One of the highest examples of Christian spirituality of all time, St. Teresa of Avila,
is the doctor of the Church with whom Benedict XVI initiated a new cycle of catecheses. At the General audience, Benedict XVI, reflected on this saint, born in Spain in 1515.
“While still a child, less than 9 years old, she read the lives of some martyrs that inspired her with the desire for martyrdom, so much so that she improvised a brief flight from home to die a martyr and go to heaven.”
“Some years later, Teresa would speak of her childhood readings and affirmed that she discovered the truth, which she summarized in two fundamental principles: on one hand, "the fact that all that belongs to this word passes," on the other, that only God is "for ever, ever, ever" the Pope explained.
At the age of twenty she entered the Carmelite convent of the Incarnation. At 23 she became seriously ill and was in a coma for four days, seemingly dead. “In the struggle against her illnesses the saint also saw the fight against weaknesses and resistance to God's call”.
In Lent of 1554, at 39 years of age, Teresa reached the culmination of her struggle against her weaknesses. The fortuitous discovery of the statue of "a very wounded Christ" marked her life profoundly.
Her highly influential writings, which include the Autobiography, The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, reveal her profound christocentric spirituality, and her breadth of human experience.
The Holy Father continued: “In a parallel manner to the maturation of her interiority, the saint began to develop concretely the ideal of the reform of the Carmelite Order”; her meeting with St. John of the Cross was essential; with his support she founded a chain of reformed Carmels throughout Spain.
Teresa considered the evangelical and human virtues the basis of an authentic Christian life. The Holy Father affirmed, “She identified deeply with Christ in his humanity and stressed the importance of contemplation of his Passion and of his real presence in the Eucharist. She presents prayer as an intimate friendship with Christ leading to an ever greater union of love with the Blessed Trinity. In her life and in her death Teresa embodied an unconditional love for the Church.”
In his greeting to the English-speakers at the audience, the Pontiff concluded in this way: "May the example and prayers of St. Teresa of Avila inspire us to greater fidelity to prayer and, through prayer, to greater love for the Lord and his Church, and more perfect charity towards our brothers and sisters." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2011
Salt and light of the earth. Before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope read this Sunday's Gospel where the Lord Jesus tells his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14).
“ Through these images that are rich with meaning, he wants to convey to them the point of their mission and their witness” the Holy Father explained, “Wisdom sums up in itself the beneficial effects of salt and light: In fact the disciples of the Lord are called to bring new "taste" to the world, and to save it from corruption, with the wisdom of God, which shines fully on the face of the Son because he is the "true light that enlightens every man" (John 1:9).”
“United to him, Christians can spread, in the midst of indifference and egoism, the light of God's love, the true wisdom that gives wisdom that grants meaning to man's existence and his actions.”
As the Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, he said, may that same light bring hope and healing to those who are ill. “It is an opportune occasion to reflect, to pray and to increase the ecclesial community's and civil society's awareness of sick brothers and sisters.”
“ I invite everyone to contemplate Jesus, the Son of God, who suffered and died but is risen.” “God is radically opposed to the arrogance of evil”, He affirmed, “ The Lord cares for man in every situation, shares his suffering and opens his heart to hope.”
“ Thus I exhort all health workers to see in the sick person not only a body marked by fragility, but first of all a person, to whom complete solidarity must be extended and adequate and competent responses given.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2011
Intentions chosen by the Pope for February: His general intention is: "That all may respect the family and recognize it for its unmatched contribution to the advancement of society."
The apostolic intention is: "That Christian communities may witness to the presence of Christ in serving those who suffer from disease in those mission territories where the fight against disease is most urgent." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2011
Other papal messages and activities
An abundance of vocations to the religious life is one sign of a thriving Church, Benedict XVI said in a message sent to the 2nd Latin American Continental Congress on Vocations. "It is necessary to offer the young generations the possibility to open their hearts to a greater reality: to Christ, the only one who can give meaning and fullness to their lives.”
"The world needs God, and that is why it will always need persons who live for him, and who proclaim him to others."
"We must overcome our self-sufficiency and go to the Lord with humility, begging him to continue calling many." the message said. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2011
On the occasion of the World Day of Consecrated Life, which is observed on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Pope urged consecrated men and women in the Church to be "assiduous listeners of the Word" as he offered Simeon and Anna as examples of lives "dedicated totally to the search for the face of God." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2011
The Holy Father referred to St. John Bosco's feast day on the 31st of January, telling young people to look to the saint as a "genuine teacher of life and holiness."
"You, dear sick," the Holy Father continued, "learn from his spiritual experience to trust Christ Crucified in every circumstance." Finally, he added: "[Y]ou, dear newlyweds, take recourse to his intercession so that he will help you to assume with generosity your mission as spouses." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2011
“Faith lived in Christ and active love for one's neighbor, reflecting the word and life of Christ, and the example of the saints, must weigh more in Western Christian culture.” Benedict XVI said as he received in audience the new ambassador from Austria to the Holy See, Alfons M. Kloss. “Austria is a country in which the peaceful coexistence of several religions and cultures has a long tradition” the Holy Father noted.
“The building of the common European home can come to a good end only if this continent is conscious of its own Christian roots and of the values of the Gospel, in addition to the Christian image of man, which are -- also in the future -- the leaven of European civilization.” He affirmed that “In many European countries, the relationship between the state and religion is facing a particular tension.” VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2011
From Eucharistic adoration, compassion is born for all men, and from this compassion the thirst is born to evangelize. The Pope affirmed in his address to members of the Emmanuel Community on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of their founder, Pierre Goursat. He asserted that a "genuinely Eucharistic life is a missionary life" and he reminded the Emmanuel Community members that "the light of Christ must be taken to everyone." VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2011
"A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through compassion is a cruel and inhuman society." The Holy Father proposed again the thought he expressed in the encyclical "Spe Salvi" and he encouraged a deeper reflection on the mystery of suffering in a message for next week's celebration of the World Day of the Sick,.
On ZENIT's Web page: Papal message for World Day of the Sick: http://www.zenit.org/article-31286?l=english
"Youcat," the new catechism for young people being prepared in light of the upcoming World Youth Day is being recommended by the Holy Father. The Pope claimed Youcat is extraordinary "because of its content but also because of its format". He noted that the youth version of the Catechism doesn't underestimate young people.
Young people are not superficial as they are accused of being, the Holy Father affirmed: "Young people want to know what life truly consists of. [...] This book is fascinating because it speaks to us of our very destiny and that is why it concerns each one of us very closely. ROME, FEB. 4, 2011
People in doubt about the their marriage status have a right to a speedy and simple process to determine nullity, Benedict XVI affirmed when he received in audience members of the Apostolic Signature, the Church's supreme court. ROME, FEB. 4, 2011
The desire for what is great, for what is good, is present in the world of today. “It is the nostalgia for the Redeemer, for God himself, even there where he is denied.” Benedict XVI said in his homily during a Mass for the episcopal ordination of five clergy.
“Precisely in this hour working in God's fields is especially urgent and precisely in this hour the truth of Jesus' words -- "The laborers are few" -- weighs painfully upon us.” The Holy Father affirmed, “At the same time the Lord makes us understand that we cannot send workers to the harvest on our own, that it is not a question of management, of our own organizational capacity.”
“Only God can send workers into his field. But he wants to send us to this work through the doors of our prayers.”
The Holy Father also noted that “The height, the high standard of life, which today is so essential to the witness to Jesus Christ, can only be found if in prayer we let ourselves be continually drawn by him toward his height.”
The newly ordained prelates include: Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the Congregation for Saints' Causes; Archbishop Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary of the Congregation for Clergy; Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, apostolic nuncio; and Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, apostolic nuncio to Pakistan. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2011
Benedict XVI affirmed his attentiveness to the current conflicts in Egypt, and is offering prayers for peace in that land. VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 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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