”God is visible in the world and in the Church, but we must learn to perceive his visibility”, affirmed Benedict XVI during the general audience in which he spoke of St. Germanus, Bishop and Patriarch of Constantinople (715-730) and defender of the use of icons in worship.
When Emperor Leo III of Constantinople initiated his campaign against the use of sacred images, judging them to be a source of idolatry. Germanus opposed the Emperor publicly. “As a result of that,” the Holy Father explained, “Germanus found himself obligated to turn in his resignation as patriarch and to condemn himself to exile in a monastery where he died forgotten by everyone.”
His merits were recognized in the Second Council of Nicaea (787), which restored devotion to sacred images.
The Pope mentioned that this saint has some things to tell us today: “The first: There is a certain visibility of God in the world, in the Church, which we should learn to perceive.” Benedict XVI explained, “In truth, God had prohibited in the Ten Commandments making images of God, but this was caused by the temptations to idolatry that believers could be exposed to in the context of paganism. Nevertheless, when God became visible in Christ through the incarnation, it became legitimate to reproduce the face of Christ. Holy images teach us to see God in the form of the face of Christ. After the incarnation of the Son of God, it has therefore become possible to see God in the images of Christ and also in the face of the saints, in the face of all men in whom the holiness of God shines.”
Other lessons that the Holy Father proposed regards the "beauty and dignity of the liturgy." and love of the Church.
"Precisely concerning the Church, we men are inclined to see above all its sins, the negative," Benedict XVI said. "But with the help of faith, which makes us capable of seeing authentically, we can also, today and always, rediscover in her the divine beauty." And he added: "It is in the Church where God makes himself present, offers himself in the holy Eucharist and remains present for adoration. In the Church, God speaks with us, in the Church, 'God walks with us,' as St. Germanus says. In the Church, we receive the forgiveness of God and we learn to forgive."
His writings, steeped in an ardent love of the Church and devotion to the Mother of God, have had a wide influence on the piety of the faithful both of the East and the West. A text of his was included by Pope Pius XII in 1950, when he declared the dogma of faith, the assumption of Mary.
Germanus wrote: "Could it ever happen, most holy Mother of God, that heaven and earth feel honoured by your presence, and you, with your departure, would leave man deprived of your protection? No. It is impossible to think of such a thing. In fact when you were in the world you did not feel that the things of heaven were foreign, in the same way, after having emigrated from this world, you have not felt removed from the possibility of communicating in spirit with men. … In fact you have not abandoned those to whom you have guaranteed salvation … indeed your spirit lives eternally, nor has your flesh suffered the corruption of the tomb.”
“I pray that through the intercession of Saint Germanus we may all be renewed in our love of the Church and devotion to the Mother of God.” the Pope ended. Germanus¨s feast day is celebrated in the Greek Church on 12 May. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2009
“We have to pray a lot for vocations, so that the greatness and the beauty of the love of God attracts many to follow Christ on the path of the priesthood and the consecrated life” The Holy Father said as he proposed various prayer intentions in his address to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the praying of the midday Regina Caeli. “It is also necessary to pray as well so that there are holy spouses, capable of indicating to their children, above all by example, the horizons to which they should tend toward with their liberty.”
“There is another intention for which I invite you to pray today: the trip to the Holy Land that I will make, God willing, next Friday, May 8 through Friday, May 15.” The Holy Father said “With my visit, I propose to confirm and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land, who must daily confront many difficulties. As a successor of the Apostle Peter, I will show the closeness and support of the whole body of the Church. Moreover, I will be a pilgrim of peace, in the name of the one God, Father of all. I will give witness to the Catholic Church's commitment in favor of those who work to practice dialogue and reconciliation, to arrive to a stable and lasting peace in justice and mutual respect.”
“Finally, this trip will necessarily have notable ecumenical and interreligious significance. Jerusalem is, from this point of view, the symbolic city par excellence: There Christ died so as to reunite all of the dispersed children of God” (cf. John 11:52).
He asked to entrust these prayers for vocations to the heavenly intercession of the saints and invoked the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Good Shepherd, to watch over the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, and so that in the whole world, numerous and holy vocations of special consecration to the Kingdom of God may flourish. VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2009
Other papal messages and activities.
Prayer intentions for May. Benedict XVI will be praying that the faithful become responsible promoters of priestly and religious vocations.
The apostolic intention will be: "That the recently founded Catholic Churches, grateful to the Lord for the gift of faith, may be ready to share in the universal mission of the Church, offering their availability to preach the Gospel throughout the world." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2009
Benedict XVI received Belarus President. Alexander Lukashenko visited the Pope today, accompanied by the country's foreign minister, Sergei Martinov. Lukashenko's visit to the Pontiff came in the context of a trip he is making in Italy, the first Western nation he's visited in 14 years. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2009
Benedict XVI received in audience the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The environment and interreligious dialogue were two topics covered in the audience.VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2009
Seven cardinals were appointed by Benedict XVI to be his special envoys for the closing ceremonies of the Jubilee Year of St. Paul, which will take place at various Pauline sites June 29.They will represent the Holy Father in Syria, the Holy Land, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Lebanon and Greece. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2009
Benedict XVI received in audience the Prime Minister of the island nation St. Vincent and the Grenadines. an island nation that forms part of the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean Sea, with a population of 104,574.VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2009
The Pope visited Onna, the first part of his visit to the area affected by the April 6 quake. He visited the camp where Onna inhabitants have taken refuge until their homes are rebuilt; Onna lost 40 of its 300 inhabitants. The Holy Father told the people: "I was close to you from the first moment. I followed the news with great concern, sharing your disbelief, your tears for the dead, and your anxious concerns for what you lost in an instant. "My poor presence among you," he added, "is intended as a tangible sign of the fact that the crucified Lord is risen and does not abandon you." He assured earthquake survivors that the Church will be close to them as they rebuild their towns, and encouraged other institutions to continue aid during the reconstruction. ONNA, Italy, APRIL 28, 2009
The Holy Father visited the town closest to the epicenter of the April 6 quake in Italy. In an address to survivors and aid workers, in the training school courtyard of the Guardia de Financia near L'Aquila, which was used as headquarters for the rescue operations. The Pope affirmed "This place, consecrated by the victims' prayers and tears, represents a symbol of your tenacious determination not to give way to discouragement." He invoked the protection of Our Lady of Roio, venerated in the region, for "all localities affected by the earthquake." and placed a golden rose at the foot of her statue of before concluding his visit. L'AQUILA, Italy, APRIL 28, 2009
Learning religion at school is an example of mutual respect. The Pope received in audience Italian religion teachers. "Far from being an interference in or a limitation to liberty, your presence is a valuable example of that positive spirit of secularity that permits the promotion of a constructive civil coexistence, founded in mutual respect and loyal dialogue, values that a country always needs," the Holy Father said. He observed that the study of religion offers not only useful knowledge, but "favours reflection on the deep meaning of existence." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2009
“Get to know and fall in love with Christ, just as St. Catherine of Siena did” the Pope encouraged the youth today, feast of St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine (1347-1380) is a doctor of the Church whom the Holy Father presented as a model for youth, the ill and for newlyweds in his traditional greetings at the end of the audience. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2009
The Pope listened to representatives from Canada. In a gesture of reconciliation and healing the Holy Father invited representatives from the Catholic communities and aboriginal peoples of Canada, who expresed their stories and concerns over moments of sorrow in their history, specifically regarding the Canadian residential school system. Benedict XVI emphasized that "acts of abuse cannot be tolerated in society," and he prayed that "all those affected would experience healing." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2009
The Pope recommends frequent contemplation of the image of the Good Shepherd. It “will serve as a model and a stimulus for your efforts to announce and spread the Gospel; it will encourage you to care for the faithful with tenderness and mercy, to defend the weak and to spend your lives in constant and generous dedication to the people of God." The Pope said to a group of Argentine bishops on their five-yearly visit to Rome.
"This assiduous contact with Christ through prayer will transform believers' hearts," the Pope continued, "opening them to the needs of others and so ensuring they are not inspired by ideologies aimed at improving the world, but guided by the faith which works through love." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2009
Benedict XVI marked four years as Pontiff on April 19. It was celebrated with a concert. In beginning his fifth year as Pope, the Holy Father requested of those present: "Remember me in your prayers so that I can always fulfil my ministry as the Lord desires." He gave thanks for the concert held in his honor and proposed that music becomes prayer and the "abandonment to the heart to God" VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2009
Colombian President visits Pontiff. After the visit, the Vatican reported that the "cordial discussions enabled a fruitful exchange of views to take place on questions concerning the current international and regional situation." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2009
Pray a lot and pray well, the Pope encouraged the new priests. Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharistic in which he consecrated 19 new priests of the Diocese of Rome.Half of the newly ordained are from Rome; three others are Italian and six came from other countries: Nigeria, Haiti, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Chile and South Korea. The Holy Father asked them to live a life of total surrender to God, like that of the apostles who changed the course of history proclaiming salvation in the name of Christ. VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2009
Pontiff supports Mexicans in flu fight. After praying the Regina Caeli the Pope gave a special greeting to Mexicans and expressed his spiritual closeness to them and assuring that Our Lady of Guadalupe will assist them. The nation has been at the center of the H1N1 flu-epidemic.VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 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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