The Holy Father´s Week: December 8, 2008

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

Holiness Does Not Go Out of Fashion. The Pope affirmed this in his homily at the Roman Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, at the closing liturgy of the jubilee year commemorating the 1750th anniversary of the Spanish deacon and martyr. He explained that this is the better message we receive at this beginning of Advent from Saint Lawrence. “He repeats to us that holiness, namely, going out to meet Christ who comes continually to visit us, does not go out of fashion, on the contrary, with the passing of time it shines in a luminous way and manifests man's constant tension toward God.” The Holy Father encouraged his listeners to make "a constant commitment to evangelization through charity. May Lawrence, heroic witness of Christ crucified and risen, be for each one an example of docile adherence to the divine will so that, as we have heard the Apostle Paul remind the Corinthians, we also live in such a way as to be found 'irreproachable' in the day of the Lord." ROME, DEC. 1, 2008

Evil exists and Christ has triumphed over it. “St.Paul's teaching on the sin of Adam and its disastrous consequences for the human family is meant to emphasize the surpassing gift of grace bestowed on humanity by Jesus Christ.” The Holy father affirmed during today's general audience in Paul VI Hall, “Christ, the new Adam, by his obedience to the Father's will, has set mankind free from the ancient burden of sin and death. In Baptism, he has given us a share in his saving death and resurrection, and made us adoptive children of the Father.”

Benedict XVI said that “the power of evil in the human heart and in human history is undeniable” this fact confirms the doctrine of the Original Sin, “As a consequence of this power of evil in our souls, a filthy river has developed in history, which poisons the geography of human history. The great French thinker Blaise Pascal spoke of a "second nature," which is superimposed on our original good nature”. However, the Pontiff explained, “Evil comes from a subordinate source. With his light, God is stronger and, because of this, evil can be overcome. Therefore, the creature, man, is curable” The Holy Father remarked that “man is not only curable, he is in fact cured. God has introduced healing. He entered in person into history. To the permanent source of evil he has opposed a source of pure good. Christ crucified and risen, the new Adam, opposed the filthy river of evil with a river of light. And this river is present in history: We see the saints, the great saints but also the humble saints, the simple faithful. We see that the river of light that comes from Christ is present, is strong.”

“In the language of the Church the word Advent has two meanings: presence and expectation.” Benedict XVI continued, “Presence: The light is present, Christ is the new Adam, he is with us and in our midst. The light already shines and we must open the eyes of the heart to see the light and to enter the river of light. Above all to be grateful for the fact that God himself has entered history as new source of goodness. But Advent also means expectation. The dark night of evil is still strong. And that is why we pray in Advent with the ancient people of God: "Rorate caeli desuper." And we pray with insistence: Come Jesus; come, give force to light and goodness; come where falsehood, ignorance of God, violence and injustice dominate; come, Lord Jesus, give force to the good of the world and help us to be bearers of your light, agents of peace, witnesses of truth. Come Lord Jesus!” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2008

Advent leads to a radical and definite exodus. Before praying the Angelus today with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI described Advent as a time of openness to God's future, “in the Advent liturgy there resounds a message full of hope, which invites us to lift up our gaze to the ultimate horizon, but at the same time to recognize the signs of God-with-us in the present.”  What the Lord wants to do in Advent, the Pontiff said is “to speak to the heart of his people and, through them, to the whole of humanity, to proclaim salvation.”

That is what the Church does. he said,  “For populations worn out by misery and hunger, for throngs of refugees, for those who suffer grave and systematic violations of their rights, the Church is as a sentinel on the mountain of faith and she announces to them: "Behold your God! The Lord your God comes in power" (Isaiah 40:11).”

”This prophetic announcement is realized in Jesus Christ. He, with his preaching and then with his death and resurrection, fulfilled the ancient promises, revealing a deeper and more universal perspective. He inaugurated an exodus that was no longer a merely earthly, historical, and as such provisional, exodus, but one that was radical and definitive: the passage from the kingdom of evil to the Kingdom of God, from the dominion of sin and death to that of love and life”

The Holy Father explained that “Christian hope transcends the legitimate desire for a social and political liberation, because that what Jesus began is a new humanity that comes "from God," but that at the same time germinates on our earth, to the extent that it lets itself be impregnated by the Spirit of the Lord.”

 “It is thus a matter of entering fully into the logic of faith: believing in God, in his plan of salvation, and also working for the building up of his Kingdom. “ He said “Justice and peace, in fact, are God's gift, but they require men and women who are "good soil," ready to receive the good seed of his Word.”

He entrusted the desire for peace and salvation to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary who “is the "way" that God himself prepared for his coming into the world”. With all her humility, the Pope declared, “Mary walks at the head of the new Israel in the exodus from every exile, from all oppression, from every moral and material slavery, toward "the new heavens and the new earth, in which justice lives" (2 Peter 3:13 “VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2008

Praying  for the Culture of Life. The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general intention chosen by the Pope this month: "That, faced by the growing expansion of the culture of violence and death, the Church may courageously promote the culture of life through all her apostolic and missionary activities."

The Holy Father also chooses an apostolic intention for each month. In December, he will pray that especially in mission countries, Christians may show through gestures of brotherliness that the Child born in the grotto in Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2008

Papal Activities
Man Needs God, Even Without Realizing It. In his address to the  Pontifical Seminaries of Las Marcas, Puglia and Abruzzo-Molise.on the occasion of the centenary of their foundation., Benedict XVI reminded  them that “The Word of God that you will be called upon to spread with full hands and which brings with it eternal life, is Christ himself, the only one who can change the human heart and renew the world.” 

The Pope then asked:  “¿Does modern man still feel a need for Christ and his message of salvation? In the present social context, a certain culture seems to show us the face of a self-sufficient humanity, anxious to carry out its projects on its own, which chooses to be the sole architect of its destiny and which, consequently, believes that the presence of God does not count and so excludes it from its choices and decisions.”  Thus, it is "increasingly more difficult to believe, more difficult to accept the truth that is Christ, more difficult to spend one's life for the cause of the Gospel,"
However, the Holy Father continued “As in all ages, man of the third millennium needs God and seeks him perhaps without realizing it.”

“The duty of Christians, especially of priests, is to respond to this profound yearning of the human heart and to offer all, with the means and ways that best respond to the demands of the times, the immutable and always living Word of eternal life that is Christ, Hope of the world.” The Pontiff affirmed.

He suggested St. Paul as a particularly adequate model for the young men preparing for their vocation. "In imitation of St. Paul," he encouraged, "do not tire of encountering Christ in listening to, reading and studying sacred Scripture, in prayer and personal meditation, in the liturgy and in every daily activity." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2008

Liberalism Needs to Rediscover God.  Rooted at the heart of liberalism is the Christian image of God, and rediscovering that is the key to overcoming the current crisis of ethics in Europe and the world.  The Pope wrote this in a letter sent to Italian philosopher and senator Marcello Pera- The Pope´s letter appears as a forward in Pera's latest book "Perche dobbiamo dirci cristiani. Il liberalismo, l'Europa, l'etica" (Why We Must Call Ourselves Christians: Liberalism, Europe, and Ethics), which will be presented Thursday in Rome. 
In his letter, Benedict XVI acknowledged the text to be "a fascinating read," and he applauded Pera's analysis of liberalism. "With an exceptional knowledge of the foundations, and with convincing logic, you analyze the essence of liberalism from its principles, showing that rooted in the heart of liberalism is the Christian image of God." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2008

Contact With God Is Key for Serving Faithful. Benedict XVI addressed  the bishops of Chile who are in Rome for their five-yearly visit. "In intimate contact with the Master in prayer," he told them, "the best pastoral initiatives to respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful are brought to maturity."

The Holy Father added that  “This life of prayer is even more necessary, faced with the challenge of evangelization that was launched by the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which the Pontiff opened near the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil in May 2007”.
In fact, he continued, in this "great evangelizing undertaking," the "personal testimony of holiness […] of all members of the Church, and especially her pastors," is fundamental” 

The Holy Father invited the bishops to be very close to their priests and to help them "in the midst of the multiple activities that fill their days, to know how to give primacy to prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2008

Dialogue and Negotiation are most valuable. In a letter sent to the leaders of Chile and Argentina, the Holy Father affirmed that dialogue and negotiation is the most effective manner of resolving conflict.
The Pope sent the missive on the 30th anniversary of mediation by Pope John Paul II in the Beagle conflict, which prevented an armed confrontation between the South American nations.

In 1978, Chile and Argentina were on the cusp of going to war over a longstanding border dispute over three islands in the Beagle channel. A last-minute mediation by Pope John Paul II led to the beginning of a peace process, which was completed in 1984. The success of the mediation, Benedict XVI wrote, constitutes still today "an example of how, in face of any controversy, discouragement must always be overcome and the path of patient dialogue and negotiation conducted with wisdom and prudence must never be regarded as exhausted."
Pointing to other conflicts in various parts of the world, which "have generated very grave consequences," the Pontiff underlined the "horrors that that pontifical mediation spared the Argentine and Chilean peoples, and also other nations of the region." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008

Urges Cooperation Between Religion and Politics. Benedict XVI called for efforts to "strengthen dialogue and collaboration between the Argentine authorities and the nation's episcopate for the sake of the common good of the whole population. .“The Church isn't stepping over a line when it defends life and promotes human dignity.” The Holy Father said this upon receiving the letters of credence of the new ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See. "The Church," continued the Holy Father, "without pretending to become a political subject, aspires, with the independence of its moral authority, to cooperate loyally and openly with all those responsible for the temporal order in the noble design of achieving a civilization of justice, peace, reconciliation, solidarity, and of those other norms that can never be abolished or left at the mercy of partisan consensus, as they are engraved in the human heart and respond to truth." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008

It is necessary to rediscover the value of natural law. The Pope said this today upon receiving members of the International Theological Commission in audience, who in their assembly this week took definitive steps toward elaborating a document on the topic.

The text will be titled "In Search of a Universal Ethic: New Look on Natural Law."

“The natural law constitutes the true guarantee offered each one to live freely and in respect of his dignity of person, and to feel protected from any ideological manipulation and from all abuse perpetrated in virtue of the law of the strongest," said the Holy Father. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008

Benedict XVI greeted members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.In his address, the Pontiff thanked the order for its "generous work," and encouraged them to continue working in the Holy Land as "convinced and sincere ambassadors of peace and love between brothers." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008

Benedict XVI prayed for flood victims. After praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope expressed his "sentiments for the natural disaster that occurred a few days ago in the state of Santa Catarina, which has claimed numerous victims and left thousands of people homeless" The tragedy was caused by torrential rains that have caused flooding and more than 4,000 mudslides. Some 122 have died and more than 1.5 million people have been evacuated. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2008

Pope Laments Death of Alexy II. Benedict XVI sent a message of condolence to the Russian Orthodox Church upon hearing of the death of Patriarch Alexy II, calling him "courageous" in his efforts to promote Gospel values.The Pope stated in the note that he "was profoundly saddened" to hear of the patriarch's death, and that he wished to convey his "most sincere condolences" and to assure the faithful of his "spiritual closeness at this very sad time." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2008

Pope sends delegation to attend  funeral. Benedict XVI will send a delegation to participate in the funeral of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. The patriarch's funeral will be held Tuesday at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Moscow. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 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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