God’s promises are always greater than our hopes, Benedict XVI affirmed during the general audience as he reflected on the life of St. Julian of Norwich, venerated both by the Catholic Church as well as the Anglican Communion.
“As she herself recounts,” the Holy Father said, “in May of 1373, probably on the 13th of that month, she was suddenly stricken by a very serious illness that in three days seemed to bring her to the point of death. When the priest who came to her bedside showed her the crucifix, Julian not only quickly recovered her health, but received 16 revelations that subsequently she reported in writing and commented in her book, "Revelations of Divine Love."
“This book contains a message of optimism based on the certainty of being loved by God and of being protected by his Providence”
“ In this book we read the following wonderful words: "I saw with absolute certainty ... that God, even before creating us loved us, with a love that has never failed, and will never vanish. And in this love he did all his works, and in this love he disposed that all things should be useful for us, and in this love our life lasts for ever ... In this love we have our beginning, and we see all this in God without end"
Julian of Norwich understood the central message for the spiritual life, the Holy Father explained: “God is love and only when we open ourselves totally and with total trust to this love and allow it to become the sole guide of existence, is everything transfigured, true peace and true joy are found and one is able to spread this around.”
“In the mysterious designs of Providence, even from evil, God draws a greater good, as Julian of Norwich writes: "I learned by the grace of God that I must remain firmly in the faith, and hence I must firmly and perfectly believe that all will end well"
“God's promises are always greater than our hopes” The Pope affirmed “If we entrust to God, to his immense love, the most pure and most profound desires of our heart, we will never be disappointed. "And all will be well," "everything will be for the good": This is the final message that Julian of Norwich transmits to us and that I also propose to you today.”
In our own lives, may we draw profit from her teaching that God is the love which transforms our lives, bringing joy and peace to our hearts and, through us, to those all around us. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2010
The voice of God "resounds in the desert of the world through the sacred Scriptures”, the Holy Father said at the Angelus. “Faith, in fact, is fortified the more that it is illuminated by the divine Word, by "all that which," as the Apostle Paul reminds us, "was written previously … for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope"
Benedict XVI offered Our Lady as a model for listening, "As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, St. Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God."
Let us ask the Virgin Mary to sustain us in this spiritual journey, to welcome the coming of the Lord with faith and with love, he said.
The Holy Father ended appealing for prayers from the faithful, “In this Advent season in which we are called to nourish our expectation of the Lord and to welcome him in our midst, I invite you to pray for all the situations of violence, of intolerance, of suffering that there are in the world, so that the coming of Jesus brings consolation, reconciliation and peace.” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2010
Papal prayer intentions for December. His general prayer intention is for those who are suffering: "That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help."
The apostolic intention for December is: "That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice." VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2010
Other papal messages and activities
On St. Andrew’s feast, Benedict XVI sent a message to Orthodox ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I. The feast of St. Andrew, patron of that patriarchate, "issues a strong summons to all those who by God's grace and through the gift of baptism have accepted that message of salvation to renew their fidelity to the Apostolic teaching and to become tireless heralds of faith in Christ through their words and the witness of their lives." Benedict XVI noted. ISTANBUL, Turkey, NOV. 30, 2010
Relics of the Apostle St. Andrew were sent to Kazakhstan, to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches there. Cardinal Bertone noted how he was fulfilling a "lofty task" given him by Benedict XVI. He explained. “The Pontiff, gladly desiring to meet the ardent request, decided to send to the two respective Churches two fragments of the precious relics. This choice has a profound significance, in as much as is underlines the common veneration of the apostles." ASTANA, Kazakhstan, NOV. 30, 2010
Benedict XVI met privately with a group of Iraqis who were wounded in the Oct. 31 massacre in Baghdad's Syrian Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2010
The Holy Father asked for prayers for the Church in China. He made this appeal at the end of the general audience. "I entrust to your prayer and to that of Catholics worldwide the Church in China that, as you know, is going through particularly difficult moments," the Holy Father said. "We ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, to support all the Chinese bishops, so dear to me, so that they will give witness to their faith with courage, placing every hope in the Saviour we await.” VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2010
New Appointments. Benedict XVI named Monsignor Edward Rice, vocations director for the St. Louis Archdiocese, as auxiliary bishop of that same region. The Pope also accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann, 76, who has been serving in St. Louis and retired for reasons of age.
The Pontiff also appointed Bishop Stephen Reichert, 67, of Mendi, Papua New Guinea, as archbishop of Madang.
Cardinal Paolo Sardi, 76, vice chamberlain of Apostolic Chamber, was appointed as patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The Pope accepted the resignation of two prelates: Bishop John Smith of Trenton, New Jersey, and Archbishop Floribert Songasonga Mwitwa of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. DEC. 1, 2010
Upon receiving in audience the new Hungarian ambassador to the Holy See,Gabor Gyorivanyi, the Pontiff affirmed that "Marriage and the family constitute the decisive foundation for a healthy development of the civil society of countries and peoples." He asserted "Europe will no longer be Europe if this basic cell of the social construction disappears or is substantially transformed." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2010.
Knowledge and love sustain one another in turn the Pope affirmed when he addressed members of the International Theological Commission at the close of the commission's plenary assembly. "Whoever has discovered in Christ the love of God, infused by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, wishes to know better the one who loves him and whom he loves.” He said. “As the Fathers of the Church affirmed, whoever loves God is impelled to become, in a certain sense, a theologian, one who speaks with God, who thinks of God and seeks to think with God."VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010
The answers to the ills facing society today can be found when one turns to Christ, Benedict XVI affirmed upon receiving in audience Fernando Sanchez Campos, the new ambassador of Costa Rica to the Holy See. Costa Ricans, the Pontiff reflected, are "a people who centuries ago welcomed the evangelical seed," and who know that "in Christ, the Son of God, man can always find the strength to combat poverty, domestic violence, unemployment and corruption, seeking social justice, the common good, and the integral progress of human beings." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010
On the death of Cardinal Michele Giordano, who died at the age of 80, Benedict XVI sent a message of condolence. He was a former archbishop of Naples, Italy. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010
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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