Torch: May 3-9, 2008

A weekly report on the Holy Father’s messages and activities.
by Brother John Mullan, LC -- Tra | Source:


Christian solidarity must direct all men and women towards God: “The solidarity that binds the human family, and the subsidiary levels reinforcing it from within, must however always be placed within the horizon of the mysterious life of the Triune God, in whom we perceive an ineffable love shared by equal, though nonetheless distinct, Persons. My friends, I invite you to allow this fundamental truth to permeate your reflections: not only in the sense that the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity are undoubtedly enriched by our belief in the Trinity, but particularly in the sense that these principles have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny. […] The responsibility of Christians to work for peace and justice, their irrevocable commitment to build up the common good, is inseparable from their mission to proclaim the gift of eternal life to which God has called every man and woman.” (Address to Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Saturday, May 3)

Praying the rosary turns our hearts to Christ: “The holy rosary is not some pious practice relegated to the past, a prayer of distant times to be thought of nostalgically. […] In the modern world that is so dispersive, this prayer helps us to place Christ at the center, as did the Virgin who meditated upon everything that was said about her Son and upon what he himself did and said. When we recite the rosary we relive important monuments of the history of salvation, we again go over the various stages of Christ's mission. With Mary we turn our hearts to the mystery of Jesus. […] The rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic manner – not mechanically and superficially, but profoundly – brings peace and reconciliation. It contains the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the heart of each Hail Mary.” (Message after leading the rosary, Saturday, May 3)

Our hope is real because Christ ascended to heaven: “In his farewell discourses to the disciples, Jesus greatly insisted on the importance of his ‘return to the Father,’ the crowning of his entire mission: indeed he came into the world to bring man back to God, not at the level of ideas – like a philosopher or a master of wisdom – but in reality, like the shepherd who wants to bring his sheep back into the sheepfold. […] God in man – man in God: Now this is not a theoretical truth but a real truth. For this reason, Christian hope, founded in Christ, is not an illusion but, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, ‘in him we have an anchor of our life’ (Heb 6:19), an anchor that penetrates heaven, where Christ has gone before us.” (Address before reciting the Regina Caeli, Sunday, May 4)
Be saints, courageous witnesses of the gospel: “Is it not perhaps possible even today to make your lives a testimony of communion with the Lord, one that becomes a real masterpiece of saintliness? […] In a Church called to face demanding trials of faithfulness, and tempted to adaptation, be courageous witnesses and prophets of evangelical radicalism; in a Church that daily faces a relativist, hedonist and consumer mentality, make room for rationality under the banner of a faith that befriends intelligence, both in the area of popular mass culture and of more elaborate and more profound research. In a Church that calls people to the heroism of sanctity, respond without fear, trusting always in the mercy of God.” (Message to members of Catholic Action, Sunday, May 4)

Music expresses universal human sentiments: “I note with pleasure the interest shown by your orchestra and choir in European religious music. This shows that it is possible, in different cultural settings, to enjoy and appreciate sublime manifestations of the spirit such as Mozart's Requiem which we have just heard, precisely because music expresses universal human sentiments, including the religious sentiment, which transcends the boundaries of every individual culture.” (Words after concert of Chinese musical groups, Wednesday, May 7)
The Church must propose the light of the gospel in the Middle East: “I appreciate your good relations with Muslims, as well as your efforts to resolve, with a sincere and objective spirit of fraternal dialogue, problems that may arise. In line with the Second Vatican Council, the Melkite Church has sincerely sought mutual understanding and the promotion and a shared defense of social justice, moral values, peace and freedom with Muslims to the benefit of all. In the troubled and at times dramatic context of the Middle East, the Melkite Church finds itself faced with situations where politics plays a role that is not indifferent to its life. That is why it is important to maintain contacts with the political authorities and institutions and the various political parties. Nevertheless, it does not fall to the clergy to dedicate themselves to a political life. That is the duty of the laity. The Church, however, should propose the light of the gospel to all so that all may dedicate themselves to serve the common good and so that justice may always prevail, so that the path to peace for all peoples in this much loved region may be opened.” (Words to members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, Thursday, May 8)

Ecumenical effort is an act of trust in the Holy Spirit: “On Pentecost day, it was the Holy Spirit who created from the many languages of the crowds assembled in Jerusalem one single voice to profess the faith. It is the Holy Spirit who brings about the Church’s unity. The path towards the restoration of full and visible communion among all Christians may seem long and arduous. Much remains to be done to heal the deep and painful divisions that disfigure Christ’s Body. The Holy Spirit, however, continues to guide the Church in surprising and often unexpected ways. He can open doors that are locked, inspire words that have been forgotten, heal relations that are broken. If our hearts and minds are open to the Spirit of communion, God can work miracles again in the Church, restoring the bonds of unity. Striving for Christian unity is an act of obedient trust in the work of the Holy Spirit, who leads the Church to the full realization of the Father’s plan, in conformity with the will of Christ.” (Words at ecumenical celebration with Armenian patriarch, Friday, May 9)

Some activities of the Holy Father
Saturday, May 3: The Pope addressed participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting is focused on the theme “Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together.” The Pope also led the praying of the rosary at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Sunday, May 4: The Pope prayed the midday Regina Caeli in St. Peter's Square.

Monday, May 5: Benedict XVI gave an address to 33 new recruits of the Swiss guard, in preparation for their swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday.
Tuesday, May 6: Benedict XVI sent a telegram to Myanmar to express his sympathy and promise prayers for the victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Wednesday, May 7: The Pope held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, in which he dedicated his catechesis to the theme of Christian unity. Karekin II, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, attended the audience, and both leaders exchanged formal greetings. In the afternoon the Holy Father attended a concert in Paul VI Hall offered in his honor by the Philharmonic Orchestra of China and the Choir of the Shanghai Opera House.

Thursday, May 8: The Pope received in audience 300 members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate, who are on pilgrimage in Rome.

Friday, May 9: Benedict XVI presided an ecumenical celebration with the Armenian patriarch Karekin II. The Pope also received bishops from Hungary, who recently completed their five-yearly visit to the Vatican.

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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