Priests are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God. During the general audience the Pope focused his meditation on St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) who was a holy doctor of the Church, an outstanding moral theologian and a teacher of the spiritual life.
At just 16 he received a degree in civil and canon law. For eight years he won every cause he defended. However, in 1723, indignant about the corruption and injustice that plagued his environment, he left his profession and decided to become a priest, despite his father's opposition.
He was ordained a priest in 1726 and he had a very successful ministry among the poor of Naples: In the poorest quarters of the city, there were increasing groups of persons who gathered in the evening in private homes and shops, to pray and meditate on the Word of God, under the guidance of some catechists formed by Alphonsus and other priests, who regularly visited these groups of faithful. “These meetings were a real and proper source of moral education, of social healing, of reciprocal help among the poor: thefts, duels and prostitution virtually disappeared."
Benedict XVI proposed this as "a model of missionary action in which we can be inspired today as well, for a 'new evangelization,' particularly among the poorest."
The religious Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) was founded by him in 1732; they “were genuine itinerant missionaries who reached the most remote villages, exhorting to conversion and to perseverance in the Christian life, above all through prayer” the Pope affirmed.
St. Alphonsus never tired of repeating that priests “are a visible sign of the infinite mercy of God, who forgives and illumines the mind and heart of the sinner so that he will convert and change his life”.
He produced many books such as "The Eternal Maxims," "The Glories of Mary," and "The Practice of Loving Jesus Christ"
In regard to prayer, he wrote: "I say, and repeat and will always repeat, for my entire life, that the whole of our salvation rests on prayer." His axiom was: "He who prays is saved"
Outstanding among the forms of prayer fervently recommended by St. Alphonsus, the Holy Father continued, is the visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament. Alphonsus wrote. “O, what a beautiful delight to be before an altar with faith and to present to him our needs, as a friend does to another friend with whom one has full confidence!"
Most devoted to Mary, he illustrated her role in the history of salvation: partner of the Redemption and Mediatrix of grace, Mother, Advocate and Queen. Moreover, he affirmed that devotion to Mary will be of great comfort at the moment of our death.
May this great Doctor of the Church, the Holy Father said, “venerated also as the patron of moral theologians, help us to respond ever more fully to God's call to grow in holiness, and inspire in priests, religious and laity a firm commitment to the new evangelization”. VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2011
Papal prayer intentions for April. Benedict XVI is dedicating the month of April to pray for the evangelization of youth. "That through its compelling preaching of the Gospel, the Church may give young people new reasons for life and hope."
The apostolic intention for April is: "That by proclamation of the Gospel and the witness of their lives, missionaries may bring Christ to those who do not yet know him." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2011
Lenten is a special time of grace during which we can experience the gift of the Lord’s benevolence in our regard. Benedict XVI said at the Angelus that the liturgy of this Sunday, which we call “Laetare Sunday,” invites us to rejoice and be glad.
Jesus heals a man blind from birth, “It is to be noted how a simple and sincere person, in a gradual way, sets out on the journey of faith: In a first moment he meets Jesus as a “man” among others, then he considers him a “prophet,” and in the end his eyes open and he proclaims him “Lord.”
“That man recognizes the sign that Jesus works and passes from the light of the eyes to the light of faith: “I believe, Lord” (John 9:38).”
“We too, because of the sin of Adam, are born “blind,” but in the baptismal fount we were enlightened by the grace of Christ.”
“Sin wounded humanity, destining it to the obscurity of death, but in Christ there shines the newness of life and the goal to which we are called.” The Holy Father explained, “In him, reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit, we receive the strength to defeat evil and do good.”
“In the rite of baptism, the candle that is presented, lit from the great paschal candle, which is the symbol of the risen Christ, is a sign that helps us grasp what happens in the sacrament.” “When we let our life be illumined by the light of Christ, we experience the joy of being liberated from all that threatens our life’s complete fulfilment.”
In these days that prepare us for Easter, the Pope continued, “let us revive in ourselves the gift received in baptism, that flame that is sometimes in danger of being extinguished. We must make it burn brighter with prayer and charity toward our neighbour.”
“We entrust the Lenten journey to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, that all may encounter Christ, the Savior of the World.” VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2011
Other papal messages and activities
Benedict XVI has officially affirmed communion with the new patriarch of the Maronite Church, Bechara Boutros Rai. Ten days before the patriarch's installation, Benedict XVI granted "Ecclesiastica Communio” The Pope expressed his prayer that Our Lady would make the patriarch a "messenger of unity," so that Lebanon would "be able to carry out in the East and in all the world her role of solidarity and peace." ROME, MARCH 28, 2011
The Holy Father encouraged families to live a profound encounter with Christ through Scripture, the sacraments and prayer. “The family is the most beloved value of the peoples of this noble region”, Benedict XVI said in a message sent to participants in a meeting of bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean responsible for the pastoral care of families and life. “For this reason, the pastoral care of families has a primary place in the evangelizing action of each of the different particular Churches, promoting the culture of life and working so that the rights of families are recognized and respected.”
The Church counts on Christian homes, calling them to be a real subject of evangelization and apostolate and inviting them to become conscious of their valuable mission in the world. BOGOTA, Colombia, MARCH 29, 2011
"Habemus Papam!" produced in a Manga cartoon for WYD. Manga comics are a Japanese-style cartoon enjoying international popularity. The manga cartoon produced by Manga Hero, a California-based company seeks to provide an introduction to the Pope´s life.
Producer Jonathan Lin told World Youth Day organizers that the comic "is to introduce Pope Benedict XVI to those who may not know much about him, except that he is the leader of the Catholic Church." MADRID, Spain, MARCH 29, 2011
Participants to WYD are invited to send a video of one of the rosary prayers (the Our Father, Hail Mary or Glory Be) in their language of choice, prayed either individually or in a group.
A truly global rosary, which will gather all the contributions, will be prayed during the Saturday vigil before the Pope arrives.
"The final composition will be, prayer by prayer, a round-the-world trip through the rosary," organizers explained.
Contributions should be sent to www.rosariouniversal.org, where the videos along the rosary chain can be viewed. MADRID, Spain, MARCH 29, 2011
Benedict XVI is offering prayers for peace in Ivory Coast and expressed his closeness to the victims of violence in that country.
In the general audience, the Pope spoke about the people of Ivory Coast "traumatized by painful internal conflicts and grave social and political tensions." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2011
The Pope greeted the new Leader of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. "I assure you of my constant prayer, so that the Most Holy Trinity will grant an abundance of goods, confirming the beloved Ukrainian nation in peace and concord," the Pope told Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, 40, who was installed last Sunday.
“ I am certain that, illumined by the action of the Holy Spirit, you will preside over your Church, guiding her in faith in Jesus Christ according to your own tradition and spirituality, in communion with the See of Peter." VATICAN CITY, MARCH 31, 2011
Benedict XVI received in audience Monsignor Keith Newton, the first ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. Monsignor Newton, 58, is one of three former Anglican bishops who were ordained Catholic priests Jan. 15 at the Westminster Cathedral in London.
He was then named the ordinary for the new ordinariate for former Anglicans coming into the Catholic Church. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 1, 2011
The Pope mourns the death of Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, major archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly of the Syro-Malabars, India. He was born in 1927, joined the Redemptorists and was ordained a priest in 1954.
John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 2001. He was a member of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India since 2008 KAKKANAD, India, APRIL 1, 2011
The Pope referred to Venerable John Paul II's death April 2, 2005, during his traditional address after praying the midday Angelus. He will be beatified May 1.
"Because of his upcoming beatification, I did not celebrate the traditional Mass of suffrage for him, but I recalled him affectionately in prayer, as I think all of you did," Benedict XVI said. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 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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