, diaconate of San Sebastiano al Palatino.
- Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, diaconate of Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, diaconate of Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio.
- Cardinal George Alencherry, title of San Bernardo alle Terme.
- Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, title of San Patrizio.
- Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., title of Santi Marcellino e Pietro.
- Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, title of San Callisto.
- Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, title of San Marcello.
- Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, title of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario.
- Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, title of San Giovanni Maria Vianney.
- Cardinal John Tong Hon, title of Regina Apostolorum.
- Cardinal Lucian Muresan, title of Sant’Atanasio.
- Cardinal Julien Ries, diaconate of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia.
- Cardinal Prosper Grech, O.S.A., diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti.
- Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J., diaconate of San Giuliano Martire.
COMPOSITION OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS
Vatican City, 18 February 2012 (VIS) - With the creation of twenty-two new cardinals in this morning's consistory, the College of Cardinals now has 213 members of whom 125, being under the age of eighty, are eligible to vote in an eventual conclave for the election of a new Pope. The non electors, that is cardinals over the age of eighty and ineligible to vote in a conclave, now number 88.
Benedict XVI has created eighty-four cardinals in the four consistories of his pontificate.
The current members of the College of Cardinals come from seventy-one States, distributed as follows: Europe 119, North America (U.S.A. and Canada) 21, Latin America 32, Africa 17, Asia 20 and Oceania 4.
Meet the press: New US cardinals share quips, serious reflections
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Feb. 18, 2012
ROME (CNS) -- Dressed in red from head to toe -- well, almost -- the two new U.S. cardinals met the press after the consistory Feb. 18, sharing humorous quips and serious reflections.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York warned photographers not to take pictures of his feet because, he said, "I forgot to put on my red socks."
Meeting the media at Rome's Pontifical North American College before a reception, both Cardinal Dolan and Cardinal Edwin F. O'Brien, grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, said the first thing on their minds as they walked up to Pope Benedict XVI to receive their red hats was not to trip and fall.
An Italian newspaper writer had described Cardinal Dolan as a possible candidate for pope one day.
Asked about that, Cardinal O'Brien said, "His mother thinks so."
But Cardinal O'Brien added that, given Cardinal Dolan's position as archbishop of New York and especially given the brilliance of his presentation on new evangelization Feb. 17 to the College of Cardinals, the New York prelate is bound to be given special responsibilities in the universal church.
Cardinal Dolan also was asked about being "papabile" -- "pope-able" in Italian -- and he laughed it off, claiming -- in Italian -- that he did not understand the question.
The two U.S. cardinals had both served as rectors of the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome.
After the consistory, the halls and courtyard of the seminary were filled with thousands of well-wishers.
Msgr. James F. Checchio, the current rector, said, "To have two former rectors naturally brings out great numbers of people. But mostly it's because of who they are, two great men. And the weather's cooperated. We were planning on putting everyone inside, but were able to fit hundreds of people in the courtyard" because the weather turned warm and sunny.
Cardinal O'Brien, who continues to administer the Baltimore Archdiocese until his successor is named, said the consistory was a reminder that every Catholic -- whether lay or ordained -- has a responsibility for the whole church and not just for one parish or diocese.
Asked about his titular church, St. Sebastian on the Palatine Hill, Cardinal O'Brien said he tried to visit it "the other day -- but it was locked."
The church, whose foundations date back at least to the 10th century, stands amid the ruins of imperial Roman residences. It was built on the site of ancient Rome's Temple of the Unconquered Sun and is believed to be the site of St. Sebastian's martyrdom in the third century.
While "one hopes it doesn't happen too soon," the most important task of a Catholic cardinal is to elect a new pope, Cardinal O'Brien said. "It's a weighty responsibility and always in the back of one's mind."
Before the consistory, he said, he had "three quiet days" to pray and reflect, which was important because the details involved in getting red robes, planning pilgrimages and gatherings with friends "can get in the way, clouding and distorting the whole thing."
Cardinal O'Brien said the ceremony and the pope's remarks underlined that becoming a cardinal "is not a reward, it brings on greater responsibilities -- something the pope experiences every day" in his ministry to the universal church.
When the cardinal knelt before the pope, he said, "I thanked him; I said I'd serve him completely with my whole heart."
Cardinal Dolan said that when he knelt before the pope, the pope thanked him again for his presentation to the College of Cardinals. "I said thank you for this, I'm the one who is grateful," he said.
"The Gospel and the homily were very sobering," he said, because they recalled the words of Jesus that "we're not in it for the prestige, we're not in it for the honor, we're not in it for the glory. We're in it to serve."
Cardinal Dolan said he was reading the Gospel story of the devil tempting Christ and said to himself, "Dolan, you've got temptations galore. I've always had them and now I've got one more -- to let this go to my head literally. And you can't because it's all about humility, and it's all about service and love and being close to God and his people."
The cardinal said another eye-opening moment was sitting next to Cardinal John Tong Hon of Hong Kong during the consistory and listening to him at the Feb. 17 cardinals' meeting talk about the struggles of being a Christian in China. Several of the cardinals in the room have experienced oppression or persecution "and they know what this red means," he said, referring to his robes, reminders of the call to serve even to the point of giving one's life.
He also told reporters that he has no choice but to be himself.
"The Italians say you make gnocchi with the dough you've got. Lord knows I've got a lot of dough," Cardinal Dolan said, holding his stomach, "so you just keep at it."
Cardinal Dolan's titular church in Rome is Our Lady of Guadalupe, a church consecrated in 1932. Unlike Cardinal O'Brien's church, Our Lady of Guadalupe was open when he visited. And the priest told Cardinal Dolan about the leaky roof, the cracked walls and the broken heater.
"I said, 'Look, I could have stayed home for that,'" he said.
Sunday, February 19, 2012 2:38 PM
Pope celebrates Mass with new Cardinals, prays Angelus with faithful
Feb. 19, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI was the principal celebrant at Mass on Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica, with the twenty-two Cardinals he created the day before during the course of an Ordinary Public Consistory he had called for just that purpose. In his homily, the Holy Father stressed the centrality of the Petrine ministry – the special office of care and responsibility for the whole Church everywhere in the world, which the Bishop of Rome exercises in virtue of his being the Successor to St. Peter. Focusing on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which was moved forward to Sunday from its usual calendar place on February 22nd, since this coming February 22nd is Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father explained:
Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi. The magisterial chair also reminds us of the words spoken to Peter by the Lord during the Last Supper: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”
Describing the great chair present in the Basilica behind the High Altar, Pope Benedict noted that it is supported by the Fathers of the Church – symbolically represented in statues that bear the chair. “The two Eastern masters, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Athanasius, together with the Latins, Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the one Church,” said Pope Benedict. “This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith.”
“Indeed,” said Pope Benedict, “faith is oriented towards love.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,” he said, “the gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives.”
“This,” he told the new Cardinals, “is your task in particular: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love.”
It was a theme to which the Holy Father returned in his Angelus address to the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the occasion. “Dear friends,” he said before the ancient prayer of Marian devotion, “we entrust the new Cardinals to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, asking that she always assist them in their service to the Church and sustain them in the trials,” they shall face.
The Holy Father asked that Mary, Mother of the Church, help him and his collaborators to work tirelessly for the unity of the People of God and to proclaim to all peoples the message of salvation, humbly and courageously serving the truth in love.
After the Angelus, Pope Benedict had greetings for the faithful in many languages, including English:
I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially those accompanying the new Cardinals. In today’s Gospel, Jesus grants healing and life in body and soul in response to faith. May we too believe and trust in Christ, and seek from him both forgiveness of sin and the power to live a new life of grace. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Catholic Church only exists to unite God and man, Pope teaches
Vatican City, Feb 19, 2012 / 01:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the presence of 22 cardinals who were elevated yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Catholic Church only exists for the purpose of bringing people to Jesus and not for her own sake.
“The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above,” he said Feb. 19 to a packed St. Peter’s Basilica.
“The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital ‘O,’ to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads.”
The Pope made his remarks in his homily for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter.
Dwelling upon the Gospel passage in which Peter proclaims Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the Pope explored the significance of Christ’s response that Peter would be “the rock” upon which the Church was built.
The Pope explained how the old covenant between God and the Jewish people was first made with Abraham, of whom the Prophet Isaiah writes, “look to the rock from which you were hewn ... look to Abraham your father.”
Therefore, just as Abraham “the father of believers” is seen as “the rock that supports creation,” so too is Peter the basis for a new covenant. He is “the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.”
The Pope then turned his gaze towards Bernini’s 17th-century bronze sculpture, the Chair of Peter, which dominates the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica.
He described it as an “enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of the great Fathers of the Church from East and West.” Above it, he noted, are “triumphant angles suspended in the air” and the “glory of the Holy Spirit” depicted in the oval window above. Given today’s feast, the sculpture was adorned with 144 burning candles.
Pope Benedict proposed that the statue “represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.”
The Church “is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world,” where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him, the Pope explained.
The Church “has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.”
Inside the magnificent bronze throne is a wooden chair which was thought for many centuries to have belonged to St. Peter himself but was later discovered to be a 9th century gift to the Pope from the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles the Bald.
“Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi,” said Pope Benedict.
He also described it as a visible reminder of the famous expression of the early Church Father, Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who described the Church of Rome as “she that ‘presides in charity’.”
“In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith,” he said.
To “preside in charity,” the Pope taught, “is to draw men and women into a Eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences.”
Pope Benedict also reflected on the importance of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture for the Petrine ministry. It is Sacred Scripture, interpreted with the authority of the Catholic Church and “in the light” of the Church Fathers, which sheds “light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history,” he said.
Therefore, he concluded, by considering the Altar of the Chair “in its entirety” we can see “twofold movement” of “ascending and descending” which depicts “the reciprocity between faith and love.”
“Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist,” he stated, “discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift.”
“True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love,” just as “the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica.”
Pope Benedict later returned to similar reflections after Mass as he addressed pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus address, which he delivered from the window of his apartment.
“The Chair of St. Peter,” he told them, “is a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his successors to shepherd the flock of Christ, holding it together in faith and charity.”
Before praying the midday Marian prayer, he entrusted the new cardinals “to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, asking that she always assist them in their service to the Church and sustain them in any trials they may face.”
I missed this article yesterday. It makes a couple of interesting points.
Benedict XVI stifles rumours regarding his resignation
In his speech to newly created cardinals, Ratzinger indirectly denied speculations regarding resignations
Feb. 19, 2012
“Pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand.” The Pope that imposed the red biretta on the 22 new cardinals yesterday morning was gentle but firm, concluding his speech with a message that seemed to indirectly deny his forthcoming resignation. A number of people have been hinting at his resignation, particularly since the tensions in the Vatican, the leaked documents and the poisonous comments going round in an attempt to discredit one cardinal or another. All this portrays the Vatican as a place rife with scheming and people dossier fights. “It is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory,” Benedict XVI repeated to the College of Cardinals, pointing out a different path yet again.
When Ratzinger was elected Pope, he said: “My real government programme is not to do as I wish or pursue my ideas, but to listen, along with the whole Church, to the word and will of the Lord and let myself be guided by him, allowing him to lead the Church at this moment in time in history.” He was trying to point out a truly evangelical way of exercising authority, but his words were interpreted as the plan of a theologian Pope who was trying to “fly high” leaving the reins of government to his collaborators. The poison that has been poured in recent weeks and the extent to which it has attracted the attention of international public opinion seem to indicate that the Pope’s message was not heeded.
The cardinals who met in Rome in recent days have discussed the situation in which the Curia finds itself and the resentment created over the past weeks. They have begun to talk about the next conclave, singling out three potential candidates for the papacy: the Canadian, Marc Ouellet, the Italian, Angelo Scola and the Argentinean, Leonardo Sandri. They also spoke about the need for the Secretariat of State to become less focused on purely Italian affairs.
The words pronounced by Benedict XVI, who is well aware of the situation, relativized the current context. The Pope does not intend to flee at the sight of his foes, wants to get back to the heart of things; he sees the Church as a community of faithful, praying and trying to get close to God, he does not see them as a political and cultural phalanx or as a group of people planning conquest strategies. When one looks at what is going on in the Holy See, the message regarding the human shortcomings of clerics that the then cardinal Ratzinger had pronounced during the Jubilee, still ring true today. He recalled Cardinal Consalvi’s (Secretary of State during the pontificate of St. Pius VII) response to an ambassador who informed him of Napoleon’s intention to destroy the Church: “He will never manage to destroy it. Even we were not able to.”
Monday, February 20, 2012 2:38 PM
Pope urges support for new Cardinals
Pope Benedict held the traditional post-consistory audience today with newly created Cardinals and the pilgrims and family members accompanying them.
Feb. 20, 2012
4 thousand people packed the Paul VI hall to hear the Holy Father’s greetings gathering in various delegations around the new Cardinals. Speaking first in Italian, Pope Benedict said “With great joy I meet you, relatives and friends of the newly created Cardinals, one day after the solemn celebration of the Consistory, in which these your beloved pastors were called to the College of Cardinals. This allows me the opportunity to extend my cordial greetings more directly and more intimately to all and, in particular, my congratulations and my best wishes to the new Cardinals. May the Consistory, an important and suggestive event, be for you all gathered here and for those who are related in various ways to the new Cardinals, a motive and incentive to gather with affection around them: May you feel ever closer to their hearts and their apostolic anxiety ; may you listen with lively hope to their words as Fathers and teachers. Be one with them and each other in faith and charity, to be more fervent and courageous witnesses of Christ”.
The Holy Father then proceeded to greet the various groups in different languages including English: “I am pleased to extend a warm greeting to the English-speaking Prelates whom I had the joy of raising to the dignity of Cardinal in Saturday’s Consistory: Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars (India); Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto (Canada); Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York (the United States of America); Cardinal John Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong (the People’s Republic of China); Cardinal Prosper Grech, O.S.A., Emeritus Professor of various Roman Universities and Consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”.
He concluded: “I also extend a cordial welcome to the family members and friends who join them today. I ask you to continue to support the new Cardinals by your prayers as they take up their important responsibilities in the service of the Apostolic See”.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 2:35 AM
Journalist chronicles a day in the life of Pope Benedict
Vatican City, Feb 20, 2012 / 12:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI, at age 84, never goes to sleep before 11:00 p.m., prays the Rosary every day, gets up at 5:00 a.m. and uses a cell phone only accessible by his closest advisers.
In an article published online at Europaquotidiano.it on Feb. 17, Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli documents a day in life of the Pope, who wakes up when Vatican City “is still immersed in silence.”
Valli says the Bavarian pontiff is a “typical German, a methodic man” who “likes to organize his day down to the last detail, according to a very precise schedule.”
Benedict XVI begins his day by celebrating Mass in the papal chapel at 7:00 a.m., together with his two personal secretaries, Father Georg Ganswein and Father Alfred Xuereb.
Other members of the papal household who also attend the Mass include the Pope’s assistants – Carmela, Loredana, Cristina and Rosella – who are all consecrated women belonging to the Memores Domini community of the movement Communion and Liberation, as well as his personal valet, 46 year-old Paolo Gabriele, who is married and has three children.
After the Mass, which is always celebrated in Italian, Benedict XVI has breakfast at 8:00 a.m. and then heads to his study, where he remains working until 11:00 a.m. His office always has a crucifix and two phones, one of which is a cell phone with a number only accessible to his closest collaborators.
Valli says the Pope likes to stay informed of current events around the world and reads news reports in various languages, including German, Italian, English, French and Spanish. He also devotes some time to answering important correspondence.
Once finished with his morning work, the Pope holds meetings with visiting heads of state, ambassadors and other representatives on the second floor of the Apostolic Palace.
The meetings are usually held in the Papal Library, depending on the number of visitors and the solemnity of the occasion. The visits usually last for around two hours. On Wednesday, they are interrupted by the Pope’s General Audience, which takes place at the Paul VI Hall or at St. Peter’s Square.
At 1:30 p.m. the Holy Father has lunch with his two secretaries. Rarely do they ever have a guest, and the menu is usually Mediterranean. Benedict XVI never drinks wine, always orange juice, Valli says.
After lunch the Holy Father enjoys a short walk for no longer than 10 minutes together with his secretaries around the balconies of the Apostolic Palace “adorned with lemon and orange trees and that provide a splendid view of Rome.” On these walks there is usually no talking about work.
The Pope rests for one hour and at 3:30 p.m. he returns to his study. He devotes the rest of the afternoon to writing documents, speeches and homilies. He does not use computers but writes everything by hand, and afterwards his texts are transcribed and translated.
Valli says the pontiff is an “extremely careful” writer who enjoys “retreating into his study to write in peace, with personal control over his sources by consulting his vast personal library.”
At 5:30 p.m. he signs documents prepared for his signature by his secretaries and then meets with some of his closest collaborators, such as Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, and others.
The Pope then goes downstairs to take another walk, this time in the Vatican Gardens. He is usually joined by one or both of his secretaries and they pray the rosary before a replica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
A light dinner is usually served at 7:30 p.m. At 8:00 p.m. the Pope returns to his study and later goes to the chapel for night prayers.
He “never goes to bed before 11:00 p.m.,” Valli writes. “All the proof you need is to just walk through St. Peter’s Square around that time and see what time the light is shut off in the window of the top floor of the Apostolic Palace.”
That’s when the entire Vatican City shuts down for the night, except for the security guards and a few engineers, Valli says.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 3:10 PM
LENT, A TIME TO SHOULDER OUR CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITIES
Vatican City, 22 February 2012 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning, the Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to the subject of Lent (which begins today, Ash Wednesday), the period of forty days leading up to the Easter Triduum, memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Benedict XVI reminded the 7,500 pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Hall that, in the early days of the Church, Lent was a time in which catechumens began their journey of faith and conversion prior to receiving Baptism. Later, all the faithful were invited to participate in this period of spiritual renewal. Thus "the participation of the whole community in the various stages of the Lenten journey underlines an important dimension of Christian spirituality: the fact that redemption is available not just for the few, but for everyone, thanks to Christ's death and resurrection".
"The time leading up to Easter is a time of 'metanoia', a time of change and penance, a time which identifies our human lives and our entire history as a process of conversion, which begins to move now in order to meet the Lord at the end of time".
The Church calls this period "Quadragesima", a period of forty days which has precise references in Holy Scripture. Indeed, "forty is the symbolic number with which the Old and New Testaments represent the most important moments of the People of God's experience of faith. It is a figure which expresses a time of expectation, purification, return to the Lord, awareness that God is faithful to His promises; ... a time within which we must make our choice, shoulder our responsibilities without further delay. It is a time for mature decisions".
Noah spent forty days in the Ark during the Flood, then had to wait forty days more before he could return to dry land. Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai to collect the Commandments. The Jewish People spent forty years wandering in the desert, then enjoyed forty years of peace under the government of the Judges. The inhabitants of Niniveh made forty days penance to obtain God's forgiveness. The reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, the first kings of Israel, lasted forty years each. In the New Testament, Jesus spent forty days praying in the wilderness before beginning His public life and, following the resurrection, He spent forty days instructing His disciples before ascending to heaven.
The liturgy of Lent, the Pope explained, "has the aim of facilitating our journey of spiritual renewal in the light of this long biblical experience. Above all, it helps us to imitate Jesus Who, in the forty days He spent in the wilderness, taught us to overcome temptation through the Word of God. ... Jesus went into the wilderness in order to be in profound contact with the Father. This was a constant aspect of Christ's earthly life. He always sought out moments of solitude to pray to His Father and abide in intimate and exclusive communion with Him, before retuning among mankind. But in the 'wilderness' ... Jesus was beset by temptation and the seduction of the Evil One, who suggested a messianic path, a path which was far from God's plans because it involved power, success and dominion, not love and the total gift of self on the Cross".
Benedict XVI went on to suggest that the Church herself is a pilgrim in the "wilderness" of the world and history. This wilderness is made up of "the aridity and poverty of words, life and values, of secularism and the culture of materialism which enclose people within a worldly horizon and detach them from any reference to transcendence. In such an atmosphere the sky above us is dark, because veiled with clouds of selfishness, misunderstanding and deceit. Nonetheless, even for the Church today, the wilderness can become a period of grace, because we have the certainty that even from the hardest rock God can cause the living water to gush forth, water which quenches thirst and restores strength".
"During Lent", said the Holy Father in conclusion, "may we discover fresh courage to accept situations of difficulty, affliction and suffering with patience and faith, aware that, from the darkness, the Lord will cause a new day to shine forth. And if we have been faithful to Jesus, following Him on the way of the Cross, the luminous world of God, the world of light, truth and joy, will be ours again".
At the end of the catechesis Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in various languages. Speaking Polish he highlighted how "fasting and prayer, penance and works of mercy" are the principal means of preparation for Easter.
The Pope also addressed a special greeting to faithful of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who were present in the Paul VI Hall. The ordinariate was set up a little over a year ago for groups of Anglican clergy and faithful wishing to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. The general audience ended with the apostolic blessing.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 1:16 AM
Lenten ashes are call to repentance, humility, pope says at Mass
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Feb. 22, 2012
ROME (CNS) -- Receiving ashes at the beginning of Lent is a call to repentance and humility and a sign that believers know that death will not have the final word in their lives, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The pope's Ash Wednesday Mass Feb. 22 was preceded by a procession from Rome's Church of St. Anselm to the Church of Santa Sabina. Unlike last year, when Pope Benedict walked the block between the two churches, this year he rode in a golf cart modified to be a mini-popemobile.
Pope Benedict, 84, has been using a mobile platform to process into St. Peter's Basilica since last October. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said then that use of the platform was to help the pope conserve his energy and that Pope Benedict had no serious health problems.
During Wednesday's Mass, the pope received ashes on his head from retired Slovakian Cardinal Jozef Tomko, the cardinal-priest of Santa Sabina.
Before receiving and distributing ashes, Pope Benedict gave a homily focused on the meaning of ashes and of the admonition from the Book of Genesis, "You are dust and to dust you shall return."
In the Catholic liturgy, ashes are "one of those material signs that bring the cosmos into the liturgy," he said. They recall both the fact that God created human beings out of the dust of the earth and breathed divine life into them, but also that after Adam and Eve sinned, God cursed the ground and made it bring forth thistles and thorns, the pope said.
With their sin, "the dust of the earth no longer recalls the creative gesture of God, completely open to life, but becomes a sign of the inescapable destiny of death," he said.
While God punishes people for their sins, the pope said, his punishment is "medicinal" because God is good and loving.
"Along with the just punishment, he also intends to announce a path of salvation that passes precisely through the earth, through that dust, that flesh" taken on by Jesus and given up on the cross for the sins of all, he said.
Distributing ashes is "an invitation to repentance, to humility, to remembering one's own moral condition, not in order to end up in desperation, but in order to welcome -- precisely in our mortality -- the unimaginable nearness of God," the pope said.
While all men and women will die, God "opens the passage to the resurrection (and) to paradise finally rediscovered," he said.
God sent his son "to our earth devastated by sin" so that "we, prodigal sons and daughters, could return repentant and redeemed by his mercy to our true homeland" in heaven, Pope Benedict said.
Santa Sabina is the "station church" for the first day of Lent. The assigning of a Rome church to a set day during Lent goes back to the fourth century when the pope would move around the city, celebrating Mass in different churches during Lent and on holy days as a sign of the unity of all the city's Catholics.
Thursday, February 23, 2012 2:30 PM
Pope: Lenten meeting with Roman clergy
Feb. 23, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI met with the pastors of Roman parishes on Thursday in Paul VI hall, where he led them in lectio Divina based on a reading from the beginning of the 4th chapter of the Letter of St. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians, and gave them a guidebook to the spiritual life specially prepared for priests of the diocese.
The spiritual centrepiece of this year’s traditional annual Lenten meeting with the clergy of Rome was lectio Divina – the ancient practice of prayerful reading from scripture, followed by prayerful reflection and exposition of the passage.
The Holy Father chose the first sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians as his text - text that begins with an exhortation to holiness of life:
I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called, with all humility and mildness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. (Eph. 4:1-2)
In his reflections on the passage, which he offered without any prepared remarks, Pope Benedict focused on a pair of major areas of concern: the first was the lack of attentiveness toward the voice of the Lord that calls, which he described as a source of great suffering for the Church in our time, in both the East and the West; the second was religious illiteracy, which he called a serious problem, and one he appealed to parish priests to combat by doing everything they can to make Christ known, exhorting everyone to a recovery of the content of the Faith.
Finally, the Holy Father presented the priests of his diocese with a text titled, “Chosen by God for Men” – a text published by the Pauline Press with a presentation by the Cardinal-vicar of the Rome diocese, Agostino Vallini, intended as a guide to the spiritual life for Roman priests, “so that they might grow in the joy of their common vocation and in the unity of the priesthood.”
Chapter and verse: Pope uses Bible reflection to address 'his' priests
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
Feb. 23, 2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Speaking 38 minutes without a prepared text, Pope Benedict XVI gave priests of the Diocese of Rome a look not only at how he approaches Scripture, but also at his priorities and personality.
Addressing the Rome priests as "my clergy," the pope led them Feb. 23 in a reflection on faith, truth, hope and humility.
Sitting behind a table and talking without a text -- throwing in explanations of Greek words, Scriptural references and trends in modern theology -- the pope used Ephesians 4:1-16 as a framework for reflecting on the problems facing the church and on the way priests should respond to them.
Until last year, the pope's annual Lenten meeting with the Rome priests was an opportunity for them to ask him questions. But in 2011, he chose to move to the format of "lectio divina" -- reading a Scripture passage together and then going through it almost line by line to draw lessons and inspiration.
The question-and-answer format was used frequently by Blessed John Paul II in meetings with priests and seminarians, giving him a chance to hear their problems and concerns. At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Benedict kept up the tradition; but especially after the 2008 Synod of Bishops on the Bible, the pope began using the "lectio divina" format more often to let the Bible guide discussions with clerical groups.
The pope's talk to Rome priests and his off-the-cuff "lectio divina" sessions Feb. 15 with Rome seminarians and in September with seminarians in Germany included references to the Hebrew, Greek or Latin versions of the biblical passage, as well as the commentaries of ancient church fathers, especially St. Augustine.
Usually, aides prepare at least the initial draft of papal speeches and homilies, so the fact that the pope addressed the priests and seminarians without reading from a text gave them a greater sense of the way he thinks and approaches Scripture and the challenges facing the church.
The pope did not ignore the difficulties of being a priest today, but said he and his fellow priests must strive to live as St. Paul admonished the Ephesians, "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love."
The pope used the pronoun "we" throughout his speech, saying the way he and the priests live their lives will determine their ability to help others believe in Jesus and follow God's will.
"The great suffering of the church today in Europe and the West is the lack of priestly vocations. But the Lord always is calling, what is lacking is listening," the pope said. "We have listened to his voice," he told the priests, "and we must always be attentive to the Lord calling others, helping them listen and accept the call."
The church's pastors must imitate St. Paul's style in teaching and encouraging people, using "the loving invitation of a father or mother," and not "a moralistic admonition," Pope Benedict said.
Priests, bishops and even the pope also must be humble, which does not mean being a doormat, but accepting the fact that while "we are small" in the grand scheme of things -- "I am just one thought of God," he said -- God entrusts each person with a special gift for the good of the entire community.
"The little humiliations we endure day by day are salubrious," he said, because they help one maintain a balance between knowing he us unique and knowing he is just one of the billions of unique creatures God formed and called.
"To accept this, to learn this and accept my position in the church" means to recognize "my little service as something great in the eyes of God," he said.
"The absence of humility destroys unity," the pope said, because it feeds pride, competition, a search for power and the denial of the gifts of others.
Another major problem in the church today highlighted by the pope was "religious illiteracy," a lack of knowledge about what the church teaches and why.
"With this illiteracy we cannot grow, unity cannot increase. So we ourselves must recover this content as a richness for unity -- not as a package of dogmas and commandments, but as a unique reality that reveals itself through its depth and beauty," he said.
"We will renew the church only if we renew people's knowledge of the faith," he said, which is the chief reason why he said he proclaimed the Year of Faith and why it is important for Catholics to know the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The Letter to the Ephesians calls Christians to a mature faith, which many people today believe means being "emancipated" from the church and its teachings, the pope said. But without a firm anchor to the faith and knowledge of what it teaches, they are tossed by "the waves of the world, by the opinions of the world (and) by the dictatorship of the media."
Friday, February 24, 2012 2:26 PM
CHARITY, A PRIVILEGED FORM OF EVANGELISTATION
Vatican City, 24 February 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received members of the "Circolo di San Pietro" who gave him, as they traditionally do every year, the "Peter's Pence" collection which is raised annually in parishes and religious institutes of the diocese of Rome. The sum is offered to the Pope to help him respond to the many petitions that come to him from around the world, especially from the poorest countries.
Benedict XVI thanked the members of the group for their efforts in favour of the needy, including canteens for the poor, shelters and international aid, and he encouraged them to ensure that faith, charity and witness continue to be the guiding principles of their apostolate.
"Lent has just begun", the Pope noted, "a liturgical period which invites us to reflect upon the nucleus of Christian life: charity. ... The witness of charity has a particular effect upon the heart of mankind; the new evangelisation ... requires great openness of spirit and a sagacious readiness to accept everyone", he said.
The Holy Father highlighted how "the authenticity of our faithfulness to the Gospel may also be measured in terms of the concern and solicitude we effectively strive to show towards others, especially the weak and the marginalised. Concern for others involves wishing their good in all aspects: physical, moral, and spiritual. Although modern culture seems to have lost a sense of good and evil, we must reaffirm that goodness exists and it triumphs.
"Responsibility towards our fellows means, then, wanting and doing good for others, hoping that they too will open themselves to the logic of goodness", he added. "Concern for our brothers and sisters means opening our eyes to their needs, overcoming that hardness of heart which makes us blind to others' suffering. Thus the service of charity becomes a privileged form of evangelisation, also in the light of Jesus' teaching, Who will consider what we have done to our fellows, especially the smallest and weakest, as having been done to Him".
Concluding his address, Benedict XVI highlighted the need to "bring our hearts into harmony with Christ's heart, so that our loving support for others may be translated into participation and sharing of their suffering and hopes. This will reveal both God's infinite mercy for all mankind, ... and our own faith in Him. Meeting others and opening our hearts to their needs is an opportunity for salvation and beatitude".
The "Circolo di San Pietro" was founded in Rome in 1869 by a group of young people under the guidance of Cardinal Jacobini and delegated by the Pope to exercise charity towards the poor.
Saturday, February 25, 2012 3:29 PM
Pope: Facing infertility with care and hope
Feb. 25, 2012
“The Church pays great attention to the suffering of couples with infertility, she cares for them and, precisely because of this, encourages medical research.”, said Pope Benedict XVI, in his address Saturday to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Over the past week the Academy has gathered together experts from the world of medicine, scientific research, theology and philosophy to the Vatican to discuss infertility, how it is diagnosed, how it can be treated and how it impacts couples.
Pope Benedict said : “The human and Christian dignity of procreation, consists not in a "product", but in its connection with the conjugal act, an expression of love of the spouses, their union which is not only biological but also spiritual”.
He said: “This approach is moved not only from the desire to gift the couple a child, but to restore fertility to couple and with it all the dignity of being responsible for their own reproductive choices, to be God's collaborators in the generation of a new human being. The search for a diagnosis and therapy is scientifically the correct approach to the issue of infertility, but it must also be respectful of the integral humanity of those involved. In fact, the union of man and woman in that community of love and life that is marriage, is the only "place" worthy for the call into existence of a new human being, which is always a gift”.
But what happens when even science cannot provide the answer to a couples desire for parenthood? Here the Pope warned against what he described as “the lure of the technology of artificial insemination” where “scientism and the logic of profit seem to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation, to the point of limiting many other areas of research”.
The Holy Father noted that “So I would like to remind the couples who are experiencing the condition of infertility, that their vocation to marriage is no less because of this. Spouses, for their own baptismal and marriage vocation, are called to cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation to the gift of self and this is a possibility that no organic condition can prevent. There, where science has not yet found an answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ”.
Pope Benedict concluded: “I encourage all of you gathered here for these study days, and who sometimes work in a medical-scientific dimension where the truth is blurred: to continue on their journey of a science that is intellectually honest and fascinated by the constant research for the good of man", not forgetting in this intellectual journey, the dialogue with faith. Citing his appeal expressed in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope said that Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly. "(n. 28). On the other hand, precisely the cultural matrix created by Christianity - rooted in the affirmation of the existence of truth and intelligibility of reality in the light of Supreme Truth - has made the development of in modern scientific knowledge possible in medieval Europe, a knowledge that in earlier cultures had remained but a seed".
“Distinguished scientists and all of you members of the Academy who undertake to promote the life and dignity of the human person, also keep in mind your important cultural role in society and carry out the influence you have in shaping public opinion…people trust in you, who serve life, they trust in your commitment to support those who need comfort and hope. Never succumb to the temptation to treat what’s best for people by reducing it to a mere technical problem! The indifference of conscience to what is true and good, represents a dangerous threat to genuine scientific progress”.
Sunday, February 26, 2012 3:45 AM
Further details of Popes Lenten spiritual exercises revealed
Vatican City, Feb 25, 2012 / 11:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI’s spiritual exercises for Lent will include contemplative prayer and meditations on spiritual themes like the communion of the Christian with God.
Over seven consecutive days starting Sunday Feb. 26, the Pope and senior members of the Roman Curia will dramatically reduce their usual workload to make time for daily mini-retreats. They undertake the exercises collectively during the seasons of Advent and Lent with the aim of growing closer to Christ.
The titles of each of the seven days of mediations are: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”; “Communion and Life”; “Communion and Mercy”; “Breach of communion, sin”; “God is love”; “Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Prayer - The Holy Spirit”; and “Love and Faith.”
The meditation “God is Love” will explore themes like the death of a priest, penance and reconciliation, fraternal love, and the Virgin Mary as “Mother of Believers” who is “a model of communion with the Father and the Son.”
The Pope’s spiritual exercises will take place in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The theme is taken from the New Testament letter 1 John 1:3: “And our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.” This year the exercises will be guided by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa in the Congo.
The exercises begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Evening Prayer, and a meditation followed by adoration and Benediction. After that the daily routine will be see the first mediation begin at 9 a.m. after Morning Prayer. At 10:15 a.m. Mid-Morning Prayer will be followed by the day’s second mediation. The third and final mediation will then take place at 5 p.m. whereupon it will be followed by Evening Prayer, adoration and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Since 2007 the 72-year-old Cardinal Monsengwo has been Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 2010. He was a pivotal figure in the Congo’s transition from dictatorship to democracy in the 1990s and continues to be an outspoken critic of corruption in public life.
In recent years other notable clergy who have been invited to preach to the Pope during Lent have included the emeritus Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Marco Cé, the emeritus Archbishop of Bologna, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, and the French Discalced Carmelite and theologian Fr. François-Marie Léthel.
Sunday, February 26, 2012 2:52 PM
Pope: Lent, renewing our relationship with God
Feb. 26, 2012
“The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity”, said Pope Benedict XVI this Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus prayer with thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered beneath his study window in St Peter’s Square.
The Pope also asked for the prayers of the faithful in the coming week. Over the next seven days starting sundown Sunday evening, the Pope and cardinals of the Roman Curia begin their Lenten Spiritual Exercises.
Held in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, the theme for the week is “The communion of the Christian with God," taken from the First Letter of John: "And our fellowship is with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ" (I John 1.3). This year the exercises will be led by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo.
The exercises begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Evening Prayer, followed by meditation and adoration and Benediction. In the coming days, there will be the celebration of Lauds and the Terce each morning, followed by Vespers, adoration and Benediction in the evening. Saturday, March 3, there will be a final meditation at 9:00.
The titles of each of the seven days of mediations are: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit”; “Communion and Life”; “Communion and Mercy”; “Breach of communion, sin”; “God is love”; “Poverty, Chastity, Obedience and Prayer - The Holy Spirit”; and “Love and Faith.”
Pope Benedict XVI has no public or private appointments for the duration of the spiritual exercises. There will be no general audience this coming Wednesday.
Below a Vatican Radio Translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus reflections.
Dear brothers and sisters!
On this first Sunday of Lent, we find that Jesus, after having received baptism in the River Jordan from John the Baptist (cf. Mk 1.9), he is tempted in the desert(cf. Mk 1:12-13). The narrative of St. Mark's is concise, devoid of the details that we read in the other two Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The desert of which we speak has different meanings. It may indicate the state of abandonment and loneliness, the "place" of man's weakness where there are no supports and certainties, where temptation becomes stronger. But it may also indicate a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt, where we can experience the presence of God in a special way. Jesus " remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan" (Mk 1.13). St. Leo the Great says that "the Lord willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example" (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138 / A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215) .
What can this episode teach us? As we read in the Book of the Imitation of Christ, " as long as he lives, man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy" (Liber I, c. XIII , Vatican City 1982, 37), patience and humility to follow the Lord every day, learning to build our life not outside of Him or as if He did not exist, but in Him and with Him, because He is the source of true life. The temptation has always been present in human history to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.
Jesus proclaims that " This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand" (Mk 1.15), He announces that something new happens in Him: God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love, God becomes incarnate and enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God. But this proclamation is accompanied by a corresponding request for such a great gift. In fact, Jesus adds: "Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mk 1.15), it is an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good. The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity.
Let us fervently beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary to accompany us on our Lenten journey with her protection and may She help impress the words of Jesus Christ upon our hearts and in our life, to convert ourselves to Him. I also commend to your prayers the week of Spiritual Exercises that I begin this evening with my collaborators of the Roman Curia.
I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this moment of prayer. In these first days of Lent, I invite you to embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we do so, may the Lord accompany us, so that, at the end of Lent, we may worthily celebrate his victory on the cross. God bless all of you abundantly!
Stay close to Jesus to conquer temptation, Pope says
By David Kerr
Vatican City, Feb 26, 2012 / 07:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christ’s 40 days in the desert teaches Christians that temptations can be overcome in life if we stay close to Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said Feb. 26.
“Man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy,” the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus address, quoting Thomas à Kempis’ famous 15th century devotional work “The Imitation of Christ.”
The Pope addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the first Sunday of Lent, giving a reflection on St. Mark’s Gospel account of Christ’s forty days in the desert when he was tempted by Satan.
Pope Benedict, citing his fifth century predecessor St. Leo the Great, suggested that Jesus “willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example.”
The desert can be a place of “abandonment and loneliness” where temptation becomes stronger, he said. However, it can also indicate “a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt.” The desert is a place “where we can experience the presence of God in a special way.”
The patience and humility required to defeat “the enemy” come by following Christ every day and from “learning to build our life not outside of him or as if he did not exist, but in him and with him, because he is the source of true life,” the Pope continued.
In contrast to this is the temptation “to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.”
This is why in Jesus “God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love,” because God has now become incarnate and “enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God.”
In return for this “great gift” Jesus asks that each person “repent and believe in the Gospel.”
This request, explained the Pope, is “an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good.”
Lent is the perfect season to do this, he concluded, as it provides the ideal opportunity to “renew and strengthen our relationship with God” through daily prayer, acts of penance, and works of fraternal charity.
The Pope prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany and protect each pilgrim on his or her Lenten journey. He also asked for prayers for himself and for the Roman curia as they begin a seven-day Lenten retreat starting Sunday evening.
Monday, February 27, 2012 2:10 PM
News about the Pope will probably be pretty light this week.
SPIRITUAL EXERCISES OF THE POPE AND THE ROMAN CURIA
Vatican City, 26 February 2012 (VIS) - The Pope and the Roman Curia began their annual spiritual exercises this evening, the first Sunday of Lent.
This year's meditations are being directed by Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, who will focus on the theme of "the communion of Christians with God".
The exercises are being held in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, and will come to an end on Saturday 3 March. During the retreat all audiences are suspended, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 29 February.
Monday, February 27, 2012 4:38 PM
MY BROTHER THE POPE!Benefan and everyone: Please see my post on the Books About Benedict thread. I'm sure you'll all want to buy this and you can get it NOW!!!
Sorry I haven't been around, but my mind has been slightly elsewhere, though not a million miles from Papa at all, in fact very CLOSE to him! All being well I'll be going to Rome for part of Holy Week and Easter and I'll hope to report when I return. I went for Epiphany and all is well!
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 2:38 PM
BENEDICT XVI TO TRAVEL TO MILAN IN JUNE FOR WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES
Vatican City, 28 February 2012 (VIS) - The programme of the Holy Father's forthcoming trip to Milan, Italy, for the Seventh World Meeting of Families was published today. The meeting is due to last from Tuesday 29 May to Sunday 3 June and will have as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration". Benedict XVI will be present for the last three days.
The Holy Father will arrive at Milan's Linate airport at 5 p.m. on Friday 1 June, where he will be welcomed by the local authorities. At 5.30 p.m. he is due to meet citizens in the Piazza del Duomo and deliver an address. At 7.30 p.m. he will visit La Scala opera house where a concert is scheduled to be held in his honour.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday 2 June the Holy Father will celebrate Lauds and pronounce a meditation in the cathedral of Milan, in the company of priests and religious. He will then travel by car to the city's San Siro stadium for a meeting with young people who are due to receive Confirmation this year. In the afternoon Benedict XVI is due to deliver an address before the local authorities. At 8.30 p.m. he will move on to Milan's Parco Nord for the Feast of Testimonies of the World Meeting of Families.
On Sunday 3 June, Benedict XVI will preside at a concelebration of the Eucharist, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the Parco Nord. After praying the Angelus he will return to the archbishopric where, that afternoon, he will meet with members of the "Milano Famiglie 2012" foundation and with the organisers of his visit. At 5.30 p.m. the Holy Father will bid farewell to the authorities at Linate airport before boarding his return flight to Rome.
The World Meetings of Families trace their origins back to 1981 when Blessed John Paul II promulgated the Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris consortio" and established the Pontifical Council for the Family. The first meeting was held in Rome in 1994 and they have been taking place every three years since then. Their purpose is to celebrate the divine gift of family, to bring families together to pray, and to increase understanding of the role of the Christian family as a domestic Church and the basic cell of evangelisation.
Thursday, March 01, 2012 2:58 PM
As always, when Benedict writes about Jesus, it is with deep, personal insight, great love, and beauty.
JESUS, OUR CONTEMPORARY
Vatican City, 1 March 2012 (VIS) - A congress organised by the Cultural Project Committee of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) was held recently in Rome on the theme: "Jesus, Our Contemporary". For the occasion, Benedict XVI sent a message to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the CEI.
"The name and the message of Jesus of Nazareth", the Pope writes, "frequently arouse interest and exert strong attraction, even among people who do not succeed in adhering to His word of salvation. We are therefore impelled to evoke an increasingly profound and thorough understanding, in ourselves and everywhere, of the real figure of Jesus Christ. This can only spring from the hermeneutic of faith, placed in a fruitful relationship with historical reason. It was for this purpose that I wrote my two books on Jesus of Nazareth".
"On several occasions in the course of my pontificate, I have recalled the need to give priority to opening a pathway to God in human hearts and lives. ... We cannot entrust our lives to an indefinite superior body or to a cosmic force, but to God Whose face as Father has been made familiar by the Son, 'full of grace and truth'. Jesus is the key that opens the door of wisdom and love to us, that dispels our loneliness and keeps hope alive in the face of the mystery of evil and death. The life of Jesus of Nazareth, in Whose name many believers in various countries of the world today still face suffering and persecution, cannot therefore be confined to a distant past but is crucial to our faith today.
"What does it mean", the Pope adds, "to say that Jesus of Nazareth, Who lived between Galilee and Judea two thousand years ago is a 'contemporary' of every man and woman alive today, and in every epoch? Romano Guardini explains it to us in words that remain as timely as when they were written: 'His earthly life entered into eternity and in this way is related to every hour of earthly time, redeemed by His sacrifice'".
"Jesus enters human history forever, where He lives on in all His beauty and power in that frail body which is the Church, ever in need of purification but also full of divine love. To Him she turns in the liturgy, to praise Him and to receive authentic life. The contemporaneity of Jesus is revealed in a special way in the Eucharist, in which He is present with His passion, death and resurrection. It is this that makes the Church contemporaneous with every human being, capable of embracing all people and all epochs because she is guided by the Holy Spirit in order to perpetuate the work of Jesus in history".
Friday, March 02, 2012 2:28 PM
THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH: MASTERS OF FAITH
Vatican City, 2 March 2012 (VIS) - The Prefecture of the Pontifical Household yesterday made known the theme of this year's Lenten sermons which, as is customary, will be preached on four consecutive Fridays in the presence of the Pope, beginning on 9 March. That theme, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, is: "Remember your leaders and imitate their faith. The Fathers of the Church: Masters of Faith". The Holy Father and the Roman Curia are currently dedicating the first week of Lent to their annual spiritual exercises.
In the note released by the prefecture, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa O.F.M. Cap., preacher of the Pontifical Household, explains that "in preparation for the Year of Faith called by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, the four Lenten sermons will seek to energise and refresh our beliefs through a renewed contact with 'giants of faith' of the past". Each week's sermon will be dedicated to one of four great doctors of the Eastern Church: St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Gregory Nyssen, "to see what each of them has to say to us today about the dogma they championed, respectively: the divinity of Christ, the Holy Spirit, the Trinity and knowledge of God".
Quoting words of Servant of God Paul VI, Fr. Cantalamessa notes that "returning to the Fathers of the Church is part of that return to the roots of Christianity without which it would be impossible to undertake biblical renewal, liturgical reform and the new theological research endorsed by Vatican Council II".
The sermons will be held at 9 a.m. in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Saturday, March 03, 2012 2:50 PM
Pope concludes week of spiritual exercises
March 3, 2012
In remarks concluding a week of spiritual exercises here at the Vatican under the theme “the communion of Christians with God”, Pope Benedict thanked the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya for his guidance over the last number of days.
The Pope said he enjoyed in particular how the Cardinal peppered his meditations with beautiful stories from his beloved Africa.
The Holy Father added, that he was particularly impressed by a story the Cardinal recounted about a friend who had been in a coma.
While in a coma, the man had the impression of being in a dark tunnel, until finally, he saw a little light and heard beautiful music.
This story, said Pope Benedict could be a parable of our own lives in which sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place, but it is by faith that we see the light and hear beautiful music and feel the heavenly present of God.
The Holy Father also wrote a personal letter to the Cardinal thanking him for leading the retreat.
In the letter, Pope Benedict said, that a source of real joy for him was being able to grasp through the Cardinal the faith, hope and love of the church on the continent of Africa.
The Pope added that the spiritual patrimony of the African church was a huge asset especially when viewed the context of the new evangelization.
Sunday, March 04, 2012 2:35 PM
Jesus is the light that never fades
March 4, 2012
On this second Sunday of Lent, Pope Benedict began his day with a visit to the Roman parish of John the Baptist de la Salle, south of the capital. The Holy Father celebrated mass and met parishioners including a group of children. He told them to learn about Jesus, the things he did, said and how he suffered. He also told them to learn about the church and the sacraments.
Sunday 4th of March is also the feast of the Transfiguration and on his return to the Vatican Pope Benedict focused on this event during is Angelus address.
The Pope explained to those gathered in St Peter’s Square that there are essential elements involved when Jesus is transfigured before the apostles, they are the light and the voice: the divine light that shines on the face of Jesus, and the voice of the Heavenly Father who speaks to him.
The Holy Father went on to say that with the mystery of the Transfiguration Jesus is being directed toward the fulfillment of his mission, knowing that in order to attain resurrection, he will undergo suffering and death on a cross.
The Pope also explained that Jesus takes his friends with him to the mountain because he wants to give them the most intimate experience of this light, dwelling in Him, so that after this event, he will be their inner light, and will be able to protect them from the assaults of darkness.
Jesus is the light that never goes out said the Pope Benedict.
Following the recitation of the Angelus the Pope spoke to the faithful in an number of languages.
In English, the Holy Father expressed the hope that those sacrifices made during Lent would lead people to experience an renewal of the light of Christ.
Benedict XVI: ‘Do not be ashamed to be Christian’
VATICAN INSIDER STAFF
March 4, 2012
‘Don’t be ashamed to be Christian’: this was one of the messages the Pope wished to send out today during the Angelus, words spoken in French while welcoming French pilgrims. ‘Don’t be ashamed to be Christian and observe Lent where you live,’ he told them.
‘Jesus is the light that never fades, He is the light that protects us from the assaults of darkness.’ Benedict XVI stressed this during the Angelus celebrated in St. Peter’s Square after visiting the Roman parish of Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in Rome’s Torrino district, earlier in the morning. The Pope said that ‘this Sunday, the second in Lent, is also the feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. In fact, the liturgy during the Lenten period – after inviting us to follow Jesus into the desert in order to face and conquer temptations with him – invites us to climb the “mountain” of prayer with him and contemplate the glorious light of God on his human face.’
According to the evangelists, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him. The Pope explained: ‘Jesus hopes that divine light will illuminate their hearts when they experience the total darkness of his Passion and death, when the scandal of the cross will be unbearable for them. God is light and Jesus wishes to give his closest friends a taste of that light that lives in Him.’
Ratzinger went on to say: ‘Thus, after this event, he became an inner light within them, able to protect them from the assaults of darkness. Even in the darkest night, Jesus is the light that never goes out. Saint Augustine was to summarise this mystery with a wonderful phrase: “What the eyes of the flesh see as the visible sun, such is [Christ] for the eyes of the heart.” Dear brothers and sisters, we all need inner light to overcome the trials of life. This light comes from God and Christ is the one who gives it to us, He who is the source of all divine fullness.’
Upon his arrival at the parish church of Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, in the southern suburbs of Rome, Ratzinger responded to the cheers of the thousands of children assembled there with these words: ‘Dear children, have a good Sunday, it is a great joy to see you here. Your presence tells us that Rome lives and will go on living tomorrow.’
During his sermon in the parish, the Pontiff invited listeners to ‘overcome that religious illiteracy which is one of the biggest problems we face today.’ Our meeting with Christ ‘is not just a personal event: do not wait for others to bring you different messages that do not lead to true life, but make yourselves Christ’s missionaries to your brothers where they live, work, study or simply spend their free time.’
‘It is in personal and communal prayer,’ said Benedict XVI, ‘that we meet the Lord not just as an idea or moral example but as a Person who wants to come into contact with us, who wants to be our friend and wants to renew our lives to make them like his own.’
‘Faith,’ he went on to say, ‘should be lived together and the parish is the place where we learn to live our faith in the “us” of the Church. I would like to encourage you so that your pastoral co-responsibility may grow towards an authentic communion with all the people there, who are called to walk together and live our complementary nature within diversity.’
Wednesday, March 07, 2012 2:27 PM
Pope: weekly General Audience
March 7, 2012
Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, during which he concluded his series of catechesis of Jesus’ own prayer. The particular focus of Pope Benedict’s remarks was the importance of silence in our relationship with God.
In Christ’s own life and prayer, and especially in his experience of the Cross, we see a constant interplay of word and silence. Jesus’ mortal silence on the Cross is his final word to the Father, his supreme prayer. To hear God’s word requires the cultivation of outward and inward silence, so that his voice can resound within our hearts and shape our lives.
Pope Benedict went on to say that Jesus teaches us that God also speaks to us, especially at times of difficulty, through his silence, which invites us to deeper faith and trust in his promises.
Jesus is our great teacher of prayer; from his prayer we learn to speak with confidence to our heavenly Father as his beloved sons and daughters.
“In this filial dialogue,” said Pope Benedict, “we are also taught to recognize God’s many gifts and to obey his will, which gives meaning and direction to our lives.”
Following the catechesis, the Pope had greetings for pilgrims in many languages, including English, during which welcomed several student groups from the United States:
I welcome the many student groups present at today’s Audience, including those from the United States Coast Guard Academy, the Catholic University of America, Saint Mary’s Seminary and the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Aldo during the course of the audience, the Holy Father had special greetings for the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenian Catholics, His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni, and for all the Armenian Catholic bishops come to Rome from various continents for their particular Church’s Synod assembly.
Pope Benedict expressed heartfelt gratitude to the bishops for their loyalty to the heritage of their venerable Christian tradition and to the Successor of Peter. Offering his Apostolic Blessing, he promised earnest prayers for the work of the Synod fathers, in the hope that they will encourage greater communion and understanding among pastors, and give renewed impetus to Armenian Catholics on the paths of a generous and joyful witness to Christ and the Church.
Pope Benedict concluded his greetings with thoughts and prayers for the regions of the Middle East, encouraging pastors and faithful there to persevere with hope in the great suffering that afflict them.
Following the audience, Pope Benedict received the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schauble in a private parlor within the Paul VI Hall.
SILENCE IS INDISPENSABLE FOR PRAYER
Vatican City, 7 March 2012 (VIS) - During his general audience this morning Benedict XVI concluded a series of catecheses dedicated to the prayer of Jesus. Today he turned his attention to the theme of alternating words and silence which characterised Christ's earthly life, above all on the Cross, and which is also significant in two aspects of our own lives.
Addressing the 10,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope explained that the first of these aspects "concerns accepting the Word of God. Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order to hear that Word", he said. Yet, "our age does not, in fact, favour reflection and contemplation; quite the contrary it seems that people are afraid to detach themselves, even for an instant, from the spate of words and images which mark and fill our days".
However, "the Gospels often show us ... Jesus withdrawing alone to a place far from the crowds, even from His own disciples, where He can pray in silence". Moreover, "the great patristic tradition teaches us that the mysteries of Christ are linked to silence, and only in silence can the Word find a place to dwell within us".
"This principle", the Holy Father went on, "holds true for individual prayer, but also for our liturgies which, to facilitate authentic listening, must also be rich in moments of silence and of non verbal acceptance. ... Silence has the capacity to open a space in our inner being, a space in which God can dwell, which can ensure that His Word remains within us, and that love for Him is rooted in our minds and hearts, and animates our lives".
The Pope then turned to focus on the second important aspect of the relationship between silence and prayer. "In our prayers", he said, "we often find ourselves facing the silence of God. We almost experience a sense of abandonment; it seems that God does not listen and does not respond. But this silence, as happened to Jesus, does not signify absence. Christians know that the Lord is present and listens, even in moments of darkness and pain, of rejection and solitude. Jesus assures His disciples and each one of us that God is well aware of our needs at every moment of our lives".
"For us, who are so frequently concerned with operational effectiveness and with the results ... we achieve, the prayer of Jesus is a reminder that we need to stop, to experience moments of intimacy with God, 'detaching ourselves' from the turmoil of daily life in order to listen, to return to the 'root' which nourishes and sustains our existence. One of the most beautiful moments of Jesus' prayer is when, faced with the sickness, discomfort and limitations of his interlocutors, He addresses His Father in prayer, thus showing those around him where they must go to seek the source of hope and salvation".
Christ touches the most profound point of His prayer to the Father at the moment of His passion and death, Pope Benedict said. And citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church he concluded by noting that "His cry to the Father from the cross encapsulated 'all the troubles, for all time, of humanity enslaved by sin and death, all the petitions and intercessions of salvation history are summed up in this cry of the incarnate Word. Here the Father accepts them and, beyond all hope, answers them by raising His Son. Thus is fulfilled and brought to completion the drama of prayer in the economy of creation and salvation'".
Friday, March 09, 2012 2:39 PM
POPE ADDRESSES UNITED STATES BISHOPS ON CRISIS OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
Vatican City, 9 March 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who have recently competed their "ad limina" visit. Extracts of his English-language remarks to them are given below:
"In this talk I would like to discuss ... the contemporary crisis of marriage and the family, and, more generally, of the Christian vision of human sexuality. It is in fact increasingly evident that a weakened appreciation of the indissolubility of the marriage covenant, and the widespread rejection of a responsible, mature sexual ethic grounded in the practice of chastity, have led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost".
"In this regard, particular mention must be made of the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage. The Church’s conscientious effort to resist this pressure calls for a reasoned defence of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation. Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage. Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.
"In our conversations, some of you have pointed with concern to the growing difficulties encountered in communicating the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family in its integrity, and to a decrease in the number of young people who approach the Sacrament of Matrimony. Certainly we must acknowledge deficiencies in the catechesis of recent decades, which failed at times to communicate the rich heritage of Catholic teaching on marriage as a natural institution elevated by Christ to the dignity of a Sacrament, the vocation of Christian spouses in society and in the Church, and the practice of marital chastity".
"On the practical level, marriage preparation programmes must be carefully reviewed to ensure that there is greater concentration on their catechetical component and their presentation of the social and ecclesial responsibilities entailed by Christian marriage. In this context we cannot overlook the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation, often by couples who seem unaware that it is gravely sinful, not to mention damaging to the stability of society. I encourage your efforts to develop clear pastoral and liturgical norms for the worthy celebration of matrimony which embody an unambiguous witness to the objective demands of Christian morality, while showing sensitivity and concern for young couples".
"In this great pastoral effort there is an urgent need for the entire Christian community to recover an appreciation of the virtue of chastity. ... It is not merely a question of presenting arguments, but of appealing to an integrated, consistent and uplifting vision of human sexuality. The richness of this vision is more sound and appealing than the permissive ideologies exalted in some quarters; these in fact constitute a powerful and destructive form of counter-catechesis for the young. ... Chastity, as the Catechism reminds us, involves an ongoing “apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom”. In a society which increasingly tends to misunderstand and even ridicule this essential dimension of Christian teaching, young people need to be reassured that “if we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, absolutely nothing, of what makes life free, beautiful and great”.
"Let me conclude by recalling that all our efforts in this area are ultimately concerned with the good of children, who have a fundamental right to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships. Children are the greatest treasure and the future of every society: truly caring for them means recognising our responsibility to teach, defend and live the moral virtues which are the key to human fulfilment. It is my hope that the Church in the United States, however chastened by the events of the past decade, will persevere in its historic mission of educating the young and thus contribute to the consolidation of that sound family life which is the surest guarantee of intergenerational solidarity and the health of society as a whole".
NEW EVANGELISATION ALSO BEGINS IN THE CONFESSIONAL
Vatican City, 9 March 2012 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI received 1,300 priests and deacons who are participating in an annual course on the "internal forum" organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Benedict XVI underscored the importance of adequate theological, spiritual and canonical preparation for confessors, noting that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is essential to the life of faith and is closely associated with the announcement of the Gospel. "The Sacraments and the announcement of the Word must, in fact never be seen as separate from one another", he said. "The priest represents Christ, the Envoy of the Father, and continues His mission through 'word' and 'Sacrament', in the totality of body and soul, of sign and word".
Thus sacramental Confession is an important aspect of new evangelisation. "True conversion of hearts, which means opening ourselves to the transforming and regenerative action of God, is the 'motor' of all reform and turns into an authentic force for evangelisation. During Confession, the repentant sinner, thanks to the gratuitous action of divine Mercy, is justified, forgiven and sanctified. ... Only those who allow themselves to be profoundly renewed by divine Grace can internalise and therefore announce the novelty of the Gospel". All the saints of history bear witness to this close relationship between sanctity and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. New evangelisation itself "draws life blood from the sanctity of the sons and daughters of the Church, from the daily process of individual and community conversion, conforming itself ever more profoundly to Christ".
The Pope reminded his audience that, in administering the Sacrament of Penance, priests are instruments facilitating the meeting between mankind and God. The repentant sinner feels a profound desire to change, to receive mercy, to re-experience, through the Sacrament, "the encounter and embrace of Christ.
"Thus you will", the Holy Father added, "become collaborators and protagonists of as many possible 'new beginnings' as sinners you encounter. ... New evangelisation also begins in the confessional, in the mysterious encounter between man's endless plea ... and the mercy of God, which is the only adequate response to humankind’s need for the infinite". If the faithful are truly able to experience the mercy of Christ in the Sacrament "they will become credible witnesses of sanctity, which is the goal of new evangelisation".
The Pope went on to explain that these questions become even more critical when the people involved are priests who, to collaborate in new evangelisation, must be the first to renew an awareness of themselves as sinners, and of their need to seek sacramental forgiveness in order to renew their encounter with Christ.
In conclusion Benedict XVI exhorted his listeners to ensure "that the novelty of Christ is always the focus of, and the reason for, your priestly lives, so that the people who meet you may, through your ministry, proclaim as Andrew and John did that 'we have found the Messiah'. Thus each Confession, from which each Christian will emerge renewed, will represent a step forward for new evangelisation".
Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:49 AM
In Mexico and Cuba, papal trip to highlight local and regional issues
By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service
March 9, 2012
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict's trip to Mexico and Cuba March 23-28 will be a relatively brief one, consisting of a little more than two days in each country. Yet his visit is bound to highlight a wide range of prominent issues affecting an entire continent of crucial importance to the Catholic Church.
The pope arrives in Leon, in central Mexico, late afternoon local time March 23. His first full day's schedule will be light, no doubt reflecting concerns for the health of the pope, who turns 85 April 16. Pope Benedict's flight will have taken him across eight time zones, to a city 6,000 feet above sea level (compared to only 70 in Rome).
On the evening of March 24, the pope will meet with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has served as head of state since December 2006. His administration has been marked by a violent struggle between the military and the country's drug cartels, a topic that will presumably arise in discussions between the two men.
The next day, Pope Benedict will address bishops from Mexico and across Latin America at a vespers service in Leon's Cathedral of Our Most Holy Mother of Light. Here he is likely to touch on some of the issues that he raised on his only other Latin American trip, in 2007, when he spoke to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida, Brazil.
At that time, the pope urged church leaders to struggle against poverty and oppression but to shun direct involvement in partisan politics -- an echo of his long-standing critique of the liberation theology movement, which grew from Latin American roots. Pope Benedict also warned then against the danger of syncretism, or the blending of religions, by those who adopt elements of indigenous traditions in their Catholic devotions -- a practice that the pope also denounced on his trip in November to the West African country of Benin.
The context and timing of this year's speech will likely affect the content of Pope Benedict's message to the Latin American bishops.
Mexico is historically a highly polarized country on religious questions. The country's 1910 revolution was heavily anticlerical, and the 1917 constitution forbade religious education and even the public display of clerical garb. Such measures sparked the Cristero Rebellion in the late 1920s, when conflict between Catholic rebels and government forces left as many as 90,000 dead.
The country remains a mix of highly assertive secular and religious traditions, making it potentially fertile ground for the new evangelization that Pope Benedict has made a priority of his pontificate, and which will be the theme of a Vatican synod of bishops this October.
Cuba, where the pope goes March 26, is in a sense the mirror image of Mexico. It's a country where the Catholic Church has enjoyed relatively tranquil dealings with the civil authorities; diplomatic relations with the Holy See have never been interrupted, even by the institution of a communist government in the 1960s, but religious practice has traditionally been as feeble as anywhere in Latin America.
Church officials estimate that only about 2.5 percent of Cuba's population of 11 million can be considered practicing Catholics today, a fraction of the proportion prior to the revolution, though it represents a significant rise since the visit of Pope John Paul in 1998.
The church in Cuba continues to operate under severe restrictions, unable to build new churches or legally operate schools. However, the role of Cardinal Jaime Ortega of Havana and other Cuban bishops in successfully negotiating for the release of more than 100 political prisoners in 2010 reflects the government's growing respect for church authority.
Pope Benedict will no doubt raise issues of religious and political freedom with President Raul Castro when they meet on March 27. The pope is also widely expected to meet with the president's brother, former President Fidel Castro, although no such encounter yet appears on his official schedule.
The main reason for Pope Benedict's trip is a pilgrimage to the shrine of the Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the country's patron saint, in the southeastern city of Santiago. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the miraculous appearance of the statue venerated at the basilica there.