Torch: May 17-23, 2008

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


The Church welcomes the charismas of ecclesial movements: “Go out to meet with much love the movements and new communities; let us make an effort to know their reality adequately, without superficial impressions or reductive judgments. It also helps us to understand that the ecclesial movements and new communities are not a problem or an extra risk that further weighs on our grave duties. No! They are a gift of the Lord, a precious resource to enrich our whole Christian community with their charismas. Thus, a confident welcome that gives space to and values their contributions in the life of the local Churches must not be lacking.” (Address to bishops participating in seminar on ecclesial movements, Saturday, May 17)

Evangelization is urgent and necessary: “Against the seeds of disunity among men that everyday experience shows to be so rooted in humanity because of sin, the local Church opposes the generative force of the unity of the Body of Christ. Mission is a duty about which one must say, ‘Woe to me if I do not evangelize.’ […] It is love that must move us to proclaim to all men with frankness and courage the truth that saves. A love that must radiate everywhere and reach the heart of every man. Indeed, men await Christ.” (Address to members of the Pontifical Missionary Works, Saturday, May 17)

One of history’s dark pages has become a source of grace and education: “Two centuries on, I have come to renew the recognition of the Holy See and of the Church for the faith, the love, and the courage with which your fellow citizens supported [Pope Pius VII] during the exile imposed upon him here by Napoleon Bonaparte. That dark page of European history has, by the power of the Holy Spirit, become a rich source of grace and education, even for our own time. It teaches us the courage to face the challenges of the world – materialism, relativism, laicism – never giving way to compromise but ready to pay in person in order to remain faithful to the Lord and his Church.” (Homily, Savona, Saturday, May 17)

Christ makes all men and women young at heart: “To be young implies to be good and generous, and goodness personified is Jesus. Jesus is the friend that will never betray. Only he can dissolve your anxieties and fears and meet your expectations. The more we are great friends of Jesus, the wider we can open our hearts to others so that they too can be truly young, in other words, so they too can have before them a great future. […] Announce Christ the Lord, hope of the world. Be united among yourselves, help each other to live and to grow in the Christian faith so as to be valiant witnesses of the Lord. Be united, but not closed. Be humble, but not fearful. Be simple, but not naive. Be thoughtful, but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with others, but be yourselves. […] Each one of you, if you stay united to Christ and the Church, can do great things.” (Address to young people, Genoa, Sunday, May 18)

God teaches us precious practical guidelines for life: “The feast of the Blessed Trinity invites us to contemplate him, the Lord; it invites us, in a certain sense, to climb up ‘the mountain’ as Moses did. Although at first sight this may seem to take us away from the world and its problems, in reality we discover that it is precisely by knowing God more closely that we also receive precious practical guidelines for life. Human beings do not achieve fulfillment in absolute autonomy, by fooling themselves that they are God but, on the contrary, by recognizing themselves as children, creatures open to and reaching out toward God and toward their fellow men, in whose faces they see the image of the common Father. […] In a society torn between globalization and individualism, the Church is called to offer her witness of ‘koinonia,’ of communion. This reality does not come ‘from the roots’ but is a mystery that, so to say, has its ‘roots in heaven,’ in the one and triune God.” (Homily on the solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, Genoa, Sunday, May 18)

Living faith guarantees that Christian culture will never be outdated: “Palpitating humanity, ardent faith and profound humility pervade the songs of Romanus the Melodist. This great poet and composer reminds us of the entire treasure of Christian culture, born of faith, born of the heart that has found Christ, the Son of God. From this contact of the heart with the truth that is love, culture is born, the entire great Christian culture. And if faith endures, this cultural heritage does not die, but remains alive and present. Icons still speak to the hearts of believers; they are not things of the past. The cathedrals are not medieval monuments, but houses of life, where we feel at home: we encounter God and we encounter one another. Not even great music – Gregorian chant, Bach or Mozart – is a thing of the past: it lives on from the vitality of the liturgy and of our faith. If faith is alive, Christian culture will never be ‘outdated’ but rather will remain alive and current.” (Catechesis during the general audience, Wednesday, May 21)

The Eucharist is history’s greatest revolution: “‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’ In these words is perceived the truth and the strength of the Christian revolution, the deepest revolution of human history, which is experienced precisely gathered around the Eucharist. Here people of different ages, sex, social condition and political ideas gather. The Eucharist can never be a private event, reserved to people chosen on the basis of affinity or friendship. The Eucharist is a public worship that has nothing of esotericism or exclusivity. We have not decided with whom we want to gather; we have come and found ourselves together with each other, gathered by faith and called to become one body, sharing the only Bread that is Christ. […] And it is necessary to keep watch always so that the temptations of particularism, even if with good intentions, do not head in the opposite direction. The feast of Corpus Christi reminds us above all that to be Christians means to come together from all parts to be in the presence of the only Lord and to be one in him and with him.” (Corpus Christi homily, Thursday, May 22)

Faith in God does not limit us, but makes us more generous and open: “‘He brought me out into a broad place’ (Psalm 18). No small number of people today [...] are afraid that the faith may limit their lives, that they may be constrained in the web of the Church’s commandments and teachings, and that they will no longer be free to move in the ‘broad space’ of modern life and thought. However, only when our lives have reached the heart of God will they have found that ‘broad space’ for which we were created. A life without God does not become freer and broader. Human beings are destined for the infinite. The heart that has opened itself to God becomes generous and broad in its turn.” (Message to participants in “Deutscher Katholikentag,” an ecclesial meeting organized by German laity, Thursday, May 22)

Some activities of the Holy Father

Saturday, May 17: Pope Benedict received 150 bishops who participated in a recent seminar on ecclesial movements. He also received in audience members of the general assembly of the Pontifical Missionary Works. In the afternoon he left Rome for a pastoral visit to Savona and Genoa, returning to the Vatican Sunday evening.

Wednesday, May 21: The Pope held his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall, in which he commented on the Christian poetry of Romanus the Melodist, a theologian, poet and composer born in Syria at the end of the fifth century.

Thursday, May 22: Benedict XVI celebrated the Mass of Corpus Christi at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. After the Mass, he led a Eucharistic procession through the streets of Rome to the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Earlier in the day, the Holy See published a written message from the Pope to participants in “Deutscher Katholikentag,” an ecclesial meeting organized by German laity.

Friday, May 23: Pope Benedict received bishops from Albania, 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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