Benedict XVI’s Key Messages This Week
June 21-27, 2008
In the Eucharist we discover that we are infinitely loved: “Do not forget that the Sunday Eucharist is a loving encounter with the Lord that we cannot do without. When you recognize him ‘at the breaking of bread,’ like the disciples at Emmaus, you will become his companions. He will help you to grow and to give the best of yourselves. Remember that in the bread of the Eucharist, Christ is really, totally and substantially present. It is therefore in the mystery of the Eucharist, at Mass and during silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, that you will meet him in a privileged way. By opening your very being and your whole life under the gaze of Christ, you will not be crushed – quite the contrary: you will discover that you are infinitely loved. You will receive the power that you need in order to build your lives and to make the choices that present themselves to you every day. […] Before the Lord, in the silence of your hearts, some of you may feel called to follow him in a more radical way in the priesthood or the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to listen to this call and to respond with joy. As I said at the inauguration of my pontificate, God takes nothing away from those who give themselves to him. On the contrary, he gives them everything. He comes to draw out the best that is in each one of us, so that our lives can truly flourish.” (Video message for youth who attended the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec)
All members of the Church must go deeper in the mystery of faith that is the Eucharist: “‘The Mystery of Faith’: this we proclaim at every Mass. I would like everyone to make a commitment to study this great mystery, especially by revisiting and exploring, individually and in groups, the Council’s text on the liturgy, ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium,’ so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery. […] Every sentence, every gesture has its own meaning and conceals a mystery. I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it. I urge priests especially to give due honor to the Eucharistic rite, and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay, in the Eucharistic action. The liturgy does not belong to us: it is the Church’s treasure.” (Homily delivered via satellite for the closing Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, Sunday, June 22)
Believers are unafraid because of faith in God’s lordship: “In the face of the ample and diversified panorama of human fears, the word of God is clear: He who ‘fears’ the Lord is ‘not afraid.’ The fear of God, which the Scriptures define as the ‘beginning of true wisdom,’ coincides with faith in God, with the sacred respect for his authority over life and the world. Being ‘without the fear of God’ is equivalent to putting ourselves in his place, feeling ourselves to be masters of good and evil, of life and death. But he who fears God feels interiorly the security of a child in the arms of his mother (cf. Psalm 130:2): He who fears God is calm even in the midst of storms, because God, as Jesus has revealed to us, is a Father who is full of mercy and goodness. He who loves God is not afraid: ‘In love there is no fear,’ writes the Apostle John. ‘Perfect love,’ he goes on, ‘casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment and whoever is afraid is not perfected in love’ (1 John 4:18). The believer, therefore, is not afraid of anything, because he knows that he is in the hands of God, he knows that evil is irrational and does not have the last word, and that Christ alone is the Lord of the world and life, the Incarnate Word of God, he knows that Christ loved us to the point of sacrificing himself, dying on the cross for our salvation.” (Address before praying the midday Angelus, Sunday, June 22)
Christ and his paschal mystery give the central perspective to interpret the Scriptures: “It is only Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, who through the Holy Spirit, can open our minds to understand the Scriptures. I warmly encourage you therefore not only to continue to make known the profound relevance of the Scriptures to the contemporary experience of Catholics and particularly to the younger generations, but also to lead them to interpret them from the central perspective of Christ and his paschal mystery. All Christians are called to imitate the openness of Mary who received the Word of God ‘in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world.’ May the peoples of Africa receive this word as the life-giving source of reconciliation and justice, and especially of the true peace that comes only from the risen Lord.” (Letter to the Catholic Biblical Federation plenary assembly in Tanzania, Monday, June 23)
True freedom is the ability to say “yes” to God and conform one’s will to God’s: “[St. Maximus the Confessor] demonstrates that man finds his unity, the integration of himself, his totality not in himself, but in surpassing himself, by coming out of himself. Thus, also in Christ, man, coming out of himself, finds in God, in the Son of God, himself. Adam – and Adam is us – thought that ‘no’ was the apex of liberty; that only he who can say ‘no’ is truly free; that to truly realize his liberty, man must say ‘no’ to God. Only in this way, he thinks, he is finally himself; he has arrived at the summit of liberty. This tendency was also present in Christ’s human nature, but he overcame it, because Jesus saw that ‘no’ is not the greatest liberty. The greatest liberty is to say ‘yes,’ to conform with the will of God. Only in saying ‘yes’ does man really become himself. Transferring one’s will to the divine will, that is how a true man is born. That is how we are redeemed.” (Catechesis during the general audience, Wednesday, June 25)
The Church’s charity shows the merciful face of God: “Like the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacraments, the service of charity is an essential part of the mission of the Church. I know well how poverty, which affects so many of your fellow-countrymen, afflicts you. […] As ministers of the Good Shepherd, you have displayed, in word and deed, an intense endeavor to assist the needy. Continue to show in your ministry the merciful face of God, fostering in all your diocesan communities and parishes an extensive and detailed service of charity, which will reach in a special way the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned.” (Address to the bishops of Honduras, Thursday, June 26)
The lay faithful are called to participate in the Church’s evangelizing mission: “Work ceaselessly so that the faithful will be increasingly aware of the fact that, in virtue of baptism and confirmation, they are called to live the fullness of charity by participating in the very salvific mission of the Church. Through the testimony of their Christian life, they can carry to all sectors of society the light of Christ’s message, attracting to the ecclesial community those whose faith has been weakened. Therefore, the lay faithful need to intensify their relationship with God and acquire a solid formation, especially in regard to the social doctrine of the Church. Thus, as leaven in the dough, they will be able to fulfill their mission to transform society according to the will of God.” (Address to the bishops of Honduras, Thursday, June 26)
There is no true peace without justice and respect for the liberty of every individual: “I invite all authorities and men of good will, in particular on the beloved African continent, to be ever more committed to a peaceful, fraternal and solidaristic world. I make an appeal today for an ever more prophetic courage, keeping in mind that peace and justice advance together and that all this must be made concrete through respect for legality in all realms. Without justice, without struggling against all forms of corruption, without respect for the rule of law, it is impossible to build true peace. And without these conditions, it will be hard for citizens to trust their leaders; moreover, without respect for the liberty of every individual, there can be no peace. […] It is opportune that the country’s inhabitants be the first beneficiaries of the product of the nation’s natural resources and do everything possible for a better protection of the planet, leaving to future generations a truly habitable earth, able to feed its inhabitants. According to her tradition, under forms appropriate to her, the Church is ready to collaborate and offer her support to all persons whose main concern is to establish a society that respects the most elementary rights of man and to build a society for man.” (Audience with the new Gabonese representative to the Holy See, Thursday, June 26)
The Holy Father hopes to see the bishops of mainland China in Rome: “I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your brother bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church. I willingly avail myself of the occasion to send to the Catholic community of China and to all the people of that vast country the assurance of my prayers and my affection. […] We must never forget that Christ is also for China a teacher, pastor and loving redeemer. The Church must never allow this good news to remain unspoken.” (Address to the bishops of Hong Kong and Macao, Friday, June 27)
Some activities of the Holy Father
Saturday, June 21: Pope Benedict sent a video message to the young people present at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec.
Sunday, June 22: The Holy Father delivered a homily via satellite for the closing Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec. He also prayed the midday Angelus with faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Wednesday, June 25: The Pope held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, in which he dedicated his catechesis to the figure of St. Maximus the Confessor. He also blessed a statue of St. Luigi Orione, a 20th-century Italian saint who taught that the Church’s real treasures are the poor and humble of the world. The statue was placed in an external niche in the back wall of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Thursday, June 26: Pope Benedict received bishops from Honduras, who were in Rome their five-yearly visit to the Vatican. He also received in audience the new Gabonese representative to the Holy See.
Friday, June 27: Pope Benedict received bishops from Hong Kong and Macao, who were in Rome their five-yearly visit to the Vatican.
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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