The Holy Father´s Week: April 25, 2011

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

The Pope reflected on the meaning of the Easter Triduum, the three days in which the Church commemorates the mystery of the Lord's passion, death and resurrection.

   During the general audience held in St. Peter's Square he said that these days are "the culmination of the whole liturgical year and a moment of particular grace for every Christian"

   "I invite you to seek in these days recollection and prayer, to be able to accede more profoundly to this source of grace".

   "The liturgies of these days invite us to ponder the loving obedience of Christ who, having become like us in all things but sin, resisted temptation and freely surrendered himself to the Father's will".

   "Jesus turns his suffering into prayer, into an offering to the Father for the sake of mankind." At the Chrism Mass, "priests renew their ordination promises, the sacred oils are blessed, and we celebrate the grace of the crucified and risen Lord which comes to us through the Church's sacramental life". the Holy Father said "On the evening of Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord's Supper begins the actual Triduum and recalls the institution of the sacraments of the Eucharist and Holy Orders."

   "With the Eucharist, the Church is born. All of us eat the one bread and receive the one body of the Lord; this means that he opens each of us up to something above and beyond us. He makes all of us one."

   "Conscious of his imminent death on the cross, he felt great anguish and the closeness of death." The Pontiff explained: "Jesus said to his own: Stay here and watch; and this call to vigilance refers in a precise way to this moment of anguish, of menace, in which the betrayer arrives, but it concerns the whole history of the Church. It is a permanent message for all times, because the somnolence of the disciples was not only the problem of that moment, but is the problem of the whole of history."

   The Liturgy of Good Friday invites us to share in Christ's sufferings through penance and fasting, and to receive the gift of God's love flowing from the Lord's pierced Heart.
The Easter Vigil joyfully proclaims Christ's resurrection from the dead and the new life received in Baptism.

   By our prayers and our sharing in these liturgies, let us resolve to imitate Christ's loving obedience to the Father's saving plan, which is the source of authentic freedom and the path of eternal life. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2011

"Just as the sun's rays in springtime cause the buds on the branches of the trees to sprout and open up, so the radiance that streams forth from Christ's resurrection gives strength and meaning to every human hope, to every expectation, wish and plan". Benedict XVI said  before he imparted his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

   "In this world of ours,” the Holy Father lamented, "the Easter alleluia still contrasts with the cries and laments that arise from so many painful situations: deprivation, hunger, disease, war, violence."

   "Yet it was for this that Christ died and rose again!" he affirmed, "He died on account of sin, including ours today, he rose for the redemption of history, including our own. So my message today is intended for everyone, and, as a prophetic proclamation, it is intended especially for peoples and communities who are undergoing a time of suffering, that the Risen Christ may open up for them the path of freedom, justice and peace."

   "The risen Christ is journeying ahead of us towards the new heavens and the new earth, in which we shall all finally live as one family, as sons of the same Father," the Pontiff concluded. "He is with us until the end of time. Let us walk behind him, in this wounded world, singing Alleluia.

   "In our hearts there is joy and sorrow, on our faces there are smiles and tears. Such is our earthly reality. But Christ is risen, he is alive and he walks with us" VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2010

Other papal messages and activities

The Pope received Spain's new ambassador to the Holy See, María Jesús Figa López-Palop. The Pope lamented that societies are often hostile to the faith, instead of fostering openness to the transcendent. He noted that the fundamental right of religious liberty inherent to the dignity of the human person is "an authentic weapon of peace, because it can change and improve the world".

   This August, the Holy Father will go to Madrid for World Youth Day. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2011

The Vatican announced the schedule for Benedict XVI's June 4-5 apostolic trip to Croatia for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2011

Benedict XVI reflected on the three dimensions of Christian life expressed in the three oils that are blessed in the liturgy. The Pope celebrated the Chrism Mass blessing the oil of catechumens, the oil for anointing the sick and the sacred chrism.

   Speaking of the oil of catechumens, he said it "indicates a first way of being touched by Christ and by his Spirit [...] which takes place even prior to baptism." Reflecting on the oil for anointing the sick, the Bishop of Rome noted how the "proclamation of God's Kingdom, of God's unlimited goodness, must first of all bring healing to broken hearts."

   "By nature," he said, "man is a being in relation. But if the fundamental relationship, the relationship with God, is disturbed, then all the rest is disturbed as well.

   Finally, regarding chrism, the Holy Father spoke of the priestly mission of the Christian people.

"Christians should make the living God visible to the world, they should bear witness to him and lead people towards him," he said. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2011

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"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat," Christ told Peter: today, the Holy Father affirmed, "we are once more painfully aware that Satan has been permitted to sift the disciples before the whole world."

   In the Basilica of St. John Lateran, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper, the Pope gave a homily in which he pleaded for Christian unity and confessed that the faithful's prayer for his petrine ministry is essential in his life.

   He began his reflection quoting Our Lord: "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."

   "Jesus desires us, he awaits us. But what about ourselves? Do we really desire him?" he asked. "Or are we indifferent, distracted, busy about other things?"

   The Holy Father alluded to the countries of the West, saying that Jesus "knows all about empty places at table, invitations refused, lack of interest in him and his closeness."

   He spoke of Christ's prayer -- repeated four times -- for unity. "How deeply it must have concerned him!" he said. "It remains his constant prayer to the Father on our behalf."

   The Pope noted "The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. It reaches the very mystery of the Trinity and thus creates visible unity. Let me say it again: it is an extremely personal encounter with the Lord and yet never simply an act of individual piety. Of necessity, we celebrate it together."

   "All of us need the conversion which enables us to accept Jesus in his reality as God and man. We need the humility of the disciple who follows the will of his Master."

   The Holy Father concluded his homily by voicing his own prayer: "'I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.' Lord, you desire us, you desire me. You eagerly desire to share yourself with us in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with us. Lord, awaken in us the desire for you. Strengthen us in unity with you and with one another. Grant unity to your Church, so that the world may believe." ROME, APRIL 21, 2011

The drama of Jesus, weighed down by pain, by evil, by human sin was relived as the Pope prayed the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum with thousands of faithful.

   The Holy Father stated that the image of a "crucified man" seems to be a sign "of the final defeat of the One who brought light to those immersed in darkness, the One who spoke of the power of forgiveness and of mercy, the One who asked us to believe in God's infinite love for each human person."

   However, Benedict XVI affirmed, "the cross is not the banner of the victory of death, sin and evil, but rather the luminous sign of love, of God's immense love, of something that we could never have asked, imagined or expected."

   "The cross speaks to us of the supreme love of God and invites, today, to renew our faith in the power of that love, and to believe that in every situation of our lives, our history and our world, God is able to vanquish death, sin and evil, and to give us new, risen life." ROME, APRIL 22, 2011

"A Sua Immagine" [In His Image], a television program of the Italian channel RAI, presented the Pope with seven questions from different people. People with a variety of crosses: a Japanese child traumatized by the earthquake, a persecuted Iraqi Christian, and a mother of a comatose man, among others, sent their questions to the Holy Father who answered them on television. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2011

On ZENIT's Web page:

Benedict XVI expressed his "grief and concern" in a note sent to the Colombian ambassador to the Holy See and he promised his prayer and solidarity for victims of Colombia's rainy season, which has caused at least 85 deaths and is threatening vast regions of the nation.

   Also in Colombia, today is being marked as a Day of Prayer for Victims of Violence. Last Sunday, the Holy Father called the event an "important initiative" and assured his spiritual participation.  VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2011

"The creation story is itself a prophecy", the Holy Father affirmed in his homily at the Easter Vigil, held tonight in St. Peter's Basilica. "If we omit the beginning of the Credo, the whole history of salvation becomes too limited and too small." Faith in God and in the events of salvation history must necessarily begin with a belief in God's role as Creator.

   "Only because creation belongs to God can we place ourselves completely in his hands.” He noted, "And only because he is the Creator can he give us life for ever. Joy over creation, thanksgiving for creation and responsibility for it all belong together."

   "God made the world so that there could be a space where he might communicate his love, and from which the response of love might come back to him. From God's perspective, the heart of the man who responds to him is greater and more important than the whole immense material cosmos, for all that the latter allows us to glimpse something of God’s grandeur."

   The Old Testament account of creation  has structured the process of creation within the framework of a week leading up to the Sabbath, in which it finds its completion. For Israel, the Sabbath was an expression of the Covenant between God and man and creation.

   "Easter and the paschal experience of Christians, however, now require us to take a further step". Something utterly new happened, the Holy Father explained. "Jesus Christ who as the Risen Lord encountered his followers on the first day, Sunday, after they had found the tomb empty." He continued, "The structure of the week is overturned. No longer does it point towards the seventh day, as the time to participate in God's rest. It sets out from the first day as the day of encounter with the Risen Lord."

   The first day, according to the Genesis account, is the day on which creation begins. Now it was the day of creation in a new way, it had become the day of the new creation".

   "We celebrate the first day". "We celebrate the definitive victory of the Creator and of his creation. We celebrate this day as the origin and the goal of our existence". We celebrate it because now, thanks to the risen Lord, it is definitively established that reason is stronger than unreason, truth stronger than lies, love stronger than death."

   As believers we answer, with the creation account and with John, that in the beginning is reason. In the beginning is freedom. Hence it is good to be a human person. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2011

Before delivering an Easter greeting in 65 languages, Benedict XVI proclaimed the joy of the Resurrection: "The entire cosmos is rejoicing today, caught up in the springtime of humanity, which gives voice to creation’s silent hymn of praise."

  "The Easter Alleluia," he added, "resounding in the Church as she makes her pilgrim way through the world, expresses the silent exultation of the universe and above all the longing of every human soul that is sincerely open to God, giving thanks to him for his infinite goodness, beauty and truth."

   After a week of intense Holy Week and Easter liturgies, the Holy Father departed Rome for the pontifical residence of Castel Gandolfo. He will return to Rome for the May 1 beatification of Pope John Paul II. VATICAN CITY, APRIL 24, 2010

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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