Keeping an interior diary of God’s love “would be a beautiful and salutary task for our life” the Pope said during the homily at First Vespers on Saturday, with which the Church began Advent and the new liturgical year. The Holy Father said this is a season to recall how God comes to visit us; it invites and stimulates us to contemplate the Lord who is present.
“Sometimes things 'trap' us." He acknowledged. We all experience "having little time for the Lord and little time for ourselves."
Advent "invites us to pause in silence to grasp a presence." He continued: "It is an invitation to understand that every event of the day is a gesture that God directs to us, sign of the care he has for each one of us.”
“Should not the certainty of his presence help us to see the world with different eyes? Should it not help us to see our whole existence as a 'visit,' as a way in which he can come to us and be close to us, in each situation?" In this context, he invited “To have, so to speak, an 'interior diary' of this love” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2009
“Human nature, in its most profound essence, consists in loving”. Benedict XVI affirmed during the general audience. “… Only one task is entrusted to every human being: to learn to will the good, to love, sincerely, authentically, freely.” However, he said, “only at the school of God can this task be accomplished and man can attain the end for which he was created”.
The Holy Father reflected on love and its difficulties as he considered the teachings of a 12th century monk, William of Saint-Thierry.
The monk speaks of this radical vocation of love for God, which is the secret of a successful and happy life, and which he describes as an incessant and growing desire, inspired by God himself in the heart of man, the Pope explained. William taught that love is the "main energy that moves the human spirit."
In speaking of the love of God, he attributes notable importance to the emotional dimension, the Holy Father continued, “our heart is made of flesh, and when we love God, who is Love itself, how can we not express in this relationship with the Lord also our most human feelings, such as tenderness, sensitivity, delicacy? The Lord himself, becoming man, wished to love us with a heart of flesh!”
Learning this love is a "long and demanding journey," the Pope affirmed. "Let us put ourselves then in the school of the saints to learn to love in an authentic and total way" The Pope encouraged: “to love God and, for love of him, to love our neighbour; only thus will we be able to find true joy, anticipation of eternal blessedness”. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009
“The Gospel is not a myth, but the account of a true story” the Pope said before praying the midday Angelus. He read the passage in which St Luke traces with great precision the coordinates in space and time of John the Baptist’s preaching: (Luke 3:1-6).
The Word of God is the subject that moves history, descending upon the earth so that it produces fruit, “Jesus himself is the divine Word that became flesh in Mary's virginal womb: In him God is fully revealed, he has spoken and given us everything, opening the treasuries of his truth and of his mercy to us.”
The Holy Father cited St. Ambrose, saying, "So, the Word descended that the earth, which before had been a desert, would produce its fruits for us."
And, he continued, the "most beautiful flower that has sprung up from the word of God is the Virgin Mary. She is the first fruit of the Church, garden of God on earth."
However, the Bishop of Rome recognized, while Mary is immaculate -- as the liturgy celebrates Tuesday -- the Church is always in need of purification.
"In the Church there is always a struggle taking place between the desert and the garden, between the sin that parches the earth and the grace that waters it so that it produces abundant fruits of holiness," he said. "Let us therefore pray to the Mother of the Lord that she will help us, in this Advent season, to 'straighten' our ways, letting ourselves be guided by the word of God." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2009
Other papal messages and activities
Prayer intentions for December. Benedict XVI will be praying in a particular way for children: "That children may be respected and loved and never be the victims of exploitation in its various forms."
The apostolic intention: "That at Christmas the peoples of the earth may recognize in the Word Incarnate the light which illuminates every man and that the Nations may open their doors to Christ, the Saviour of the world." VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2009
On occasion of St. Andrew’s feast, protector of the ecumenical patriarchate,the Holy Father sent a message to the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople .
The Bishop of Rome noted how the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have been committed to "the path towards the re-establishment of full communion." and stated that this " willingness to encounter one another and to recognize one another as brothers in Christ, should not be hindered by those who remain bound to the remembrance of historical differences, which impedes their openness to the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and is able to transform all human failings into opportunities for good." VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2009
"There is no conflict on the horizon between scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge; on the contrary, only in the measure that they succeed in entering into dialogue and exchanging their respective competencies, will they be able to present to men of today truly effective results." Benedict XVI affirmed in a message marking an event for the Year of Astronomy. Scientific success should not blind humanity to God,he said. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2009
The Russian Orthodox Church has published a book in Italian and Russian with texts from Benedict XVI on the culture of Europe. ROME, DEC. 1, 2009
Real theologians are aware of their own limitations and do not fall into the temptation of trying to restrict God to the limits of human intelligence, Benedict XVI said during his homily at a Mass he celebrated for the International Theological Commission.
He compared certain theologians to the ancient scribes who told the Magi how to reach Bethlehem
but, "they do not feel they must go [to see him.]"
"They've delved into the details of sacred Scripture and the history of salvation, but they have not been able to see the mystery itself, the true center: that this Jesus was truly the Son of God.” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009
Trust God’s goodness and approach the sacrament of confession. The Pope spoke of this sacrament as he concluded the general audience on the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation, "Reconciliatio et paenitentia." Benedict XVI pointed to some "extraordinary 'apostles of the confessional,' tireless dispensers of divine mercy: Sts. John Mary Vianney, Joseph Cafasso, Leopold Mandic, Pio of Pietrelcina.". VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009
Benedict XVI greeted the sister of a man who was condemned to death and executed for killing a policeman in Paris in 1957. In prison he had a radical, vivid conversion, reaching great heights of spirituality and is now in the process of beatification. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2009
Benedict XVI and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met and agreed to upgrade relations between the two sides to full diplomatic ties, the Holy See reported. The two sides have maintained representation below the rank of ambassador since 1990. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2009
In this Year for Priests, the Pope asked the sick to "pray and offer your sufferings for priests, so that they will be faithful to their vocation and that their ministry will be rich in spiritual fruits, for the benefit of the whole Church." in his message for the 18th World Day of the Sick.
Citing "Spe Salvi," the Holy Father affirmed that "what cures man is not to shun suffering and flee in the face of pain, but the capacity to accept tribulation, to mature in it and find meaning in it through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love."
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2009
Benedict XVI met with the head of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, and expressed gratitude for his commitment to foster unity with the Catholic Church. “During the latter half of the past century,” the Pope said, “the Christians in Albania, both Orthodox and Catholic, kept the faith alive there in spite of an extremely repressive and hostile atheistic regime; and, as is well known, many Christians paid cruelly for that faith with their lives.” Now, with the fall of this regime, a time of reconstruction is taking place, he noted. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2009
"God reunites men in a true communion” The Pope said after a concert at the Sistine chapel commemorating two milestones in Germany: 60 years since the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany and the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. He reflected on the events on Nov. 9, 1989, as the “unexpected dawn of freedom, after a long and painful night of violence and oppression by a totalitarian system that, at the very end, led to a nihilism, an emptying of souls.”
The Pontiff affirmed that responsibility before God is of decisive importance for right political action (cf. "Caritas in Veritate")”. “God reunites men in a true communion, and he makes the individual understand that, in communion with the other, there is One who is greater who is likewise present, who is the original cause of our life and our being together.”
In the mystery of Christmas, he said, this God draws near in his love; as a man, as a child, he asks for our love. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2009
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full translation of the Pope's address: www.zenit.org/article-27757?l=english
Benedict XVI wished success to world leaders gathering in Denmark seeking a global pact on climate change, recalling that the way to protect the earth must include respect for God's laws and the moral dimension of human life. Some 190 nations will be represented at the biggest climate change meeting in history. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 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.
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