Benedict XVI’s Key Messages This Week
June 28 – July 4, 2008
St. Paul offers guidance in the journey toward unity among Christians: “St. Paul reminds us that full communion between all Christians has its foundation in ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5). […] To the Corinthians, among whom discord had arisen, St. Paul does not hesitate to address a strong call for them all to remain in agreement, for there to be no divisions among them, and for them to unite in the same mind and purpose (cfr 1 Corinthians 1:10). In our world, in which the phenomenon of globalization is being consolidated, yet, despite this, persistent divisions and conflicts continue, men and women feel a growing need for certainty and peace. However, at the same time, they remain lost, as if ensnared by a certain form of hedonist and relativist culture which casts doubt upon the very existence of truth. The apostle’s guidance in this matter is extremely helpful in encouraging efforts aimed at seeking full unity among Christians, which is so necessary in order to offer mankind of the third millennium an ever more resplendent witness of Christ, way, truth and life. Only in Christ and in his Gospel can humanity find the answer to its deepest hopes.” (Audience with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, Saturday, June 28)
St. Paul speaks to us about faith in Christ, faith in his Mystical Body, and suffering for him: “I would like to choose three texts from the rich testimony of the New Testament, in which [Paul’s] inner physiognomy appears, that which is specific about his character. In the Letter to the Galatians, he has given us a very personal profession of faith, in which he opens his heart to the readers of all times and reveals what is the most profound source of his life: ‘I live in the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me.’ All that Paul does starts from this center. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a totally personal way; it is awareness of the fact that Christ faced death not for something anonymous, but for love of him, of Paul, and that, risen, Christ still loves him, has given himself for him. […] In the search for St. Paul’s inner physiognomy, I would like, in the second place, to recall the word that the Risen Christ spoke to him on the road to Damascus. Earlier the Lord asked him: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He answered: ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he received the reply: ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’ By persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus himself. ‘You are persecuting me.’ Jesus identifies himself with the Church in a single subject. In this exclamation of the Risen One – which transformed Saul’s life – is contained the whole doctrine of the Church as Body of Christ. […] I would like to conclude with a later word of St. Paul, an exhortation to Timothy from prison, in face of death. ‘Endure with me sufferings for the Gospel,’ said the apostle to his disciple. […] The task of proclamation and the call to suffering for Christ are inseparably together. The call to be teacher of the Gentiles is at the same time and intrinsically a call to suffering in communion with Christ, who has redeemed us through his passion. […] There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of denying ourselves, of the transformation and purification of the ‘I’ for true freedom.” (Homily at the solemn inauguration of the Pauline Year, Saturday, June 28)
Sts. Peter and Paul teach us that the Church is one and catholic: “While Paul usually only goes to places where the Gospel had not yet been announced, Rome is an exception. There he finds a Church whose faith the world speaks about. Going to Rome is part of the universality of his mission as one sent to all peoples. The way to Rome, which, already before his external trip, he had traveled interiorly with his letter, is an integral part of his task of bringing the Gospel to all peoples – of founding the Church, catholic and universal. Going to Rome is for him the expression of his mission’s catholicity. Rome must make the faith visible to the whole world, it must be the meeting place in the one faith. […] Peter’s journey to Rome, is associated with the word ‘one.’ He has the task of creating the ‘unity’ of the ‘catholica,’ of the Church made up of Jews and pagans, the Church of all peoples. And this is the permanent mission of Peter: to make sure that the Church never identifies herself with any one nation, any one culture or any one state. That it may always be the Church of all. That it may unite mankind beyond every frontier and, amidst the divisions of this world, make God’s peace present, the reconciling power of his love. […] [W]e have all the more need of interior unity which comes from the peace of God – the unity of all those who, through Jesus Christ, have become brothers and sisters. This is the permanent mission of Peter, as well as the special task entrusted to the Church of Rome.” (Homily on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Sunday, June 29)
All Christians are called to be missionaries, while also remaining united: “Today, in a world that has become ‘small,’ but where many have not yet met the Lord Jesus, the jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to be missionaries of the Gospel. This missionary dimension must always be accompanied by that of unity, represented by St. Peter, the ‘rock’ on which Jesus Christ built his Church. As is underscored by the liturgy, the charisms of the two great apostles are complementary in building up the one people of God and Christians cannot offer a valid witness to Christ if they are not united.” (Address before praying the midday Angelus, Sunday, June 29)
Love for Christ comes before all else in the mission of an archbishop: “The condition of service for all pastors is love for Christ, which must come before everything. May Jesus’ question to Peter – ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ – resound in our hearts and stimulate our ever fresh and passionate response: ‘Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.’ It is from this love for Christ that the mission to ‘feed my sheep’ arises, a mission that may be summarized above all in giving testimony to him, the Master and the Lord.” (Audience with 40 archbishops who received the pallium, Monday, June 30)
We have much to learn from St. Paul: “The Apostle Paul, an exceptional and virtually inimitable yet stimulating figure, is before us as an example of total dedication to the Lord and his Church, as well as of great openness to humanity and its cultures. It is just, therefore, that we reserve a particular place for him, not only in our veneration, but also in an effort to understand what he has to say to us, Christians of today, as well. In this, our first meeting, I would like to pause to consider the environment in which he lived and worked. Such a topic would seem to take us far from our time, given that we must insert ourselves in the world of 2,000 years ago. And yet, this is only apparently and partly true, because it can be verified that in many ways, the socio-cultural environment of today is not so different than that of back then. […] From this brief review of the cultural environment of the first century of the Christian era, it is clear that it is not possible to understand St. Paul adequately without considering the background, both Jewish as well as pagan, of his time. Thus his figure acquires a historical and ideal depth, revealing shared and original elements of the environment. However, this is also equally true for Christianity in general, of which the Apostle Paul is a paradigm of the first order, from whom all of us today have much to learn. This is the objective of the Pauline Year: to learn the faith from him, to learn from him who Christ is, to learn, in the end, the path for an upright life.” (Catechesis during the general audience, Wednesday, July 2)
Some activities of the Holy Father
Saturday, June 28: The Pope received Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. The patriarch was in Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and the solemn opening of the Pauline Jubilee Year. The solemn inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year began with Saturday evening’s vespers, held at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
Sunday, June 29: Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Square for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, during which he conferred the pallium on 40 archbishops. Afterwards he prayed the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
Monday, June 30: Benedict XVI received in audience the 40 archbishops who received the pallium during Sunday’s Mass.
Wednesday, July 2: The Pope held his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square. On the occasion of the Pauline Year, the Holy Father began a new cycle of catecheses today, dedicated to the figure and thought of St. Paul. In the afternoon, Pope Benedict left Rome for the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Thursday, July 3: Benedict XVI received in audience the governor general of the Solomon Islands. The meeting took place at Castel Gandolfo.
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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