The Holy Father´s Week: January 31, 2011

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

On the life of St. Joan of Arc. During the general audience Benedict XVI reflected on the life of this young saint, who died at age 19, in 1431. "One of the most original aspects of the holiness of this young girl was precisely the connection between mystical experience and political mission". He said.

   "At a time of crisis in the Church and of war in her native France, she felt God's call to a life of prayer and virginity, and to personal engagement in the liberation of her compatriots."

   "At the age of seventeen, Joan began her mission among the French military forces; she sought to negotiate a just Christian peace between the English and the French.Hers was a proposal of true peace in justice between the two Christian peoples, in light of the names of Jesus and Mary, but this proposal was rejected. "For a whole year," Benedict XVI noted, "Joan lived with the soldiers, carrying out among them a real mission of evangelization."

   Joan had to commit herself in the fight for the liberation of the city of Orleans which was sieged. She witnessed the coronation of Charles VII at Rheims.

   Eventually, however, Joan was captured by her enemies, "she was tried by an ecclesiastical court and burnt at the stake as a heretic; she died invoking the name of Jesus".

   "This trial is a moving page of the history of sanctity and also an illuminating page on the mystery of the Church that, according to the words of the Second Vatican Council, is 'at the same time holy and always in need of being purified,'" the Pope reflected. "St. Joan of Arc's deep love for the Church -- despite the ecclesiastics who condemned her to death -- has a truly heroic character"

   "Her unjust condemnation was overturned twenty-five years later." Benedict XVI noted. "At the heart of Saint Joan's spirituality was an unfailing love for Christ and, in Christ, for the Church and for her neighbour".

   "May the prayers and example of Saint Joan of Arc inspire many lay men and women to devote themselves to public life in the service of God's Kingdom, and encourage all of us to live to the fullest our lofty calling in Christ." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2010

On ZENIT's Web page: Full text:

"The Beatitudes are a new program of life to liberate us from the false values of the world and open us to the true goods, present and future." The Holy Father reflected at the Angelus. "When, in fact, God consoles, satiates the hunger for justice, dries the tears of the afflicted, it means that, besides recompensing everyone in a material way, he opens the Kingdom of Heaven."

   "The Beatitudes reflect the life of the Son of God who allows himself to be persecuted, despised to the point of being condemned to death, so that men be granted salvation."

   The Holy Father recalled the words of Peter of Damascus, an old hermit who said: "The Beatitudes are gifts of God, and we must give him great thanks for them and for the recompenses that come from them, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven in the world to come, consolation here, the fullness of every good and mercy from God… once we become the images of God on earth."

   "This is why", the Pope continued, "the Church does not fear poverty, scorn and persecution in a society that is often attracted by material well-being and worldly power".

   "St. Augustine reminds us that "it is not worthwhile to suffer these evils, but to endure them for the name of Jesus, not only with a peaceful soul but even with joy".

   We invoke the Virgin Mary, he said, "the one who is Blessed par excellence, asking for the strength to seek the Lord and to follow him always, with joy, on the path of the Beatitudes." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011

Other papal messages and activities

Benedict XVI's message for World Media Day, which will be held on June 5, was published on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of communicators. The letter is titled "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age."

   Today the radical changes taking place in communications are guiding significant cultural and social developments, the Pope affirmed. "As with every other fruit of human ingenuity", the Pope wrote, "the new communications technologies must be placed at the service of the integral good of the individual and of the whole of humanity".

   Benedict XVI further noted that also in the digital age, there is a "Christian way of being present."  "This," he explained, "takes the form of a communication which is honest and open, responsible and respectful of others. To proclaim the Gospel through the new media means not only to insert expressly religious content into different media platforms, but also to witness consistently, in one's own digital profile and in the way one communicates choices, preferences and judgements that are fully consistent with the Gospel, even when it is not spoken of specifically." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2011

On ZENIT's Web page: Full text:

A delegation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, who is in Rome for the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, was received by the Pope.

   We wish to implore together, in a constant way, the help of God and the assistance of the Holy Spirit, to be able to take further steps toward the unity that we long for, and to not be satisfied with where we are now, he said. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2011.


On ZENIT's Web page: Full text:

At the closing vespers of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, held at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, the Holy Father said in his homily that "The teaching of the Apostles, fraternal communion, the breaking of the bread and prayer are the concrete ways of life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem gathered by the action of the Holy Spirit but at the same time they constitute the essential features of all Christian communities, of all times and all places. In other words, we can also say that they represent the essential dimensions of the unity of the visible Body of the Church."

   "We must be grateful", the Holy Father said, "because, in the course of the last decades, the ecumenical movement, "arising from the impulse of the grace of the Holy Spirit", has taken significant steps forward, which have made it possible to attain encouraging convergence and consent on varied points, developing between the Churches and the ecclesial communities relations of mutual esteem and respect, as well as of concrete collaboration in face of the challenges of the contemporary world."

   "We are well aware, however, that we are still far from that unity for which Christ prayed and which we find reflected in the portrait of the first community of Jerusalem."

   The Pope spoke about the example of St. Paul, whose conversion the Church celebrates on this day, "In his long missionary journeys, Paul, journeying through different cities and regions, never forgot the bond of communion with the Church of Jerusalem." He noted.

   Benedict XVI ended his homily trusting in Mary's intercession: "United to Mary, who on the day of Pentecost was present in the Cenacle together with the Apostles, we turn to God source of every gift to have renewed for us today the miracle of Pentecost and, guided by the Holy Spirit, may all Christians re-establish full unity in Christ. Amen." ROME, JAN. 25, 2011 

Benedict XVI's message for World Mission Sunday, which will be observed Oct. 23, was published today. It is titled "As the Father Has Sent Me, So I Send You" (John 20:21)

   "The Church "is missionary by nature, as she takes her origin from the mission of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, according to the plan of God the Father" ("Ad Gentes," No. 2). This is "the happiness and vocation proper of the Church, her most profound identity. She exists to evangelize" the Holy Father affirms.

   "We cannot remain tranquil in face of the thought that, after two thousand years, there are still peoples who do not know Christ and have not yet heard his message of salvation."

   "Hence it is important that every baptized person as well as the ecclesial communities be interested not only in a sporadic and irregular way in the mission, but in a constant way, as the way of Christian life." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2011

On ZENIT's Web page:Full text:

On the feast day of St. Timothy and St. Titus, the Holy Father encouraged young people, those suffering illnesses and newlyweds to find an example in these disciples of St. Paul. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2010

Benedict XVI expressed deep sorrow and strong condemnation of the suicide bombing of a busy Moscow airport on Monday that left 35 dead. He sent a telegram to Russia´s President Dmitry Medvedev and assured his fervent prayers for the victims. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2011

Orthodox-Catholic commission was greeted by the Pope. He received in audience the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. He encouraged the ongoing dialogue and expressed his gratitude for the work that began in 2003. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2011

After he had prayed the midday Angelus, Benedict XVI noted that today is World Leprosy Day, as recognized by the United Nations. This world day was promoted by a French writer, Raoul Follereau, in the 1950s. "I assure all the sick of a special prayer, which I extend to those who care for them and who in various ways work to eliminate Hansen's Disease," the Holy Father said.

   Also today the "International Day for Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land." is celebrated.  The Holy Father invited everyone to pray to the Lord that he bring minds and hearts together in concrete peace projects.

   He mentioned as well that various countries of the Far East will celebrate the Lunar New Year in the days that follow. He wished them serenity and prosperity. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011

Faith and reason are always part of a truly integrated education, Benedict XVI affirmed on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines, the oldest university in the Far East. "Although I am not able to be with you physically," he said, "I am delighted to be able to speak to you personally in this way, to join with you spiritually and offer to all my best wishes on this happy occasion." He said in a video message sent for the occasion. VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011

"Christ is inseparable from the Church which is his Body." The Pope observed during an audience with the community of the Pontifical Ethiopian College. "It is in the Church that Christ joins the baptized more closely to himself," he said, "and, nourishing them at the Eucharistic table, he brings them to participate in his glorious life."

   He also reminded the priests and the seminarians that Christ "does not suppress the person's characteristic qualities; on the contrary, he elevates them, he ennobles them, making them his; he calls them to serve his ministry and his work." VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011

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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