The Holy Father´s Week: December 21, 2010

A report on Benedict XVI´s messages and activities,
by Maribel de Torres | Source: Zenit.org


The Holy Father's catechesis at the general audience dealt with Saint Veronica Giuliani, a Capuchin Poor Clare and mystic who was born on Dec. 27, 350 years ago. She was given the name Ursula but took the name Veronica, "which means "true image," and, in fact, she would become a true image of Christ Crucified" the Pope explained. Her configuration to the Lord was accompanied by profound mystical experiences such as her crowning with thorns and the stigmata.


   Veronica's spirituality, as revealed above all in her Diary, is Christ-centred and spousal: she saw all things in the light of Christ's love, manifested in his Passion, and she united herself to his self-oblation to the Father for the salvation of souls.


   Her love of the Scriptures was deeply linked to her love of the Church and her strong sense of the communion of the saints. She offered her prayers and sacrifices for the Pope, her bishop, priests and for all needy persons, including the souls in Purgatory.


   "In particular," Benedict XVI affirmed, "Veronica shows herself to be a courageous witness of the beauty and the power of Divine Love, which draws, pervades and inflames her. It is crucified Love that imprinted itself on her flesh, as in that of St. Francis of Assisi, with the stigmata of Jesus."


   Her passionate mystical experience can be summed up in the words she spoke on her deathbed: "I have found Love."


   May the life and teaching of Saint Veronica Giuliani inspire us to grow in union with the Lord and his Church, and to share in Christ's loving concern for the salvation of sinners. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2010



The Gospel of St. Matthew takes the perspective of St. Joseph as it tells us how the birth of Jesus came about. Benedict XVI said before praying the Angelus. "St. Joseph is presented as a "just man" (Matthew 1:19), faithful to God's law, ready to do his will".


   Joseph, he recounted, "was the betrothed of Mary, who, 'before they lived together, was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit.'"


   After an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream, "Forgetting the thought of repudiating Mary in secret, he takes her in because his eyes now see the work of God in her."


   "St. Joseph proclaims the wonders of the Lord, witnessing Mary’s virginity, the gratuitous deed of God, and caring for the earthly life of the Messiah." He explained.


   The Holy Father said that the Church "venerate[s] the legal father of Jesus, because the new man takes form in him, who looks to the future with confidence and courage, does not follow his own project, but entrusts himself totally to the infinite mercy of him who fulfills the prophecies and inaugurates the season of salvation."


   Benedict entrusted to the protection of St. Joseph all the pastors of the Church, so that they are able to offer to the world the message of Christ.


   "May our life be evermore conformed to the person of Jesus, precisely because "the one who is himself the Word takes on a body, he comes from God as a man and draws the whole of man's being to himself, bearing it into the Word of God" VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2010



Other papal messages and activities


Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at the Mater Ecclesia Monastery. This Monastery located inside the Vatican walls was established by Pope John Paul II in 1994. Every five years, a different community of contemplative women religious occupies the monastery, and during their stay they support the activity of the Pontiff and of the members of the Roman Curia. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, which currently occupies the convent.  


   At the end of the Mass, Sister Maria Begona Sancho, superior of the monastery, gave the Pope in the name of all the nuns of the order worldwide. a silver cross -- like the one worn by the nuns. She also gave him the religious objects to be given to poor churches, including 400 albs, 600 purifiers, 900 rosaries, 400 copies in French of Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life, and 2,800 scapulars of the Sacred Heart.  ROME, DEC. 16, 2010



"Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace." This is the theme message for the 44th World Day of Peace, which will be observed Jan. 1. In his message, Benedict XVI reflects: "It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty. In other areas we see more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility towards believers and religious symbols. At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith."


   "The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person whose transcendent nature must not be ignored or overlooked".


   "To deny or arbitrarily restrict this freedom is to foster a reductive vision of the human person; to eclipse the public role of religion is to create a society which is unjust, inasmuch as it fails to take account of the true nature of the human person; it is to stifle the growth of the authentic and lasting peace of the whole human family." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010


On ZENIT's Web page:Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31261?l=english



Benedict XVI expressed thankfulness for progress made in ecumenical dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans when he greeted representatives of the Lutheran World Federation on the occasion of their official visit to Rome.He noted that last year was the 10th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. The delegation was led by the new president of the federation, Reverend Munib Younan.


   "Catholics and Lutherans are called to reflect anew on where our journey towards unity has led us and to implore the Lord's guidance and help for the future," the Pontiff said.


   For his part, Bishop Younan noted the "remarkable developments between our churches during recent years," and said that it was "a sign of our hope for what lies ahead." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010



There is a deep harmony between "theological and mystical thought, the liturgy, Marian devotion and the works of art that, with the splendor of colors and shapes, sing the mystery of the Assumption of Mary and her heavenly glory together with her Son",the Holy Father said in a message sent to the members of the Pontifical Academies for their 15th Public Session. The session focused on the topic: "The Assumption of Mary, Sign of Consolation and Sure Hope," in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Nov. 1, 1950, proclamation of the dogma of the Assumption.


   The Pope expressed his hope for a greater collaboration between theologians, artists and liturgists, so that "effective messages can be offered to the admiration and contemplation of all." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2010



The religious dimension fosters genuine progress, and the state would do well to protect its role in the public sphere, Benedict XVI said upon receiving in audience the new ambassador of Italy to the Holy See, Francesco Maria Greco,  who was presenting his letters of credence. ROME, DEC. 17, 2010



A delegation of pilgrims who donated the Christmas tree, a 93 years old, 100 ft. tall Norway spruce to the Vatican, as well as some other 50 trees, which will be placed in various areas of the Vatican were received in audience by Benedict XVI. They come from the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone. Reflecting on the symbolic value of the Christmas tree, the Pope said that it, together with the nativity scene, offer "a message of fraternity and friendship; an invitation to unity and peace, an invitation to make room, in our life and in society, for God, who offers us his omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child, because he wants us to respond freely to his love with our own love."


   The lighting ceremony took place in the evening, presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State. ROME, DEC. 17, 2010



The Pope received the new ambassadors of Nepal, Zambia, Andorra, the Seychelles and Mali to the Holy See, on the occasion of the presentation of their Letters of Credence. He spoke of human fraternity: "As you know, fraternity has a particular meaning for Christians due to God's design of fraternal love, of fraternity, hence, revealed by Christ." He affirmed. "The Church sees the realization of human fraternity on earth as a vocation contained in God's creative plan, who wishes that she be ever more faithfully the maker of that fraternity, both in the universal ambit and well as the local ambits as it is in the countries that you represent to the Holy See." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010



A society is judged by how it treats those who suffer, Benedict XVI said in his message for the 19th World Day of the Sick, which will be observed Feb. 11, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Vatican press office published the message Saturday. The Holy Father noted that the world day is an opportunity to "reflect on the mystery of suffering and, above all, to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to sick brothers and sisters." VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2010


On ZENIT's Web page:Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31286?l=english



"In our times, one sees the need for a new class of intellectuals who are able to interpret social and cultural dynamics and offer solutions that are not abstract but concrete and realistic." The Holy Father stressed in his homily.  Some 5,000 students and professors from the universities of Rome attended the annual pre-Christmas gathering with the Pope, held in St. Peter's Basilica. "The university is called to play this irreplaceable role and the Church is its convinced and active supporter." He affirmed.


   At the conclusion of the prayer event, a delegation of African university students handed over the icon of Mary Sedes Sapientiae to a group of Spanish students, symbolically initiating the pilgrimage of the icon through all of Spain's universities ahead of the 26th World Youth Day that will take place in Madrid in August 2011. VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 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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