Many people, he said, only see the "outward form" of the Church and this leads to the idea that it is "merely one of the many organizations within a democratic society."
"If to this is added the sad experience that the Church contains both good and bad fish, wheat and darnel, and if only these negative aspects are taken into account, then the great and deep mystery of the Church is no longer seen," he reflected. "It follows that belonging to this vine, the 'Church,' is no longer a source of joy. Dissatisfaction and discontent begin to spread, when people's superficial and mistaken notions of 'Church,' their 'dream Church,' fail to materialize!"
The Church exists for sinners in order to open up to them the path of conversion, healing and life. In his homily at the Mass in Berlin's Olympic Stadium Benedict XVI reflected on the parable of the vine.
“In the parable of the vine, Jesus does not say: "You are the vine", but: "I am the vine, you are the branches" (Jn 15:5). In other words: "As the branches are joined to the vine, so you belong to me! But inasmuch as you belong to me, you also belong to one another."
“This belonging to each other and to him is not some ideal, imaginary, symbolic relationship, but – I would almost want to say – a biological, life-transmitting state of belonging to Jesus Christ.” The Holy Father explained.
“Such is the Church, this communion of life with him and for the sake of one another, a communion that is rooted in baptism and is deepened and given more and more vitality in the Eucharist.”
“The image of the vine is a sign of hope and confidence. Christ himself came into this world through his incarnation, to be our root. Whatever hardship or drought befalls us, he is the source that offers us the water of life that feeds and strengthens us.”
“He takes upon himself all our sins, anxieties and sufferings and he purifies and transforms us, in a way that is ultimately mysterious, into good wine”(... )God can transform into love even the burdensome and oppressive aspects of our lives”
“It is important that we "abide" in Christ, in the vine. The evangelist uses the word "abide" a dozen times in this brief passage. This "abiding in Christ" characterizes the whole of the parable. In our era of restlessness and lack of commitment”, (…) “the risen Lord gives us a place of refuge, a place of light, hope and confidence, a place of rest and security. When drought and death loom over the branches, then future, life and joy are to be found in Christ.” BERLIN, SEPT. 22, 2011
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33498?l=english
God “exercises his power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on his power, by recognizing the freedom of his creatures” The Holy Father explained in his homily at the Mass at the airport of Freiburg.
•We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom. However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened.”
“ Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of his people. He desires our salvation, my salvation, the salvation of every single person. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, and his heart aches for us, he reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to him so that the power of his mercy can touch our hearts”.
“We have to be ready freely to abandon evil,” he continued “to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for his word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us. He is waiting for us to say "yes", he as it were begs us to say "yes".” FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 25, 2011
The Angelus “constantly reminds us of the historical beginnings of our salvation”. The Holy Father said at the Freiburg airport before praying the Angelus. “The Archangel Gabriel presents God's plan of salvation to the Virgin Mary, by which she was to become the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary was fearful, but the angel of the Lord spoke a word of comfort to her: "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." So Mary is able to respond with her great "yes"
“As we pray this Angelus, we may join Mary in her "yes", we may adhere trustingly to the beauty of God's plan and to the providence that he has assigned to us in his grace. Then God's love will also, as it were, take flesh in our lives, becoming ever more tangible. In all our cares we need have no fear. God is good.” FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 25, 2011
Other papal messages and activities
…Always be prepared to spread the Kingdom of God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ, who was himself misunderstood, despised, falsely accused and who suffered for the sake of truth. Benedict XVI asked the Indian bishops who are in Rome for their five-yearly "ad limina" visit. The bishops represented Agra, New Delhi and Bhopal, as well as the apostolic vicariate of Nepal.
“Our belief in the certainty of Christ’s Resurrection gives us confidence and courage to face all that may come and to press forward, building the Kingdom of God, aided as always by the grace of the sacraments and through prayerful meditation on the Scriptures. God welcomes everyone, without distinction, into union with him through the Church. So too, I pray that the Church in India will continue to welcome everyone, above all the poor, and to be an exemplary bridge between men and God.” CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 19, 2011
In a message to the 22nd Marian Day of the Family, held in the shrine of Torreciudad, in the Spanish province of Huesca, the Holy Father said that children need to discover the "face of true love" in "constancy and the sense of duty." He encouraged parents not to give up in their efforts to be a reference point for their children. TORRECIUDAD, Spain, SEPT. 19, 2011
Benedict XVI heads to Germany on Thursday to propose answers to life's most essential questions; concerns about the future of the earth and the economy which weigh heavily in the minds of many, will be touched, a Vatican spokesman said. 17 addresses and nearly two dozen meetings are planned for the four days visit. VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2011
The Holy Father sent his greetings on the birthday of a 104 years old nun. Spanish Cistercian. Sister Teresita has spent 85 years in the cloister, more than anyone else known to history. She entered the convent on the day that Joseph Ratzinger was born, April 16, 1927. She was 19 at the time. CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2011
Video of the Pope's meeting with Sister Teresita in August: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moabddf1f6o
On the first anniversary of the Pontiff's visit to England and Scotland, he sent a message. A solemn Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated in Westminster Cathedral to mark the anniversary of his Apostolic Visit to the United Kingdom. VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 21, 2011
The Pope made an exception to the traditional practice of imposing the pallium on all new archbishops on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul and imposed the pallium on Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan, Italy, on the 20th anniversary of the cardinal's ordination to the episcopate. CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2011
To be in the Church means to be in the net of the Lord, who catches good and bad fish from the waters of death to lead them to the land of life. The Holy Father said this to the journalists en route to Berlin when asked what would he say to those who want to abandon the Church due to the scandals. “It might be that in this net I am with bad fish, and I'm sorry, but it's true that I'm not here for this one or that one, but because it is the Lord's net, which is something different from all human associations, a net that touches the foundation of my being.” He continued.
“Thus one can renew one's awareness of the specific character of being Church, people of all peoples, which is the people of God, and thus learn also to endure scandals and to work against the scandals, forming part precisely of this great net of the Lord.” ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, SEPT. 22, 2011
At the official welcome ceremony held at the Bellevue Castle in Berlin, the Pope spoke about freedom. .”The fact that there are values which are not absolutely open to manipulation is the true guarantee of our freedom” he said, he quoted the words of a great bishop and social reformer Wilhelm von Ketteler,: “Just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion.”
“I can truly develop as a free person only by using my powers also for the welfare of others. And this holds true not only in private matters but also for society as a whole.” He noted.
Even though this journey is an official visit which will consolidate the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, the Pope said “I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen do, but rather to meet people and to speak to them about God” BERLIN, SEPT. 22, 2011
“To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician. At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency. Man can destroy the world. He can manipulate himself…” .Benedict XVI said in his address to Germany's lower house of Parliament, the Bundestag, on the first day of his four-day state visit to the nation.
“The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder.” He noted.
The Holy Father explained that “Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled”.
“The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people’s responsibility for their actions.” He said “Our cultural memory is shaped by these rational insights. To ignore it or dismiss it as a thing of the past would be to dismember our culture totally and to rob it of its completeness.”
“In the awareness of man’s responsibility before God and in the acknowledgment of the inviolable dignity of every single human person, it has established criteria of law: it is these criteria that we are called to defend at this moment in our history.”
“As he assumed the mantle of office, the young King Solomon was invited to make a request. How would it be if we, the law-makers of today, were invited to make a request? What would we ask for? “ the Holy Father asked, “I think that, even today, there is ultimately nothing else we could wish for but a listening heart – the capacity to discern between good and evil, and thus to establish true law, to serve justice and peace.” BERLIN, SEPT. 22, 2011
On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33495?l=english
Benedict XVI met with representatives of the Jewish community at Berlin's Reichstag Building.
".The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in him.” He said, “The supposedly "almighty" Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God, the Creator and Father of all men”
“What man is capable of when he rejects God, and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God, the terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war showed.
The Pope expressed his gratitude for the deepening dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism. BERLIN, SEPT. 22, 2011
Benedict XVI was "deeply shaken" by a meeting with victims of sexual abuse by clergy, The Holy Father met with a group of victims at the seminary in Erfurt,. He expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families, and assured the group of the Church's commitment to deal with the crime of abuse and promote effective measures of prevention, a statement from the Vatican reported. ERFURT, Germany, SEPT. 23, 2011
We should give thanks to God for all the elements of unity which he has preserved for us and bestows on us ever anew, the Pontiff proposed at an ecumenical celebration at the church of the former Augustinian Convent in Erfurt. "And this gratitude must be at the same time a resolve not to lose, at a time of temptations and perils, the unity thus bestowed." He said.
He explained that ecumenism isn't an exercise in negotiation, in which benefits and drawbacks are weighed in search of a consensus. "A self-made faith is worthless," He stated and explained that “Unity grows not by the weighing of benefits and drawbacks but only by entering ever more deeply into the faith in our thoughts and in our lives." ERFURT, Germany, SEPT. 23, 2011
The common ground needed for a pluralistic society is to recognize the inalienable rights rooted in human nature. Benedict XVI told a group of Muslims today. "Mutual respect grows only on the basis of agreement on certain inalienable values that are proper to human nature, in particular the inviolable dignity of every single person. Such agreement does not limit the expression of individual religions; on the contrary, it allows each person to bear witness explicitly to what he believes, not avoiding comparison with others." BERLIN, SEPT. 23, 2011
On ZENIT's Web page: Full text:
God does not cease, through Mary, to cause good to spread further in the world. Benedict XVI said at Marian vespers as he visited a Marian Shrine, the Wallfahrtskapelle in Etzelsbach, where he reflected on Mary´s love. “At the foot of the Cross, Mary becomes our fellow traveler and protector on life's journey.” He said “Looking down from the Cross, from the throne of grace and salvation, Jesus gave us his mother Mary to be our mother. At the moment of his self-offering for mankind, he makes Mary as it were the channel of the rivers of grace that flow from the Cross”. ETZELSBACH, Germany, SEPT. 23, 2011
The real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith the Pope said when meeting with the council of the Central Committee for German Catholics. He noted that while the Church in Germany is well organized, "we must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit.” FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 24, 2011
Even in the darkest moments, those with faith are able to see light and the "dawning of a new day," The Pope said this when addressing a gathering of youth in Freiburg. In his address, he reflected on Christ, the light of the world.
"It is not our human efforts or the technical progress of our era that brings light into this world," he said. "Christ, risen from the dead, shines in this world and he does so most brightly in those places where, in human terms, everything is sombre and hopeless. He has conquered death -- he is alive -- and faith in him, like a small light, cuts through all that is dark and threatening." FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 24, 2011
On the busiest day of his four-day trip, the Pontiff began by greeting the citizens of Freiburg gathered at the Münsterplatz. "I have come gladly to you, to this beautiful city, in order to pray together with you, to proclaim the word of God and together to celebrate the Eucharist," he stated. . “During these days, may we become aware once more how much God loves us and that he is truly good”. FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 24, 2011
"God's presence is always seen especially clearly in the saints, their witness to the faith can also give us the courage to begin afresh today." the Holy Father reflected on the contributions and continuing legacies of the great saints of the Diocese of Erfurt in a Mass celebrated in the Cathedral Square.
More than 50,000 people participated in the liturgy. The Pope offered a few short histories of the patron saints of the Diocese of Erfurt, including St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, who is also "esteemed by Protestant Christians," St. Boniface, St. Kilian and St. Severus.
"The saints," he said, "show us that it is possible and good to live in a relationship with God, to live this relationship in a radical way, to put it in first place, not just to squeeze it into some corner of our lives”.
"Still today Christ comes towards us, he speaks to every individual, just as he did in the Gospel, and invites every one of us to listen to him, to come to understand him and to follow him," Benedict XVI said.
"This summons and this opportunity the saints acted on, they recognized the living God, they saw him, they listened to him and they went toward him, they traveled with him; they so to speak 'caught' his contagious presence, they reached out to him in the ongoing dialogue of prayer, and in return they received from him the light that shows where true life is to be found." ERFURT, Germany, Sept. 24, 2011
THe Pope at the seminary of the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau. “In the present climate, in which many would like, as it were, to "liberate" public life from God, the Christian Churches in Germany -- including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians -- are walking side by side along the path of peaceful witness for understanding and solidarity among peoples, on the basis of their faith in the one God and Father of all.” He said At the same time they continue to place the miracle of God's incarnation at the center of their proclamation.”
“The common engagement of Christians, including Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, makes a valuable contribution to building up a society equipped for the future, in which the human person is given the respect which is his due”.The Pope said. FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 24, 2011
" Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral.” Benedict XVI said at the Lahr airport at the farewell ceremony that marked the end of his four-day state visit to his native Germany.
“I encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers -- and these already exist -- whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance. "There is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to speak to others of our friendship with him" LAHR, Germany, SEPT. 25, 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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