The Holy Father's Week: January 26, 2009

A report on Benedict XVI's messages and activities.
by Maribel de Torres | Source: Zenit.org

Full unity is connected with the life and mission of the Church. The Holy Father recalled that Christ prayed for the unity of his disciples no less than four times in the Upper Room. "Twice, moreover, in this prayer, Jesus adds as the objective of this union: that the world may believe. Full unity is connected, therefore with the life and the very mission of the Church in the world."
.At the weekly general audience on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Pope meditated on the words "That They May Become One in Your Hand" (37:17) from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. This passage recalls God’s command to Ezekiel to take two sticks, one representing Judah and the other Israel, and join them together as a symbol of the Lord’s power to gather his people into one.” The Pontiff explained that." The hand of the prophet, which joins the two shoots, is considered as the hand of God himself that gathers and unites his people and finally, the whole of humanity.”
“This is our responsibility: That the gift of unity be visible for the world, in virtue of which our faith is made credible. For this, it is important that each Christian community become aware of the urgency of working in every way possible to reach this grand objective.” The Holy Father affirmed, “Only going out of ourselves and toward Christ, only in this relationship with him can we come to be truly united among ourselves.”
Benedict XVI urged Christians to make their own the desire of St. Paul, who dedicated his entire life for the one Lord and for the unity of his mystical body, the Church. He wrote to the Ephesus to be: "One body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:4-5).  VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2009

Pope Gives Task to Youth: Evangelize the Net. Benedict XVI invited young Catholics: to bring their faith to the digital world as they have "an almost spontaneous affinity" for using the new means of communication. “Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: The greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the 'Good News' of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people."
 “Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds!”
The Holy Father recognized the extraordinary potential of the new technologies, if they are used to promote human understanding and solidarity.  VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009 

The way to full unity.  At the celebration of vespers held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Benedict XVI said that
 “St. Paul's conversion offers us a model that shows us the way to full unity. Unity in fact requires a conversion: from division to communion, from broken unity to healed and full unity. This conversion is the gift of the Risen Christ, as it was for St. Paul. We heard this from the Apostle himself in the reading proclaimed just a moment ago: "By the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10).”
The Pope affirmed that, “The same Lord, who called Saul on the road to Damascus, addresses himself to the members of the Church -- which is one and holy -- and calling each by name asks: Why have you divided me? Why have you wounded the unity of my body?
“It is communion with the risen Christ that gives us unity” the Pontiff explained ”In reality, St. Paul's conversion was (…) a being conquered by Christ: the renunciation of his own perfection; it was the humility of one who puts himself without reserve in the service of Christ for the brethren. And only in this renunciation of ourselves, in this conforming to Christ are we also united among ourselves; we become "one" in Christ”
 “May the Apostle Paul, who worked so hard and suffered for the unity of the mystical body of Christ, spur us on from heaven; and may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the unity of the Church, accompany and sustain us.” ended the Pontiff. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009

"I Can Get Out of the Quicksand of Pride and Sin" Before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI began with the words of Jesus´ first preaching in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). As today is the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, the Holy Father contemplated the experience of the Apostle, to understand the true meaning of evangelical conversion. “Paul's conversion matured in the encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his existence.” He said.
“Converting means, for each one of us also, believing that Jesus "gave himself up for me," dying on the cross (cf. Galatians 2:20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be led by the hand by him, I can get out of the quicksand of pride and sin, of lies and sadness, of selfishness and every false certainty, to know and live the richness of his love.”
The invitation to conversion is particularly urgent today, at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, even at the ecumenical level. The Pope explained, ”The Apostle shows us the right spiritual attitude for progress toward communion.” "It is not that I have already taken hold of it," he writes to the Philippians, "or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been conquered by Christ Jesus"
“Of course we Christians have not yet achieved the goal of full unity, but if we let ourselves be continually converted by the Lord Jesus, we will certainly arrive there. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the one, holy Church, obtain for us the gift of a true conversion, so that the desire of Christ, "ut unum sint," be realized.”  (Philippians 3:12).
After the Angelus the Pope mentioned that today is World Leprosy Day. “For my part, I assure them of my prayers and I renew my encouragement of those who struggle with them for complete healing and good social integration.”
He wished the peoples of various East Asian countries, who are preparing to celebrate the lunar new year, joy in their celebrations.
And also mentioned this year's Message for World Communications Day which was released on the eve of the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales, Patron Saint of Journalists. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009

Other messages and activities:

Pope to Obama. On the occasion of his inauguration as the Forty-fourth president of the United States of America Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Barack Obama  offering cordial good wishes, together with the assurance of his prayers that the Almighty God will grant him unfailing wisdom and strength in the exercise of  his responsibilities.
“At a time when so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world yearn for liberation from the scourge of poverty, hunger and violence,” expressed the Pontiff “I pray that you will be confirmed in your resolve to promote understanding, cooperation and peace among the nations, so that all may share in the banquet of life which God wills to set for the whole human family (cf. Isaiah 25:6-7” VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009.

Benedict XVI praised Lutheran-Catholic attempts to reach a consensus about the mystery of the Church, and its nature as the sign and instrument of Christ's salvation. during an audience with members of the ecumenical delegation of Finland on the occasion of their annual visit to Rome and the feast of their patron, St. Henry. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009

Aid to Gaza. The Pontifical Council Cor Unum has sent aid on behalf of Benedict XVI to the suffering peoples of Gaza. The council said the help was directed to the Pastor of Holy Family Church, the Missionaries of Charity and other religious congregations, "who serve those especially vulnerable in the homeland of Jesus, now being tragically scourged by death, human pain, material damage, and tears that cry out for peace."  VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009

11 Near Beatificatio.ns Benedict XVI has authorized the promulgation of decrees recognizing heroic virtue and miracles attributed to almost a dozen Servants of God.  VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009

Pontiff Mourns Cardinal Ghattas. Benedict XVI extolled the zeal and simplicity of the former patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, who died Tuesday. He was 89. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2009

Benedict XVI made honorary citizen of Mariazell in Austria. Mariazell is the home of the Basilica of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which houses a statue of Our Lady believed to be miraculous. For centuries, the town has been one of Europe's most important Marian shrines. Today, some 1 million pilgrims visit it annually. Benedict XVI gave an improvised discourse on the Virgin Mary, in gratitude for receiving the honorary citizenship. He explained that Mary's "greatness is evident precisely in the fact that she addresses herself to the smallest, that she is present for them, that we can turn to her at any moment without having to pay an entrance fee, just with our hearts. "This greatness has nothing to do with "exterior majesty," the Pontiff continued, but rather with "goodness of heart that offers to all the experience of what it means to be together." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 22, 2009

Benedict XVI on YouTube. The Vatican launched today a channel on YouTube that will provide video news clips on the Pope's activities, currently in four languages, including English.
One or two video clips will be provided each day at
www.youtube.com/vatican. According to Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, the Holy Father is the first supporter of the initiative. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009

The Pope addressed the new patriarch of Antioch. His Beatitude Ignace Youssif III Younan, was elected Tuesday at a synod in Rome. He was born in Syria in 1944, but since 1986, has served at the eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance in Newark, New Jersey. The Syriac Catholic Church separated from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but returned to full communion more than a millennium later.
The Holy Father urged the patriarch and Syriac Catholics to be beacons of peace in the Middle East, "where the Syrian Church has an appreciated historical presence."
"My desire is that in the East, from where the proclamation of the Gospel came, the Christian communities continue living and giving testimony of their faith, as they have done throughout the centuries," he added. Mindful of Eastern Catholics living outside of their motherlands, the Holy Father asked the new patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians to help them protect their spiritual heritage. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009

President of Macedonia visited Benedict XVI. He expressed "his recognition for the attention manifested by the Holy See toward his country since independence," a Vatican communiqué reported. Macedonia separated peacefully from Yugoslavia in 1991.
The nation established diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1994. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2009

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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