Three-step recipe to holiness: Go to Mass on Sunday, begin and end the day in contact with God, and make decisions according to the Ten Commandments. The Pope offered this simple guide during the general audience, as he concluded his two-year series of catecheses on saints and doctors of the Church.
Often it is thought that holiness is a goal reserved for a few chosen ones, he said, “St. Paul, however, speaks of God's great plan and affirms: "[God] chose us in him [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us" (Ephesians 1:4). And he speaks of all of us.
Citing Scripture and the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Father tried to present what is "the most essential" for reaching sanctity.
He said: "What is the most essential? I think this is the true simplicity and grandeur of the life of holiness: the encounter with the Risen One on Sunday; contact with God at the beginning and end of the day; in decisions, to follow the 'road signs' that God has communicated to us, which are simply forms of charity. [...] This is true simplicity, grandeur and profundity of the Christian life, of being saints."
A holy life is not primarily the fruit of our own effort, of our actions, because it is God, the thrice Holy (cf. Isaiah 6:3), who makes us saints. He noted, “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” He who lets himself be led by love, who lives charity fully is led by God, because God is love. This is what this great saying means: "Dilige et fac quod vis" (Love and do as you will).
The Holy Father concluded with an invitation to be open to holiness: "Let us not be afraid to look on high, to the height of God; let us not be afraid that God will ask too much of us, but let us be guided in all our daily actions by his Word, even if we feel that we are poor, inadequate, sinners: He will be the one to transform us according to his love." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2011
We are on pilgrimage with the Lord to the heights. Benedict XVI said in his homily when he celebrated Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.
After Peter's confession of faith in Caesarea Philippi, in the northernmost part of the Holy Land, Jesus set out as a pilgrim towards Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. He was making his way to the heights of the Cross, to the moment of self-giving love.
The ultimate goal of his pilgrimage was the heights of God himself; to those heights he wanted to lift every human being. Our procession today is meant, then, to be an image of something deeper, to reflect the fact that, together with Jesus, we are setting out on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God. This is the ascent that matters. This is the journey which Jesus invites us to make.
“The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields.” Benedict XVI explained. “First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down - towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God.”
“On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God's love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards.”
“ Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom”.
Psalm 24, indicates some “concrete elements which are part of our ascent and without which we cannot be lifted upwards: clean hands, a pure heart, the rejection of falsehood, the quest for God's face.”
“We need God: he draws us upwards; letting ourselves be upheld by his hands - by faith, in other words - sets us aright and gives us the inner strength that raises us on high. We need the humility of a faith which seeks the face of God and trusts in the truth of his love.”
“Let us show the Lord that we desire to be righteous, and let us ask him: Draw us upwards! Make us pure!” VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2011
Benedict XVI greeted youth in several languages to invite them to August's World Youth Day in Madrid. Then he prayed the traditional midday Angelus. In French, he alluded to the theme of World Youth Day, "Planted and Built Up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith."
He invited young French-speakers to "remain rooted in Christ and firm in the faith," saying that in this way they will be "tireless and joyful witnesses of the infinite love of God for us today."
In English, he said “In a special way I greet all the young people present and I look forward to celebrating World Youth Day in Madrid this summer with many thousands of others from around the world.”
“And now we turn in prayer to Mary, asking her to help us to Holy Week with intense faith.” He ended in Italian. “Understanding the prophecies, Mary too exulted in the spirit when Jesus entered Jerusalem in royal procession; but her heart, like that of the Son, was ready for sacrifice. Let us learn from her, the faithful Virgin, to follow the Lord even when his way leads to the cross.” VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2011
Other papal messages and activities
The Holy Father expressed his "deep sadness" over the murder of defenceless children in a school in Brazil. A deranged man killed 10 girls and two boys Thursday at his former elementary school. The Pope sent a message assuring "his solidarity and his spiritual consolation to the families that have lost their children and to the whole school community hoping that the wounded quickly recover." He sent his apostolic blessing "so that hope does not diminish in this moment of testing, and so that pardon and love prevails over hate and vengeance." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2011
The Pope received in audience the new Croatian ambassador to the Holy See, Filip Vucak. He is encouraging Croatia to bring its own unique contribution to the European Union through conviction in its religious and cultural identity. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 11, 2011
Benedict XVI recorded a video message for participants in the 3rd National Family Gathering, which begins Friday in Melbourne, Australia.
"This important event is an occasion for you not only to witness to the bonds of affection within your individual families, but also to deepen them with the wider family of God, which is the Church, so that you become protagonists of a new humanity, a renewed culture of love and unity, of life and stability, giving glory to God our Father at all times." He said and he assured the participants of his prayers, "especially for your children and for those who are ill." VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2011
The Pope had a private audience with the Patriarch of the Maronites, Béchara Boutros Raï, 71, who succeeded Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, who resigned at age 90. The Maronite Church has always been in communion with Rome, even while maintaining its own liturgy and calendar. The liturgy is celebrated in Arabic, except in ancient songs and ancestral prayers of the Eucharist, for which Aramaic is used.
The Church was established by St. Maron, who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries as a hermit on Mount Tauro, an ancient city of northern Syria.
Benedict XVI spoke to Patriarch Raï about concrete tasks awaiting him as patriarch, namely the situation of the Middle East and the importance of education and spoke of the Maronites' quality educational and catechetical network.. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2011
The president of Latvia met with the Pope. He thanked Benedict XVI for the contribution the Church makes in his country through its social doctrine.
Latvia's 2.2 million people are almost 20% Lutheran and 15% Orthodox. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2011
The calendar of ceremonies to be presided over by Benedict XVI during Holy Week was published. On Sunday, April 17, the Pope will preside over the Palm Sunday celebration, which coincides with the 26th World Youth Day on the theme: "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith." The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square with the blessing of palms, followed by procession and Mass.
On April 21, Holy Thursday, the Pontiff will celebrate the Chrism Mass at 9:30 a.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. Later, at 5:30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, he will preside over the Mass of the Lord's Last Supper, marking the beginning of the Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection. At this Mass there will be a collection that will be donated to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
On Good Friday, the Holy Father will preside over the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord at 5:00 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica. He will lead the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m.
He will celebrate the Easter Vigil Holy Saturday at 9:00 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica.
The next day, Easter Sunday, the Pope will preside over Mass in St. Peter's Square at 10:15 a.m. He will deliver the blessing "urbi et orbi," to Rome and the world, at midday, from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 14, 2011
The Holy Father turned 84 on Saturday. He received several greetings, including one from Queen Elizabeth II. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2011
The Pope calls for end of violence in Colombia. He offered his support for a Day of Prayer for Victims of Violence being celebrated there on Good Friday. "I renew my urgent call to conversion, to repentance and to reconciliation," he said. "No more violence in Colombia! May peace reign there!" VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 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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