"Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus" Benedict XVI affirmed during the general audience in St. Peter's Square. He spoke about St. Bernard of Clairvaux called "the last father" of the Church, because in the 12th century he renewed once again and rendered present the great theology of the Fathers.
When he was only 25 years old, Bernard was invited by St. Stephen, abbot of Citeaux, to found the monastery of Clairvaux. He also founded some women's convents.
Bernard maintained a vast correspondence, developed warm friendships with his contemporaries, defended sound doctrine, and combated heresy and outbreaks of anti-Semitism.
For Bernard, the Holy Father affirmed, “true knowledge of God consists in a personal, profound experience of Jesus Christ and of his love. And this, dear brothers and sisters, is true for every Christian: Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us."
His spirituality was profoundly Christ-centred and contemplative, and his celebration of the sweetness of Christ's name won him the title of Doctor mellifluus.
St. Bernard is also known for his fervent devotion to our Lady and his insight into her intimate sharing in the sacrifice of her Son, the Holy Father explained: "per Mariam ad Iesum," through Mary we are led to Jesus”.
The Pope concluded these reflections on St. Bernard with the invocations to Mary that we read in one of his beautiful homilies. "In danger, in anguish, in uncertainty," he says, "think of Mary, call on Mary. May she never be far from your lips, from your heart; and thus you will be able to obtain the help of her prayer, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot go astray; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot be mistaken. If she sustains you, you cannot fall; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, do not tire; if she is propitious to you, you will reach the goal ..." VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2009
"Courage! Get on your feet, Continent of Africa" Benedict XVI urged at the concluding Mass of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. “God's plan does not change.” He affirmed, “Through the centuries and the upheavals of history, he always points to the same goal: the Kingdom of freedom and of peace for all.”
He explained God´s predilection for those who are deprived of freedom and peace, for those whose dignity as human persons is violated. “We think in particular of the brothers and sisters in African who suffer from poverty, disease, injustice, war and violence, forced migrations”.
“These favored children of the heavenly Father are like the blind man of the Gospel, Bartimaeus, who "sat begging by the road" (Mark 10:46) at the gates of Jericho” the Holy Father continued.
“It is just along this road that Jesus the Nazarene passes. It is the road that leads to Jerusalem, where the Passover will be celebrated, his Passover sacrifice, to which the Messiah goes for us. It is the road of his exodus, which is also ours: it is the only road that leads to the land of reconciliation, of justice and of peace.”
The Pope affirmed that Bartimaeus, after he is healed, is the image of humanity that, enlightened by faith, follows Jesus along the road, and sets out on the journey to the promised land.
“Get up, Church in Africa, family of God, because you are being called by the heavenly Father, whom your ancestors invoked as Creator, before knowing the merciful nearness, revealed in his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Take the journey of a new evangelization with the courage that comes from the Holy Spirit”.
The Holy Father mentioned the pressing call to reconciliation, the indispensable condition for creating in Africa relationships of justice between men and for building an equitable and lasting peace in respect to every individual and every people. VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2009
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-27333?l=english
“Be Salt and Light” Benedict XVI entrusted the fruits of the Africa synod to the faithful on the continent before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
"Dear brothers and sisters who listen to me from Africa," he urged. "I entrust to your prayers in a special way the fruits of the labours of the Synod fathers, and I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus: Be salt and light in the beloved African land!" VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2009
Other papal messages and activities:
The Holy Father urged Europe to recall Christian values. In an audience with the new head of the delegation of the Commission of European Communities to the Holy See, Yves Gazzo, the Pope noted that the countries of the European Union are united around the same values.
Benedict XVI affirmed that the Church wishes to remind people "that the basis of the values comes above all from the Christian heritage which continues to nourish it even today."
He affirmed: "It is important that Europe not allow its model of civilization to be eroded, bit by bit. Its original impulse must not be suffocated by individualism and utilitarianism."
The Pontiff stated, "The immense intellectual, cultural and economic resources of the continent will continue to bear fruit if they continue to be fertilized by the transcendent vision of the human person, which is the most precious treasure of European heritage."
He continued, "Europe will be really itself only if it is able to preserve the originality that has constituted its greatness and this is capable of making of it, in the future, one of the principal actors in the promotion of the integral development of persons, which the Catholic Church regards as the genuine way able to remedy the present imbalances of our world." VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2009
Groups of Anglicans will now be able to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the Anglican spiritual and liturgical tradition. A statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explained that with the apostolic constitution, "the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony."
This responds to requests from Anglicans who have expressed wishes to become Catholic, particularly as the Anglican Tradition continues to take steps toward opening their priesthood and episcopate to women and active homosexuals, and blessing same-sex unions.
According to Cardinal Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith.
"Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. [...] VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2009.
Concerned for the fate of the great rivers of the earth. Benedict XVI sent a letter on the occasion of the Eighth International Symposium on Religion, Science and the Environment organized under the patronage of Bartholomew I and titled "Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River."
"Nature, in fact, is prior to us, and, as the setting of our life, it must be used responsibly, with respect for its inbuilt equilibrium." He wrote. "Concern for the fate of the great rivers of the earth must lead us to reflect soberly on the model of development which our society is pursuing,"
"By virtue of their faith," the Pope added, "Christians are called to join in offering the world a credible witness of responsibility for the safeguarding of creation, and to cooperate in every way possible to ensure that our earth can preserve intact its God-given grandeur, beauty and bounty."
The Pontiff expressed his appreciation for Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I´s "continued efforts to promote respect for God’s gift of creation and a sense of global solidarity for its wise and responsible stewardship." VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009
The "Compendium Eucharisticum" has been presented to Benedict XVI. The Pope had already announced in his 2007 apostolic exhortation that the compendium would be produced, fruit of the recommendations of the bishops at the synod on the Eucharist.
The Holy Father expressed his hope that the document would "help make the memorial of the Passover of the Lord increasingly the source and summit of the Church's life and mission. This will encourage each member of the faithful to make his or her life a true act of spiritual worship." VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009
New Papal appointments. Benedict XVI named new secretary for the Pontifical Council of the Family. He appointed Monsignor Jean Laffitte, and named him a bishop.
Salesian Father Mario Toso was named as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and named a bishop
Father Paul D. Etienne, was named as bishop of the Diocese of Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Benedict XVI appointed two members of the Congregation for Bishops: Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; and Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature.
The secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, was named secretary of the College of Cardinals.
The Pontiff accepted the resignation of Bishop Francis Xavier Irwin as auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts.VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009
“The discourse of a Pastor must be realistic”, the Pontiff affirmed at the luncheon with those who participated in the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. "It must deal with reality, but from the perspective of God and his Word."
“This was the great issue of the synod and I think, thanks be to God, we successfully resolved it. I am grateful for this also because it will greatly facilitate the elaboration of the post-synodal document.”
The three-week assembly, which gathered 33 cardinals, 79 archbishops and 156 bishops, considered the theme "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace." VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 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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