Benedict XVI took up the figure of St. Odo, a monastic reformer from Cluny, as he returned to his catechesis on great figures from Church history at this Wednesday general audience.
At the beginning of the ninth century, Cluny was the center of an influential movement of Church reform, and Odo, by his example and teaching did much to further this spiritual renewal throughout Europe. He blended the personal austerity of a great reformer with a constant and joyful contemplation of Christ’s infinite mercy. "He was austere, but above all he was good,” the Holy Father affirmed, “ A man of great goodness, a goodness that comes from contact with divine goodness. Odo, his contemporaries say, spread all around the joy with which he was filled."
St. Odo was particularly devoted to the Eucharist, emphasizing the real and substantial presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine. This conviction of faith led him to work for the reform of the clergy and to stress the need for a worthy reception of the Sacrament.
He wrote: "God, the Creator of everything, took bread, saying that it was his Body, and that he would offer it for the world, and distributed the wine, calling it his Blood; therefore, it is the law of nature that the mutation take place according to the Creator's mandate, consequently, nature immediately changes its usual condition: Without a doubt, the bread becomes flesh, and the wine becomes blood"; at the Lord's command "the substance changes”
The Pontiff noted that all this invites us to believe with renewed force and depth in the real presence of the Creator among us, who gives himself in our hands and transforms us as he transforms the bread and wine, thus transforms the world.
The Holy Father recounted St. Odo´s devotion to the Virgin Mary. He was particularly devoted to the image of Mary as the mother of mercy, calling her the "only hope of the world ... thanks to whom the doors of paradise have been opened to us."
The Pope concluded expressing his prayer that Odo's "goodness, [and] joy that comes from faith, united to austerity and opposition to the vices of the world, also touch our heart, so that we too will be able to find the source of joy that springs from the goodness of God." VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 2, 2009
“Be the sign of the living God”. Benedict XVI said at the Mass he celebrated in Viterbo. “The most profound desert is the human heart, when it loses the ability to hear, to speak, to communicate with God and with others. One then becomes blind because he is incapable of seeing reality; he closes his ears to not hear the cry of those who implore his help; his heart is hardened in indifference and egotism.”
In the first reading the prophet Isaiah (35:4-7) encourages "those whose hearts are frightened" and announces this stupendous novelty, that experience confirms: when the Lord is present, the eyes of the blind are reopened, ears of the deaf hear, the lame "leap" like a stag. Everything is reborn and everything revives because wholesome waters spring up in the desert.”
“The Gospel episode narrated by Mark in which Jesus heals a deaf mute in pagan territory (7:31-37) connects well here.” the Pope said,“We can see in this "sign" Jesus' ardent desire to conquer in man the solitude and incommunicability created by egotism, to give a face to a "new humanity," a humanity that listens and a humanity of the word, of dialogue, of communication, of communion with God.”
The Holy Father urged to pay attention to the signs of God. “As Jesus did with the deaf mute person, God continues to reveal his plan to us through "events and words." Listening to his word and discerning his signs must be the work of every Christian community.
Furthermore, he recalled that the Christian is called to "stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and a sign of the living God" (L G,no. 38).
The most immediate of God's signs is certainly care for one's neighbor, according to what Jesus said: "Everything that you did for these least of my brothers you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).
“The priest, whom Christ has chosen entirely for himself, must first of all be this” he said.
"During this Year for Priests, pray with greater intensity for priests, for seminarians and for vocations, that they be faithful to this vocation of theirs! He must be the sign of the living God, as every consecrated person and all the baptized must likewise be". VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009
"Confirm your brothers:" Today I felt this invitation of the Lord addressed to me with a singular intensity.” The Holy Father said before praying the midday Angelus in Viterbo, the city of Popes, where he spent the day in a pastoral visit at Viterbo.” Pray, dear Brothers and Sisters, that I might be able to carry out the mission of the pastors of the entire flock of Christ with ever greater fidelity and love”.
“For many centuries your diocese has distinguished itself by a singular bond of affection and communion with the Successor of Peter. I was able to experience this visiting the Palazzo dei Papi (Palace of Popes) and, in particular, the hall of the "Conclave." the Holy Father affirmed.
“For my part I assure you of a constant remembrance in the Lord for your diocesan community, so that its different articulations (…)will tend more and more to a complete unity and fraternal communion, indispensable conditions for offering the world an efficacious evangelical testimony. I will entrust these intentions this afternoon to the Virgin Mary in my visit to the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia (the Madonna of the Oak)”. VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009
Prayer intentions for September. The Apostleship of Prayer announced this general intention chosen by the Pope: "That the word of God may be better known, welcomed and lived as the source of freedom and joy."
The apostolic intention for this month is: "That Christians in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, who often meet with great difficulties, may not be discouraged from announcing the Gospel to their brothers, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit." VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2009
Other papal messages and activities.
Only if they know God and if his will causes them joy, Christians become missionaries, said the Pope. "God has made himself known to us" and has shown us "how we must be and live, and [how he] is close," the Holy Father observed. "God listens to us, we can approach him," and all this must give us joy. He affirmed this during a Mass to close a three-day meeting with his former students of the University of Regensburg. The Holy Father encouraged his students to read the Bible to listen to Jesus' message and to know how God approaches us, Vatican Radio reported. If we wish to hear the full message of Jesus, the way God guides us, if we want to know how God approaches us, we must read the Old and New Testament, he said. CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2009
Benedict XVI met today with Members of the Sant’Egidio Community planning an interreligious meeting in Auschwitz in the “spirit of Assisi”. The Sept. 6-8 meeting in Krakow and Auschwitz is a continuation of the first interreligious and intercultural meeting called in 1986 in Assisi by Pope John Paul II. This year the program will close with a pilgrimage to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, as a "sign of reconciliation and peace to manifest a radical rejection of violence and war as instruments for the solution of international conflicts,” organizers explained. VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2009
The Pope accepted the resignation of the Bishop of Scranton, Joseph Martino, 63, for health reasons, and the retirement of his auxiliary, Bishop John Dougherty, 77. Until a new bishop is named, Cardinal Justin Rigali is the apostolic administrator in Scranton. SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, AUG. 31, 2009
The Pope phoned Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference, and affirmed his esteem for the service to the Church rendered by the Italian episcopate. The papal phone call came in the context of a flurry in the Italian press alleging conflict between the Italian bishops and the Vatican. VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2009
The Holy Father remembered the 70 th anniversary of World war II. During the general audience, Benedict XVI expressed his desire that a "spirit of pardon, peace and reconciliation will prevail in the hearts of mankind." And urged a “spirit of communion” VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 2, 2009
Benedict XVI previewed a condensed version of a television mini-series on the life of St. Augustine directed by Canadian Christian Duguay, The series, titled "Augustine: The Decline of the Roman Empire," was shown Wednesday in the Swiss Hall of Castel Gandolfo. The Pope expressed the hope that through it, many may discover truth and charity.
Duguay, is known for films such as "Joan of Arc" (1999, with Leelee Sobieski), "The Art of War" (2000), "Screamers" (1995) and "Hitler, the Rise of Evil" (2003). And is also working on a remake of "Ben Hur." CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 3, 2009
U.S. Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy had written to Benedict XVI, confessing his imperfections and asking for prayers. At his funeral the letter was revealed and parts of it were read. The letter was hand delivered to the Pontiff by U.S. President Barack Obama last June. Cardinal McCarrick noted that the Holy Father sent a response with Obama to give to Kennedy, who died August 25. WASHINGTON, D.C., SEP. 1, 2009
Benedict XVI sent a letter to the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium, which began today in Rome, bringing together Orthodox and Catholic theologians to study St. Augustine. The Holy Father said he hoped the symposium would be a success, and that "it discovers doctrinal and spiritual convergences that are useful to build together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith." CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2009
Benedict XVI encourages Orthodox conference. Through his secretary of state, Cardinal T. Bertone, he sent a message to the 17th annual International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality. He expressed his hopes that the "fraternal gathering" would bring about a renewed awareness of the value of the spiritual struggle as a consequence of the love of Christ, and generous efforts in the ascetic formation of young generations. VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 4, 2009 The Holy Father offered a prayer to the Madonna of the Oak. He also greeted the cloistered nuns who gathered at the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia (the Madonna of the Oak). “You, as contemplative nuns, have a mission to be torches in the Church who, in the silence of your monasteries, burn in prayer and love for God” He entrusted to their prayers above all Priests, seminarians and vocations. VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009
Benedict XVI expressed the hope that by commemorating the anniversary of World War II, there will be a renewed effort to build a culture of peace for future generations. “We cannot fail to recall the dramatic events that brought on one of the most terrible conflicts in history, that caused tens of millions of deaths and provoked so much suffering among the beloved Polish people; a conflict that saw the tragedy of the Holocaust and the extermination of many other innocent people.”
He addressed a cordial greeting to the participants in the International Congress "Men and Religions," which is convening in Krakow on the theme: "Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue." Numerous figures and representatives of the various religions -- invited by the Archdiocese of Krakow and the Community of Sant'Egidio -- are gathered to reflect and pray for peace, 70 years after the outbreak of World War II. VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009
Benedict XVI's agenda for the following months includes canonizations, a synod of bishops and a visit to the Czech Republic. VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 6, 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.
The Holy Father offered a prayer to the Madonna of the Oak. He also greeted the cloistered nuns who gathered at the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia (the Madonna of the Oak). “You, as contemplative nuns, have a mission to be torches in the Church who, in the silence of your monasteries, burn in prayer and love for God” He entrusted to their prayers above all Priests, seminarians and vocations. VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009
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