Torch: May 10-16, 2008

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


Authentic love requires both freedom and sacrifice: “Nascent life is the fruit of a love capable of thinking and choosing in complete freedom, without allowing itself to be overly conditioned by the sacrifice this may require. From here emerges the miracle of life which parents experience in themselves as they sense the extraordinary nature of what is achieved in them and through them. No mechanical technique can substitute the act of love that husband and wife exchange as a sign of the greater mystery, in which they are protagonists and co-participants of creation. […] Freedom must join with truth, and responsibility with strength of dedication to others, also through sacrifice. Without these principles the community of man does not develop and there is a risk of being trapped in oppressive selfishness.” (Address to participants in congress on “Humanae Vitae,” Saturday, May 10)

The Holy Spirit gives life to the universal Church: “In the act itself of her birth the Church is already ‘catholic,’ universal. She speaks all languages from the very beginning, because the Gospel that is entrusted to her is destined for all peoples, according to the will and the mandate of the risen Christ. The Church that is born at Pentecost is not above all a particular community – the Church of Jerusalem – but the universal Church, that speaks the language of all peoples. From her, other communities in every corner of the world will be born, particular Churches that are all and always actualizations of the one and only Church of Christ. The Catholic Church is therefore not a federation of churches, but a single reality: the universal Church has ontological priority. A community that is not catholic in this sense would not even be a Church.” (Homily of Pentecost, Sunday, May 11)

Rediscover the beauty of our baptism in the Holy Spirit: “Pentecost is, in a special way, the baptism of the Church who undertakes her universal mission beginning from the streets of Jerusalem with prodigious preaching in the different languages of humanity. In this baptism of the Holy Spirit the personal and communal dimensions – the ‘I’ of the disciple and the ‘we’ of the Church – are inseparable. The Spirit consecrates the person and at the same time makes him a living member of the mystical body of Christ, a participant in the mission to witness to his love. […] Today I would like to extend this invitation to everyone: let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us be aware again of our baptism and of our confirmation, sources of grace that are always present.” (Address before reciting the Regina Caeli, Sunday, May 11)

The Lebanese must shun violence, in order to restore security: “With great concern in recent days I have followed the situation in Lebanon, where, political initiatives having stalled, verbal violence and then armed confrontations followed, with many dead and wounded. Even if in these last hours the tensions have slackened, I believe that it is a duty today to exhort the Lebanese to abandon every argument for aggressive opposition that would cause their country irreparable damage. Dialogue, mutual understanding and the search for reasonable compromise are the only way to restore to Lebanon its institutions, and to the people, the necessary security for a daily life that is dignified and rich with hope for tomorrow.” (Message after the Regina Caeli, Sunday, May 11)

We must promote respect for life: “We cannot but recognize that, in practical terms, defending human life has become more difficult today, because a mentality has been developed that progressively devalues human life and entrusts it to the judgment of individuals. A consequence deriving therefrom is lessened respect for the human person, a value that lies at the foundation of any form of civil coexistence, over and above the faith a person may profess. […] It is necessary to bear concrete witness to the fact that respect for life is the first form of justice that must be applied. For those who have the gift of faith this becomes an imperative that cannot be deferred. […] Your initiative in the European Parliament's Commission for Petitions, in which you affirm the fundamental values of the right to life from the moment of conception, of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, of the right of all conceived human beings to be born and educated in a family of parents, is further confirmation of the solidity of your commitment and your full communion with the Church’s magisterium, which has always proclaimed and defended such values as ‘nonnegotiable.’” (Message to members of Italy’s Movement for Life, Monday, May 12)

Peace in the Holy Land requires respect for both Israelis and Palestinians: “The Holy See recognizes Israel’s legitimate need for security and self-defense and strongly condemns all forms of anti-Semitism. It also maintains that all peoples have a right to be given equal opportunities to flourish. Accordingly, I would urge your government to make every effort to alleviate the hardship suffered by the Palestinian community, allowing them the freedom necessary to go about their legitimate business, including travel to places of worship, so that they too can enjoy greater peace and security. […] When all the people of the Holy Land live in peace and harmony, in two independent sovereign states side by side, the benefit for world peace will be inestimable, and Israel will truly serve as ‘light to the nations,’ a shining example of conflict resolution for the rest of the world to follow.” (Audience with Israel’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Monday, May 12)

Authentic dialogue requires the light of truth found in  Christ: “Dialogue does not accept superficiality. Precisely when one enters into the depths of the encounter with Christ, an ample space for dialogue also opens. When one finds the light of truth, he realizes that it is a light for everyone; polemics disappear and it is possible to understand one another, or at least, speak to one another, draw closer together. The path of dialogue consists precisely in being close to God in Christ, in the depths of the encounter with him, in the experience of the truth, which opens us to the light and helps us to go out to meet others – the light of truth, the light of love. In the end, he tells us: Take the path of the experience, of the humble experience of faith, every day. Then, the heart is made big and can see and also illuminate reason so that it sees the beauty of God.” (Catechesis during the general audience, Wednesday, May 14)

Consecrated virginity is a gift for the Church: “Consecrated virginity is a gift in the Church and for the Church. […] The choice of virginal life is an allusion to the transitory nature of earthly things and an anticipation of future good. Be witnesses of vigilant and industrious hope, of joy, of the peace that belongs to those who abandon themselves to the love of God. Be present in the world, yet pilgrims on the journey to the kingdom.” (Address to members of the Order of Consecrated Virgins, Thursday, May 15)

The sacraments of marriage and the Eucharist are profoundly linked: “In their daily lives, couples must draw inspiration for their behavior from the example of Christ who ‘loved the Church and gave himself up for her.’ This supreme gesture of love is presented anew in each celebration of the Eucharist; and it is appropriate for the pastoral care of families to refer back to this sacramental fact as a reference point of fundamental importance. People who go to Mass […] find in the Eucharist a powerful allusion to their own family, their own marriage; and they are encouraged to live their lives from the point of view of faith, seeking in divine grace the strength to succeed.” (Address to Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, Thursday, May 15)

Families in crisis require a response on different levels: “We are well aware of the many challenges facing families today, and we know how difficult it is, in current social conditions, to achieve the ideal of fidelity and solidarity in conjugal love, to bring up children, and to preserve the harmony of the family unit. […] From so many families, in a worryingly precarious state, we hear a cry for help, often an unconscious one, which clamors for a response from civil authorities, from ecclesial communities and from the various educational agencies. Accordingly, there is an increasingly urgent need for a common commitment to support families by every means available, from the social and economic point of view, as well as the juridical and spiritual.” (Address to members of family associations, Friday, May 16)

A globalized world needs interreligious cooperation: “Recently I observed that the forces of globalization see humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand there is the growing multitude of economic and cultural bonds which usually enhance a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of humanity. On the other there are disturbing signs of a fragmentation and a certain individualism in which secularism takes a hold, pushing the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipsing the very source of harmony and unity within the universe. The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon […] point to the importance of interreligious cooperation. They call for a concerted effort to uphold the spiritual and moral soul of your people. In concordance with Buddhists, you can promote mutual understanding concerning the transmission of traditions to succeeding generations, the articulation of ethical values discernable to reason, reverence for the transcendent, prayer and contemplation. Such practices and dispositions serve the common well-being of society and nurture the essence of every human being.” (Audience with Thai bishops, Friday, May 16)

Some activities of the Holy Father

Saturday, May 10: Pope Benedict received in audience participants from an international congress marking the 40th anniversary of the encyclical “Humanae Vitae.”

Sunday, May 11: The Pope celebrated Pentecost Mass with faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, after which he prayed the midday Regina Caeli.

Monday, May 12: Benedict XVI received in audience members of Italy’s Movement for Life.

Wednesday, May 14: The Pope held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, in which he dedicated his catechesis to the theme of Dionysius the Areopagite.

Thursday, May 15: The Holy Father held an audience with 500 members of the Order of Consecrated Virgins, who have gathered in Rome for an international congress. He also received participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Friday, May 16: Pope Benedict received bishops from Thailand, who recently completed their five-yearly visit to the Vatican. He also received in audience representatives from the Forum of Family Associations and the European Federation of Catholic Family Associations.

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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