The Holy Father´s Week (November 24, 2008)

A report on Pope Benedict´s messages and activities.
by Maribel de Torres | Source:

Justification and Charity. In his continuing catechesis on St. Paul, the Holy Father reflected on a topic that is at the center of the controversies of the century of the Reformation: the issue of justification. How is a man just in the eyes of God? 

“Paul’s experience of the Risen Lord on the road to Damascus led him to see that it is only by faith in Christ and not by any merit of our own, that we are made righteous before God.” The Letter to the Philippians” said the Pope. “gives us a moving testimony of Paul's turning from a justice based on the law and achieved by observance of the prescribed works, to a justice based on faith in Christ:” 

The Holy Father clarified what is the "law" from which we have been freed and what are those "works of the law" that do not justify. “Already in the community of Corinth” says the Pontiff, “there was the opinion, which will return many times in history, which consisted in thinking that it was a question of the moral law, and that Christian freedom consisted therefore in being free from ethics. So, the words "panta mou estin" (everything is licit for me) circulated in Corinth. It is obvious that this interpretation is erroneous: Christian liberty is not libertinism.” the freedom of which St. Paul speaks is not freedom from doing good, he remarked. Instead, the Pope said, the law to which Paul refers is the "collection of behaviors extending from an ethical foundation to the ritual and cultural observances that substantially determined the identity of the just man -- particularly circumcision, the observance regarding pure food and general ritual purity, the rules regarding observance of the Sabbath, etc." These observances and prescriptions served to protect Jewish identity and faith in God; they were "a defense shield that would protect the precious inheritance of the faith." 

“At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One St Paul understood that with Christ's resurrection the situation had changed radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the only true God became the God of all peoples" The wall -- so says the Letter to the Ephesians -- between Israel and the pagans was no longer necessary," "It is Christ” said the Pope,” who protects us against polytheism and all its deviations; it is Christ who unites us with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity in the diversity of cultures; and it is he who makes us just.”

“To be just means simply to be with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Other observances are no longer necessary." That is why Luther's expression "sola fide" is true if faith is not opposed to charity, to love.” explains the Holy Father,“ Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love. That is why, in the Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul develops above all his doctrine on justification; he speaks of faith that operates through charity (cf. Galatians 5:14).Paul knows that in the double love of God and neighbour the whole law is fulfilled. Thus the whole law is observed in communion with Christ, in faith that creates charity. We are just when we enter into communion with Christ, who is love
“The Law finds its end in Christ (cf. Rom 10:4) and its fulfilment in the new commandment of love. With Paul, then, let us make the Cross of Christ our only boast (cf. Gal 6:14), and give thanks for the grace which has made us members of Christ’s Body, which is the Church.” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2008 

Benedict XVI Reflects on the Final Judgment.On the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King, Benedict XVI spoke to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square about the final judgement. We know, he said, that in the Gospels Jesus rejected the title of king when it was understood in a political sense, along the lines of “the rulers of nations” (cf. Matthew 20:24). Instead, during his passion, before Pilate he claimed a different sort of kingship.__ , “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Today’s Gospel insists precisely on this universal kingship of Christ the judge, with the impressive parable of the final judgment. 

“The images are simple, the language is popular, The  Pontiff. affirmed. but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and lays down the criteria by which we will be judged. “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and so on (Matthew 25:35)”.

The Pope reminded the faithful that this passage has marked the history of peoples of Christian culture, their hierarchy of values, their institutions, and their many benevolent and social organizations.” The Kingdom of God,” continued Benedict XVI, "is not of this world, but it brings to fulfilment all the good that, thanks to God, exists in man and history. If we put love of our neighbour into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we are making room for the lordship of God, and his Kingdom will realize itself in our midst.” ”If instead,” he said,” each of us thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot but be destroyed.” The Kingdom of God is not a question of honours and appearances, but, like St. Paul writes, it is “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The Holy Father explained “The Lord has our own good at heart, that is, that every man have life, and that especially the “least” of his children be admitted to his feast, which he has prepared for all. Because of this he has no use for the hypocritical ones who say “Lord, Lord,” but have neglected his commandments (cf. Matthew 7:21).”

”God will accept into his eternal kingdom those who have made the effort every day to put his word into practice. This is why the Virgin Mary, the most humble of his creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. We desire to entrust ourselves with filial confidence once again to her heavenly intercession, so that we might realize our Christian mission in the world.” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008

Work in the Lord's Large Vineyard Needs 'Christifideles Laici' Upon receiving in audience participants in the 23rd plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, Benedict XVI spoke about the importance of Catholic lay work within the Church and the apostolic exhortation "Christifideles Laici" defined the magna  charta for Catholic laity of our time. “In many different Churches”, the Holy Father said “lay participation has grown thanks to pastoral, diocesan and parish councils revealing itself to be very positive insofar as it is animated by an authentic sensus Ecclesiae.”

“To speak of Catholic laity” the Pope explained, “means to refer to the countless baptized persons working in multiple and various circumstances to grow as disciples and witnesses of the Lord and to rediscover and experience the beauty in the truth and joy of being Christians” 

The Pope mentioned the World Youth Day with enthusiasm “and encouraged the Pontifical Council for the Laity to work at the promotion of youth ministry and their authentic education everywhere.”

He also commented on the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society. “Enough cannot be said” affirmed the Holy Father, “for how much the Church recognizes, appreciates and values women's participation in her mission of service to the spreading of the Gospel”.

” Every milieu, circumstance and activity in which we engage that can become resplendent with the unity of faith and life is entrusted to the responsibility of lay faithful,” the Pope continued, “moved by the desire to communicate the gift of encounter with Christ and the certainty of the human person's dignity. It is their duty to take up the witness of charity especially with the most poor, suffering and needy just as it is to assume every Christian task aimed to construct conditions of ever greater justice and peace within human coexistence, thus opening new horizons to the Gospel!.” 

In a particular way, he confirmed the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of “Catholics working in politics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capacity of educated judgment, professional competence and passion for service to the common good.”

The Holy Father ended his address by citing the example of the Mother of God, ”Work in the Lord's large vineyard needs "Christifideles Laici" who, like the Most Holy Virgin Mary, speak and live the "fiat" to God's plan in their life” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008

Papal Activities

300 Chef’s gather with Benedict XVI. The chefs participated in the Angelus and the Pope addressed a special greeting to them. He thanked them for their work and expressed his wish "that each one of you be messengers of joy and brotherhood." The professionals were from the World Association of Chef Societies and were in Rome for a Monday-Thursday conference on "Cooks: Promoters of Health." Representatives participated from France, Ireland, Canada and Brazil, in addition to Italy. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2008

Monks indicate the primacy of God. "seeking Christ and fixing their gaze on eternal realities," the Pontiff explained, monasteries "become spiritual oases that indicate humanity the absolute primacy of God through the continual adoration of this mysterious, but real, divine presence in the world, and the fraternal communion lived in the new commandment of love and mutual service." The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience representatives of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Pope added that monasteries "should be ever more oases of ascetic life," where knowledge of Scripture is cultivated. “ "It is from this prayerful listening to the Word," he said, "that silent prayer is raised up in monasteries, which become a testimony for those who are welcomed as if it was Christ himself in these places of peace." VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2008

"Pastoral Care in the Treatment of Sick Children” This was the theme of the International Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. .Benedict XVI received the participants in audience and thanked them and expressed his desire that these days of reflection and discussion contribute to sensitizing public opinion on the duty to give children all the attention they need for their harmonious physical and spiritual development.” , Even though.” Medicine has certainly made considerable progress in the past 50 years,” he said” much still remains to be done.” The Pontiff remembered Jesus words "Let the children come to me"(cf. Mk 10: 14), showing us the attitude of respect and acceptance with which we must look after every child, especially when he is weak and in difficulty, suffering and defenceless. “I am thinking above all” He said, “of little orphans or children abandoned because of the poverty and the disintegration of their family; I am thinking of children who are the innocent victims of AIDS or of war and of the many armed conflicts that are being fought in various parts of the world; I am thinking of children who died because of poverty, drought and hunger” .The Holy Father said “ It suffices to remember, as you pointed out, that each year four million newborn babies die within 26 days of birth.”

The Church does not forget her smallest children and if, on the one hand she applauds the initiatives of the richer nations to improve the conditions of their development, on the other, she is strongly aware of the need to invite them to pay greater attention to these brothers and sisters of ours, so that thanks to our unanimous solidarity they are able to look at life with trust and hope. The challenge today, said the Pope,  is to ward off the onset of many pathologies once characteristic of childhood and, overall, to encourage the growth, development and maintenance of good health for all children.

”May the Blessed Virgin, Mother of every human being, watch over sick children and protect all those who do their utmost to nurse them with humane consideration and a Gospel spirit.” He prayed.  VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21,2008

Benedict XVI remembers anniversary of great famine in Soviet Ukraine. After praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope remembered the millions of victims that 75 years ago died of famine in Ukraine. In the fall of 1932, after farmers in Ukraine failed to meet high grain quotas, authorities began to confiscate grain and all food products, and Ukrainians were prohibited from leaving to search for food. The Pope expressed his hope that "no political regime will ever again, in the name of ideology, deny the rights, the freedom and dignity of the human person." 

The Pope added the assurance of his prayers for the "innocent victims of that enormous tragedy." He invoked the intercession of the Virgin "to help all nations continue on the path of reconciliation and build the present and the future with reciprocal respect and in the sincere search for peace." 

Benedict XVI congratulated the Polish section of Vatican Radio, who will celebrate their 70th anniversary Monday. The Pope thanked the members of the Polish section for their "generous work," and gave them his apostolic blessing. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008 

More than a Hundred Japanese Martyrs will be beatified. 188 Japanese martyrs killed in the 17 th century will be beatified Monday in Nagasaki, Japan. 

After praying the Angelus today with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said:
"I pledge my spiritual nearness on this occasion, which is so significant for the Catholic community, and for the whole country of the Rising Sun.”

The Holy Father also mentioned that Fray José Olallo Valdés, of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, will be beatified in Cuba on Saturday. He said, "I entrust the Cuban people to his heavenly protection, especially the sick and health workers." VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008

A prayer for the Holy Father
Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.

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