The Holy Father´s Week: March 28, 2011

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

"Time for prayer must be given a true priority in our life" Benedict XVI affirmed. His catechesis during the general audience was focused on St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) who in 1575, made his religious profession, becoming a Capuchin friar, and in 1582 was ordained a priest.

   "It is amazing" the Pope said "that St. Lawrence of Brindisi was able to carry out uninterruptedly his activity as an esteemed and tireless preacher in many cities of Italy and in several countries, despite carrying out other onerous tasks of great responsibility"

   "Amid so many endeavours, Lawrence cultivated a spiritual life of exceptional fervour, dedicating much time to prayer and in a special way to the celebration of Holy Mass, which often took hours, penetrating and being moved by the memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord."

   "With the unmistakable ardour of his style, Lawrence moreover exhorted everyone, not just priests, to cultivate the life of prayer because through it we speak to God and God speaks to us."

   "O, if we only considered this reality!" St. Lawrence exclaimed. "Namely that God is really present to us when we speak to him by praying; that he really listens to our prayer, even if we only pray with the heart and mind. And that not only is he present and listens to us, but that he can and desires to willingly comply, and with the greatest pleasure, to our requests."

   "Coming of age at a time when many of the articles of the faith were being called into question, Saint Lawrence applied his immense talents to making clear the biblical and patristic foundations of the teachings of the Church". Benedict XVI said.

   He described the Word of God as "light for the intellect and fire for the will, so that man can know and love God."

   "Another trait that characterizes the work of this son of St. Francis", the Holy Father explained, "was his work for peace. Both Supreme Pontiffs and Catholic princes repeatedly entrusted to him important diplomatic missions to settle controversies and foster concord between the European states."

   "St. Lawrence of Brindisi teaches us to love sacred Scripture, to grow in familiarity with it, to cultivate daily the relationship of friendship with the Lord in prayer, so that every action of ours, every activity will have its beginning and fulfilment in Him. This is the source from which to draw so that our Christian witness will be luminous and capable of leading the men of our time to God." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2011

God is waiting to speak to hearts, the Pope said before praying the Angelus. He reflected on the Gospel story of the Samaritan women, whom Jesus spoke to at Jacob's well.

   The Holy Father spoke about Christ weary and thirsty: "Jesus' weariness, sign of his true humanity, can be seen as a prelude to the passion, with which he brought the work of our redemption to completion." He noted.

   The theme of "thirst" emerges in particular in the meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well and it culminates with the cry on the cross: "I thirst". Of course this thirst, like the weariness, has a physical basis. But Jesus, as St. Augustine says, "had thirst of the woman's faith", as he has for the faith of all of us.

   "In the meeting with the Samaritan woman the symbol of water is prominent. It clearly alludes to the sacrament of baptism, the source of new life through faith in the grace of God." The Holy Father affirmed. "This water represents the Holy Spirit, the "gift" par excellence that Jesus has come to bring us from God the Father. Whoever is reborn by the water of the Holy Spirit, that is, baptism, enters into a real relation with God, a filial relation, and can worship "in spirit and truth" (John 4:23, 24), as Jesus discloses to the Samaritan woman."

   "Thanks to the encounter with Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, man's faith comes to its fulfilment, as an answer to God's revelation."

   "Each one of us can identify ourselves with the Samaritan woman," the Holy Father affirmed. "Jesus awaits us, especially during this season of Lent, to speak to our hearts, to my heart.

   "Let us pause a moment in silence, in our room, or in a church, or in a place apart. Let us listen to the voice that says: 'If you knew the gift of God.'"

   "May the Virgin Mary help us not to miss this opportunity on which our true happiness depends" VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2011

Other papal messages and activities

The only pilot without arms, Jessica Cox, greeted the Pope. Cox, a 28-year-old Arizona woman, is the first person without arms to get a black-belt in American Tae Kwon-Do Association, and the first person without arms in aviation history to fly with her feet. She uses her personal achievements to motivate those young people who live in desperation and without authentic values. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2011

Benedict XVI's "Jesus of Nazareth" will be presented Thursday at his cathedral in Rome, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. ROME, MARCH 23, 2011 

The Pope addressed a group of bishops of the Syro-Malankara Church, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit. 
   "It is through a determination to live the Gospel, "the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith" (Romans 1:16), that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God's word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God."

   Catholics in India belong to one of three rites: Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara.

   The Syro-Malankara Catholic Church traces its roots back to St. Thomas the Apostle, it split from the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in 1930, and then entered into communion with Rome. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2011

The Courtyard of the Gentiles, a new forum for dialogue between believers and nonbelievers, was launched at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, in the presence of diplomats, international officials and representatives of the world of culture.

   The initiative, promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture, takes up a suggestion of Benedict XVI to create a space for dialogue "with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown" The Holy Father sent a video message on the occasion. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2011

The Holy Father spoke about the teaching-learning aspect of confession and said it is not sufficiently considered, despite its spiritual and pastoral importance.

   "From the administration of the sacrament of penance we can receive profound lessons of humility and faith," the Pope assured when he addressed participants in a five-day course on the internal forum. "Fundamentally," he said, "to confess means to assist in as many 'professiones fidei' as there are penitents, and to contemplate the action of the merciful God in history, to touch the salvific effects of the cross and resurrection of Christ, at all times and for every man." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2011

The Holy Father prays to the Lord for a return to concord in Libya and the whole region of North Africa, and makes a concerned appeal to international organizations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launching of dialogue and a suspension of the use of weapons.

   "In moments of great tension there is a greater urgency to the exigency to have recourse to every means at the disposal of diplomatic action and to support even the weakest signs of openness and desire for reconciliation among all the parties involved, in the pursuit of peaceful and lasting solutions." He said.

   He finally asked the authorities and citizens of the Middle East, where in recent days various episodes of violence have sprung up, that the way of dialogue and reconciliation be privileged in the pursuit of just and fraternal coexistence. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2011

The Pope made a pilgrimage to Fosse Ardeatine on the outskirts of Rome to mark the 67th anniversary of the Nazi massacre of 335 Italians. "What happened here on March 24, 1944, is a deeply grave offence against God because it is deliberate violence of man against man. It is the most execrable effect of war, of every war, while God is life, peace, communion." He said. "I have come to invoke divine mercy, which alone can fill the voids, the chasms opened by men when, driven by blind violence, they renounce their dignity as sons of God and brothers." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2011

Jesus himself was a worker, the Holy Father reminded participants of a pilgrimage on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Terni and its steel industry. Terni is marked by the presence of one of the largest steel factories, which has contributed to the growth of a significant worker culture.

   "The crisis of industrial stability is a harsh trial for the life of the city, which must rethink its future." He acknowledged. "If it is difficult to find work, the conditions for society itself -- living according to the demands of the common good -- becomes threatened."

   He reminded them that the Church supports, comforts, and encourages direct effort to guarantee safe, dignified and stable work for everyone. He recommended the Eucharist, "in which Christ makes himself present in his supreme act of love for all of us,"  to learn to live in society as Christians, to make it more welcoming, more solidary, more attentive to the needs of everyone -- especially the weakest -- richer in love”.   VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 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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