On the truth of Human Freedom. "Man is not an absolute, being able to isolate himself and behave according to his own will. This goes against the truth of our being.” The Pope delivered a “lectio divina” during a visit to Rome's Major Seminary. “St. Paul helps us to understand the complicated reality which freedom is” the Holy Father explained.
“Our truth is, above all, that we are creatures, creatures of God and we live in relationship with the Creator. We are rational beings, and only by accepting this relationship do we enter into truth, otherwise we fall into falsehood and, in the end, are destroyed by it.”
Paul dares to propose a strong paradox, the Pope said: "Through charity, be of service " …“in other words, paradoxically, freedom is realized in service: We are free if we become one another's servants.” “The first reality that must be respected, therefore, is truth: Freedom against truth is not freedom. To serve one another creates the common realm of freedom.”
St Paul warns: "But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another ... walk by the Spirit.” “In St. Paul's warning” continued Benedict XVI, “we should find today a reason to examine our conscience: not to think of being better than the other, but to meet one another in the humility of Christ, in the humility of the Virgin, to enter into the obedience of the faith. Precisely in this way the great realm of truth and freedom in love is really opened also for us.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2009
St. Paul's Lenten Example. The Pope began the Ash Wednesday events by presiding over a prayer. A penitential procession of cardinals, bishops and laypeople travelled from St. Anselm to St. Sabina for the Eucharistic Celebration. At Mass, the Holy Father encouraged Catholics to follow the example of St Paul and live this Lent practicing prayer, almsgiving and fasting. St. Paul shows us, he said, how to live Lent: "The disciple must make the victory of Christ his own, and this occurs first of all with baptism, through which, united to Christ, we have become living beings, returned from the dead.”
"However, if Christ is to reign fully in a baptized person, [that person] must follow the teachings faithfully: He must never lower his guard, so as not to permit the adversary to gain ground in some way." The Pope asserted. And he explained how St. Paul "lived from the Word of God: thought, action, prayer, theology, preaching, exhortation, all in him was fruit of the Word, received since his youth in the Jewish faith, fully revealed to his eyes in his encounter with Christ dead and risen, preached for the rest of his life during his missionary run." "May the Apostle Paul accompany us,” he ended, “may Mary, attentive Virgin of listening and humble handmaid of the Lord, guide us. Thus, renewed in the spirit, we will be able to celebrate Easter with joy.” ROME, FEB. 26, 2009
“We Should Call Upon the Angels.” On this First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of Saint Mark speaks of Jesus being lead into the desert by the Holy Spirit, tempted by Satan and assisted by the angels. Before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Bishop of Rome mentioned the role of the angels in the Bible: "We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God.” "On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty.” "A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return."
“We would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence.” He explained, “Let us call upon them often, that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him.” The Pontiff said. “Let us ask them, especially today, to watch over me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia as we begin our retreat this week, as we do every year. Mary, Queen of Angels, pray for us!” VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2009
Other Papal messages and activities
Benedict XVI Mourns Hanoi Cardinal. The Pope sent a telegram to express his sadness over the death of Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Dinh Tung. Placed under house arrest for most of his episcopate, he was made a cardinal in 1994, retired in 2005 and died Sunday at the age of 89.VATICAN CITY, feb.23,2009.
Benedict XVI thanked the Spanish bishops for their spiritual closeness after the turmoil that surrounded the lifting of excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Marcel Lefebvre.VATIVCAN CITY, feb.23,2009.
Benedict XVI will proclaim 10 new saints in two ceremonies, planned for April 26 and Oct. 11.VATICAN CITY, feb.23,2009.
Congress Discusses Churches in Middle East. The Pope sent a message written on his behalf by his secretary of state, to a conference sponsored by the Community of Sant'Egidio on "The Value of the Churches in the Middle East: Christians and Muslims Discuss Together." The letter "invokes divine blessings on the important meeting, and fervently [hopes] that useful elements will emerge in it that will make the dialogue between Christians and Muslims increasingly fraternal”. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2009
Lent’s invitation is to “Fight with every effort to do the good”. The Pontiff pointed out “precisely because we know how difficult it is for men to seriously decide to practice justice." The Pope affirmed this in a letter sent to the president of the Brazilian bishops' conference, at the beginning of the annual Campaign of Fraternity organized by the Church in this country during Lent. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2009
By Combating Poverty We Give Greater Possibility to Peace. The Holy Father thanked charitable associations from Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, "Pro Petri Sede" and "Etrennes Pontificales" who gave the fruit of their collection to enable him to exercise concrete and active charity. “Nourished by the same Eucharistic Bread, the baptized cannot be indifferent when bread is lacking on men's tables.” The Holy Father affirmed. “I sincerely thank you on behalf of all those persons who will be sustained by your generosity in the struggle against the evils that threaten their dignity. By combating poverty we give greater possibility to peace so that it will enter and take root in hearts” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2009
This month´s prayer intentions. Benedict XVI is praying for Women and China this month. The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general intention chosen by the Pope for this month: that all nations grow in appreciation of the dignity and value of women and their roles in society.
The Holy Father also chooses an apostolic intention for each month. In March, he will pray for the Church in China, "That all the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and laity of the Catholic Church in China may strive to be instruments of unity, communion and peace." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27 , 2009
Benedict XVI Retreats to Prayer. Cardinal Francis Arinze is offering the meditations on the theme "The Priest Meets Jesus and Follows Him." In the mean time, the Holy Father's public audiences will be suspended. The traditional Lenten retreat for the Pope and the Roman Curia will conclude Saturday. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 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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