The Holy Father´s Week: March 14, 2011

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

Fasting requires nourishment on the Word of God, Benedict XVI said at the general audience. He spoke of Lent as a journey: "[I]t is to accompany Jesus who goes up to Jerusalem, the place of the fulfillment of the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection; it reminds us that the Christian life is a 'journey' to undertake, which consists not so much in a law to be observed but in the very person of Christ, who we must encounter, receive and follow."

   Jesus "tells us that to arrive with him to the light and the joy of resurrection, to the victory of life, of love, of the good, we must also take up our cross every day," the Pontiff continued. "If you are his partner in sorrow, you will also be so in triumph."

   Benedict XVI said that this journey is undertaken above all in the liturgy. To participate in the liturgy means to submerge one's life in the mystery of Christ, in his permanent presence, to undertake a journey in which we enter into his death and resurrection to have life.

   The Pope reflected about each of the readings from the five Sundays of Lent, noting how they follow a baptismal itinerary.

   "The First Sunday presents the temptations of Jesus in the desert, "invites us to renew our definitive decision for God and to face with courage the struggle that awaits us to remain faithful to him," he said.

   The Second Sunday presents Abraham and the Transfiguration: "[L]ike Abraham, father of believers, we are also invited to leave our land, to leave the securities we have built for ourselves, to again put our trust in God."

   The next three Sundays show baptism in the imagery of water, light and life: We meet the Samaritan woman, the man born blind, and the resurrected Lazarus.

   The Pope then moved to a reflection on the traditional Lenten practices: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.

   Regarding fasting, the Holy Father assured: "He does not really fast who does not know how to nourish himself on the Word of God." And fasting, he continued, is linked to almsgiving. He cited St. Leo the Great: "Whatever a Christian does always, he must now do with greater dedication and devotion, to fulfill the apostolic norm of Lenten fasting consisting in abstinence not only from food, but above all abstinence from sins. To this obligatory and holy fast, no more useful deed can be added than almsgiving, which under the unique name of 'mercy' includes many good works."

   Finally, the Pontiff called Lent a "privileged time for prayer."... "The Church knows that, because of our weakness, it is very difficult to be silent and to place oneself before God, and to become aware of our condition as creatures who depend on him and sinners in need of his love," he said. "This is why Lent invites us to a more faithful and intense prayer and to a prolonged meditation on the Word of God."

   The Holy Father concluded by encouraging a renewal that will bring us to "reach Easter and be able to say with St. Paul, 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.'" VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2011

"Evil exists, or rather, sin, which according to Scripture is the deepest cause of every evil". The Holy Father affirmed this before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The word "sin" is not accepted by many, he explained, for it presupposes a religious vision of the world and of man.

   In effect, he added, this is correct: "If we eliminate God from the horizon of the world, we cannot speak of sin. Just as when the sun is hidden the shadows disappear and the shadows appear only if the sun is there, so too the eclipse of God necessarily brings the eclipse of sin". Thus the meaning of sin is only grasped in discovering the meaning of God.

   God intervenes to save humanity, He sent his Son into the world: to free men from the rule of Satan, "origin and cause of every sin."

   God's response to moral evil is to oppose sin and save the sinner. God does not tolerate evil because he is Love, Justice, Fidelity; and it is precisely because of this that he does not wish the death of the sinner, but desires that the sinner convert and live.

   "We thus invoke the help of Mary Most Holy for the Lenten journey just begun so that it be rich with the fruit of conversion".

   He asked for a special remembrance in prayer for him and his co-workers in the Roman Curia as they start a week-long retreat. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2011

Other papal messages and activities

   Humility, meekness, magnanimity and bearing with each other are the four attitudes that characterize a Christian life, the Pontiff said during his visit to the Major Roman Seminary. "Imitating the God who comes down to me, who is so great that he becomes my friend, suffers for me, and dies for me. This is a humility to learn, the humility of God." He said.

   Benedict XVI also reflected on the vocation, "God calls me: This fact should make us attentive to God's voice, attentive to his words, to his call for me, to realize this part of salvation history for which he has called me."  ROME, MARCH 7, 2011

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The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of their founder, Clelia Merloni. The Pope sent his good wishes to Mother Clelia's spiritual daughters and affirmed his hope that the anniversary will "awaken [in them] a renewed commitment for the salvation of souls, in generous adherence to Christ and in ever more fervent Christian witness." ROME, MARCH 7, 2011

Benedict XVI will do his annual Lenten spiritual exercises, this year focused on John Paul II and the theology of the saints. Discalced Carmelite Father François-Marie Léthel will preach the March 13-19 retreat. Father Léthel is a professor at the Pontifical Theological Faculty (Teresianum), and prelate-secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. ROME, MARCH 9, 2011

On Good Friday, Benedict XVI will appear on a television program of the Italian channel RAI to answer three questions about Jesus.

   The feature with the Pope will appear April 22 on the Italian-language program "A Sua Immagine" [In His Image]. It will be recorded a few days before the broadcast.

   The public is invited to submit questions, which may be chosen for the interview, through RAI's Web site. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2011

Lent is "a journey of forty days where we can experience in an effective way the merciful love of God," the Pope said in a homily for Ash Wednesday, during a Mass he presided over in the Roman Basilica of St. Sabina.

   "In common opinion, this time runs the risk of being marked by sadness, by the darkness of life," the Pontiff stated. "Instead, it is a precious gift of God; it is an intense time full of meaning in the journey of the Church; it is the itinerary to the Lord's Easter."

   "He offers us once again his forgiveness," the Pontiff stated, "inviting us to return to him to give us a new heart, purified from the evil that oppresses it, to have us take part in his joy."

   He urged, "Our world needs to be converted to God; it needs his forgiveness, his love; it needs a new heart." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2011

Much more than another book on Jesus; those who read the Holy Father's new book will find Christ himself, the historical Jesus. It seems apparent from the manner of the Pope's writing throughout that he intended this manuscript to be read with another text open -- the sacred Scriptures. This is the opinion of Kevin M. Clarke theologian from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and it is similar to that of Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican's press office. SAN MARCOS, California, MARCH 10, 2011

The priesthood is not a profession to be engaged in part-time, but a full-time and perpetual vocation, Benedict XVI affirmed in a traditional meeting with priests of the Diocese of Rome held annually at the beginning of Lent, Vatican Radio reported.

   "One is not a priest for part of the time; we are so with our whole soul, with our whole heart," Let us not lose the zeal, the joy of being called by the Lord," he exhorted. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011

Charitable giving brings us closer to God and facilitates our own conversion. "In fact, sharing with our neighbor," the Pope explained, "we experience through the joy received, that fullness of life comes from love of God."

   "Thus alms bring us closer to God and invite us to conversion," he Pope added in an audience with members of the Belgian charitable association Pro Petri Sede.

   He acknowledged in particular a donation brought by the association that will allow the Pontiff "to help populations harshly tried in recent times, especially those of Haiti." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011

'Human ecology' is the first ecology that must be defended, Benedict XVI stated in a message to the bishops of Brazil in support of their annual Lenten campaign. This year the campaign is focused on fraternity and life on the planet. The Pope proposed that man's respect for creatures hinges on a "full sense of life," lest he be led "to contempt for himself and for what surrounds him."

   He reminded that the duty to look after the environment is an imperative that stems from the awareness that God entrusts his creation to man, not so that he can exercise over it an arbitrary dominion, but to preserve and care for it, as a son takes care of his father's inheritance. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011

In the wake of a 9.0 magnitude quake and resulting tsunami that left more than 1,600 dead and some 10,000 missing Benedict XVI is renewing his spiritual closeness to the people of Japan: "I pray for the victims and for their families and for all those who are suffering because of these awful events. I encourage those who with praiseworthy readiness are preparing to bring help. We remain united in prayer. The Lord is near!" He said. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 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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