"Ladder to Perfection". During the general audience Benedict XVI proposed the figure of John Climacus, a great writer of the Church in the Middle Ages who spent 40 years of hermitic life, and was later abbot of the monastery of Mt. Sinai.
In his work "The Ladder” John explains the spiritual journey leading from renunciation of the world to perfection in love. in three stages. The first involves detachment from worldly goods in order to enter into a deeper communion with God. In the second stage, the soul engages in a spiritual battle with the passions by cultivating virtues corresponding to each. The third stage of the path of Christian perfection is developed in the last seven rungs of the ladder. The three first ones -- simplicity, humility and discernment – and the last rung of the scale is dedicated to the supreme "trinity of virtues": faith, hope and above all, charity.
The Holy Father sees John´s work as a great symbol of the life of the baptized, of Christian life, even in these times:“This path toward humility, toward spiritual childlikeness is necessary: It is necessary to overcome the attitude of arrogance that makes one say: I am better, in this age of mine of the 21st century, than what those who lived then knew.” He explained the need "to entrust oneself only to sacred Scripture, the Word of the Lord, approach with humility the horizon of faith, to thus enter into the enormous vastness of the universal world, of the world of God.”
“For me, it is of particularly importance the fact that the culminations of the scale, the last rungs, are at the same time the fundamental, initial, simplest virtues: faith, hope and charity.” The Pope affirmed.
“Let us use, therefore, this ladder of faith, of hope and of charity, and we will thus arrive to true life.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009
Leprosy as a symbol of sin. Before praying the Angelus, Benedict XVI reflected on the miracle of the healed leper (. Mark 1:40-45) He explained that leprosy, in those times, “constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its healing was a kind of resurrection.” “We might see in leprosy a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart, distancing us from God.” He continued, “It is not, in effect, physical malady that distances us from him, as the ancient norms supposed, but sin, the spiritual and moral evil.” The Pope affirmed that Jesus, in his passion became like a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God. “ He did this for love.” The Holy Father added, “With the aim of obtaining reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation for us.”
“In the Sacrament of Penance Christ crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and our brothers, and makes a gift of his love, joy and peace to us.” The Pope ended asking Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, “that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.”
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2009
Other papal messages and activities:
Pope prays for those affected by Australian fires. The Pope's secretary of state affirmed in a message sent to the governor-general of Australia. "His Holiness likewise prays for all involved in providing assistance to the victims of this disaster, encouraging them in their efforts to bring relief and support." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2009
The Church’s mission is still the same. Benedict XVI sent a message to a meeting of bishops from former Communist nations urging them to be ardent in their proclamation of the Gospel, and thus overcome the difficulties inherited in those nations. According to the papal message, "after the fall of Communism, the Church faces new challenges, new problems, but the mandate continues being the same: 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature."'. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009
At the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and, at the end of the General audience, Benedict XVI invited the boys and girls among the 8,000 pilgrims to entrust themselves "always to the maternal protection of Mary so that she helps you to conserve a generous heart, available and full of apostolic enthusiasm." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2009
Benedict XVI received the first residential ambassador from Australia to the Holy See. The Holy Father affirmed that Australia’s diplomatic activity in the Pacific, Asia and more recently in Africa, it’s active support of the Millennium Development Goals, initiatives to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and keen concern for just economic development, “are well known and respected.”
The Pope spoke about World Youth Day and said it was an event of singular importance for the universal Church and for Australia. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009
Benedict XVI received in audience leaders of American Jewish Organizations. Speaking about the Holocaust the Pope affirmed that “The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity.” “The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism and to continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities.”
The Holy Father confirmed his intention to visit the Holy Land. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009
The Pope assisted to a Concert on the 80th anniversary of Vatican City State. He asked for prayers to the Lord, “Who guides the fortunes of the 'Ship of Peter' among the not-always easy events of history, to continue to watch over this small state". VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2009.
The Holy Father received Nigerian Bishops. He noted that, since their last Ad Limina visit, “God has blessed the Church in your country with generous growth.” “I give thanks to God and express my appreciation to you and to the priests, religious and catechists who have laboured in the Lord's vineyard.”
The Pontiff asked the Bishops to confront the challenge of ethnic conflict wherever present, even within the Church, and to continue the struggle against unjust practices and corruption and against all causes and forms of discrimination and criminality, especially the degrading treatment of women and the deplorable practice of kidnapping. “By promoting Catholic Social Doctrine” he affirmed “ you offer your loyal contribution to your country and assist in the consolidation of a national order based on solidarity and a culture of human rights.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 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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