Pope Benedict XVI   Angelus Messages from March 2011 

 

On the Transfiguration
The Lord is Calling me to Scale the Mountain,

VATICAN CITY, February 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's final Angelus address delivered on Sunday to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you for your affection!

Today, the second Sunday of Lent, we have a particularly beautiful Gospel, that of the Lord’s transfiguration. The evangelist Luke especially emphasizes the fact that Jesus is transfigured while he prays: Jesus’ is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a kind of spiritual retreat on a high mountain together with Peter, James, and John, the 3 disciples who are always present in the moments of the Master’s divine manifestations (Luke 5:10, 8:51, 9:28). The Lord, who a short time ago foretold his death and resurrection (Luke 9:22), offers to his disciples an anticipation of his glory. And in the transfiguration too, as in the baptism, the voice of the heavenly Father resounds: “This is my Son, the chosen one. Listen to him!” (Luke 9:35). The presence then of Moses and Elijah, who represent the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, is of great significance: the whole history of covenant is ordered to him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (Luke 9:31), not toward the promised land as in the time of Moses, but toward heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, how good it is for us to be here” (Luke 9:33), represent the impossible attempt to freeze such a mystical experience. St. Augustine comments: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of his soul. Why should he want to come down to return to toil and suffering while there he was full of sentiments of a holy love for God that inspired him thus to holy actions?” (Sermon 78,3: PL 38,491).

Meditating on this passage of the Gospel, we can take from it a very important teaching. First of all, there is the primacy of prayer, without which all of the work of the apostolate and charity is reduced to activism. During Lent we learn to give the right amount of time to both personal and communal prayer, which gives breath to our spiritual life. Moreover, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wished to do on Tabor. Prayer, rather, leads us back to the journey, to action. “The Christian life,” I wrote in my Message for this Lent, “consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love” (n. 3).

Dear brothers and sisters, I hear this Word of God addressed to me in a special way during this moment of my life. Thank you! The Lord is calling me to “scale the mountain,” to dedicate myself still more to prayer and to meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church – on the contrary, if God asks this of me, it is to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have tried to do so hitherto, but in a way that is more adapted to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she help us always to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and in active charity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in different languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Thank you! Let us thank the Lord for the little bit of sun that he has given us!

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer which I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

Finally, I offer a cordial greeting to all of you Italian speakers. I know that many dioceses are present, representatives of parishes, associations, movements, institutions, as well as many young people, elderly and families. I thank you for the affection and for sharing, especially in prayer, this important moment for me and for the Church. I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you! We are always close in prayer. Thanks to all of you!

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On the First Sunday of Lent
"We Join Him and We Ask Him to Give Us Strength to Fight our Weaknesses"

VATICAN CITY, February 17, 2013  - Dear brothers and sisters!

Last Wednesday, with the traditional distribution of ashes, we entered into Lent, a time of conversion and penance in preparation for Easter. The Church, who is mother and teacher, calls all of her members to renew themselves spiritually, to reorient themselves toward God, renouncing pride and egoism to live in love. In this Year of Faith Easter is a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as a basic criterion for our life and the life of the Church. This always means a struggle, a spiritual combat, because the evil spirit naturally opposes our sanctification and seeks to turn us away from the path to God. That is why each year on the first Sunday of Lent the Gospel narrative of Jesus’ temptation in the desert is proclaimed.

Jesus, in fact, after having received “investiture” as Messiah – “anointed” with the Spirit – at the baptism in the Jordan, was led by the same Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. At the beginning of his public ministry Jesus had to unmask and reject the false images of the Messiah that the tempter proposed to him. But these temptations are also false images of man, which always harass our conscience, disguising themselves as suitable, effective and even good proposals. The evangelists Matthew and Luke present 3 temptations of Jesus, differing in part only in the order. The nucleus of these temptations always consists in instrumentalizing God for our own interests, giving more importance to success or to material goods. The tempter is clever: he does not direct us immediately towar evil but toward a false good, making us believe that power and things that satiate primary needs are what is most real. In this manner God becomes secondary; he is reduced to a means, he becomes unreal, he no longer counts, he disappears. In the final analysis, faith is what is at stake in temptations because God is at stake. In the decisive moments of life and, in fact, in every moment of life, we are faced with a choice: do we want to follow the “I” or God? Do we want to follow individual interest or rather the true Good, that which is really good?

As the Fathers of the Church teach us, temptations are of Jesus’ “descent” into our human condition, into the abyss of sin and its consequences. A “descent” that Jesus undertook to the very end, to the point of death on the cross and the descent into the netherworld (inferi) of extreme distance from God. In this way he is the hand of God extended to man, to the lost sheep, to bring back him to safety. As St. Augustine teaches, Jesus has taken temptations from us to give us his victory (cf. Enarr. in Psalmos, 60,3: PL 36, 724). Therefore, we too are not afraid to face combat with the evil spirit: the important point is that we do it with him, with Christ, the Victor. And to stand with him we turn to the Mother, Mary: let us invoke her with filial confidence in the hour of trial, and she will make us feel the powerful presence her divine Son, to reject the temptations with the Word of Christ, and so to put God once again at the center of our life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for today’s Angelus. Today we contemplate Christ in the desert, fasting, praying, and being tempted. As we begin our Lenten journey, we join him and we ask him to give us strength to fight our weaknesses. Let me also thank you for the prayers and support you have shown me in these days. May God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, the Holy Father said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good Lenten journey. This evening I will begin a week of retreat: let us be united in prayer. Have a good week everyone. Thank you!

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Angelus:   On Listening to the Lord's Call

VATICAN CITY, February 10, 2013  - Dear brothers and sisters! In today’s liturgy the Gospel according to Luke presents the account of the calling of the first disciples. This version is original with respect to the other 2 synoptic Gospels, Matthew and Mark (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). The call, in fact, is preceded by Jesus’ teaching of the crowds and of a miraculous catch of fish, accomplished by the Lord’s will (Luke 5:1-6). While the crowd gathers on the shore of the Lake of Genesaret to listen to Jesus he sees Simon who is discouraged because he had not caught anything all night. First he asks Simon if he might get into the boat to preach to the people a little ways from the shore; then when he finishes preaching he commands him to set out into the lake with his companions and cast out the nets (5:5). Simon obeys and they catch a great quantity of fish. In this way the evangelist makes us see how the first disciples followed Jesus, entrusting themselves to him, basing themselves on his word, which is also accompanied by wondrous signs. Let us observe that before this sign, Simon speaks to Jesus calling him “Master” (5:5), while afterward he calls him “Lord” (5:7). It is the pedagogy of God’s call, which is not much concerned with the qualities of the elect but with their faith, like that of Simon, who says: “At your word I will cast out the nets” (5:5). The image of the catch of fish points to the mission of the Church. St. Augustine comments on this: “Twice the disciples fish at the Lord’s command: once before the passions and once after the resurrection. In both cases we find a figure of the whole Church: the Church as she is now and as she will be after the resurrection of the dead. Now she contains a multitude impossible to count, including the good and the bad together; after the resurrection she will only contain the good” (Sermon 248, 1). Peter’s experience, certainly singular, is also representative of the call of every apostle of the Gospel, who must never be discouraged in proclaiming Christ to all men, to the ends of the earth. But the text of today’s Gospel also brings us to reflect on the vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated. It is the work of God. Man is not the author of his own vocation, but he replies to the divine proposal; and human weakness must not trouble us if God calls. We must have confidence in his strength, which acts precisely in our poverty; we must more and more place our trust in the power of his mercy, which transforms and renews. Dear brothers and sisters, may this Word of God revive in us too and in our Christian communities the courage, the confidence and the zeal to proclaim and witness to the Gospel. Failures and difficulties must not lead to discouragement: we are expected to cast out the nets with faith, the Lord does the rest. Let us trust in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles. Quite aware of her littleness, she responds to the Lord’s call with total trust: “Here I am.” With her maternal aid let us renew our openness to follow Jesus, Master and Lord.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Today, various peoples of the Far East celebrate the lunar new year. Peace, harmony and thanksgiving to heaven are the universal values that are celebrated on this joyous occasion and they are desired by all to build their own family, society and nation. I hope the aspirations of those peoples for a happy and prosperous life may be realized. I send out a special greeting to the Catholics of those countries that in this Year of Faith they let themselves be guided by the wisdom of Christ. Tomorrow, the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes, will also be the World Day of the Sick. The solemn celebration will take place in the Marian shrine in Altötting in Bavaria. With prayer and affection I am near to all the sick and I spiritually join with those who will be gathering at that shrine, which is especially dear to me. [In English he said:] I am pleased to greet all the visitors present at today’s Angelus, especially the young people of Saint Patrick’s Evangelisation School, London. In today’s Gospel, the crowds press round Jesus, "listening to the word of God". May we too listen attentively to Jesus’ words, as he calls us, like Simon Peter, to go out fearlessly and draw others to Christ. God bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Have a good Sunday! Thank you!

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On the Truth of God's Love
"Love and Truth are 2 Names of the Same Reality, 2 Names of God"

VATICAN CITY, February 03, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Sunday Angelus address delivered to the faithful gather in St. Peter's Square today.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s Gospel, taken from the fourth chapter of St. Luke, is the continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel. We find ourselves still in the synagogue of Nazareth, the town where Jesus grew up and where everyone knows him and his family. Now, after a period of absence, he has returned in a new way: during the sabbath liturgy he reads a prophecy of Isaiah about the Messiah and he announces its fulfillment, letting it be understood that the words refer to him, that Isaiah had spoken of him. This bewilders the Nazarenes: on the one hand, “all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (Luke 4:22); St. Mark reports that many said: “Where did he get these things? And what is this wisdom that he has been given?” (6:2). On the other hand, however, his fellow Nazarenes know him too well: He is one like us, they say. His pretense can be nothing but presumption (cf. “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives,” 11 [Italian edition]). “Is he not the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:22), they ask, as if to say, “What aspirations can a carpenter from Nazareth have?”

Precisely seeing this resistance, which confirms the proverb “No prophet is accepted in his own land,” Jesus speaks words to the people in the synagogue that sound like a provocation. He cites 2 miracles performed by the great prophets Elijah and Elisha for non-Israelites, to show that sometimes there is greater faith outside of Israel. At that point the reaction is unanimous: they all get up and chase him out and even try to throw him over a precipice, but Jesus, with masterly calm, passes through the midst of the infuriated people and goes his way. At this point it is natural to ask: Why did Jesus wish to provoke this rupture? At the beginning the people admired him and perhaps they would have achieved a certain consensus... but this is exactly the point: Jesus did not come to seek consensus among men, but – as he will say in the end to Pilate – to “bear witness to truth” (John 18:37). The truth prophet does not obey anyone but God and serves truth, ready to make personal sacrifices if necessary. It is truth that Jesus is the prophet of love, but love has its truth. Indeed, love and truth are 2 names of the same reality, 2 names of God. In today’s liturgy, these words of St. Paul are also heard: “Charity ... pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:4-6). Believing in God means giving up our own prejudices and welcoming the concrete form in which he reveals himself: the man Jesus of Nazareth. And this path also leads to recognizing and serving him in others.

Mary’s attitude is enlightening in this regard. Who more than she knew the humanity of Jesus? But she was never scandalized like her fellow Nazarenes. She carried the mystery in her heart and knew how to welcome it continually more and more on the journey of faith to the night of the cross and the brilliance of the resurrection. Mary also helps us to travel along this way with fidelity and joy.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

On the first Sunday of February the “Day for Life” is observed. I join with the Italian bishops, who in their message invite us to invest in life and the family, and to do so also as an effective response to the current crisis. I greet the Movement for Life and pray for the success of the “One of Us” project so that Europe will always be a place where the dignity of every human being is protected. I greet the representatives of the department of medicine and surgery of the University of Rome, especially the professors of obstetrics and gynecology, accompanied by the cardinal vicar, and I encourage them to train health care workers in the culture of life.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. In the Gospel of today’s liturgy, Jesus reminds us that being a prophet is no easy task, even among those nearest to us. Let us ask the Lord to give each of us a spirit of courage and wisdom, so that in our words and actions, we may proclaim the saving truth of God’s love with boldness, humility and coherence. God bless each of you!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you. Have a good Sunday!

 

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On the Christian Sense of 'Carpe Diem'
"Every day can become the today of salvation"

VATICAN CITY, January 28, 2013  - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today’s liturgy brings together for us two distinct passages of Luke’s Gospel. The first (1:1-4) is the prologue, addressed to a certain “Theophile”; since this name in Greek means “friend of God” we can see in him every believer who opens himself up to God and desires to know the Gospel.

The second passage (4:14-21), instead, presents Jesus who “with the power of the Spirit” enters the synagogue of Nazareth on the Sabbath. As a devout believer the Lord does not neglect the weekly liturgical rhythm and joins the assembly of the people of his town in prayer and listening to the Scriptures. Rite provides for a text of the Torah or the Prophets, followed by commentary. That day Jesus stood up to read and found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that begins thus: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor” (61:1-2). Origen comments: “It is not by chance that he opened the scroll and found the chapter of the reading that prophesizes about him. This too was the work of God’s providence” (Homilies on the Gospel of Luke, 32, 3). In fact, Jesus, having concluded the reading, breaks an attentive silence saying: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). St. Cyril of Alexandria states that the “today,” placed between the first and last coming of Christ, is linked to the believer’s capacity to listen and reform his life (cf.PG 69, 1241). But in a still more radical sense Jesus himself is the “today” of salvation in history because he brings the fullness of redemption. The term “today,” very dear to St. Luke (cf. 19:9, 23:43), brings us to the preferred Christological title of the same evangelist, namely, “savior” (soter). Already in the infancy narratives, it is presented in the words of the angel to the shepherds: “Today, in the city of David, there is born for you a Savior, Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Dear friends, this passage also addresses us “today.” Above all it makes us think about the way we pass our Sundays, a day of rest and of the family, but first of all a day to dedicate to the Lord, participating in the Eucharist in which we are nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ and by his Word of life. Secondly, in our dispersed and distracted time this Gospel invites us to ask ourselves about our capacity to listen. Before speaking about God and with God we must listen to him, and the Church’s liturgy is the “school” of this listening to the Lord who speaks to us. In the end he tells us that every moment can become a “today” that is propitious for our conversion. Every day (“kathermeran”) can become the today of salvation because salvation is the story that continues for the Church and for each disciple of Christ. This is the Christian sense of “carpe diem” (seize the day): welcome the today in which God calls you to grant you salvation!

May the Virgin Mary always be our model and our guide in knowing how to recognize and welcome, each day of our life, God’s presence, our Savior and that Savior of all humanity.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today is the “Day of Memory” in remembrance of the Holocaust of the victims of Nazism. The memory of this horrendous tragedy that so profoundly struck the Jewish people above all, should represent for all a constant exhortation so that the horrors of the past not be repeated, every form of hatred and racism be overcome and respect for the dignity of the human person be promoted.

Today is also celebrated the 60th World Day of those suffering from leprosy. I express my nearness to the persons afflicted with this evil and I encourage researchers, health care workers and volunteers, especially those who are part of Catholic organizations and of the Association of the Friends of Raoul Follereau. I invoke for everyone the spiritual support of St. Damien de Veuster and St. Marianne Cope, who gave their lives for those suffering from leprosy.

On this 3rd Sunday there is also a special day of prayer for peace in the Holy Land. I thank those who promote it in many parts of the world and I greet in particular those who are present here.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel Jesus fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy in his own person, as he proclaims new sight to the blind and freedom to captives. In this Year of Faith, especially through the Sacraments, may we deepen our confidence in Christ and embrace his grace which sets us free. May God bless you and your loved ones!

[Again in Italian he said:]

In a special way I greet the children and young people of Catholic Action of Rome. Welcome! Two of you, with the diocesan leaders, are here with me – see! Dear young people, your “Caravan of Peace” is a beautiful witness! May it be a sign also of your daily commitment to build peace where you live. Let us now listen to your brief message.

[Reading of the message]

Thank you! And now we release the doves, symbol of the Spirit of God, who grants peace to those who welcome his love. Let us try to release these doves!

Well, it was a success! Have a good Sunday everyone, a good week too. Thank you!

 

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On a Fault Disfiguring the Countenance of the Church
"The injury to her visible unity"

VATICAN CITY, January 20, 2013 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the liturgy proposes the Gospel passage about the wedding at Cana, an episode narrated by John, an eye witness of the event. This episode is part of this Sunday that immediately follows the Christmas season because, together with the visit of the Magi from the east and with Jesus' baptism, it forms the trilogy of the epiphany, that is, of the manifestation of Christ. The manifestation at the wedding at Cana is, in fact, "the first of the signs" (John 2:11), that is, the first miracle performed by Jesus, with which he publicly manifested his glory, awakening the faith of his disciples. Let us briefly recall what happened at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee. It happened that the wine had run out, and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, pointed this out to her Son. He told her that his hour had not yet come; but then followed Mary's intervention and, six large stone jars being filled with water, he transformed the water into wine, an excellent wine, better than the wine that had been served earlier. With this "sign" Jesus revealed himself as the messianic bridegroom, come to establish the new and eternal Covenant with his people, according to the words of the prophets: "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you" (Isaiah 62:5). And the wine is the symbol of this joy of love; but it also alludes to the blood that Jesus will pour out at the end to seal the nuptial pact with humanity.

The Church is the bride of Christ, who makes her holy and beautiful with his grace. Nevertheless, this bride, made up of human beings, is always in need of purification. And one of the gravest faults that disfigures the countenance of the Church is the injury to her visible unity, in particular the historical divisions that have separated Christians and that have not yet been overcome. Precisely at this time, from January 18 to 25, the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed, a time that is always welcome to believers and to communities, which reawakens in everyone the desire and spiritual commitment to full communion. In this sense the prayer service that I was able to celebrate with thousands of young people from all over Europe and with the ecumenical community of Taizé in this piazza was very significant: it was a moment of grace in which we experienced the beauty of being one in Christ. I encourage everyone to pray together so that we can realize "what the Lord requires of us" (Micah 6:8), which is the theme of this year's Week; it was a theme proposed by some communities in India, which invites us to move decisively toward visible unity and to overcome, as brothers of Christ, every type of unjust discrimination. Next Friday at the conclusion of these days of prayer, I will preside at Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in the presence of representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities.

Dear friends, once more to the prayer for Christian unity I would like to add a prayer for peace so that, in the various conflicts now going on, the slaughter of civilians cease and all violence end, and the courage for dialogue and negotiation be found. For both of these intentions let us invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the mediatrix of grace.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. In these days, we are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Let us join our prayers to those of our brothers and sisters of all Churches and communities, that we may dedicate ourselves ever more earnestly to working towards our visible unity in Jesus Christ. God bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you. Have a good Sunday!

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On the Baptism of the Lord
"May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, Rediscover the Beauty of being Reborn from Above"

VATICAN CITY, January 13, 2013   - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address before and after the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter's Square today.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Sunday after Epiphany we conclude the liturgical season of Christmas: a time of light, the light of Christ that, as the new sun that appears on the horizon of humanity, disperses the darkness of evil and ignorance. We celebrate today the feast of the Baptism of Jesus: that Child, son of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his birth, we see today as an adult immersing himself in the waters of the Jordan River, and in this way sanctifying all water and the whole cosmos, as the Eastern tradition emphasizes. But why did Jesus, in whom there was no shadow of sin have himself baptized by John? Why did he wish to perform that gesture of repentance and conversion together with many others who wanted to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah? That gesture, which marks the beginning of Christ’s public life, is situated in the same line as the Incarnation, of God’s descent from the highest heaven to the abyss of hell (“inferi”). The meaning of this movement of divine abasement is summed up in a single word: love, which is the very name of God. The apostle John writes: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). This is why the first act of Jesus was to receive the baptism of John, who, when he saw him coming, said: “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).

The evangelist Luke writes that while Jesus, after receiving the baptism, “was in prayer, the heavens opened and there descended upon him the Holy Spirit in bodily form, as a dove, and there came a voice from heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved: in you I am well-pleased” (3:21-22). This Jesus is the Son of God, who is totally immersed in the Father’s will of love. This Jesus is he who will die upon the cross and rise up by the power of the same Spirit that now comes to rest upon him and consecrates him. This Jesus is the new man who wishes to live as a son of God, that is, in love; he is the man who, in the face of the evil of the world, chooses the path of humility and responsibility, chooses not to save himself but to offer his life for truth and for justice. Being Christians means living in this way, but this way of life brings a rebirth: being reborn from above, from God, by Grace. This rebirth is the Baptism that Christ gave to the Church to regenerate men to new life. And ancient text attributed to St. Hippolytus: “Whoever enters this bath of regeneration, renounces the devil and aligns himself with Christ, renounces the enemy and recognizes that Christ is God, puts off slavery and puts on the filial adoption” (Sermon for Epiphany, 10: PG, 10 862).

Following tradition, this morning I had the joy of baptizing a large group of children, who were born in the last 3 or 4 months. At this time I would like to extend my prayer and my benediction to all newborns; but above all I would like to invite everyone to recall their baptism, that spiritual rebirth that opened for us to the path of eternal life. May every Christian, in this Year of Faith, rediscover the beauty of being reborn from above, from the love of God, and live as a child of God.

 

On the Epiphany
"Mary's Faith becomes the First Fruit and the Model of the Faith of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, January 07, 2013 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Angelus address delivered from the window of the Apostolic Palace to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I apologize for being late. I ordained 4 new bishops in St. Peter’s Basilica and the rite lasted a little while. But today we celebrate above all the Epiphany of the Lord, his manifestation to the nations, while many Eastern Churches, according to the Julian Calendar, celebrate Christmas. This slight difference, which superimposes the 2 moments, makes us see that the Child, born in a grotto in Bethlehem, is the light of the world, who directs the journey of all peoples. It is a combination, which makes us reflect, also from the point of view of faith: on the one hand, looking upon Jesus we see the faith of Mary, of Joseph and the shepherds; today, the Epiphany, we see the faith of the 3 magi, who came from the East to worship the king of the Jews.

The Virgin Mary, together with her husband, represent the “stump” of Israel, the “remnant” foretold by the prophets, from which the Messiah was to come forth. The magi represent the peoples, and, we can also say, the civilizations of the earth, the cultures, the religions that are, so to say, on their way to God, in search of his kingdom of peace, justice, truth and freedom. There was at first a nucleus, personified above all by Mary, the “daughter of Zion”: a nucleus of Israel, the people who knows and has faith in that God who is revealed to the Patriarchs and along the path of history. This faith reaches its fulfillment in Mary, in the fullness of time; in her, “blessed because she believed,” the Word became flesh, God “appeared” in the world. Mary’s faith becomes the first fruit and the model of the faith of the Church, the People of the New Covenant. But this people is from the beginning universal, and this we see today in the figures of the magi, who arrive in Bethlehem following the light of a star and the instructions of the Sacred Scriptures.

St. Leo the Great says: “There was once promised to Abraham countless descendants who would be begotten not by the flesh but by the fecundity of faith” (Sermon 3 for Epiphany, 1: PL 54, 240). Mary’s faith can be joined with Abraham’s: it is the new beginning of the same promise, of the same unchanging plan of God that now finds its completion in Christ Jesus. And Christ’s light is so limpid and powerful that it makes the language of the cosmos and that of the Scriptures intelligible so that all those who, like the magi, are open to the truth can recognize it and arrive at the contemplation of the Savior of the world. St. Leo continues: “Let the great mass of the nations ... all peoples ... enter in, indeed, let them enter into the family of the patriarchs, let them adore the Creator of the universe, and may God be known not only in Judea but in all the earth” (ibid.). We can also consider the episcopal ordinations that I had the joy to confer this morning in St. Peter’s Basilica from this perspective: 2 bishops will remain in the service of the Holy See and the other 2 will depart to be pontifical representatives in 2 other countries. Let us pray for each of them, for their ministry, and that the light of Christ shine upon the whole world.

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On the Feast of St. Stephen
"St. Stephen is a Model for All Those Who Want to Serve the New Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, December 27, 2012  - Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Each year, on the day after Christmas, the liturgy celebrates the feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first martyr. The book of Acts presents him as a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 6.8 to 10, 7.55); in him the full promise of Jesus recounted in today's Gospel passage is fulfilled, which is that believers who are called to bear witness in difficult and dangerous circumstances will not be abandoned or left defenseless: the Spirit of God will speak to them (cf. Mt 10:20).

The deacon Stephen, in fact, worked, spoke and died animated by the Holy Spirit, bearing witness to the love of Christ to the point of extreme sacrifice. The first martyr is described, in his suffering, as a perfect imitation of Christ, whose passion is repeated even in the details. The life of Saint Stephen is entirely shaped by God, conformed to Christ, whose passion is repeated in him; in the final moment of death, on his knees, he takes up the prayer of Jesus on the cross, trusting in the Lord (cf. Acts 7.59 ) and forgiving his enemies: " Lord, do not hold this sin against them" (v. 60). Filled with the Holy Spirit, as his eyes are about to close, he fixed his gaze on "Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (v. 55), the Lord of all, who draws all to Him.

On St. Stephen’s Day, we are called to fix our gaze on the Son of God, who in the joyful atmosphere of Christmas we contemplate in the mystery of His Incarnation. In Baptism and Confirmation, with the precious gift of faith nourished by the Sacraments of the Church, especially the Eucharist, Jesus Christ has bound us to Him and wants to continue in us, through the action of the Holy Spirit, his work of salvation that redeems, enhances, elevates and leads all to fulfillment. Allowing ourselves be drawn by Christ, like St. Stephen, means opening our lives to the light that calls, directs and makes us walk the path of good, the path of humanity according to God’s loving plan.

Finally, St. Stephen is a model for all those who want to serve the new evangelization. He shows that the novelty of proclamation does not primarily consist in the use of original methods or techniques, which certainly have their uses, but in being filled with the Holy Spirit and allowing ourselves to be guided by Him. The novelty of proclamation lies in immerging ourselves deeply in the mystery of Christ, the assimilation of His Word and of His presence in the Eucharist, so that He Himself, the living Jesus, can act and speak through His envoy. In essence, the evangelizer becomes able to bring Christ to others effectively when he lives of Christ, when the newness of the Gospel manifests itself in his own life. We pray to the Virgin Mary, so that the Church, in this Year of Faith, sees more men and women who, like St. Stephen, know how to give a convinced and courageous witness of the Lord Jesus.

[Translation by Vatican Radio]

After the Recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims present in various languages. In English, the Holy Father said:

I am pleased to welcome all those present for this Angelus prayer. Today, immediately after Christmas Day, by tradition we celebrate the feast of the first martyr, Saint Stephen the Deacon. Like him, may we be blessed by God’s grace to have the courage to speak up and to defend the truth of our faith in public, with charity and constancy. God bless all of you and your loved ones!

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On the Visitation
"Let us Strive Again to Make Room in our Hearts to Welcome the Christ Dhild with Love and Humility"

VATICAN CITY, December 23, 2012  - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Angelus address to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, which precedes the birth of the Lord, the Gospel narrates Mary’s visit to her relative Elizabeth. This is not merely a polite gesture but, with great simplicity, depicts the meeting between the Old and the New Testament. The 2 women, both pregnant, in fact incarnate expectation and the One expected. The older Elizabeth symbolizes Israel, who awaits the Messiah, while the younger Mary bears the fulfillment of this expectation to the benefit of all humanity. In the 2 women we meet and recognize first of all the fruit of their wombs, John and Christ. The Christian poet Prudentius comments: “The child in the old womb greets, through his mother’s mouth, the Lord, son of the Virgin” (Apotheosis, 590: PL 59, 970). The elation of John in Elizabeth’s womb is the sign of the end of the waiting: God is about to visit his people. At the Annunciation the archangel Gabriel spoke to Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy (cf. Luke 1:36) as a proof of God’s power: sterility, besides the advanced age, was transformed into fertility.

Elizabeth, welcoming Mary, recognizes that God’s promise to humanity is being realized and exclaims: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:42-43). The expression “blessed are you among women” is used in the Old Testament of Jael (Judges 5:24) and Judith (Judith 13:1), 2 women warriors who strive to save Israel. Now however, it is said of Mary, a peaceful young woman who is about to give birth to the Savior of the world. Thus, also John’s leap for joy (cf. Luke 1:44) recalls David’s dance when he accompanied the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem (cf. 1 Chronicles 15:29). The Ark, which contained the tablets of the Law, the manna and Aaron’s staff (cf. Hebrews 9:4), it was the sign of God’s presence among the people. The soon-to-be-born John exults with joy before Mary,the Ark of the New Covenant, who bears Jesus in her womb, the Son of God made man.

The scene of the Visitation also expresses the beauty of hospitality: where there is mutual welcome, listening, making room for the other, God is present with the joy that comes from him. Let us imitate Mary in the Christmas season, visiting those who are in difficulty, especially the sick, prisoners, the elderly and children. And let us also imitate Elizabeth who welcomes the guest as God himself: unless we desire him we will never know the Lord, unless we expect him, we will never meet him, unless we seek him, we will never find him. With the same joy as Mary, who hastens to Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:39), we too go out to meet the Lord who comes. Let us pray that all men seek God, that it is God himself who first comes to visit us. Let us entrust our heart to Mary, the Ark of the New and Eternal Covenant, that she might make it worthy to welcome the visit of God in the mystery of Christmas.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. Today, as we approach the Solemnity of our Lord’s Birth among us, let us strive again to make room in our hearts to welcome the Christ child with love and humility before such a great gift from on high. In anticipation, let me already wish you and your families a holy and peaceful Christmas!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

Finally, I address a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I wish everyone a good Sunday and much peace at Christmas. Happy Sunday!

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"It Is There, in Our Conduct, That We Must Show That We Are Following His Will"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2012 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent again presents the figure of John the Baptist, and it depicts him speaking to the people who have come to him at the Jordan River to be baptized. Because John speaks to them with tough words, exhorting them to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah, some ask him, “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). These dialogues are very interesting and show themselves to be of great contemporary relevance.

The first reply is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says: “Whoever has 2 tunics, give 1 to someone who has none, and whoever has food to eat, do the same” (3:11). Here we can see a criterion of justice animated by charity. Justice demands that the imbalance between those who have more than enough and those who lack the necessities be overcome; charity moves us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs rather than looking for justifications to defend our interests. Justice and charity are not opposed but both are necessary and complete each other. “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable” (“Deus caritas est,” 28).

And then there is the second reply, which is directed toward some “publicans,” those who collected taxes for the Romans. Already for this reason the publicans were despised, but also because they often took advantage of their position to steal. The Baptist does not tell them to change their job but not to exact more than what is required (3:13). The prophet, in God’s name, does not ask for exceptional actions, but first of all the honest performance of one’s duties. The first step toward eternal life is always the observance of the commandments, in this case the seventh: “Do not steal” (cf. Exodus 20:15).

The third reply regards the soldiers, another category with a certain power, and so with a temptation to abuse it. To the soldiers John says: “Do not mistreat anyone or extort; be content with your pay” (3:14). Here, too, conversion begins with honesty and with respect for others: an instruction that holds good for everyone, especially those with greater responsibility.

Taking these dialogues together, the very concrete words spoken by John is striking: from the moment that God will judge us according to our deeds, it is there, in our conduct, that we must show that we are following his will. And precisely for this reason the Baptist’s instructions are always relevant: even in our very complex world, things would go much better if everyone observed these rules of conduct. So let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that he help us to prepare ourselves for Christmas bearing the good fruits of conversion (cf. Luke 3:8).

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

From December 28 to January 2 the European meeting of young people organized by the community of Taizé will take place. I thank the families, who, following the Roman tradition of hospitality, have made themselves available to host these young people. Since, thanks be to God, the requests are greater than the space that has been made available so far, I renew the request already made in parishes, that more families, with complete simplicity, might open up to this great experience of Christian friendship.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. I was deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain. During this Advent Season, let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace. Upon those affected by this tragedy, and upon each of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Again in Italian he said:]

Today I offer a special greeting to the children of Rome! You have come for the traditional blessing of the statues of the baby Jesus. Dear ones, as I bless the little statues of Jesus that you will put in your crèches, I bless each of you and your families from my heart along with teachers and the Center of the Roman Oratories.

Lastly, I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful of Palazzo Adriano, Porto San Giorgio, Grottammare, San Lorenzello, Atella, Bucchianico and Valmontone. I greet the group of students from the De Merode Institute in Rome who are also with some fellow Australian students from Adelaide, as well as representatives of ZENIT religious news agency.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish every a good Sunday and a good spiritual journey toward Bethlehem! Have a good Sunday! Greetings!

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Angelus:  On Awaiting the Coming of the Lord
"Let us Prepare to See, with the Eyes of Faith, Gods Salvation in the Humble Grotto of Bethlehem"

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the season of Advent that liturgy brings to the fore, in a special way, 2 figures that prepare the way of the Messiah: the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St. Luke presents the latter to us, and he does so in a way that is different from the other evangelists. “All 4 of the Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus activity and they present him as his precursor. St. Luke moves the connection between the 2 figures and their respective missions back ... Already in conception and birth, Jesus and John are placed in relationship to each other” (“Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” [Italian ed.], 23). This perspective helps us to understand that John, insofar as he is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, both of whom are of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and thus prepares men for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant, inaugurated by Jesus (cf. ibid., 27-28). Moreover, Luke dissolves every mythological reading that is often applied to the Gospels by speaking of the historical context of John’s life – “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea ... under the high priests Annas and Caiphas” (Luke 3:1-2). Within this historical context there occurs the truly great event of history, the birth of Christ, which is not noted by others at that time. For God, the great ones of history are the frame for the little ones!

John the Baptist defines himself as “the voice of one who calls out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’” (Luke 3:4). The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God precedes, insofar as it descends upon John, the son of Zachariah, in the desert (cf. Luke 3:2). He therefore has a great role to play, but always in function of Christ. St. Augustine comments: “John is the voice. Of the Lord however it is said: ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (John 1:1). John is the voice that passes, Christ is the eternal Word that was in the beginning. If the word is taken from the voice, what does it have left? A vague sound. The voice without a word affects our hearing but it does not nourish the heart” (Sermon 293, 3: PL 38, 1328). We have the task today of listening to that voice to grant space and welcome in our heart to Jesus, the Word that saves. In this season of Advent, let us prepare to see, with the eyes of faith, God’s salvation in the humble grotto of Bethlehem (cf. Luke 3:6). In a consumer society in which we are tempted to find our joy in things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is lived not only as an external celebration but as the celebration of the Son of God who has come to bring men peace, life and true joy.

To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin of Advent, we entrust our path to the Lord who is coming so that we are ready to welcome Emmanuel, God-with-us, in our heart and in our entire life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those who were present in different languages. In English he said:]

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Happy Advent. Have a good Sunday everyone. Thank you!

 


 
Pope's Angelus Address on Feast of the Immaculate Concepetion
 

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's words before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Saturday, December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I wish you all a happy Feast of Mary Immaculate! In this Year of Faith I would like to emphasize that Mary is Immaculate by a gratuitous gift of the grace of God that, however, she was perfectly open to and cooperated with. In this sense she is “blessed” because she “believed” (Luke 1:45), because she had a firm faith in God. Mary represents that “remnant of Israel,” that holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God finds an ear, acceptance, response, he finds that “yes” that allows him to take flesh and to come dwell among us. In Mary humanity, history truly open to God, accept his grace, are ready to do his will. Mary is the genuine expression of grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. And St. Paul takes this language up again in the Letter to the Ephesians where he speaks of matrimony and says that “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, purifying her with the bath of water through the word, to present the Church to himself, all glorious, without a blemish or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and immaculate” (5:25-27). The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was first born in reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then in reference to Mary. Ephraim the Syrian poetically wrote: “As bodies themselves have sin and die, and the land that is their mother is cursed (cf. Genesis 3:17-19), so because of this body that is the incorruptible Church, her land is blessed from the beginning. This land is the body of Mary, the temple in which a seed has been sown” (Diatessaron 4, 15: SC 121, 102).

The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. In Mary, in fact, that relationship with God that sin destroys is totally alive and active. In her there is no opposition between God and her being: there is complete communion, complete understanding. There is a reciprocal “yes,” of God to her and of her to God. Mary is free from sin because she is wholly of God, totally expropriated for him. She is full of his grace of his love.

In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realized: that his covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which sprung the Fruit that is the most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Savior. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that grace is capable of bringing about a response, that God’s fidelity is capable of generating a true and good faith.

Dear friends, this afternoon, as is customary, I will go to the Piazza di Spagna, to pay homage to Mary Immaculate. Let us follow the example of the Mother of God so that in us too the Lord’s grace might find an answer in a genuine and fruitful faith.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I wish first of all to assure my nearness to the people of the Philippines have been struck recently by a violent hurricane. I pray for the victims, for their families and for the many displaced persons. May faith and charity be the force to deal with this difficult trial.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. Today, with joyful hearts, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through her powerful intercession, may the Lord grant us the grace to reject sin and persevere in the grace of baptism. I wish you a happy feast day and invoke upon you and your families God’s abundant blessings!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

Happy feast day to all of you. Thank you!

 

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On Advent
"The Virgin Mary Perfectly Incarnates the Spirit of Advent"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a journey that is subsequently enriched by the Year of Faith, which we observe 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first part of this journey is Advent, constituted, in the Roman Rite, by the 4 weeks that precede the Christmas of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the language of Christianity it refers to the coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that involves the entire cosmos and all of history, but that knows 2 culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is precisely the Incarnation; the second his glorious return at the end of time. These 2 moments that are chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how distant – touch each other in their depths, because with his death and resurrection Jesus has already realized that transformation of man and the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before the end, it is necessary that the Gospel be preached to all nations, Jesus says in the Gospel of St. Mark (cf. Mark 13:10). The Lord’s coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence.

Our collaboration is required in this permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel; and the Church, which is like the Bride to be, the Betrothed of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cf. Apocalypse 21:9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord in which his glorious return already begins.

The Word of God reminds us of all this today, describing the conduct that is necessary to ready for the Lord’s coming. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be weighed by dissipation, drunkenness and the troubles of life ... be vigilant, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke 21:34, 36). So, sobriety and prayer. And the apostle Paul also invites us to “grow and superabound in love” among ourselves and toward others, to make our hearts strong and blameless in sanctity (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world, or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians welcome the salvation that comes from God and bear witness to it with a different way of living, like a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah announces, “Jerusalem will live in peace and be called ‘the Lord our justice’” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God, of his justice, which is already present and active in history but is not yet fully realized, and because of this is always awaited, invoked, sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent; this spirit is one of listening to God, of profound desire to do his will, of joyous service to our neighbor. Letting ourselves be guided by her, so that the God who comes does not find us closed and distracted, but can, in each one of us, extend a part of his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted in various languages those present in St. Peter’s Square. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in Kottar, India, Devasahayam Pillai, a faithful layman, who lived in the 19th century and died a martyr, was proclaimed blessed. Let us join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that this newly beatified son of the Church sustain the faith of the Christians of that great and noble country. Tomorrow the International Day of Rights of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated. Every person, even with his physical and psychological limits, also grave ones, is always an inestimable value and is considered as such. I encourage the ecclesial community to be attentive and welcoming toward these brothers and sisters. I exhort legislators and governments to safeguard persons with disabilities and to promote their full participation in the life of society.

[In English he said:]

I welcome all gathered here today to pray with me. I especially greet the people of Kottar who celebrate today the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai. His witness to Christ is an example of that attentiveness to the coming of Christ recalled by this first Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope. God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday and a good Advent journey. Happy Advent, have a good Sunday, everyone. Thank you.

 

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On the Coming of the Son of Man

"He is the Central Event That, in the Midst of the Troubles of the World, Remains the Firm and Stable Point"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, Jesus’ discourse about the end times (in technical terms, his “eschatological” discourse) is proclaimed at Mass (cf. Mark 13:24-32). This discourse is also found, with some variations, in Matthew and Luke, and it is probably the most difficult text in the Gospels.

This difficulty derives both from the content and the language: Jesus speaks of a future that is beyond our categories, and because of this Jesus uses images and words taken from the Old Testament, but, importantly, he inserts a new center, namely, himself, the mystery of his person and his death and resurrection. Today’s passage too opens with some cosmic images of an apocalyptic nature: “The sun will be darkened, the moon will no longer give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers in the skies will be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25); but this element is relativized by what follows: “Then the Son of Man will come upon the clouds in the sky with great power and glory” (13:26). The “Son of Man” is Jesus himself, who links the present with the future; the ancient words of the prophets have finally found a center in the person of the Messiah of Nazareth: he is the central event that, in the midst of the troubles of the world, remains the firm and stable point.

Another passage from today’s Gospel confirms. Jesus says: “The sky and the earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (13:31). In fact, we know that in the Bible the word of God is at the origin of creation: all creatures, starting with the cosmic elements – sun, moon, sky – obey God’s Word, they exist insofar as they are “called” by it. This creative power of the divine Word (“Parola”) is concentrated in Jesus Christ, the Word (“Verbo”) made flesh, and also passes through his human words, which are the true “sky” that orients the thought and path of man on earth. For this reason Jesus does not describe the end of the world and when he uses apocalyptic images he does not conduct himself like a “visionary.” On the contrary, he wants to take away the curiosity of his disciples in every age about dates and predictions and wishes instead to give them a key to a deep, essential reading, and above all to indicate the right path to take, today and tomorrow, to enter into eternal life. Everything passes – the Lord tells us – but God’s Word does not change, and before this Word each of us is responsible for his conduct. It is on this basis that we will be judged.

Dear friends, even in our times there is no lack of natural calamities, nor, unfortunately, of war and violence. Today too we need a stable basis for our life and our hope, much more because of the relativism in which we are immersed. May the Virgin help us to accept this center in the Person of Christ and in his Word.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Pergamino, Argentina María Crescencia Pérez of the Congregation the Figlie di Maria Santissima dell’Orto (Daughters of Mary Most Holy of the Garden) was declared blessed. She lived in the first half of last century and is a model of evangelical sweetness animated by faith. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for today’s Angelus. This Sunday, as the liturgical year draws to a close, Jesus tells us that although heaven and earth will pass away, his words will remain. Let us pledge ourselves to build our lives more and more on the solid foundation of his holy word, the true source of life and joy.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Thank you. Have a good Sunday. Have a good week. Goodbye.

 

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On Trusting God

"No Act of Goodness is without Value before God"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Liturgy of the Word this Sunday presents us the figures of 2 widows as models of faith. They are presented in parallel: one in the first Book of Kings (17:10-16), the other in the Gospel of Mark (12:41-44). Both of these women are desperately poor and precisely in this situation demonstrate a great faith in God. The first appears in the cycle of stories about the prophet Elijah. During a famine Elijah is ordered by God to go to area near Sidon, that is, beyond Israel, into pagan territory. There he meets the widow and asks her for water to drink and a little bread. She tells him that she has only a bit of flour and a drop of oil, but, because the prophet insists and promises her that, if she listens to him, she will not lack flour and oil, she does what he asks and is recompensed. The second widow, the one in the Gospel, is observed by Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem by the treasury, where the people were taking offerings. Jesus sees this widow put 2 coins in the treasury; he then calls his disciples and explains to them that her offering is greater than those of the rich because while they gave from their excess, the widow gave “all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).

From these 2 biblical episodes, wisely approached, we can draw a precious teaching about faith. It is about the interior attitude of those who base their lives on God, on his Word, and completely entrust themselves to him. In antiquity widows lived in a condition of grave need. For this reason in the Bible widows and orphans are people of whom God takes special care: they have last their earthly support but God is their Husband or their Father. Nevertheless, Scripture says that the objective condition of need, in this case the fact of being a widow, is not sufficient: God always asks for our adherence in faith, which is expressed in love of him and neighbor. No one is ever so poor that he cannot give something. And in fact both of our widows today demonstrate their faith through acts of charity: the one towards the prophet and the other gives alms. In this way they attest to the inseparability of faith and charity and love of God and love of neighbor – as last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us. Pope St. Leo the Great, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, says this: “On the scales of divine justice it is not the quantity of gifts that has weight but the heart. The widow of the Gospel deposited 2 coins in the Temple treasury and this surpassed the offerings of all the rich. No act of goodness is without value before God, no act of mercy is without fruit” (Sermo de jejunio dec. mens., 90, 3).

The Virgin Mary is the perfect example of those who offer their whole self, entrusting themselves to God; with this faith she speaks her “Here I am” to the Angel and accepts the will of God. May Mary help each of us in this Year of Faith and strengthen confidence in God and in his Word.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted in various languages those present. In Italian he said:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, in Spoleto, Maria Luisa Prosperi was proclaimed blessed. She lived in the first half of the nineteenth century, was a nun and an abbess in the Benedictine monastery of Trevi. Together with the whole Benedictine family and the diocesan community of Spoleto-Norcia, we praise the Lord for this daughter of his, who desired to associate herself with Christ’s Passion in a singular way. In Italy today we celebrate the “Giornata del Ringraziamento” (Day of Thanksgiving). In the context of the Year of Faith, the theme of Day “Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land” (Psalm 37:3) recalls the necessity of a way of life rooted in faith for recognizing with gratitude the creative and provident hand of God in feeding his children. I greet and offer my best wishes to all farmers!

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, the poor widow gives everything she possesses to the Temple. May her unconditional offering inspire us to rely on God alone, while attributing to everything else its due place and proper worth. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Again in Italian he said:]

I am happy to greet the participants in the conference on Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, which is being held at the Gregorian University. [...] I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your attention. Have a good Sunday.

 

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On God's Love

"Let us Love the Lord in this way, and Our Neighbor as Ourselves"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 12:28-34) re-proposes Jesus teaching about the great commandment: the commandment of love, which is twofold: we must love God and love our neighbor. The saints, all of whom we celebrated a few days ago in a solemn feast, are precisely those who, trusting in God’s grace, seek to live according to this fundamental law.

The commandment of love can be put fully into practice by those who live in a deep relationship with God, precisely in the way that a child becomes capable of living through a good relationship to his mother and father. St. Juan of Avila, who a short time ago I proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, writes at the beginning of this “Treatise on the Love of God”: “That which most moves our heart to love God is the profound consideration of the love he had for us ... This, more than the benefits we receive from him, moves the heart to love; because he who gives some good to another gives him something that he has; but he who loves, gives himself with everything he has, so that he has nothing else to give.” Before being a commandment, love is a gift, a reality that God makes us know and experience in such a way that like a seed, it can germinate within us and develop in our life.

If God’s love has sunk deep roots in a person, he is able to love even those who do not merit this love, just as God loves us. Fathers and mothers do not love their children only when they merit it: they love them always, even if, of course, they make them understand when they have made mistakes. From God we learn to will always and only the good and never evil. We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes but with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. It is a look that comes from the heart and does not stop at the surface; it goes beyond appearances and succeeds in grasping the expectations of the other: of being listened to, of being gratuitously attended to; in a word, of being loved. But there is also the inverse path: opening myself to the other as he is, reaching out to him, making myself available, I open myself also to knowing God, to knowing that he exists and that he is good. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable and reciprocally related. Jesus did not invent either of them, but he revealed that they are, at bottom, a single commandment, and he did this not only with words, but above all with his witness: the very Person of Jesus and his whole mystery incarnate the unity of the love of God and neighbor, like the 2 lines of the cross, the vertical and the horizontal. In the Eucharist he grants us a twofold love, giving us himself, so that, nourished by this Bread, we love each other as he loved us.

Dear friends, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, let us pray that every Christian know how to show his faith in the one true God with a clear witness of love of neighbor.

 

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from the London Oratory School, from Holy Rosary Parish in Billingham-on-Tees, and from Saint Philip’s School, London. Jesus teaches us that those who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength are not far from the Kingdom. Let us love the Lord in this way, and our neighbour as ourselves. May God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Thanks for your attention. Have a good Sunday!

 

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ANGELUS

On the Conclusion of the Synod of Bishops

"The Synod is Always a Moment of Vibrant Ecclesial Communion"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus before the end of the Mass of the Closing of Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The 13th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was concluded with the Holy Mass celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter this morning. For 3 weeks we dealt with the reality of the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith: the whole Church was represented and, thus, involved in this work, with will not fail to bear its fruits with the Lord’s grace. First of all, however, the Synod is always a moment of vibrant ecclesial communion, and I would to thank God for this together with all of you. He has once again made us experience the beauty of being Church, and to be it precisely today, in this world as it is, in the midst of this humanity with its toils and its hopes.

It was very significant that this synodal assembly coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and so with the beginning of the Year of Faith. Thinking again of Bl. John XXIII, of the Servant of God Paul VI, of the conciliar season, was quite helpful because it helped us to recognize that the new evangelization is not our invention but a dynamism that developed in the Church in a special way beginning in the 1950’s, when it appeared that even the countries with an ancient Christian tradition had become, as is often said, “mission territory.” Thus there emerged the need for s renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the secularized societies, with the twofold certainty that, on the one hand, it is only he, Jesus Christ, the one who is truly new, who answers to the expectations of the men of every age, and, on the other hand, that his message must be transmitted in changed social and cultural contexts.

What can we say at the end of these days of intense work? For my part, I listened to and gathered many points for reflection and many proposals that, with the help of the secretariat of the Synod and my collaborators, I will try to order and elaborate so as to offer to the whole Church an organic synthesis and coherent teaching. From this moment we can say that there has emerged from this Synod a strengthened commitment to the spiritual renewal of the Church herself so as to spiritually renew the secularized world; and this renewal will come from the rediscovery of Jesus Christ, of his truth and of his grace, of his “countenance” so human and so divine upon which the mystery of God’s transcendence shines.

We entrust to the Virgin Mary the fruits of the word of this synodal meeting just concluded. May she, Star of the new evangelization, teach us an help us to bring all to Christ, with courage and joy.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I begin with a request.

In recent days a devastating hurricane, which struck Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas with particular violence, has caused many deaths and severe damage, forcing many people to leave their homes. I would like to assure those who have been affected by this natural that I am near to you and that you are in my thoughts and I invite everyone to prayer and solidarity, to alleviate the grief of the families of the victims and to offer help to the thousands who have been injured.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus grants sight to the blind man with the words: "Your faith has saved you". As we mark the end of the Synod on the new evangelization, let us renew both our faith in Christ and our commitment to the spread of his Gospel of healing and joy. God bless you and your families!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and happy feast of All Saints. Have a good Sunday. Thank you!

 

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On Wealth

"The Church's History is Full of Examples of Rich People Who Used their Possessions in an Evangelical Way"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Wealth is the principal topic of this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30). Jesus teaches that it is very difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God, but not impossible; in fact, God can conquer the heart of a person who has many possessions and move him to solidarity and sharing with the needy, with the poor, to enter into the logic of the gift. This is how wealth presents itself in the life of Jesus Christ, who – as the Apostle Paul writes – “rich though he was, he became poor for us so that we might become rich though his poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

As often happens in the Gospels, everything begins from an encounter. In this case Jesus’ meeting with a man who “had many possessions” (Mark 10:22). He was a person who from his youth had faithfully observed the commandments of God’s Law, but he had not yet found true happiness; this is why he asks Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life” (10:17). On the one hand, like everyone else, he is after life in its fullness. On the other hand, being used to depending on his wealth, he thinks that he might be able to “buy” eternal life in some way, perhaps by observing some special commandment. Jesus welcomes the profound desire that is in him and, the evangelist notes, casts a gaze full of love upon him, God’s own gaze (cf. 10:21). But Jesus also understands what the man’s weakness is: it is precisely his attachment to his many possessions, and this is why he invites him to give everything to the poor, so that his treasure – and thus his heart – will no longer be on earth but in heave, and adds: “Come! Follow me!” (10:22). That man, instead of accepting Jesus’ invitation, goes away sad (10:23) since he is unable to give up his wealth, which can never give him happiness and eternal life.

It is at this point that Jesus offers his teaching to the disciples, and to us today: "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" (10:23). The disciples are puzzled, and even more so when Jesus adds: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." But seeing that the disciples are astonished he says: "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God" (10:24-27). St. Clement comments on the episode in this way: “The story teaches the rich that they must not neglect their salvation as if they were already condemned. They need not throw their wealth into the sea or condemn it as insidious and hostile to life, but they must learn how to use their wealth and obtain life” (“What rich person will be saved?” 27, 1-2). The Church’s history is full of examples of rich people who used their possessions in an evangelical way, achieving sanctity. We need only think of St. Francis, St. Elizabeth or St. Charles Borromeo. May the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, help us to welcome Jesus’ invitation with joy so that we might enter into the fullness of life.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Prague Frederick Bachstein and 13 of his confreres of the Order of Friars Minors were beatified. They were killed in 1611 because of their faith. They are the first persons who have been beatified in the Year of Faith, and they are martyrs: they remind us that believing in Christ also means suffering with him and for him.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present. During this Year of Faith may we, like the man in today’s Gospel, have the courage to ask the Lord what more can we do, especially for the poor, the lonely, the sick and the suffering, so as to be witnesses and heirs to the eternal life God promises. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good week. Thank you! Have a good Sunday everyone!

 

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On the Holy Rosary

"We Let Ourselves be Guided by Mary, the Model of Faith, in Meditating on the Mysteries of Christ"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square for the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as doctors of the Church and for the opening of the 13th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

  * *

 [In Italian he said:]

 Dear brothers and sisters,

 Let us turn now in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whom we venerate today as Queen of the Holy Rosary. At this time at the shrine in Pompeii, the traditional “Supplication” is being prayed and joined in by countless people around the world. As we too spiritually associate ourselves with this choral invocation, I would like to propose that everyone make a special effort to pray the Rosary during the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, in fact, we let ourselves be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it gives form to our whole life. Thus, following the lead of my predecessors, especially Blessed John Paul II, who gave us the apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” 10 years ago, I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in community, placing ourselves in the school of Mary, who leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith.

 [In English he said:]

 I greet the English-speaking pilgrims here today! I ask all of you to pray for the work of the Synod on the New Evangelization, beginning today. Later this week, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Year of Faith begins. May these events confirm us in the beauty and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ which comes to us through the Church! Entrusting these intentions to our Lady of the Rosary, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant blessings!

 

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On Being 'in Synch' With God

"God's logic is always 'other' with respect to ours"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On our journey with St. Mark’s Gospel last Sunday we entered into the second part, that is the last trip to Jerusalem and toward the culmination of Jesus’ mission. After Peter, in the name of the disciples, professed faith in him, recognizing him as the Messiah (cf. Mark 8:29), Jesus began to speak openly of what would happen at the end. The evangelist reports three successive predictions of the death and resurrection in Chapters 8, 9 and 10: in them Jesus announces in an ever more clear manner the destiny that awaits him and its intrinsic necessity. This Sunday’s passage contains the second of these announcements. Jesus says: “The Son of man” – the expression by which he designates himself – “will be handed over to men and they will kill him; but, 3 days after his death he will rise again” (Mark 9:31). The disciples “however, did not understand these words and were afraid to question him” (9:32).

In fact, reading these words of Mark’s account, it appears evident that there was a grat interior distance between Jesus and his disciples; they were on, so to speak, two different wavelengths, such that the Master’s discourses were not understood, or only superficially. The Apostle Peter, immediately after having manifested his faith in Jesus, reproaches him because Jesus predicted that he would be rejected and killed. After the second announcement of the Passion, the disciples disputed among themselves who was the greatest (cf. Mark 9:34); and, after the third announcement, James and John ask to sit at his right and at his left, when he will be in glory (cf. Mark 10:35-40). But there are various other signs of this distance: for example, the disciples are unable to heal a boy with epilepsy, whom Jesus then heals with the power of prayer (cf. Mark 9:14-29); or when some children are brought to Jesus, and the disciples rebuke them, and Jesus instead, indignant, makes them stay, and states that only those who are as they may enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:13-16).

What does all of this tell us? It reminds us that God’s logic is always “other” with respect to ours, as God himself revealed through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, / your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). This is why following the Lord always demands of man – of all of us – a profound conversion, a change in our way of thinking and living, it demands that we open our hearts to listen, to let ourselves be interiorly enlightened and transformed. A key point on which God and man differ is pride: in God there is no pride, because he is the complete fullness of love and is entirely disposed to love and give his life; in us men, however, pride is deeply rooted and requires constant vigilance and purification. We, who are little, aspire to appear big, to be the first, while God, who is truly great, is not afraid to abase himself and become last. And the Virgin Mary is perfectly in “synch” with God: let us invoke her with confidence so that she might teach us how to faithfully follow Jesus on the path of love and humility.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, in the French city of Troyes, the priest Louis Brisson, who lived in the nineteenth century, was beatified. He was the founder of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. I join with joy in the thanksgiving of the diocesan community of Troyes and all of the spiritual sons and daughters of the newly beatified.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus prayer. In the Gospel today, our Lord reveals to his disciples that he will be delivered unto death and rise again for our salvation. As we reflect on the call to be “last of all and servants of al,” may Christ’s supreme act of love on Calvary always be our true measure of greatness. God bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you! A good Sunday to all of you.

 

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On the Law of God
"It leads man out of the slavery of egoism and brings him into the 'land' of true freedom and life"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2012.- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the Liturgy of the Word this Sunday the theme of God’s Law, of his commandment emerges. This is an essential element both in the Jewish and Christian religions. In the latter the Law of God finds its complete fulfillment in love (cf. Romans 13:10). God’s Law is his Word that guides man on his life’s journey, it leads him out of the slavery of egoism and brings him into the "land" of true freedom and life. For this reason in the Bible the Law is not seen as a burden, an oppressive limitation, but as a precious gift of the Lord, the witness of his paternal love, of his will to be near his people, of being their ally and writing a history of love with them. This is how the pious Israelite prays: "In your decrees is my delight, / I will not forget your word. (...) Lead me in the way of your commandments, / because in them is my happiness" (Psalms 119:16, 35). In the Old Testament, Moses is the one who transmits the Law to the people in God’s name. After the long journey in the desert, on the threshold of the Promised Land, Moses proclaimed: "Now, Israel, listen to the laws and precepts that I shall teach you that you might put them into practice so that you might live and enter into the possession of the land that the Lord, God of your fathers, is going to give you" (Deuteronomy 4:1).

And here is the problem: when the people establish themselves in the land and are the depository of the Law, they are tempted to place their certainty and their joy in something that is no longer the Word of the Lord: in possessions, in power, other "divinities" that are not in fact real, that are idols. Certainly the Law of God remains, but it is no longer the most important thing, the rule of life; it becomes rather a veneer, a shell, while life follows others paths, other rules, interests that are often the self-centered ones of the individual and group. And thus religion loses its authentic meaning, which is to live a life of listening to God to do his will – which is the truth of our being – and thus to live well, in true freedom. Religion is reduced to practices of secondary importance that satisfy the human need of feeling right with God. And this is a grave danger in every religion, which Jesus encountered in his time, but which, unfortunately, is also a phenomenon in Christianity. Thus, Jesus’ words against the scribes and Pharisees in today’s Gospel must make us think too. Jesus made the words of the prophet Isaiah his own: "This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching doctrines that are the precepts of men" (Mark 7:6-7; cf. Isaiah 29:13). He then concludes: "Neglecting God’s commandment, you observe the traditions of men" (Mark 7:8).

Also in his Letter, the Apostle James warns against the danger of false religiosity. He writes to the Christians: "Be those who put the Word into practice and not only hearers of it, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). May the Virgin Mary, to whom we now turn in prayer, help us to listen with an open and sincere heart to the Word of God, so that it might direct our thoughts, choices, actions every day.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. The Gospel of today’s liturgy spurs all of us to a greater harmony between the faith we treasure in our hearts and our outward behavior. By God’s grace, may we be purified inside and out, so as to live integrally our commitment to Christ and to his message. God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

Have a good Sunday everyone!

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On Believing in Jesus, Bread of Life

"In those words is foretold the paschal mystery of Jesus"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 27, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On recent Sundays we have meditated on the "bread of life" sermon that Jesus gives in the synagogue at Capernaum after having fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Today, the Gospel presents the reaction of some of Jesus’ disciples to the sermon, a reaction that Christ himself consciously provoked. First of all, John the Evangelist – who was present with the other Apostles – reports that "for this reason many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (John 6:66). Why? Because they did not believe in the words of Jesus when he said: I am the bread that has come down from heaven, whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever (cf. John 6:51, 54). These are words that are truly unacceptable, incomprehensible to them. This revelation remains incomprehensible to them, as I said, because they understood it only in a material way, while in those words is foretold the paschal mystery of Jesus in which he would give himself up for the salvation of the world.

Seeing that many of his disciples left, Jesus turns to the Apostles saying: "Do you also wish to go?" (John 6:67). As in other cases, it is Peter who answers in the name of the Twelve: "Lord, to whom shall we go?" – We too can repeat: "To whom shall we go?" – "You have the words of eternal life and we have believed and have known that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69). We have a beautiful commentary from Augustine on this passage: "See how Peter, by the gift of God and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, understood him. How else than because he believed? You have the words of eternal life. For you have eternal life in the ministration of your body and blood. And we have believed and have known. Not have known and believed, but believed and known. For we believed in order to know; for if we wanted to know first, and then to believe, we should not be able either to know or to believe. What have we believed and known? That you are Christ, the Son of God; that is, that you are that very eternal life, and that you give in your flesh and blood only that which you are" (Tractates on the Gospel of John, 27, 9).

In the end, Jesus knew that even among the Twelve there was one who did not believe: Judas. Judas too could have left like the other disciples did; perhaps he should have left had he wanted to be honest. Instead he stayed with Jesus. He stayed not because of faith, not because of love, but with the secret plan to get back at the Master. Why? Because Judas felt that Jesus had betrayed him and he decided to betray Jesus in turn. Judas was a zealot and wanted a victorious Messiah who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus frustrated these expectations. The problem is that Judas did not leave and his gravest fault was falsity, which is the sign of the devil. Because of this Jesus said to the Twelve: "One among you is a devil!" (John 6:70). Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, who helps us to believe in Jesus, as St. Peter did, to be ever more sincere with him and with everyone.

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On the Meaning of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fish

"Let us allow ourselves once again to be astonished by Christ's words"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel (cf. John 6:51-58) is the concluding part and culmination of Jesus' discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum, after he had the previous day fed thousands of people with only five loaves and two fish. Jesus reveals the meaning of that miracle; namely, that the time of the promise has been fulfilled: God the Father, who fed the Israelites with manna in the desert, now sent him, the Son, as the true Bread of life, and this bread is his flesh, his life, offered in sacrifice for us.

It is a matter, then, of receiving him in faith, of not being scandalized by his humanity, and of "eating his flesh and drinking his blood" (cf. John 6:54), in order to have the fullness of life. It is clear that this discourse is not offered to draw approval. Jesus knows this and he delivers it deliberately; and, in fact, it was a critical moment, a turning point in his public mission. The people, and his own disciples, were enthusiastic about him when he was performing miraculous signs; and even the multiplication of the loaves and the fish was a clear revelation that he was the Messiah, so much so that immediately afterward the crowd would have liked to carry Jesus away in triumph and proclaim him king of Israel. But this was not the will of Jesus, who precisely with this lengthy discourse, dampens the enthusiasm of many and provokes much dissent.

Indeed, in explaining the image of the bread, he states that he was sent to offer his very life, and that whoever wishes to follow him must unite himself to him in a deep and personal way, by participating in his sacrifice of love. For this reason, Jesus at the Last Supper would institute the Sacrament of the Eucharist: so that his disciples might have his charity within themselves -- this is decisive -- and as one body with him, prolong in the world the mystery of salvation.

In listening to this discourse, the people understood that Jesus was not a Messiah as they wanted, one who aspired to an earthly throne. He did not look for a consensus to conquer Jerusalem: indeed, He willed to go up to the Holy City in order to share the fate of the prophets: to give His life for God and for the people. The loaves, broken for thousands of people, would not result in a triumphal procession but would foreshadow the sacrifice of the Cross, in which Jesus would become Bread, his body and blood offered in expiation. Jesus offered the discourse in order to disillusion the crowds and, above all, to provoke a decision in His disciples. In fact, many among them, from that time on, no longer followed Him.

Dear friends, let us allow ourselves once again to be astonished by Christ's words: He, the grain of wheat thrown into the furrows of history, is the first fruits of a new humanity, freed from the corruption of sin and death. And let us rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which expresses all of God's humility and holiness: He makes himself little -- God becomes little -- a fragment of the universe, to reconcile all things in His love. May the Virgin Mary, who gave the world the Bread of life, teach us to always live in profound union with him.

 

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. In the Gospel of today's liturgy, Jesus presents himself as the living bread come down from heaven. May we always hunger for the gift of his presence in the Eucharistic sacrifice, wherein Jesus gives us his very self as food and drink to sustain us on our pilgrim journey to the Father. God bless all of you!

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Pope Bendict XVIs Angelus Address on Feast of the Assumption

"Marys Assumption Into Heaven is the Mystery of the Passover of Christ Fully Realized in Her"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on Wednesday, Feast of the Assumption of Mary, before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

***

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the heart of the month of August the Church in the East and the West celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy into heaven. In the Catholic Church, the dogma of the Assumption – as we know – was proclaimed during the Holy Year of 1950 by Venerable Pius XII. The celebration of this mystery of Mary, however, has roots in the faith and worship of the Church’s first centuries, in that deep devotion to the Mother of God that progressively developed in the Christian community.

Already at the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the fifth, we have the witness of various authors who affirm that Mary is in God’s glory with her entire being, soul and body, but it is in the fourth century that in Jerusalem the Feast of the Mother of God, the Theotokos, consolidated with the Council of Ephesus in 431, was transformed into the feast of the dormition, the passage, the transit, the assumption of Mary; it became the celebration of the moment in which Mary left the scene of this world, glorified in soul and body in heaven, in God.

To understand the Assumption we must look to Easter, the great mystery of our salvation, which marks the passage of Jesus to the glory of the Father through the passion, death, and resurrection. Mary, who gave birth to the Son of God in the flesh, is the creature who is most deeply inserted in this mystery, redeemed from the first moment of her life, and associated in a special way with the passion and glory of her Son. Thus, Mary’s Assumption into heaven is the mystery of the Passover (Pasqua) of Christ fully realized in her. She is intimately united to her risen Son, victor over sin and death, fully conformed to him. But the Assumption is a reality that touches us too because it points to our destiny in a luminous way, the destiny of humanity in history. In Mary, in fact, that reality of glory to which each of us and the whole Church is called.

The passage of the Gospel of St. Luke that we read in the liturgy of this solemnity shows us the journey that the Virgin of Nazareth took to be in the glory of God. It is the account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:39-56), in which Our Lady is proclaimed blessed among all women and blessed because she believed in the fulfillment of the words of the Lord that were spoken to her. And in the song of the "Magnificat," which elevates her to God in joy, the depth of her faith shines through. She places herself among the "poor" and the "lowly," who do not trust in their own strength, but give themselves over to God, who make room for his action, which is capable of doing great things precisely in weakness. If the Assumption opens us up to the bright future that awaits us, it also powerfully invites us to entrust ourselves to God, to follow his Word, to seek and do his will every day: this is the path that makes us "blessed" on our earthly pilgrimage and opens the gates of heaven to us.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council states: "Mary, assumed into heaven ... by her constant intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and worries, until they are led into the happiness of their true home" (Lumen gentium, 62). Let us invoke the Holy Virgin, may she be the star that guides our steps in meeting her Son on our journey to reach the glory of heaven, the eternal joy.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the groups from Nigeria, Ghana and Burkina Faso. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. May the example and prayers of Mary, Queen of Heaven, inspire and sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith, that we may rejoice with her in the glory of the resurrection and the fulfillment of her Son’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I hope that you will pass this solemn and popular Marian feast in serenity and in faith.

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On Man's Hunger for Jesus, The True Bread From Heaven

"This bread requires the hunger of the inner man."

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 12, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The reading of the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John, which accompanies us in the liturgy during these Sundays, led us last Sunday to reflect on the multiplication of the loaves, with which the Lord satisfied the hunger of a crowd of five thousand. And we reflected on Jesus’ invitation to all those whom he had fed, to labor for a food which endures to eternal life.

Jesus wants to help them understand the profound meaning of the miracle He worked: in miraculously satisfying their physical hunger, He disposes them to receive the announcement that He is the bread which came down from heaven (cf. John 6:41) that satisfies in a definitive way. The Jewish people, too, during their lengthy sojourn in the desert, experienced a bread that came down from heaven -- manna --, which kept them alive until their arrival in the Promised Land. Now, Jesus speaks of himself as the true bread which came down from heaven that is able to sustain life, not for a moment or for a short while, but forever. He is the food that gives eternal life, because He is the Only-begotten Son of God, who abides in the bosom of the Father and has come to give man life in abundance, to introduce man into the very life of God.

In Jewish thought, it was clear that the true bread from heaven that nourished Israel was the Law, the word of God. The people of Israel clearly recognized that the Torah was the fundamental and lasting gift of Moses, and that the basic element that distinguished it from other peoples consisted in their knowing the will of God and, therefore, the right path of life. Now Jesus, in revealing himself as the bread of heaven, testifies that He is God’s Word in Person, the Word incarnate, through whom man may make God’s will his food (cf. John 4:34), which directs and sustains life.

To doubt Jesus’ divinity, then, as do the Jews in today’s gospel passage, means placing oneself in opposition to the word of God. Indeed, they affirm: He is the son of Joseph! We know his father and mother! (John 6:42). They do not go beyond his earthly origins, and for this reason they refuse to welcome Him as the Word of God made flesh. St. Augustine, in his Tractates on the Gospel of John, comments thus: "They were far off from that heavenly bread, and knew not how to hunger after it. They had the jaws of their heart languid … this bread, indeed, requires hunger, the hunger of the inner man" (26.1). And we have to ask ourselves if we really feel this hunger, hunger for God’s Word, hunger to know the true meaning of life.

Only he who is drawn by God the Father, who listens to Him and allows himself to be instructed by Him is able to believe in Jesus, to encounter Him and to be nourished by Him, and thus find true life, the path of life, justice, truth, love. St. Augustine adds: "The Lord … says that He is the bread which came down from heaven, exhorting us to believe in Him. For, to eat the living bread means to believe in Him. [To eat the living bread means to believe in Him, and] he that believes, eats; he is sated invisibly, as invisibly he is reborn [to a deeper, truer life], he is reborn from within, in his innermost heart he becomes a new man" (ibid).

Invoking Most Holy Mary, let us ask her to guide us to an encounter with Jesus, so that our friendship with Him may be ever more intense; let us ask her to introduce us into the full communion of love with her Son, the true bread which came down from heaven, so that we may be renewed by Him in the intimate recesses of our being.

Appeal following the Angelus:

Dear brothers and sisters,

My thoughts go in this moment to the peoples of Asia, especially to those of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, who have been severely hit by violent rains, as well as to the people of North-west Iran, who have been struck by a violent earthquake. These events have caused numerous deaths and injuries, thousands of displaced persons and extensive damage. I invite you to unite yourselves to my prayer for all those who have lost their lives, and for all the people who are being tried by such devastating calamities. May our solidarity and our support not be lacking to these, our brothers and sisters.

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On the Eucharist
"It Is Not the Eucharistic Food That is Changed Into Us, But Rather We Who Are Mysteriously Transformed By It"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

This Sunday we begin the reading of chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. The chapter opens with the episode of the multiplication of loaves, which Jesus then comments on in the synagogue in Capernaum, indicating himself as the “bread” that gives life. Jesus’ actions parallel those of the Last Supper: “He took the bread and, after giving thanks, he gave them to those who were seated.” Thus it is stated in the Gospel (John 6:11). The emphasis on the theme of “bread,” which is then shared, and on giving thanks (6:11, in Greek – “eucharistesas”), recalls the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the world.

The evangelist observes that the feast of Passover is near at this point (cf. 6:4). The focus turns to the cross, the gift of love, and to the Eucharist, the perpetuation of this gift: Christ makes himself the bread of life for men. St. Augustine comments on it in this wise: “Who, if not Christ, is the bread of heaven? But so that men might eat the bread of angels, the Lord of the angels became man. If he had not done this, we would not have his body; not having his body, we would not eat the bread of the altar” (Sermon 130, 2). The Eucharist is the permanent grand meeting of man with God, in which the Lord becomes our food, gives himself to transform us into himself.

In the scene of the multiplication of the loaves a young boy is also depicted, who, presented with the problem of feeding many people, puts what little he has at the disposal of the others: 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish (cf. John 6:8). The miracle does not produce its effect out of nothing: God is able to multiply our little gesture of love and make us participate in his gift. The crowd is struck by the marvel: it sees in Jesus the new Moses, worthy of power, and in the new manna, the future secured, but they stop at the material element, which they have eaten, and the Lord, “knowing that they wanted to come to take him to make him king, he retreated again to the mountain by himself” (John 6:15). Jesus is not an earthly king who exercises dominion, but a king who serves, who condescends to man to satisfy not only material hunger but above all the profound hunger for direction, for meaning, for truth, the hunger for God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask the Lord to make us rediscover the importance of nourishing ourselves not only with bread, but with truth, with love, with Christ, with the body of Christ, faithfully participating in the Eucharist with keen understanding, to be ever more intimately united with him. In fact, It is not the eucharistic food that is changed into us, but rather we who are mysteriously transformed by it. Christ nourishes us by uniting us to himself; he draws us into himself (Sacramentum caritatis, 70). At the same time, we wish also to pray that no one ever lacks the bread that is necessary for a worthy life, and inequalities be overcome, not with the weapons of violence but with sharing and love.

We entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, while we invoke her maternal intercession for us and our loved ones.

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On Mary Magdalene
"In what consists this profound healing that God works through Jesus? It consists in a true, complete peace"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 23, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Word of God this Sunday reproposes to us a fundamental and always fascinating theme of the Bible: it reminds us that God is the Shepherd of humanity. This means that God wants life for us, he wants to guide us to good pastures, where we can be nourished and find repose; he does not want us to be lost and die but to reach the goal of our journey, which is precisely the fullness of life. This is what every father and mother wants for their own children: goodness, happiness, completeness. In today’s Gospel Jesus presents himself as the Shepherd of the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He sees the people as a shepherd sees his sheep. For example, this Sunday’s Gospel says that after Jesus "disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). Jesus incarnates God the Shepherd with his manner of preaching and his deeds, caring for the sick and sinners, those who are "lost" (cf. Luke 19:20), to bring them back to safety in the mercy of the Father.

Among the lost sheep whom Jesus brought back to safety there is a woman named Mary, who came from the town of Magdala (whence the surname Magdalene), which is on the Sea of Galilee. Today is her liturgical memorial on the Church’s calendar. The Evangelist Luke tells us that Jesus chased seven demons out of her (cf. Luke 8:2), that is, he saved her from total enslavement to the evil one.

In what consists this profound healing that God works through Jesus? It consists in a true, complete peace, the fruit of reconciliation of the person with himself and in his relationships: with God, with other people, and with the world. In effect, the evil one always seeks to ruin God’s work, sowing division in the human heart between body and soul, between man and God, in interpersonal, social and international relationships and also between man and creation. The evil one sows war; God creates peace. Indeed, as St. Paul says, Christ "is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh" (Ephesians 2:14).

To accomplish this work of radical reconciliation Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had to become the Lamb: "the Lamb of God ... who takes away the sins of the world" (John 1:29). Only in this way was he able to realize the stupendous promise of the Psalm: "Only goodness and kindness follow me / all the days of my life; / and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord / for years to come" (Psalm 22/23:6).

Dear friends, these words make our hearts vibrate, because they express our most profound desire, they speak of that for which we are made: life, eternal life! They are the words of those who, like Mary Magdalene, have experienced God in their lives and know his peace. They are words that are true more than ever upon the lips of the Virgin Mary, who already lives forever in the pastures of heaven, where she has been led by the one who is the Lamb and the Shepherd. Mary, Mother of Christ our peace, pray for us!

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

In a few days the 30th Olympic Games will take place. The Olympics are the greatest sporting event in the world, in which athletes of many nations participate and which, because of this, have great symbolic value. Thus, the Catholic Church looks upon them with special sympathy and attention. Let us pray that, according to God’s will, the London games be a true experience of fraternity among the peoples of the earth.

[In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present and I pray that your stay in Rome will bring many blessings. I was deeply shocked by the senseless violence which took place in Aurora, Denver, and saddened by the loss of life in the recent ferry disaster near Zanzibar. I share the distress of the families and friends of the victims and the injured, especially the children. Assuring all of you of my closeness in prayer, I impart my blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the risen Lord.


In a few days from now, the Olympic Games are due to begin in Great Britain. I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world. Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish all of you a good Sunday and a good week.

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On St. Bonaventure
"The work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 16, 2012.- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On the liturgical calendar, July 15 is the memorial of St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, Franciscan, doctor of the Church, and successor to St. Francis of Assisi in the leadership of the Order of Friars Minor. He wrote the first official biography of the Little Poor Man (Poverello), and at the end of his life he was also the bishop of this Diocese of Albano. In one of his letters Bonaventure wrote: “I confess before God that what made me love the life of blessed Francis the most was that it reflected the beginnings and growth of the Church (Epistula de tribus quaestionibus, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Introduzione generale, Roma 1990, p. 29). These words immediately send us back to today’s Gospel, of this Sunday, that presents us with Jesus’ first sending of the 12 Apostles on mission. “Jesus called the 12 to himself,” writes St. Mark, “and sent them out two by two … and he instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a staff – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic” (Mark 6:7-9). Francis of Assisi, after his conversion, practiced this Gospel to the letter, becoming a most faithful witness to Jesus; and associated in a singular way with the mystery of the cross, he was transformed into “another Jesus,” as Bonaventure, in fact, presents him.

At the inspirational center of St. Bonaventure’s life and theology is Jesus Christ. We find this centrality of Christ in the second reading of today’s Mass (Ephesians 1:3-14), the celebrated hymn of St. Paul to the Ephesians, which begins thus: “Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus, who has blessed us with every spiritual benediction in heaven in Christ.” In four passages that each begin with the phrase “in him,” referring to Jesus Christ, the Apostle then shows how this plan of blessing is realized. “In him” the Father has chosen us before the creation of the world; “in him” we have redemption through his blood; “in him” we have become heirs, predestined to be “the praise of his glory”; “in him” those who believe in the Gospel receive the seal of the Holy Spirit. This hymn of St. Paul contains the vision of history that St. Bonaventure helped to spread in the Church: all of history has Christ as its center, Christ, who also guarantees newness and renewal in every age. In Jesus, God has said and given everything, but since he is an inexhaustible treasure, the Holy Spirit never ceases to reveal and actualize his mystery. Hence the work of Christ and of the Church never regresses but always progresses.

Dear friends, let us invoke Mary Most Holy – who tomorrow we celebrate as the Virgin of Mount Carmel – that she might help us, with St. Francis and St. Bonaventure, to respond generously to the Lord’s call, to announce his Gospel of salvation with words and, above all else, with our life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives the twelve authority to preach and cast out demons. Relying on his power alone, their efforts bear fruit. Let us continue to strive to keep our lives rooted in Christ so that we too may be effective instruments of the Gospel. May God bless you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On a Prophet in His Own Land
"Christ's miracles are not exhibitions of power but signs of God's love"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 9, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

[Immediately following the Holy Father’s opening salutation, the Dresden Boys’ Choir began singing.]

We thank the children of Dresden who sang so well.

I would like briefly to reflect on the Gospel of this Sunday, a text in which we find the celebrated dictum “Nemo propheta in patria,” that is, no prophet is gladly accepted among his own people, who watched him grow up (cf. Mark 6:4). In effect, after Jesus left Nazareth after about 30 years and had already for some time been preaching and healing elsewhere, he returned to his town and began to teach in the synagogue. His fellow townsmen “were stupefied” by his wisdom and, knowing him as “Mary’s son,” the “carpenter” who had lived with them, instead of welcoming him with faith they were scandalized by him (cf. Mark 6:2-3).

This is an understandable reaction since familiarity on a human level makes it hard to go further and open up to the divine dimension. It is difficult for them to believe that this carpenter would be the Son of God. Jesus himself brings up the example of the prophets of Israel, who in their own country were objects of scorn, and he identifies with them. Because of this spiritual closedness, in Nazareth Jesus was “not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them (Mark 6:5). In fact, Christ’s miracles are not exhibitions of power but signs of God’s love, which actualizes itself where it meets man’s faith, it is a reciprocity. Origen writes: “In the same way that some bodies are attracted to each other, as the magnet to iron … so also faith exerts an attraction on divine power” (Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel, 10, 19).

It seems therefore that Jesus is able to have some success in Nazareth despite the poor reception he receives. However, at the end of the account, we find an observation that states the contrary. The evangelist writes that Jesus “marveled at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:6). Jesus’ surprise corresponds to the stupor of his fellow townsmen, who are scandalized. Even Jesus is in a certain sense scandalized! Although he knows that no prophet is gladly accepted in his homeland, he regards the closure of his people’s hearts as strange, inscrutable: how is it possible that they do not recognize the light of Truth? Why do they not open themselves to the goodness of God who wanted to share our humanity? In effect, the man Jesus of Nazareth is the transparency of God, in him God lives fully. And while we, we too, always seek other signs, other mighty deeds, we do not see that he is the true Lord, God made flesh, he is the greatest miracle of the universe: all of God’s love enclosed within a human heart, in the countenance of a man.

The Virgin Mary is she who truly understood this reality, blessed because she believed (cf. Luke 1:45). Mary is not scandalized by her Son: her wonder over him is full of faith, full of love and joy, in seeing him at the same time so human and so divine. Let us therefore learn from her, our Mother in the faith, to recognize the perfect revelation of God in the humanity of Christ.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted in various languages the pilgrims gathered at the apostolic palace at Castel Gandolfo. In Italian he said:]

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On Healing, Physical and Spiritual
'What we must ask for insistently is a more solid faith so that the Lord might renew our life"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this Sunday the evangelist Mark presents us with the account of two miraculous healings of women: the daughter of the synagogue leader and the woman who suffered from a hemorrhage (cf. Mark 5:21-43). They are two episodes that can be interpreted at two different levels; the purely physical level: Jesus looks upon human suffering and heals the body; and the spiritual level: Jesus has come to heal the human heart and to grant salvation to those who believe in him. In the first episode, in fact, upon hearing that the little daughter of Jarius is dead, Jesus tells the head of the synagogue: “Do not be afraid, just have faith!” (5:36), brings him with him to the daughter and exclaims: “Little girl, I say to you: get up!” (5:41). And she got up and began to walk. St. Jerome comments on these words, underscoring Jesus’ salvific power: “Little girl, stand up through me: not by your own merit but by my grace. Stand up through me: the healing did not depend on your virtues” (Homilies on Mark, 3). The second episode, that of the woman with the hemorrhage, again manifests how Jesus came to liberate human beings in their totality. In fact, the miracle takes place in two stages: first there is the physical healing but this is closely linked to the deeper healing, that which grants God’s grace to those who welcome him in faith. Jesus says to the woman: “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be healed of the evil that afflicts you!” (Mark 5:34).

These two stories of healing are an invitation for us to overcome the purely horizontal and materialistic vision of life. We rightly ask God for so many healings from our problems, from concrete necessities. But what we must ask for insistently is a more solid faith so that the Lord might renew our life, and a firm trust in his love, in his providence that does not abandon us.

Jesus, who is attentive to human suffering, turns our thoughts also to all those who help the sick to carry their cross, especially doctors, health care workers and those who oversee religious assistance in places of care. They are “resources of love,” who bring serenity and hope to the suffering. In the encyclical “Deus caritas est” I observed that, in this precious service, first of all there must be professional competence – it is a first fundamental necessity – but is not enough by itself. In fact, we are dealing with human beings here, who need humanity and the attentive heart. “Consequently, in addition to their necessary professional training, these charity workers need a ‘formation of the heart’: they need to be led to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to the other” (n. 31).

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to accompany us on our journey of faith and our commitment of concrete love, especially those who are in need, as we invoke her maternal intercession for our brothers who live with bodily and spiritual suffering.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In English he said:]

I welcome the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus restores life to a little girl in response to the faith-filled prayer of her father. In this miracle may we see an invitation to grow in our own faith, to trust in the Lord’s promise of abundant life, and to pray for all those in need of his healing touch. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a peaceful month of July and a good vacation to all. Have a good vacation and a good Sunday!

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On the Birth of St. John the Baptist
"Let us heed his voice today, and make room for the Lord in our hearts"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, June 24, we celebrate the solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. Apart from the Virgin Mary, the Baptist is the only saint whose birth is celebrated by the liturgy and it does so because this birth is closely connected with the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. From his mother’s womb, in fact, John is the precursor of Jesus: his miraculous conception, which is announced to Mary by the angel as sign that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37), occurred six months before the great miracle that gives us salvation, the union of God with man by the work of the Holy Spirit.

The four Gospels give great prominence to the figure of John the Baptist, who, as the prophet who concludes the Old Testament and inaugurates the New one, points to Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed One of the Lord. In effect, it will be the same Jesus to speak of John in these terms: “He is the one of whom it is written: Behold, I send my messenger before you, before you to prepare the way. In truth I say to you: among the men born of women there is none greater than John the Baptist; but the smallest in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:10-11).

John’s father, Zachariah – the husband of Elizabeth, Mary’s relative – was a priest of the Old Testament worship. He did not immediately believe in the announcement of a paternity that, by now, he could not hope for, and so remained mute until the day of the child’s circumcision. He and his wife gave the child the name indicated by God, John, which means “the Lord makes grace.” Animated by the Holy Spirit, Zachariah spoke thus of his son’s mission: “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High before you will go before the Lord and prepare his way, to give his people the knowledge of salvation in the remission of their sins” (Luke 1:76-77). All this was manifested 30 years later, when John began baptizing in the Jordan River, calling the people to prepare themselves, with this gesture of penance, for the imminent coming of the Messiah, whom God had revealed to him during his sojourn in the desert of Judea. This was why he was called the “Baptist,” that is, the “Baptizer” (cf. Matthew 3:1-6).

When one day, Jesus came from Nazareth to be baptized himself, John refused at first but then agreed and saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and heard the voice of the heavenly Father that proclaimed him his Son (cf. Matthew 3:13-17). But the Baptist’s mission was not yet complete: shortly afterward, he was also asked to precede Jesus in violent death: John was decapitated in King Herod’s prison, and in this way bore full witness to the Lamb of God, whom he was the first to recognize and publicly point to.

Dear friends, the Virgin Mary helped her elderly relative Elizabeth to bring her pregnancy with John to term. May she help all to follow Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, whom the Baptist announced with great prophetic humility and ardor.

[After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Italy is the Pope’s Charity Day. I thank all of the parish communities, families and individual faithful for their constant and generous support, which helps many of our brothers in difficulty. In this regard, I remind you that the day after tomorrow, if it please God, I will make a brief visit to the areas struck by the recent earthquake in northern Italy. I wish it to be a sign of the solidarity of the whole Church [with them] and so I invite everyone to accompany me with prayer.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus. This Sunday, we celebrate the birth of John the Baptist, the great saint who prepared the way for our Lord. John was a voice, crying in the wilderness, calling God’s people to repentance. Let us heed his voice today, and make room for the Lord in our hearts. May God bless all of you.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good feast day, a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you!

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On the Lord's Kingdom
"Our diminutive power ... if it is joined to God's, fears no obstacle, because the Lord's victory is certain"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today’s liturgy proposes two brief parables of Jesus: that of the seed that grows by itself and that of the mustard seed (cf. Mark 4:26-34). Through images taken from the agricultural world, the Lord presents the mystery of the Word and Kingdom of God, and he indicates the reasons for our hope and our commitment.

In the first parable the attention is on the dynamism of planting seeds: the seed that is put in the ground germinates and grows by itself while the farmer sleeps and while he is awake. The man sows the seeds in the hope that his work will not be without fruit. The farmer’s trust in the power of the seed and in the goodness of the soil is what sustains him in his daily toils. This parable recalls the mystery of creation and of the redemption, of God’s fecund work in history. He is the Lord of the Kingdom, man is his humble collaborator, who contemplates and rejoices God’s creative action and awaits its fruits with patience. The final harvest turns our mind to God’s conclusive intervention at the end of time, when he will fully realize his Kingdom. The present time is the time of planting, and the growth of the seed is assured by the Lord. Every Christian, then, knows well that he must do all that he can but that the final result depends on God: this knowledge sustains him in daily toil, especially in difficult situations. On this matter St. Ignatius writes: “Act as if everything depended on you, knowing that in reality everything depends on God” (cf. Pedro de Ribadeneira, “Vita di S. Ignazio di Loyola,” Milano 1998).

The second parable also uses the image of planting. Here, however, it is a specific seed, the mustard seed, considered to be the smallest of all seeds. Although it is so mall, it is full of life; as it breaks open a sprout emerges that is able to break through the soil, enter into the light of the sun and grow into “the largest of all the plants in the garden” (cf. Mark 4:32): the weakness and the power of the seed, its destruction is its power. This is how the Kingdom of God is: a reality that is small on a human scale, made up of those who are poor in their hearts, those who do not rely on their own strength, but that of the love of God; it is made up of those who are not important in the world’s eyes. But it is precisely through such as these that Christ’s power shows forth and transforms what is apparently insignificant.

The image of the seed is especially dear to Jesus, because it expresses the mystery of the Kingdom of God well. In today’s two parables the seeds represent a “growth” and a “contrast”: the growth occurs through a dynamism in the seed itself and the contrast is between the littleness of the seed and the greatness of what it produces. The message is clear: the Kingdom of God, even if it demands our cooperation, is first of all a gift of the Lord, grace that precedes man and his works. Our diminutive power, apparently impotent in the face of the world’s problems, if it is joined to God’s, fears no obstacle, because the Lord’s victory is certain. It is the miracle of God’s love that makes every good seed cast upon the soil germinate and grow. And the experience of this love makes us optimists, despite the difficulties, the suffering and evil that we meet. The seed sprouts and grows, because it makes the love of God grow. May the Virgin Mary, who welcomed the seed of the divine Word as “good soil,” strengthen this faith and this hope in us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Wednesday, June 20, is the United Nations World Refugee Day. Its purpose is to draw the international community’s attention to the situations of so many persons, especially families, who are forced to flee their homelands because of armed conflicts and grave forms of violence. I assure my prayers and the solicitude of the Holy See for these brothers and sisters who are so afflicted while I desire that their rights always be respected and that they can reunite soon with their loved ones.

Today in Ireland is the last day of the International Eucharistic Congress, which, over the course of the past week, made Dublin into the city of the Eucharist, where many persons were recollected in prayer in the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus wished to remain with us in the mystery of the Eucharist to bring us into communion with him and among ourselves. Let us entrust to Mary Most Holy the fruits of these days of reflection and prayer.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. In today’s Gospel, the Lord teaches us that God’s kingdom is like a tiny mustard seed which becomes the largest of shrubs. Let us fervently pray that God may take our weak but sincere desires and transform them into great works of love for him and our neighbor. Upon each of you and your loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. A good Sunday, a good week to everyone.

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On Corpus Christi
"No one knew more and better than Mary how to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of faith"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, in Italy and in many other countries, Corpus Domini is celebrated, that is, the solemn feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Eucharist. It is an ever living tradition on this day to hold solemn processions with the Most Holy Sacrament along streets and in the piazzas. In Rome this procession already took place at the diocesan level on Thursday, the exact date of this celebration, which every year renews in Christians the joy and gratitude for the eucharistic presence of Jesus in our midst.

The feast of Corpus Domini is a great act of public worship of the Eucharist, the Sacrament in which the Lord remains present even outside the time of the liturgy, to be with us always as the hours and days pass by. Already St. Justin, who has left us one of the most ancient testimonies to the eucharistic liturgy, states that after the distribution of communion to those present, the consecrated bread was brought by the deacons to those who were absent (cf. Apologia, 1, 65). Thus the most sacred place in churches is the place where the Eucharist is reserved. I cannot in this regard not think without emotion of the numerous churches that have been gravely damaged by the recent earthquake in Emilia Romagna and of the fact that the eucharistic Body of Christ too, in the tabernacle, has remained under the rubble. I pray for the communities with affection who must gather with their priests for Holy Mass outdoors or in tents; I thank them for their witness and for what they are doing for all those affected by the disaster. It is a situation that once again brings to the fore the importance of being united in the Lord’s name and the power that comes from the eucharistic Bread, which is also called the “bread of pilgrims.” The capacity to share life and goods, to bear each others’ burdens, to be hospitable and welcoming are also born and renewed from the sharing of this Bread.

The solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord also reproposes the value of eucharistic adoration to us. The Servant of God Paul VI observed that the Catholic Church professes the worship of the Eucharist “not only during the Mass but also outside of it by taking the greatest possible care of consecrated Hosts, by exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and by carrying them about in processions to the joy of great numbers of the people” (Mysterium Fidei, 56). The prayer of adoration can be accomplished both personally, pausing before the tabernacle in recollection, and communally, with Psalms and songs too, but always privileging the silence in which we listen interiorly to the Lord who is living and present in the Sacrament. The Virgin Mary is also the teacher of this prayer, because no one knew more and better than her how to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of faith and welcome the intimate resonances of his human and divine presence in the heart. By her intercession may an authentic and deep faith in the eucharistic Mystery spread and grow in every ecclesial community.

[After praying the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages.]

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present for this Angelus prayer. Today’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ celebrates the Lord’s saving presence in the Most Holy Eucharist. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of forgiveness and reconciliation strengthen the Church in faith, unity and holiness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On the Feast of Pentecost
"The Spirit of the risen Lord continues to make his voice heard"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on Pentecost Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, which concludes the Easter Season, 50 days after the Sunday of the Resurrection. By this solemnity we are reminded and we relive the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the other disciples, gathered together in prayer with the Virgin Mary in the cenacle (cf. Acts 2:1-11). Jesus, risen and ascended into heaven, sends his Spirit to the Church, that every Christian might participate in his own divine life and become his true witnesses in the world. The Holy Spirit, breaking into history, overcomes its dryness, opens up hearts to hope, stimulates and fosters in us interior growth in our relationship with God and neighbor.

The Spirit, who “spoke through the prophets,” with the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, continues to inspire women and men who commit themselves to the pursuit of truth, proposing original paths to known and understand the mystery of God, man and the world. In this context I am happy to announce that on October 7, at the beginning of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, I will proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen doctors of the universal Church. These 2 great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and cultural environments. Hildegard was a Benedictine nun in the heart of the German Middle Ages, an authentic teacher of theology and a profound student of the natural sciences and music. John, a diocesan priest during the years of the Spanish Renaissance, participated in the travail of the cultural and religious renewal of the Church and of the social order at the dawn of modernity. But the holiness of their lives and the profundity of their doctrine makes them perennial relevant: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, cast them into that experience of the penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitute the permanent horizon of the life and action of the Church. Above all in the light of the project of a new evangelization, to which the just-mentioned Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated, and on the eve of the Year of Faith, these 2 figures of saints and doctors appear to have a relevant importance and actuality. Even in our days, through their teaching, the Spirit of the risen Lord continues to make his voice heard and to illumine the path that leads to that Truth that alone can set us free and give complete meaning to our life.

Praying now together the Regina Caeli, we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she obtain for the Church to be powerfully animated by the Holy Spirit, to bear witness to Christ with evangelical boldness and to open herself more and more to the fullness of the truth.

[Following the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father addressed those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

This morning in Vannes, France, Mère Saint-Louise, who was born Élisabeth Molé, was beatified. She was the foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Louis and lived between the 18th and 19th centuries. We thank God for this exemplary witness to love for God and neighbor.

I also note that next Friday, June 1, I will travel to Milan, where the 7th World Meeting of Families will take place. I invite everyone to follow this event and to pray for its success.

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Regina Caeli on the Solemnity of Pentecost. Next Friday, I will go to Milan to be with families from all over the world celebrating the 7th World Meeting of Families. I ask you to join me in praying for the success of this important event, and that families may be filled with the Holy Spirit, rediscover the joy of their vocation in the Church and the world, and bear loving witness to the faith. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a happy feast day and a good Sunday. Happy feast day!

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On the Ascension
"In his humanity, he brought humanity with him into the depths of the Father"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, 40 days after the Resurrection Jesus ascended into heaven, that is, he returned to the Father, by whom he had been sent into the world. In many countries this mystery is not celebrated on Thursday but today, the Sunday that follows. The Ascension of the Lord marks the completion of the salvation that began with the Incarnation. After having instructed his disciples, Jesus ascended into heaven (cf. Mark 16:19). However, he “did not separate himself from our condition” (cf. Preface); in fact, in his humanity, he brought humanity with him into the depths of the Father and thus revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as he descended from heaven for us, and suffered and died for us on the cross, so too he rose from the dead and ascended to God for us. And so God is no longer distant but is “our God,” “our Father,” (cf. John 20:17).

The ascension is the last act of our liberation from sin; as St. Paul writes: “he ascended on high and took prisoners captive” (Ephesians 4:8). St. Leo the Great Explains that with this mystery “not only is there proclaimed the immortality of the soul, but also that of the flesh. Today, in fact, we are not only confirmed as possessors of paradise, but we have with Christ penetrated the heights of heaven” (De Ascensione Domini, Tractatus 73, 2.4: CCL 138 A, 451.453). This is why, when the disciples saw the Master lifted up from the earth and carried on high, they were not seized by discouragement, indeed, they experienced a great joy and felt driven to proclaim Christ’s victory over death (cf. Mark 16:20). And the risen Lord worked with them, distributing to each a particular charism, so that the whole Christian community might reflect the harmonious richness of the heavens. St. Paul continues: “he gave gifts to men ... he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers ... for building up the body of Christ .... to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13).

Dear friends, the Ascension tells us that in Christ our humanity is raised to the heights of God; thus every time we pray, earth joins heaven. And like the smoke of burning incense lifts high its sweet odor, when we then raise up to the Lord our fervent and confident prayer in Christ, it passes through the heavens and reaches the Throne of God it is heard and answered by God. In the celebrated work by St. John of the Cross, “The Ascent of Mount Carmel,” we read that “to see the desires of our heart realized, there is no better way than to direct the energy of our prayer to the thing that most pleases God. For then not only will he give that which we ask of Him, which is salvation, but also that which he sees to be fitting and good for us, although we pray not for it” (Book III, ch. 4, 2).

We supplicate the Virgin Mary, that she help us to contemplate the heavenly goods that the Lord has promised us and to become ever more credible witnesses of the divine life.

[Following the Regina Caeli the Holy Father addressed those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we observe the World Day of Social Communications, whose theme this year is “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” I invite all to pray that communication, in all of its forms, always serve to establish authentic dialogue with our neighbor based on mutual respect, listening and sharing. Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place for the encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters.

Thursday, May 24 is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. Let us join in prayer with all of the Catholics of China that they might proclaim Christ dead and risen with humility and joy, that they be faithful to his Church and to the Successor of Peter and live their everyday lives in a way that is consistent with the faith that they profess. May Mary, faithful Virgin, sustain Chinese Catholics on their journey, make their prayer ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and make the universal Church’s affection for the Church in China grow along with her participation in her path.

I address a cordial greeting to the thousands of members of the Italian Movement for Life, who are gathered in Paul VI Hall. Dear friends, your movement has always been engaged in defending human life in accordance with the teachings of the Church. Along these lines you have announced a new initiative called “One of Us,” to support the dignity and rights of every human being from the moment of conception. I encourage and exhort you always to be witnesses and builders of the culture of life.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today. Jesus tells us in the Gospel that he has come so that his joy may be fulfilled in us. Let us ask the Virgin Mary to obtain for us a deeper faith in her Son, so that we may live to the full the spiritual joy which he wills for us. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

[In Italian he said:]

I greet the various school groups, and unfortunately today I must recall the young people of the school in Brindisi who were affected by yesterday’s vile attack. Let us pray together for those who were injured, some gravely, and especially for the young woman Melissa, the innocent victim of a brutal act of violence, and for her family, who are grieving. My affectionate thoughts also go out to the dear people of Emilia Romagna who were struck a few hours ago by an earthquake. I am spiritually near to the persons who have been tried in these calamities: let us implore God for mercy on those who have died and relief from suffering from those who were injured.

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On the Vine and the Branches
"Remaining always united to Jesus, relying on him, is indispensable"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today’s Gospel, for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, begins with the image of the vine. “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser’” (John 15:1). Often in the Bible, Israel is compared to the fruitful vine when it is faithful to Israel; but if it turns away from God, it becomes sterile, incapable of producing “that wine that gladdens the heart of man,” as Psalm 104 (15) sings. The true vineyard of God, the true vine, is Jesus, who with his sacrifice of love grants us salvation, opens to us the path to becoming part of this vineyard. And as Jesus remains in the love of God the Father, the disciples too, wisely pruned by the word of the Master (cf. John 15:2-4), if they remain profoundly united to him, become fruitful branches that produce an abundant harvest. St. Francis de Sales writes: “The branch united and joined to the trunk bears fruit not by its own virtue, but by virtue of the trunk: now, by charity we have been united to the Redeemer, as members to the head; this is why ... good works, taking their worth from him, merit eternal life” (“Treatise on Divine Love,” XI, 6).

On the day of our baptism the Church grafts us like branches onto the Paschal Mystery of Jesus; we are grafted onto his very Person. From this root we receive the precious lifeblood to participate in divine life. As disciples, we too, with the help of the Pastors of the Church, grow in the Lord’s vineyard, joined together by his love. “If the fruit we are to bear is love, its prerequisite is this ‘remaining,’ which is profoundly connected with the kind of faith that holds on to the Lord and does not let go” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” 262, San Francisco, 2008). Remaining always united to Jesus, relying on him, is indispensable, because without him we can do nothing (cf. 15:5). In a letter written to John the Prophet, a monk who lived in Gaza wilderness in the fifth century, a Christian asks this question: How can man’s freedom and the impossibility of doing anything without God go together? And John answers: If man inclines his heart toward the good and asks God for help, he receives the necessary help to do that which he does. Thus, man’s freedom and God’s power proceed together. This is possible because goodness comes from the Lord, but it is accomplished by his faithful (cf. Ep. 763, SC 468, Paris 2002, 206). The true “remaining” in Christ guarantees the effectiveness of prayer, as the Cistercian Blessed Guerric d’Igny says: “O Lord Jesus ... without you we can do nothing. You in fact are the true gardener, creator, cultivator and protector of your garden, which you sow with your word, water with your spirit, make grow with your power” (Sermo ad excitandam devotionem in psalmodia, SC 202, 1973, 522).

Dear friends, each of us is as a branch that lives only if it is made to grow in its union with the Lord every day by prayer, by participation in the Sacraments, by charity. He who loves Jesus, the true vine, produces fruits of faith for an abundant spiritual harvest. Let us supplicate the Mother of God that we might remain firmly grafted onto Jesus and each of our actions have in him its sole beginning and completion.

[After the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

I would like first of all to recall that in less than a month the seventh International Meeting of Families will take place in Milan. I thank the Ambrosian diocese and the other Lombard dioceses who are working together for this ecclesial event promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided over by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. I will also have the joy to participate, if it pleases God, and so for this I travel to Milan June 1-3.

[In English he said:]

I extend warm greetings to the English-speaking visitors present for today’s Regina Caeli, and especially to the large group of pilgrims from Indonesia. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine and he calls us to be fruit-bearing branches. I pray that God’s children all over the world will grow in unity and love, sustained and nourished by the divine life that he has planted deep within us. May God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good month of May, in the spiritual company of Our Lady. Thank you! Have a good Sunday. I wish you all a good week.

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On Vocations
"The Lord always calls but often we do not hear him"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli on Sunday with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

A short while ago there concluded in St. Peter’s Basilica the Eucharistic celebration in which I ordained nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome. Let us thank God for this gift, a sign of his faithful and provident love for the Church! Let us spiritually gather around these new priests and pray that they fully welcome the Sacrament that has conformed them to Jesus Christ Priest and Shepherd. And let us pray that all young people be attentive to God’s voice that speaks interiorly to them in their heart and calls them to detach themselves from all things to serve him.

Today’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations is dedicated to this purpose. In fact, the Lord always calls but often we do not hear him. We are distracted by many things, by other more superficial voices; and then we fear hearing the Lord’s voice, because we think that it could take away our freedom. In reality, each of us is the fruit of love: certainly the love of our parents, but, more profoundly, the love of God. The Bible says: if even your mother does not want you, I want you, for I know you and love you (cf. 49:15). In the moment that I realize this, my life changes: it becomes a response to this love, greater than any other, and thus is my freedom fully realized.

The young men that I consecrated priests today are not different from other young men, but have been deeply touched by the beauty of God’s love, and have not been able to do less than answer with their whole lives. How did they encounter God’s love? They met it in Jesus Christ: in his Gospel, in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church. In the Church we discover that the life of each man is a story of love. Sacred Scripture shows us this clearly and the witness of the saints confirms it. St. Augustine’s expression, which in the “Confessions” he addresses to God, is exemplary: “Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. You were within me, and I without… You were with me, and I was not with you… You called me, and your cry broke through my deafness” (X, 27.38).

Dear friends, let us pray for the Church, for every local community, that it may be like a watered garden in which all the seeds of vocation that God has abundantly sowed may germinate and grow. Let us pray that everywhere this garden may be cultivated, in the joy of everyone hearing himself called, in the variety of gifts; in particular that families be the first place in which God’s love “breathes,” that they be given interior strength even in the midst of the difficulties and trials of life. Those who experience God’s love in the family receive a priceless gift, which bears fruit in its time. May the Blessed Virgin Mary – model of free receptivity and obedience to the divine call, Mother of every vocation in the Church – obtain all of this for us.

[Following the Regina Caeli the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

I address a special greeting to the pilgrims gathered at St. Paul Outside the Walls, where Giuseppe Toniolo was beatified this morning. He lived between the 19th and 20th centuries, was a husband and father of seven children, a university professor and educator of young people, economist and sociologist, passionate servant of the communion of the Church. He realized the teachings of the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” of Pope Leo XIII; he promoted Catholic Action, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the Social Weeks of Italian Catholics and an institute of international law for peace. His message is one of great relevance, especially at this time: Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo indicated the way of the primacy of the human person and of solidarity. He wrote: “Beyond the same legitimate goods and interests of individual nations and states, there is an indissoluble element that leads all into unity, that is, the duty of human solidarity.”

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On Recognizing the Risen Jesus
"The Lord assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2012 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, the third Sunday of Easter, we meet in Luke’s Gospel the risen Jesus, who appears in the midst of the disciples (cf. Luke 24:36), who, incredulous and afraid, think they see a ghost (cf. Luke 24:37). "Our Lord is changed. He no longer lives as before. His existence ... is incomprehensible. And yet he is bodily, he does not leave behind ... the whole life that he has lived, the destiny that he has faced, his passion and his death. Everything is real. Although he has changed, he is still a tangible reality" ("Il Signore: Meditazioni sulla persona e vita di N.S. Gesù Cristo,” Milano: 1949, 433). Because the resurrection does not eliminate the signs of the crucifixion Jesus shows the Apostles his hands and feet. And to convince them, he asks for something to eat. So, the disciples “offered him a piece of roasted fish; he took it and ate it in their presence (Luke 24:42-43). St. Gregory the Great comments that “the fish roasted over the fire signifies nothing other than the passion of Jesus, the mediator between God and men. He, in fact, deigned to hide himself in the waters of the human race, he allowed himself to be ensnared by our death and was, so to speak, placed on the fire by the pains he endured in the time of his passion” (Hom. in Evang. XXIV, 5: CCL141, Turnhout 1999, 201).

Thanks to these very real signs, the disciples overcame their initial doubt and opened themselves to the gift of faith; this faith permitted them to understand the things written about the Christ “in the law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).

We read, in fact, that Jesus “open their mind to understand the Scriptures and said to them: ‘Thus it is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and in his name conversion and forgiveness of sins will be preached to all peoples…you are witnesses of this” (Luke 24:45-48). The Lord assures us of his real presence among us through the Word and the Eucharist. As the disciples of Emmaus recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread (cf. Luke 24:35), we too encounter the Lord in the eucharistic celebration. St. Thomas Aquinas explains in this regard that “it is necessary to recognize according to the Catholic faith, that the whole Christ is present in this Sacrament… because the divinity has never left the body that he has assumed” (S.Th. III, q. 76, a. 1).

Dear friends, it is usually during Eastertide that the Church administers First Communion to children. Therefore, I exhort the parish priests, parents and catechists to prepare well for this feast of faith, with great fervor but also with sobriety. “This day remains rightly impressed on the memory as the first moment in which… the importance of the first encounter with Jesus is perceived” (Sacramentum caritatis, 19). May the Mother of God help us to listen attentively to the Word of the Lord and to worthily participate at the Table of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, to become witnesses of the new humanity.

[Following the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to say that yesterday in Mexico María Inés Teresa of the Most Holy Sacrament, the foundress of the Congregation of Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament, was proclaimed blessed. We thank God for this exemplary sister of the land of Mexico, which I had the joy to visit not long ago and that I carry always in my heart.

Today in Italy we celebrate the special day of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart), which this year has the theme: “The Country’s Future is the Heart of Young People.” It is important that young people are formed in values and not only in scientific and technical knowledge. It was for this reason that Father Gemelli founded the Catholic University, which I hope will always be in step with the times but every faithful to its origins.

[In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this Easter prayer to Our Lady. In today’s Gospel, the risen Lord opens the minds of the disciples to the meaning of his suffering and death, and sends them out to preach repentance. With courage and joy, may we too be authentic witnesses to Christ. God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you.

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REGINA CAELI
On Encountering the Risen Christ
"Let us welcome the gift of peace that the risen Jesus offers us"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Every year, celebrating Easter, we relive the experience of Jesus’ first disciples, the experience of the encounter with the risen Christ: John’s Gospel says that they saw him appear in their midst, in the cenacle, the evening of the day itself of the resurrection, “the first of the week,” and then “eight days later” (cf. John 20:19, 26). That day, eventually called “the Lord’s Day,” is the day of the assembly, of the Christian community that reunites for its proper worship, to wit, the Eucharist, the new worship that was distinct from Jewish Sabbath worship from the very beginning. In fact, the celebration of the Lord’s Day is powerful proof of Christ’s resurrection, because only an extraordinary and shocking event could have induced the first Christians to found a form of worship that was different from the Jewish Sabbath.

Then as now, Christian worship is not merely a commemoration of past events, nor a special mystical interior experience, but it is essentially an encounter with the risen Lord, who lives in God, beyond space and time, and who nevertheless makes himself truly present in the midst of the community, speaks to us in sacred Scriptures and breaks the Bread of eternal life for us. Through these signs we live what the disciples experienced, that is, the fact of seeing Christ and at the same time of not recognizing him; of touching his body, a true body, free of every earthly bond.

What the Gospel says is important, namely, that Jesus, in the two appearances to the apostles gathered in the cenacle, repeatedly says “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19; 21:26). The traditional greeting of “Shalom,” “peace,” becomes something new here: it becomes that gift of peace that only Jesus can give, because it is the fruit of his radical victory over evil. The “peace” that Jesus offers to his disciples is the fruit of the love of God that led him to die on the cross, to shed all of his blood, as the meek and humble Lamb, “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is why Blessed John Paul II wanted to call the Sunday after Easter Divine Mercy Sunday, with a definite picture: the pierced side of Christ from which blood and water flow according to the Apostle John’s eyewitness testimony (cf. John 19:34-37). But Jesus has now risen and from him as living there flow the Easter Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist: those who draw near to him with faith receive the gift of eternal life.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us welcome the gift of peace that the risen Jesus offers us, let us allow our heart to be filled with his mercy! In this way, with the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead, we too can bring these Easter gifts to others. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of Mercy, obtain this for us.

[Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father addressed those present in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I would like to greet the pilgrims who participated in the Holy Mass presided over by the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia – welcome! This church is the privileged place of the worship of Divine Mercy, where St. Faustina Kowalska and Blessed John Paul II are venerated in a special way. I hope that all of you will be witnesses of the merciful love of Christ. Thank you for your presence.

[Speaking in English, the Holy Father said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today. In today’s Gospel, Jesus appears to his disciples and overcomes the doubts of Thomas. Through his Divine Mercy, may we always believe that Jesus is the Christ and, believing, may we have life in his name. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

Have a good Sunday!

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On Palm Sunday
"May we be moved again by Christ's passion and death, (and) put our sins behind us"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2012 - Immediately after concluding the Holy Mass for Palm Sunday, Benedict XVI recited the Angelus with those present in St. Peter’s Square. Here is a translation of his remarks prior to the Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

At the conclusion of this celebration I would like to address a greeting to all of those present: to the lord cardinals, to my brother bishops, to the priests, to the religious and to all of the faithful. I address a special greeting to the organizing committee of the last Word Youth Day in Madrid and to the committee that is organizing the next one in Rio de Janeiro; and to the delegates to the international meeting on World Youth Days sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity, here represented by its president, Cardinale Ri?ko, and by its secretary Monsignor Clemens.

[Following these opening remarks in Italian, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, today is Palm Sunday: as we remember Our Lord’s welcome into Jerusalem, I am pleased to greet all of you, especially the many young people who have come here to pray with me. This Holy Week, may we be moved again by Christ’s passion and death, put our sins behind us and, with God’s grace, choose a life of love and service to our brethren. God’s blessings upon you!

[He finished his pre-Angelus remarks in Italian saying:]

Dear friends, I pray that the true joy inhabit your hearts, that joy that comes from love and that does not disappear in the hour of sacrifice. I wish everyone a good Holy Week and a good Easter! Thank you.

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On Journeying With Jesus Through the Desert

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 19, 2012.- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In our journey toward Easter, we have arrived at the fourth Sunday of Lent. It is a journey with Jesus through the “desert,” that is, a time in which to listen carefully to God’s voice and also to unmask the temptations that speak within us. The cross is outlined against the horizon of this desert. Jesus knows that it is the culmination of his mission: in effect, the cross of Christ is the apex of love, which bestows salvation upon us. Jesus himself tells us this in today’s Gospel: “Just as Moses raised up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be raised up, that whoever believes in him might have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). The reference is to the episode in which, during the exodus from Egypt, the Hebrews were attacked by poisonous serpents, and many died; so, God commanded Moses to fashion a serpent of bronze and place it upon a pole: if someone was bitten by a snake, looking upon the bronze serpent, he was healed (cf. Numbers 21:4-9). Jesus too will be raised up on the cross so that whoever is in danger of death because of sin, turning with faith toward him who died for us, he might be saved. “God indeed,” writes St. John, “did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

St. Augustine comments: “The doctor, in what regards him, comes to heal the sick person. If someone does not follow the doctor’s prescriptions, he is the one who harms himself. The Savior came into the world … if you do not want to be saved by him, it is you who will judge yourself” (“Tractates on the Gospel of John,” 12, 12: PL 35, 1190). Thus, if God’s merciful love is infinite, he who even sent his only Son as a ransom for our life, [then] our responsibility is likewise great: each of us, in fact, must recognize that we are sick so that we may be healed; each of us must confess his sin so that God’s forgiveness, already given upon the cross, might have an effect in our heart and our life. St. Augustine further writes: God condemns your sins: and if you also condemn them, you are united to God … And when your own deeds will begin to displease you, from that time your good works begin, as you find fault with your wicked deeds” (ibid., 13: PL 35, 1191). Sometimes man loves darkness more than light because he is attached to his sins. But it is only in opening himself to the light, and only in sincerely confessing his faults to God, that he finds true peace and truth joy. It is thus important to approach the Sacrament of Penance regularly, especially during Lent, to receive the Lord’s forgiveness and to intensify our journey of conversion.

Dear friends, tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph. I thank from my heart everyone who will remember me in prayer on my name day. In particular, I ask you to pray for the apostolic voyage to Mexico and Cuba, which will begin next Friday. We entrust it to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved and venerated in these two countries that I am preparing to visit.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday was the conclusion, in Marseilles, of the sixth World Water Forum and next Thursday will be observed the World Water Day, which this year underscores the fundamental link between such a precious and limited resource and food security. I hope that these initiatives contribute to guaranteeing equal, secure and adequate access to water for everyone, promoting in this way the rights to life and nourishment of every human being, and a responsible and solidary use of the goods of the earth, for the benefit of present and future generations.

[In English he said:]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus. This Sunday, we reach the mid-way point of our Lenten journey. As we continue on our way, we keep our eyes fixed upon our goal, when we will accompany our Lord on the path to Calvary, so as to rise with him to new life. May Christ, the light of the world, shine upon you and fill you with his blessings!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. Have a good Sunday, everyone!

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On the Cleansing of the Temple
"Violence never serves humanity, but dehumanizes"

ROME, MARCH 12, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel of this third Sunday of Lent refers – in the account given by John – to the celebrated episode in which Jesus casts the animal merchants and money changers out of the temple of Jerusalem (cf. John 2:13-25). The event, reported by all of the evangelists, occurs around the time of the feast of Passover and leaves a tremendous impression on both the crowds and the disciples. How should we interpret this gesture of Jesus? First of all it must be noted that it does not provoke any response from the guardians of public order because it was seen as a typical prophetic action: the prophets, in fact, in the name of God, often denounced abuses and sometimes they did this with symbolic acts. If there is a problem, it is their authority. This is why the Jews asked Jesus: “What sign do you give us to do these things?” (John 2:18). Show us that you truly act in God’s name.

The casting of the merchants out of the temple has also been interpreted in a political and revolutionary way, connecting Jesus to the movement of the zealots. They were “zealous” for God’s law and ready to use violence to make it respected. In Jesus’ time they were awaiting a Messiah that would liberate Israel from Roman rule. But Jesus disappointed this hope, so much so that some disciples abandoned him and Judas Iscariot betrayed him. In reality, it is impossible to interpret Jesus as violent: violence is against the Kingdom of God, it is an instrument of the antichrist. Violence never serves humanity, but dehumanizes. Let us hear Jesus’ words as he performs this deed: “Take these things away and do not make my Father’s house into a marketplace!” And the disciples recall that in a Psalm it is written: “I am consumed by zeal for your house” (69:10). This Psalm is a plea for help in a situation of extreme danger when one is at the mercy of his enemies’ hatred: the situation that Jesus will face in the passion. The zeal for the Father and his house will lead him to the cross: his is a zeal of love that he will pay for personally, not a zeal that serves God through violence. In fact, the “sign” that Jesus will give will be precisely his death and resurrection. “Destroy this temple,” he says, “and in three days I will raise it up.” And St. John observes: “He was speaking of the temple of his body” (John 2:20-21). With Easter Jesus initiates a new form of worship, the worship performed by love, and a new temple which he is himself, the risen Christ, through whom every believer can worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23).

Dear friends, the Holy Spirit began building this temple in the womb of the Virgin Mary. By her intercession, we pray that every Christian may become a living stone in this spiritual edifice.

[In English he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, including the Neo-catechumenal Community from Bristol. In today’s Gospel Jesus foretells his resurrection and points to the temple which is his body, the Church. May our meditation on these mysteries deepen our union with the Lord and his Church. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings!

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On Preparing for the Passion
"We all have need of interior light to overcome life's trials"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday, the second of Lent, is the Sunday of the Transfiguration of Christ. In fact, the Lenten itinerary, after having invited us to follow Jesus in the desert, to face and conquer the temptations with him, proposes that we climb the “mountain” of prayer, to contemplate the glorious light of God upon his human face. The episode of Christ’s transfiguration is testified to in a unified way by the evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke. There are two essential elements: first of all, Jesus ascends a high mountain with his disciples Peter, James and John and there “he was transfigured before them" (Mark 9:2), his face and his vesture radiate a glistening light while next to him appeared Moses and Elijah; secondly, a cloud descended upon the top of the mountain and from it came a voice that said: “This is my Son, my beloved; listen to him!” (Mark 9:7). So, the light and the voice: the divine light that shone upon Jesus’ face, and the voice of the heavenly Father that witnesses to him and commands that he be heard.

The mystery of the Transfiguration must not be detached from the context of the journey that Jesus is undertaking. He is now decisively set on the accomplishment of his mission, knowing full well that to reach the resurrection he must pass through the passion and death on the cross. He spoke about this openly with the disciples, who did not understand it however; indeed, they rejected this prospect, because they did not think as God thinks but as men do (cf. Mark 16:23). This is why Jesus takes three of them with him up the mountain and reveals his divine glory, the splendor of Truth and Love. Jesus wants this light to illumine their hearts when they pass through the thick darkness of his passion and death, when the scandal of the cross will be too much for them. God is light, and Jesus wants to provide his most intimate friends with an experience of this light that lives in him. Thus, after this event, he will be an interior light in them, able to protect them from the assaults of darkness. Even in the darkest night Jesus is the lamp that never goes out. St. Augustine, summing up this mystery with a very beautiful expression, says: “That which is for the eyes of our body the sun that we see, [Christ] is for the eyes of the heart” (Sermo 78, 2: PL 38, 490).

Dear brothers and sisters, we all have need of interior light to overcome life’s trials. This light comes from God, and it is Christ who bestows it, he, in whom dwells the fullness of divinity (cf. Colossians 2:9). Let us climb the mountain of prayer together with Jesus and, contemplating his countenance full of love and truth, let ourselves be filled interiorly by his light. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, our guide in the journey of faith, to help us to live this experience in the time of Lent, finding every day some moment for silent prayer and for listening to the Word of God.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer, especially students from the United States of America. In today’s Gospel, Jesus is transfigured, and shows his disciples that his Passion will lead to the Resurrection. By God’s grace, may our Lenten observance lead to a renewal of his radiance within us. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[And concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your presence. Have a good Sunday!

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On Temptation
"It Is With Patience and With True Humility That We Become Stronger Than Every Enemy"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Sunday of Lent we meet Jesus who, after having received baptism in the Jordan River from John the Baptist (cf. Mark 1:9), undergoes temptation in the desert (cf. Mark 1:12-13). St. Mark's narration is concise, lacking the details that we read in the other two gospels of Matthew and Luke. The desert of which he speaks has different meanings. It can indicate a condition of abandonment and solitude, the "place" of man's weakness where there are no footholds or certainties, where temptation is the strongest. But it can also mean a place of refuge and rest, as it was for the people of Israel, who had escaped from Egyptian slavery, where one can experience God's presence in a special way. Jesus "remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan" (Mark 1:13). St. Leo the Great comments that "the Lord wished to face the tempter's attack to defend us with his help and to instruct us with his example" (Tractatus XXXIX, 3 De ieiunio quadragesimae: CCL 138/A, Turnholti 1973, 214-215).

What can this episode teach us? As we read in the book "The Imitation of Christ," "as long as he lives man is never entirely free from temptation ... but it is with patience and with true humility that we become stronger than every enemy" (Liber I, c. XIII, Città del Vaticano 1982, 37), the patience and humility of following the Lord every day, learning to build our life not apart from him or as if he did not exist, but in him and with him, because he is the font of true life. The temptation to remove God, to create order in ourselves and the world by ourselves, counting on our own resources, is always present in human history.

Jesus proclaims that "the time is accomplished and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15), announces that in him something new is happening: God addressed man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete nearness, full of love; God becomes incarnate and enters into the world of man to take sin upon himself, to conquer evil and being man and the world back to God. But this announcement is accompanied by the request to correspond to a great gift. Jesus, in fact, adds: "convert and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15); it is the invitation to have faith in God and every day to convert our life to his will, orienting every action and thought of ours to the good. The time of Lent is the propitious moment to renew and strengthen our relationship with God, through daily prayer, gestures of penance, works of fraternal charity.

We supplicate Mary Most Holy with fervor that she accompany us on our Lenten path with her protection and help us to impress in our heart and in our life the words of Jesus Christ, to convert ourselves to him. I also entrust to your prayers the week of retreat that I will be begin this evening with my collaborators in the Roman Curia.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for this moment of prayer. In these first days of Lent, I invite you to embrace the spirit of this holy season, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. As we do so, may the Lord accompany us, so that, at the end of Lent, we may worthily celebrate his victory on the cross. God bless all of you abundantly!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good Lent.

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On Peter's Mission
"To Feed the Flock of Christ, Keeping It United in Faith and Charity"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. He had just celebrated a Mass with the 22 new cardinals.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday is particularly festive here in the Vatican because of the consistory that occurred yesterday in which I created 22 new cardinals. I had the joy this morning to concelebrate the Eucharist in St. Peter's Basilica at the tomb of the apostle whom Jesus called to be the "rock" on which he would build the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18). I therefore invite all of you also to add your prayer for these venerable brothers who are now more committed to collaborate with me in leading the universal Church and to give testimony to the Gospel even to the point of sacrificing their own lives. This is the meaning of the red color of their garb: the color of blood and love. Some of them work in Rome, in the service of the Holy See, others are shepherds of important diocesan Churches; others are distinguished and appreciated for long years of study and teaching. Now they are part of the College that assists the Pope most closely in his office of communion and evangelization: We welcome them with joy, recalling what Jesus said to his Apostles: "He who wishes to be first among you must be the slave of all. Even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life for the ransom of many" (Mark 10:44-45).

This ecclesial event takes place against the background of the liturgical feast of the Chair of St. Peter, anticipated today since Feb. 22, the date of that feast, will be Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. The chair reserved for the bishop is the "cathedra," from which is derived the word "cathedral," the name given to the church in which the bishop presides at the liturgy and teaches the people. The Cathedra of St. Peter, represented in the apse of the Vatican Basilica by a monumental sculpture of Bernini, is a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to feed the flock of Christ, keeping it united in faith and charity. Already at the beginning of the second century, St. Ignatius of Antioch attributed to the Church in Rome a singular primacy, greeting her, in his letter to the Romans, as she who "presides in charity." This special task of service falls to the Roman community and its bishop because of the fact that in this city the Apostles Peter and Paul spilled their blood besides numerous other martyrs. We return thus to the witness of blood and of charity. The Chair of Peter, therefore, is indeed a sign of authority, but that of Christ, based on faith and love.

Dear friends, let us entrust the new cardinals to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, that she might always assist them in their ecclesial service and sustain them in trials. Mary, Mother of the Church, help me and those who tirelessly work with me for the unity of the People of God and to proclaim to all peoples the message of salvation, humbly and courageously accomplishing the service of truth in charity.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed those present in St. Peter's Square in various languages. In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially those accompanying the new Cardinals. In today's Gospel, Jesus grants healing and life in body and soul in response to faith. May we too believe and trust in Christ, and seek from him both forgiveness of sin and the power to live a new life of grace. Upon all of you I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Have a good Sunday everyone!

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On Jesus, the 'Leper'
"Every Barrier Between God and Human Impurity ... Is Torn Down"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Last Sunday we saw that Jesus, in his public life, healed many sick people, revealing that God wants man to live, that he wants him to have life in abundance. The Gospel this Sunday (Mark 1:40-45) shows Jesus in contact with the malady considered at that time to be the most grave; those who suffered from it were considered "impure" and were excluded from social relationships. We are speaking of leprosy. A special law (cf. Leviticus 13-14) reserved the task of declaring persons with leprosy impure; and it was also the task of the priest to certify a healing and to permit their re-entrance into normal life.

As Jesus was preaching among the villages of Galilee, a leper met him and said to him: "If you wish it, you may heal me!" Jesus did not flee from contact with him, rather, moved by intimate participation in his condition, he reaches out his hand and touches him -- going beyond what the law permitted -- and said to him. "I do wish it. Be healed!" In that gesture and in those words of Christ there is the whole history of salvation, there is incarnated the will of God to heal us of the evil that disfigures us and destroys our relationships. In that contact between Jesus' hand and the leper, every barrier between God and human impurity, between the Sacred and its opposite, is torn down, not to deny evil and its negative power but to demonstrate that God's love is stronger than evil, even the most contagious and horrible. Jesus took our infirmities upon himself, he made himself a "leper" so that we might be healed.

A splendid existential comment on this Gospel is the celebrated experience of St. Francis of Assisi, which he presents at the beginning of his Testament: "The Lord told to me, Friar Francis of Assisi, to begin to do penance in this way: when I was in my sins, seeing lepers seemed to me something too terrible; and the Lord himself led me among them and had mercy on them. And after I left them, what had seemed terrible to me became sweet to the soul and body. And then I stayed and left the world behind." Jesus was present in those lepers whom Francis met when he was still "in his sins," as he says; and when Francis drew near to one of them and, overcoming his own disgust, embraced him, Jesus healed Francis of his leprosy, that is, of his pride, and he converted him to the love of God. This is the victory of Christ, who is our profound healing and our resurrection and new life!

Dear friends, let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary, whom we celebrated yesterday, remembering her appearances at Lourdes. Our Lady entrusted to St. Bernadette a message that is always relevant: the invitation to prayer and penance. Through his Mother it is always Jesus who comes to meet us, to free us from every sickness of body and soul. Let us allow ourselves to be touched and purified by him, and let us be merciful with our brothers!

Dear brothers and sisters!

I am following with much apprehension the tragic episodes of growing violence in Syria. In recent days they have claimed many victims. I remember the victims in prayer, among whom there are children, the wounded and those who suffer the consequences of a conflict that is becoming ever more worrisome. Moreover, I renew the call to put an end to the violence and bloodshed. Finally, I invite everyone -- and first of all the political authorities in Syria -- to prioritize the path of dialogue, of reconciliation and of commitment to peace. It is urgent to respond to the legitimate aspirations of the different groups within the country as well as to the wishes of the international community, concerned with the common good of the whole society and the region.

[After the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the crowds in various languages. In English he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all of you to Saint Peter's Square on this cold morning, especially the students and staff of Sion-Manning School from London. At Mass today, the Gospel tells us of how our Lord willingly cured a leper. May we not be afraid to go to Jesus, beg him to heal our sinfulness, and bring us safely to eternal life. God bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week! Have a good week! I hope to see you next Sunday without snow! Best wishes, have a good Sunday!

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On the Paradox of Illness
"Jesus Christ Came to Conquer Evil at Its Root"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel presents to us Jesus who heals the sick: first Simon Peter's mother-in-law, who was sick in bed with fever and he, taking her by the hand, healed her and made her able to get up; then all the sick of Capernaum, suffering in the body, mind and spirit and he "healed many … and drove out many demons" (Mark 1:34). The four evangelists are in agreement in testifying that freeing of people from sicknesses and infirmities of every type constituted, together with preaching, Jesus's principal activity in his public life. In effect, the sicknesses are a sign of the action of evil in the world and in man, while the healings show that the Kingdom of God, God himself, is near. Jesus Christ came to conquer evil at its root, and the healings are an anticipation of his victory, obtained by his death and resurrection.

One day Jesus said: "The healthy have no need of a doctor but only the sick" (Mark 2:17). He is speaking here of sinners, whom he came to save. It is nevertheless true that sickness is a typically human condition in which we have a powerful experience of our lack of self-sufficiency, that we need others. In this sense we can say, with a paradox, that sickness becomes a salutary occasion in which we can experience the attention of others and give attention to others! Nevertheless, it is always a trial that can also become long and difficult. When healing does not take place and the sufferings continue, we can be crushed, isolated, and then our existence can sink into the depths and become dehumanized. How should we respond to this attack of evil?

Certainly we can use the appropriate cures -- medicine has made gigantic strides in these decades and we are grateful -- but the Word of God teaches us that there is a decisive and basic attitude with which to face sickness and it is that of faith in God, in his goodness. Jesus always repeats it to the people he heals: your faith has saved you (cf. Mark 5:34, 36). Even in the face of death, faith can make possible what is humanly impossible.

But faith in what? In the love of God. This is the true response that can radically defeat evil. As Jesus confronted the evil one with the force of love that came to him from the Father, so we too can confront and win out in the trial of sickness, keeping our heart immersed in God's love. We all know people who were able to endure terrible sufferings because God gave them a profound serenity. I think of the recent example of Blessed Chiara Badano, cut down in the flower of youth by an inescapable evil: those who went to visit her received the light of confidence from her! Nevertheless, in sickness we all need human warmth: serene and sincere nearness count more than words in helping a sick person.

Dear friends, next Saturday, Feb. 11, the commemoration of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, is the World Day of the Sick. Let us do what the people of Jesus' time did: In a spiritual way let us bring all of the sick to him, confident that he wants to and can heal them. And we invoke the intercession of the Madonna, especially for situations of great suffering and isolation. Mary, Health of the Sick, pray for us!

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in several languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in Italy the Day of Life is celebrated, which was started to defend nascent life and was extended to all the phases and conditions of human existence. This year the bishops' message proposes the theme: "Young People Open to Life." I join with the bishops of the Church in Italy in affirming that true youthfulness is realized in welcoming life in love and service. I am glad for yesterday's gathering in Rome promoted by the schools of obstetrics and gynecology of the Roman universities for reflecting on the "Promotion and Protection of Nascent Human Life," and I greet Monsignor Lorenzo Leuzzi, the instructors and the young people present today in St. Peter's Square. Welcome! Thank you for your presence!

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On Authority as Service
God "Cannot Will Anything if Not Our Good"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) presents us Jesus, who on the Sabbath preaches in the synagogue of Capernaum the little city on the Sea of Galilee where Peter and his brother Andrew lived. His teaching, which caused the people to wonder, was followed by the liberation of "a man possessed by an unclean spirit" (1:23), who recognizes in Jesus the "Holy One of God," that is, the Messiah. In a short time his fame spread through the whole region in which he traveled proclaiming the Kingdom of God and healing all types of sick people: word and deed. St. John Chrysostom observes how the Lord "adapts his discourse to what is beneficial to his listeners, proceeding from prodigies to words and passing again from teaching his doctrine to miracles" (Hom. in Matthæum 25, 1: PG 57, 328).

The word Jesus addresses to men immediately opens up access to the Father's will and to the truth about themselves. This is not how it went with the scribes, who had to make an effort to interpret the sacred Scriptures with countless reflections. Moreover, Jesus joined the efficaciousness of the word to the signs of liberation from evil. St. Augustine observed that "commanding demons and casting them out is not a human but a divine work"; in fact, the Lord "relieved men of all sickness and every infirmity. Who, seeing his power … would still have doubted that he was the Son, the Wisdom and the Power of God?" (Oratio de Incarnatione Verbi 18.19: PG 25, 128 BC.129 B). Divine authority is not a power of nature. It is the power of God's love that creates the universe and, incarnating itself in the Only Begotten Son, descending into our humanity, it heals the world corrupted by sin. Romano Guardini writes: "Jesus' whole existence is the translation of power into humility … it is sovereignty that here abases itself in the form of servant" ("Power and Responsibility," Regnery, 1961).

Often for man authority means possession, power, dominance, success. For God, instead, authority means service, humility, love; it means entering into the logic of Jesus who stoops to wash the feet of his disciples (cf. John 13:5), who seeks man's true good, who heals wounds, who is capable of a love so great that he gives his life, because he is Love. In one of her letters, St. Catherine of Siena writes: "It is necessary that we see and know, in truth, with the light of faith, that God is the Supreme and Eternal Love, and he cannot will anything if not our good" (Ep. 13 in: Le Lettere, vol. 3, Bologna 1999, 206).

Dear friends, next Thursday, Feb. 2, we will celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the World Day of Consecrated Life. Let us call with confidence upon Mary Most Holy, that she guide our hearts to draw always upon divine mercy, which liberates and frees our humanity, filling it with grace and benevolence, with the power of love.

[After the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Vienna, Hildegard Burjan will be beatified. She was a laywoman and a mother, who lived between the 19th and 20th centuries and is the foundress of the Society of the Sisters of Caritas Socialis (Social Charity). Let us praise the Lord for this beautiful witness of the Gospel!

This Sunday is World Leprosy Day. In greeting the Italian Association of the Friends of Raoul Follereau, I would like to add my encouragement to all persons affected by this disease and to all those who help them and those who in various ways work to eliminate poverty and marginalization, true causes of the persistence of this disease.

I would also like to mention the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. In profound communion with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land, let us pray for the gift of peace for that land blessed by God.

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In this Sunday's Gospel we hear how the unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the "Holy One of God". Let us pray that, despite the distractions of life and the apparent progress of evil, we may continue to put our faith in the Lord Jesus who is "the way, the truth and the life". I wish all of you a good Sunday. May God bless you!

[Again in Italian he said:]

And I greet with affection the Italian speaking pilgrims, in particular the faithful from Taranto, Bari and Civitavecchia, and the many young people of Catholic Action of Rome with their teachers and families. Dear young people, again this year you have participated in the "Caravan of Peace." I thank you and I encourage you to bring the peace of Jesus everywhere. Two of you are here beside me. Let us now listen to Noemi's message:

[Noemi read the message. The Holy Father responded:]

Thank you, Noemi, you did very well! And now we will release the doves that the children brought with them, as a sign of peace for the City of Rome and for the whole world.

[The Holy Father and one of the children released two doves. One returned to the Pope's window sill while the other flew back inside the window of his apartment. In Italian the Holy Father said:]

They want to stay in the Pope's house!

Have a good Sunday, everyone! Have a good Sunday!

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On Christian Unity
Unity "Demands Our Daily Commitment"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday falls in the middle of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is celebrated from the 18th to the 25th of January. I cordially invite everyone to join themselves to the prayer that Jesus addressed to the Father on the eve of his passion: "That they may be one so that the world may believe" (John 17:21).

This year in particular our meditation during the week of prayer for unity turns to a passage from St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians with which the motto was formed: "We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58). We are called to contemplate the victory of Christ over sin and over death, that is, his resurrection, as an event that radically transforms those who believe in him and opens to them the way to an incorruptible and immortal life. Recognizing and welcoming the transformative power of faith in Jesus Christ sustains Christians even in the pursuit of full unity with each other.

This year the aids for the week of prayer for unity were prepared by a Polish group. In fact, Poland has known a long history of courageous struggles against various adversities and has repeatedly given proof of great determination, animated by faith. For this reason the words of the theme mentioned above [for this week of prayer] have a resonance and special incisiveness for Poland. In the course of the centuries the Polish Christians have spontaneously intuited a spiritual dimension in their desire for freedom and understood that the true victory can occur only if it is accompanied by a profound interior transformation. They remind us that our search for unity can be conducted in a realistic manner if change first of all happens in us and if we let God act, if we let ourselves be transformed in Christ's image, if we enter into the new life of Christ, which is the true victory. The visible unity of all Christians is always a work that comes from above, from God, a work that requires the humility to recognize our weakness and to accept the gift. However, to use the expression that Blessed Pope John Paul II repeated often, every gift also becomes a task. The unity that comes from God therefore demands our daily commitment to open ourselves up to each other in charity.

For many decades, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has constituted a central element in the Church's ecumenical activity. The time that we dedicate to prayer for the full communion of Christ's disciples permits us to understand more deeply how we will be transformed by his victory, by the power of his resurrection. Next Wednesday, as is customary, we will conclude the week of prayer with the solemn celebration of vespers for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at which representatives of the other Christian Churches and Communities will also be present. Many people will attend the gathering to renew together our prayer to the Lord, who is the source of unity. We entrust it now, with filial confidence, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

In these days various countries of the Far East celebrate with joy the lunar new year. In the present situation of global financial and social crisis I wish for all these peoples that the new year be concretely marked by justice and peace, that it bring relief to those who are suffering, and that young people especially, with their enthusiasm and idealistic drive, might offer a new hope to the world.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. This week, Christians throughout the world mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. We are confident that, as Saint Paul says, "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58). Let us renew our prayer for the unity of all of Christ's followers, and deepen our resolve to be one in him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God's blessings of peace and joy.

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On the Role of Spiritual Guides
Helping Those Called to "Recognize the Voice of God and Follow It"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2012.- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before and after praying the midday Angelus on Sunday with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In the biblical readings of this Sunday -- the second in Ordinary Time -- the theme of vocation emerges: in the Gospel it is the call of the first disciples by Jesus; in the first reading it is the call of the Prophet Samuel. In both accounts there comes to the forefront the importance of the figure who plays the role of mediator, helping the persons called to recognize the voice of God and follow it.

In the case of Samuel, it is Eli, a priest of the temple of Silo, where in ancient times the ark of the covenant was kept before it is was transported to Jerusalem. One night Samuel, who was still a boy and had lived in the service of the temple from the time that he was small, heard a call three times in a row while he was sleeping, and ran to Eli. But Eli had not called him. The third time Eli understood and told Samuel: if you are called again respond: "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:9). And so it happened and from then on Samuel learned how to recognize God's words and became his faithful prophet.

In the case of the disciples of Jesus, John the Baptist was the mediating figure. In fact, John had a large circle of disciples, and among these were the two pairs of brothers, Simon and Andrew and John and James, fishermen from Galilee. To two of them the Baptist points out Jesus the day after his baptism in the Jordan River. He indicates him to them saying: "Behold the lamb of God!" (John 1:36), which was the equivalent of saying: "Behold the Messiah!" And those two followed Jesus, remained with him for some time and were convinced that he was truly the Christ. Immediately they told the others this and thus was formed the first nucleus of what would become the college of the apostles.

In the light of these two texts, I would like to underscore the decisive role of the spiritual guide in the journey of faith and, in particular, in the response to the vocation of special consecration for the service of God and his people. The very Christian faith in itself presupposes proclamation and witness: in fact they consist in adhering to the good news that Jesus of Nazareth is dead and risen, that he is God. And thus the call to follow Jesus closely, renouncing a family of one's own to dedicate oneself to the great family of the Church, normally passes through the witness and the suggestion of an "older brother," usually a priest. But this is not to forget the fundamental role of parents, who with their genuine and joyful faith and their marital love show their children that it is beautiful and possible to build a whole life on the love of God.

Dear friends, let us pray to the Virgin Mary for all teachers, especially priests and parents, that they have complete awareness of the importance of their spiritual role to help young people not only in human growth but also in answering God's call and saying: "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

[After the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today we celebrate the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee. Millions of persons are involved in the phenomenon of migrations, but they are not numbers! They are men and women, children, young people and old people who seek a place where they can live in peace.

In my message for this World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee, I called attention to the theme "Migrations and new evangelization," stressing that migrants are not only recipients but also protagonists of the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world. In this context I am happy to welcome the representatives of the migrant communities of Rome who are present in St. Peter's Square today. Welcome!

I would also like to recall that from the 18th to the 25th of this month of January there takes place the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite all, at the personal and community level, to join spiritually and, where possible, practically, in calling upon God for the gift of full unity among Christ's disciples.

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On Being Children
"Each One of Us Is Willed, Is Loved by God"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This morning I conferred the sacrament of baptism on 16 children, and in connection with this I would like to propose a brief reflection on our being children ("figli") of God. First of all let us begin with our simply being children: this is the fundamental condition that we all have in common. Not all of us are parents but we are all certainly children. Coming into the world is never a choice, we are not asked if we want to be born. But during life, we can freely develop an attitude toward this life: we can receive it as a gift and, in a certain sense, "become" that which we already are: we can become children. This transformation marks a point of maturity in our being and in our relationship with our parents, which fills us with gratitude. It is a transformation that renders us, too, capable of being parents ourselves, not biologically but morally.

We are children in our relationship to God also. God is at the origin of the existence of every creature, and he is Father of every human being in a unique way: God has with him or her a special, personal relationship. Each one of us is willed, is loved by God. And in this relationship with God as well we can, so to say, be "reborn," that is, become what we are. This happens through faith, through a profound and personal "yes" to God as origin and foundation of our existence. With this "yes" I receive life as a gift of the Father who is in heaven, a Parent whom I do not see but in whom I believe and in the depths of my heart feel to be my Father and the Father of all my brothers in humanity, an immensely good and faithful Father.

Upon what is this faith in God the Father based? It is based upon Jesus Christ: his person and his story reveal the Father to us, he makes him known to us, insofar as this is possible in this world. Believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, leads us to be "reborn from above," that is, from God, who is Love (cf. John 3:3). And let us recall again that no one makes himself a human being: we are born without our doing anything, the passivity of our being born precedes the activity of our doing. The same is true in regard to being Christian: no one can make himself a Christian by his own will alone; being Christian also precedes our doing: we must be reborn in a new birth. St. John: "To those who received him he gave the power to become children of God" (John 1:12). This is the meaning of the sacrament of baptism; baptism is this new birth that precedes our doing. With our faith we can encounter Christ, but only he can make us Christians and give our will, our desire, an answer, the dignity, the power -- which we do not have ourselves -- of becoming children of God.

Dear friends, this Sunday of the Lord's baptism concludes the Christmas season. Let us give thanks to God for this great mystery, which is a source of regeneration for the Church and the whole world. God made himself the son of man so that man might become son of God. Let us restore, therefore, the joy of being children: as men and as Christians; born and reborn to a new divine existence: born from the love of a father and a mother, and reborn in the love of God, through baptism. We ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of all those who believe in him, to help us live truly as children of God, not by words, or not by words alone, but by deeds. St. John further writes: "This is his commandment: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another, according to the precept that he gave us" (1 John 3:23).

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages. In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today's feast, the Baptism of Jesus, God the Father bears witness to his only-begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit anoints him for his imminent public ministry. Let us ask for the courage to be always faithful to the life of communion with the Holy Trinity which we received in Baptism. May God bless all of you abundantly!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and, again, every good thing for the year that has just begun. Have a good Sunday and a happy New Year. Best wishes! Thank you!

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On the Light of the Gospel
"The Church, Thanks to the Word of God, Sees Through the Fog"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus on the feast of the Epiphany. He also announced the names of 22 new cardinals.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, on the solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, I ordained two new bishops in St. Peter's Basilica. So, please forgive me for being late. This feast of Epiphany is a very ancient feast, which has its origin in the Christian East and underscores the mystery of Jesus Christ's manifestation to all peoples, who are represented by the Magi who came to worship the King of the Jews newly born in Bethlehem, as we are told by the Gospel of St. Matthew (cf. 2:1-12). That "new light" that shone forth on Christmas night (cf. Preface for Christmas I), today begins to cast its rays upon the world, as the image of the star suggests, a celestial sign that drew the attention of the Magi and guided them on their journey to Judea.

The whole period of Christmas and Epiphany is characterized by the theme of light, linked also to the fact that, in the northern hemisphere, after the winter solstice the days begin to get longer and the nights shorter. But Christ's word holds true for all peoples, regardless of geographical location: "I am the light of the world; whoever follows me does not walk in darkness but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). Jesus is the sun that has risen upon the horizon of humanity to illuminate everyone's personal existence to lead us all together to the goal of our pilgrimage, to the land of freedom and peace where we will live in full communion with God and each other forever.

The proclamation of this mystery of salvation was entrusted to Christ and his Church. As St. Paul writes: "It was revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit that the nations are called in Christ Jesus to share in the same inheritance, to form the same body and to be participants in the same promise through the Gospel" (Ephesians 3:5-6). Isaiah's invitation to the holy city of Jerusalem can be applied to the Church: "Arise, clothe yourself in light for your light is coming, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. Behold, darkness covers the earth, thick clouds envelop the nations; but the Lord shines upon you, his glory will be upon you" (Isaiah 60:1-2). And it is thus, as the prophet says, that the world with all of its resources is unable to give humanity the light to guide it on its journey. We see this in our own day too: Western civilization seems to have lost its orientation, it gropes about blindly. But the Church, thanks to the Word of God, sees through the fog. She does not have technological solutions, but keeps her gaze fixed on the goal and offers the light of the Gospel to all men of good will, of all nations and cultures.

This is the also the mission of the pontifical representatives to international organizations. This morning, in fact, as I said, I had the joy of conferring episcopal ordination on two new apostolic nuncios. Let us entrust their service and work of evangelization to the Virgin Mary.

* * *

Announcement of the Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals

And now with great joy, I announce that on Feb. 18, I will hold a consistory in which I create 22 new members of the College of Cardinals.

As is well known, the cardinals have the task of helping the Successor of Peter in carrying out his ministry of confirming our brothers in the faith and in being the principle and foundation of the unity of the communion of the Church.

Here are the names of the new cardinals:

1. Monsignor Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples;

2. Monsignor Manuel Monteiro de Castro, major penitentiary;

3. Monsignor Santos Abril y Castelló, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore;

4. Monsignor Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People;

5. Monsignor Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State and President of the its Government;

6. Monsignor Franceso Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts;

7. Monsignor João Bráz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Religious

8. Monsignor Edwin Frederick O'Brien, grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre

9. Monsignor Domenico Calcagno, president of the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See

10. Monsignor Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See

11. His Beatitude George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church (India)

12. Monsignor Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto (Canada);

13. Monsignor Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague (Czech Republic);

14. Wim Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht (Holland);

15. Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence (Italy);

16. Monsignor Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York (United States);

17. Thomas Woelki, Archbishop of Berlin (Federal Republic of Germany);

18. Monsignor John Tong Hon, Bishop of Hong Kong (People's Republic of China);

Furthermore, I decided to elevate to the dignity of the cardinalate a venerable prelate, who is the shepherd and father of a Church, and three meritorious ecclesiastics, who are distinguished by their service to the Church.

They are:

1. His Beatitude Lucian Mures,an, Major Archbishop of Fa(ga(ras, and Alba Iulia (Romania);

2. Monsignor Julien Ries, priest of the Diocese of Namur (Belgium) and emeritus professor of the history of religions at the Catholic University of Louvain;

3. Father Prosper Grech, O.S.A., emeritus professor at various Roman universities and consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

4. Father Karl Becker, S.J., emeritus professor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The new cardinals come from various parts of the world, as you have heard, and they carry out different ministries in service of the Holy See or in direct contact with the faithful as fathers or shepherds of particular Churches.

I would like to invite everyone to pray for these men who have been newly nominated to the College of Cardinals, imploring the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, that they might know how to bear witness with courage and dedication to their love for Christ and for his Church.
 

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Dec. 26: On the Feast of St. Stephen
"The True Imitation of Christ Is Love"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Dec. 26, the feast of St. Stephen, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the day after the solemn liturgy of the Lord’s Birth, we are celebrating the Feast of St Stephen, a deacon and the Church’s first martyr. The historian Eusebius of Caesarea describes him as the “perfect martyr” (Die Kirchengeschichte v. 2,5: GCS II, I, Lipsia 1903, 430), because in the Acts of the Apostles it is written that “Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people” (6:8). St Gregory of Nyssa commented: “he was a good man and full of the Holy Spirit. He was sustained by the goodness of his will to serve the poor and curbed enemies by the Spirit's power of the truth” (Sermo in Sanctum Stephanum II: GNO X, 1, Leiden 1990, 98). A man of prayer and of evangelization, Stephen, whose name means “crown”, received from God the gift of martyrdom. Indeed, “full of the Holy Spirit ... he saw the glory of God” (Acts 7:55) and while he was being stoned he prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Then, he fell to his knees and prayed for forgiveness for those who accused him: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).

This is why the Eastern Church sings in her hymns: “The stones became steps for you and ladders for the ascent to heaven... and you joyfully drew close to the festive gathering of the angels” (MHNAIA t. II, Rome 1889, 694, 695).

After the generation of the Apostles, martyrs acquired an important place in the esteem of the Christian community. At the height of their persecution, their hymns of praise fortified the faithful on their difficult journey and encouraged those in search of the truth to convert to the Lord. Therefore, by divine disposition, the Church venerates the relics of martyrs and honours them with epithets such as: “teachers of life”, “living witnesses”, “breathing trophies” and “silent exhortations” (Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 43, 5: PG 36, 500 C).

Dear friends, the true imitation of Christ is love, which some Christian writers have called the “secret martyrdom”. Concerning this St Clement of Alexandria wrote: “those who perform the commandments of the Lord, in every action ‘testify’, by doing what he wishes, and consistently naming the Lord’s name; (Stromatum IV, 7,43,4: SC 463, Paris 2001, 130). Today too, as in antiquity, sincere adherence to the Gospel can require the sacrifice of life and many Christians in various parts of the world are exposed to persecution and sometimes martyrdom. However, the Lord reminds us: “he who endures to the end will be saved” (Mt 10:22).

To Mary Most Holy, Queen of Martyrs, let us address our supplication to preserve the desire for good in its wholeness, especially the good of those who oppose us. Today let us entrust the Church’s deacons in particular to divine mercy so that, illuminated by St Stephen’s example, they may collaborate, in accordance with their mission, in the task of evangelization (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, n. 94).

After the Angelus:

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today we celebrate St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. May his example inspire us to be courageous in living our faith in Christ our Saviour and ready to forgive those who harm us. I pray that your stay in Rome may renew your love of Christ and his Church and I wish you all a blessed Christmas Season!

I wish you all happy celebrations. Many thanks!

Appeal asking for an end to violence in the world:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Holy Christmas awakens within us even more forcefully the prayer to God that the hands of the violent who sow death may be prevented, and that justice and peace may prevail throughout the world. Yet our earth continues to be bathed in innocent blood. I learned with deep sorrow the news of the attacks which this year too have brought mourning and grief to several Churches in Nigeria on the Day of Jesus’ Birth. I would like to express my sincere and affectionate closeness to the Christian community and to all who are affected by this absurd act, and I ask you to pray the Lord for the many victims. I appeal for the restoration of safety and serenity, with the joint efforts of the various members of society. At this time I wish to say forcefully once again: violence is a way that leads only to suffering, destruction and death; respect, reconciliation and love are the only way to achieve peace.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Our Lady's Question to Gabriel
"The Virginity of Mary and the Divinity of Jesus are Reciprocally Guaranteed"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Fourth and last Sunday of Advent this year the liturgy presents us with the account of the angel's announcement to Mary. Contemplating the wondrous image of the Holy Virgin in the moment in which she receives the divine message and gives her answer, we are enlightened within by the always-new light of truth that shines forth from that mystery. For a brief moment I would like to reflect in particular on the importance of Mary's virginity, of the fact that she conceived Jesus remaining a virgin.

In the background of the event of Nazareth there is the prophecy of Isaiah: "Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a son, who will be called Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). This ancient promise found an overflowing fulfillment in the Incarnation of the Son of God. In fact, not only did the virgin conceive but she did so by the power of the Holy Spirit, that is, by the power of God himself. The human being who begins to live in her womb takes flesh from Mary, but his existence comes totally from God. He is fully man, made from the earth -- to use a biblical symbol -- but comes from above, from heaven. That Mary conceives while remaining a virgin is essential for knowing Jesus and for our faith, because it shows that the initiative is God's and above all it reveals who it is that is conceived. As the Gospel says: "For this reason he who will be born will be holy and will be called Son of God" (Luke 1:35). In this sense, the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus are reciprocally guaranteed.

This is why the one question that Mary, "greatly disturbed," asks the angel is so important: "How can this be since I do not know man?" (Luke 1:34). In her simplicity Mary is very wise: She does not doubt God's power, but wants to understand his will better so that she can completely conform to this will. Mary is infinitely surpassed by the mystery and yet, she perfectly occupies the post that she is assigned at its center. Her heart and her mind are completely humble, and, precisely because of her singular humility, God awaits this young woman's "yes" to realize his design. He respects her freedom. Mary's "yes" implies both maternity and virginity, and it desires that everything in her is for God's glory, and that the Son whom she will bear will be wholly the gift of grace.

Dear friends, Mary's virginity is unique and unrepeatable, but its spiritual significance regards every Christian. It, in substance, is linked to faith: In fact, those who deeply trust in the love of God welcome Jesus within themselves, his divine life, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas! I hope that you will all live it with profound joy.

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On True Joy
"Not a Mere Passing State of Soul"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The liturgical texts of this period of Advent renew the invitation to us to live in expectation of Jesus and not to cease to await his coming and thus to maintain in us an attitude of openness and availability for the encounter with him. The vigilance of heart that the Christian is always called to exercise in everyday life characterizes this time in which we prepare ourselves with joy for the mystery of Christmas (cf. Advent Preface II). Elsewhere the usual commercial messages are proposed even if perhaps in a diminished way because of the economic crisis. The Christian is invited to live Advent without letting himself get distracted by the lights so that he can fix his interior gaze upon Christ and know how to assign things their proper value. If in fact we remain "vigilant in prayer and exultant in praise" (ibid.), our eyes will be able to recognize in him the true light of the world who comes to illuminate our darkness.

In particular this Sunday's liturgy, called "Gaudete," invites us to joy, to a vigilance that is not sorrowful but joyful. "Gaudete in Domino semper," St. Paul writes: "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4). True joy does not come from diversions, intended in the word's etymological sense: "di-vertere," being drawn away from life and from its responsibilities. True joy is linked to something much more profound. Naturally, in the daily round, which is often frenetic, it is important to find moments for rest, for relaxation, but true joy is connected with our relationship to God. Those who have met Jesus in their lives experience a serenity and a joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take away. St. Augustine understood it quite well; in his search for truth, for peace, for joy, after having sought it in vain in many things, he concludes with the celebrated expression according to which man's heart is restless, does not find serenity and peace, until it finds rest in God (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1). True joy is not a mere passing state of soul, nor something that is achieved by our own power but is a gift; it is born from the encounter with the living person of Jesus, from making space for him in us, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our life. It is the invitation that the Apostle Paul makes, who says: "May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In this Advent season let us strengthen our certainty that the Lord has come among us and continues to renew his presence of consolation, love and joy. We trust in him; again as St. Augustine says in light of his experience: the Lord is closer to us than we are to ourselves "interior intimo meo et superior summo meo" (Confessions, III, 6, 11).

Let us entrust our journey to the Immaculate Virgin, whose spirit exulted in God the Savior. May she be the one to guide our hearts in the joyous expectation of the coming of Jesus, an expectation that is rich in prayer and good works.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, today my first greeting is to the children of Rome, who have come for the traditional blessing of the statues of the Christ child that they will place in the crèche. This event was organized by the Centro Oratori Romani. I thank all of you! Dear children, when you pray before your crèche, remember me too as I will remember you. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

[In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying in the wilderness, encouraging us to prepare the way of the Lord. Through renewed faith, prayer and penance, may we too become authentic heralds of the Lord's coming among us at Christmas. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you. Have a good Sunday. "Gaudete"!

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On Mary, Full of Grace
"With Her 'Yes,' She Brought Heaven Near to Earth"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus for the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the Church solemnly celebrates the immaculate conception of Mary. As Pope Pius IX declared in his apostolic letter "Ineffabilis Deus" of 1854, she "was preserved from every stain of original sin by a special grace and privilege of almighty God in view of the merits of Jesus Christ the Savior of the human race." This truth of faith is contained in the Archangel Gabriel's words of greeting: "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with thee! (Luke 1:28). The expression "full of grace" indicates the marvelous deed of the love of God, who desired to give back to us -- through his only-begotten incarnate Son, who died and rose again -- the life and freedom that we lost with sin. It was this that led the Church in the East and West to invoke and celebrate the Virgin who, with her "yes," brought heaven near to earth, becoming "the Mother of God and the nurse of our life," as St. Romanos the Melodist writes in an ancient song (Canticum XXV in Nativitatem B. Mariae Virginis, in J.B. Pitra, Analecta Sacra t. I, Parigi 1876, 198). In the 7th century St. Sophronius of Jerusalem praises the greatness of Mary since in her the Holy Spirit came to dwell: "You surpass all the gifts that God's magnificence ever bestowed on any human being. More than anyone you are made rich by God dwelling in you" (Oratio II, 25 in SS. Deiparæ Annuntiationem: PG 87, 3, 3248 AB). And St. Bede the Venerable explains: "Mary is blessed among women because with her virginity she enjoyed the grace of being the mother of a son who is God" (Hom I, 3: CCL 122, 16).

Upon us too is bestowed the "fullness of grace" that we must make shine in our life, because "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," St. Paul writes, "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing ... and has chosen us before the creation of the world to be holy and immaculate ... predestining us to be his adopted sons" (Ephesians 1:3-5). We receive this filiation through the Church on the day of baptism. In this regard St. Hildegard writes: "The Church is, therefore, the virgin mother of all Christians. By the secret power of the Holy Spirit she conceives them and gives them birth, offering them to God is such a way that they are also called sons of God" (Scivias, visio III, 12: CCL Continuatio Mediævalis XLIII, 1978, 142). And, finally, among the many who have sung of the spiritual beauty of the Mother of God, there stands out St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who says that the invocation "Hail, Mary, full of grace" is "pleasing to God, the angels and men. To men because of her maternity, to Angels because of her virginity and to God because of her humility" (Sermo XLVII, De Annuntiatione Dominica: SBO VI, 1, Roma 1970, 266).

Dear friends, in anticipation of the customary homage that we will pay to Mary in the Piazza di Spagna this afternoon, we offer our fervent prayer to her who intercedes with God that she might help us to celebrate with faith the Birth of the Lord, which is now drawing near.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father spoke to the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear friends!

I offer a special greeting to the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, recalling with devotion and affection the mourned Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur, who led it for so many years. May the Virgin assist you always, dear friends, in each of your activities.

[In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors on this great feast-day when we honor the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God's grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures. In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God, let us prepare to welcome her Son into our lives and into our hearts. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish for all of you the best spiritual fruits on this feast of the Virgin Mary, of our Mother. Thank you. Happy feast day to all of you!

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On Preparing for Christmas
"We Must Let Ourselves Be Illumined by the Ray of Light That Comes From Bethlehem"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday marks the second stage of Advent. This period of the liturgical year highlights two figures who had a pre-eminent role in the preparation of Jesus Christ’s entering into history: the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. Today’s text from the Gospel of Mark focuses precisely on the latter. In fact it describes the personality and mission of the Precursor of Christ (cf. Mark 1:2-8). Beginning with externals, John is presented as a very ascetic figure: he is clothed in camel skins, he eats locusts and wild honey and he lives in the wilderness of Judea (cf. Mark 1:6). Jesus himself, once contrasted him with those “who live in the palaces of kings” and “wear soft garments” (Matthew 11:8). John the Baptist’s style should recall all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas in which the Lord -- as St. Paul says -- “although he was rich, became poor for your sake, that you might become rich through his poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

In regard to John’s mission, it was an extraordinary call to conversion: his baptism “is connected to an ardent call to a new way of thinking and acting, but above all with the proclamation of God’s judgment” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” Ignatius Press, 2008, p. 14) and of the imminent appearance of the Messiah, defined as “he who is greater than me” and who “will baptize in the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7, 8). John’s message thus goes further and deeper than a sober way of life: it calls us to interior change, beginning with the acknowledgement and confession of our sin. As we prepare ourselves for Christmas, it is important that we look within ourselves and we sincerely reflect on our life. We must let ourselves be illumined by the ray of light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of him who is “the greater one” and made himself small, the “strongest one” and made himself weak.

All four of the evangelists describe the preaching of John the Baptist making reference to a passage of the prophet Isaiah: “A voice cries out: in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). Mark also inserts a citation from another prophet, Malachi, which says: “Behold, I send my messenger before you: he will prepare your way” (Mark 1:2; cf. Malachi 3:1). These references to the scriptures of the Old Testament “speak of a saving intervention of God, who emerges from his hiddenness to judge and save; it is for this God that the door is to be opened and the way made ready” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” p. 15).

To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin of expectation, let us entrust our path toward the Lord, while we continue our Advent itinerary of making our heart and our life ready for the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the upcoming days in Geneva and in other cities the 50th anniversary of the institution of the International Organization for Migration, the 60th anniversary of the convention on the status of refugees and the 50th anniversary of the convention on the reduction of cases of statelessness will be marked. I entrust to the Lord those who must -- and often are forced -- to leave their own country or are deprived of citizenship. While I encourage solidarity with them, I pray for all those who expend themselves to protect and assist these brothers in these emergency situations, even exposing themselves to great toil and danger.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. Today we mark the second Sunday of Advent by a Gospel passage where John the Baptist calls us to conversion. May we heed his call to repentance and ask the Lord to forgive us our sins, so that Emmanuel, God-with-us, may find us ready when he comes. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

A wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good Sunday and a good week! Thank you!

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On the Master of the World
"Hearts Are Reawakened to the Expectation of Christ's Return"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2011 Here is a L'Osservatore Romano translation of Benedict XVI's address Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the whole Church begins a new liturgical year: a journey of faith to be lived together within Christian communities, but also, as always, within the history of the world, to open it to the mystery of God, to the salvation that comes from his love. The liturgical year begins with the period of Advent: a wonderful time in which people's hearts are reawakened to the expectation of Christ's return and to the memory of His first coming, when He divested Himself of His divine glory to assume our mortal flesh.

"Stay awake!" This is Jesus' call in today's Gospel. He directs it not only to his disciples, but to everyone: "Stay awake! (Mt, Mk 13:37). It is a timely reminder that life has not only an earthly dimension, but is projected, "beyond," like a small seedling whose shoots open from the earth towards heaven. A small thinking seedling, man, gifted with freedom and responsibility, for which each one of us will be called to render account of how he has lived, how he has used his abilities: if he has kept them for himself or he has made them bear fruit for the good of others.

"Isaiah, the prophet of Advent, also makes us think today with his heartfelt prayer addressed to God in the name of his people. He dwells on the shortcomings of his people and at a certain point says: 'There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hands of iniquity'. How can we not be struck by this description? It seems to reflect certain aspects of the post-modern world: cities where life has become anonymous and horizontal, where God seems to be absent and only man is master, as if he were the universal architect. Building, work, economy, transport, science, technology, everything seems to depend only upon man. And at times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.

"In reality, the real 'master' of the world is not man but God. The Gospel says: 'stay awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly'. Advent comes every year to remind us of this fact, that our lives might find their just orientation towards the face of God. The face not of a 'master', but of a Father and a Friend".

With the Virgin Mary, who guides us on our Advent journey, let us make the words of the prophet our own. "Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hands." (Is 64:7)


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On the Talents Entrusted Us by God
"It Would be Foolish to Presume That These Gifts Are an Entitlement"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2011 - Here is the L'Osservatore Romano translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The word of God of this Sunday -- the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year -- warns us of the transience of our earthly existence and invites us to live it as a pilgrimage, keeping our gaze fixed on the destination for which God has created us. Moreover, since he made us for himself (cf. St Augustine, Confessions 1, 1), he is our ultimate destination and the meaning of our existence.

Death, followed by the Last Judgement, is an obligatory gate to pass through in order to reach this definitive place. The Apostle Paul says: "the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), that is, stealthily without warning. May knowledge of the glorious return of the Lord Jesus spur us to live in an attitude of watchfulness, waiting for his manifestation and in constant remembrance of his first coming.

In the well known Parable of the Talents -- recounted by the Evangelist Matthew (cf. 25: 14-30) -- Jesus tells the story of three servants to whom their master entrusted his property, before setting out on a long journey. Two of them behaved impeccably, doubling the value of what they had received. On the contrary, the third, buried the money he had received in a hole. On his return, the master asked his servants to account for what he had entrusted to them and while he was pleased with the first two he was disappointed with the third.

Indeed, the servant who had hidden his talent and failed to make it increase in worth, had calculated badly. He behaved as if his master were never to return, as if there would never be a day on which he would be asked to account for his actions. With this parable Jesus wanted to teach his disciples to make good use of their gifts: God calls every person and offers talents to all, at the same time entrusting each one with a mission to carry out. It would be foolish to presume that these gifts are an entitlement, just as failing to use them would mean failing to achieve one's purpose in life.

In commenting on this Gospel passage St. Gregory the Great noted that the Lord does not let anyone lack the gift of his charity, of his love. He wrote: "brothers, it is necessary that you pay the utmost attention to preserving love in everything you must do" (Homilies on the Gospel, 9, 6). After explaining that true charity consists in loving enemies as well as friends, he added: "if someone lacks this virtue, he loses every good he possesses, he is deprived of the talent he received and is cast out into the darkness" (ibid.).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us accept the invitation to be watchful, of which we are constantly reminded by the Scriptures! This is the attitude of those who know that the Lord will return and that he will like to see the fruits of his love in us. Charity is the fundamental good that no one can fail to bring to fruition and without which every other good is worthless. If Jesus loved us to the point of giving his life for us (cf. 1 Jn 3:16), how can we not love God with the whole of ourselves and love one another with real warmth? (cf. 1 Jn 4:11). It is only by practicing charity that we too will be able to share in the joy of our Lord. May the Virgin Mary teach us active and joyful watchfulness on our journey toward the encounter with God.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the faithful in various languages:]

Today is the World Day of Diabetes, a chronic disease that afflicts many, even young people. I pray for all these brothers and sisters and for all who, every day, share in their daily trials; as well as for health care workers and for the volunteers who help them.

Today the Church in Italy is celebrating Thanksgiving Day. In looking at the fruits of the earth which the Lord has given to us this year too, let us acknowledge that human work would be fruitless if he did not make it fertile. "Only with God is their a future in the land." While we give thanks, let us engage to respect the earth that God has entrusted to our keeping.

Dear French-speaking pilgrims, today the Lord asks us to recognize the gifts he has made for us. He entrusts to each one the responsibility for making them fruitful, so that he or she may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. These words of Christ guided the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. I hope to impart them to all when I go to Benin to strengthen the faith and hope of the Christians of Africa and of the adjacent Islands. I entrust to your prayers this journey and the inhabitants of the beloved continent of Africa, especially those who are experiencing the lack of security and violence. May Our Lady of Africa accompany and sustain the efforts of all who are working for reconciliation, justice and peace with my blessing!

[In English, he said:]

I welcome the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, especially the large group of Filipino pilgrims! In today's Gospel, the parable of the talents, Jesus invites us to reflect with gratitude on the gifts we have received and to use them wisely for the growth of God's Kingdom. May his words summon us to an ever deeper conversion of mind and heart, and a more effective solidarity in the service of all our brothers and sisters. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace!

[To the German-speaking faithful the Holy Father spoke of the beatification that afternoon at Dornbirn, Austria, of the priest-martyr, Carl Lampert, who was guillotined in hatred of the faith on Nov. 13, 1944.]

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On Hope in Life
"If We Remove God, We Remove Christ and the World Falls Back Into Emptiness and Darkness"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2011 - Here is a L'Osservatore Romano translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The biblical readings of this Sunday's liturgy invite us to extend the reflection on eternal life that we began on the occasion of the commemoration of the faithful departed. On this point there is a clear difference between those who believe and those who do not believe or, one might likewise say, between those who hope and those who do not hope.

Indeed St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thes 4:13). Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in this sphere too is a crucial divide. St. Paul always reminded the Christians of Ephesus that before accepting the Good News they had been "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12). Indeed the religion of the Greeks, the pagan cults and myths, were unable to shed light on the mystery of death; thus an ancient inscription said: "In nihil ab nihilo quam cito recidmus," which means: "How quickly we fall back from nothing to nothing." If we remove God, we remove Christ and the world falls back into emptiness and darkness. Moreover, this is also confirmed in the expressions of contemporary nihilism that is often unconscious and, unfortunately, infects a great many young people.

Today's Gospel is a famous parable that speaks of 10 maidens invited to a wedding feast, a symbol of the Kingdom of Heaven and of eternal life (Mt 25:1-13). It is a happy image with which, however, Jesus teaches a truth that calls us into question. In fact five of those 10 maidens were admitted to the feast because when the bridegroom arrived they had brought the oil to light their lamps, whereas the other five were left outside because they had been foolish enough not to bring any. What is represented by this "oil," an indispensable prerequisite for being admitted to the nuptial banquet?

St. Augustine (cf. Discourses 93, 4), and other ancient authors interpreted it as a symbol of love that one cannot purchase but receives as a gift, preserves within oneself and uses in works. True wisdom is making the most of mortal life in order to do works of mercy, for after death this will no longer be possible. When we are reawakened for the Last Judgement, it will be made on the basis of the love we have shown in our earthly life (cf. Mt 25:31-46). And this love is a gift of Christ, poured out in us by the Holy Spirit. Those who believe in God-Love bear within them invincible hope, like a lamp to light them on their way through the night beyond death to arrive at the great feast of life.

Let us ask Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, to teach us true wisdom, the wisdom that became flesh in Jesus. He is the Way that leads from this life to God, to the Eternal One. He enabled us to know the Father's face, and thus gave us hope full of love. This is why the Church addresses the Mother of the Lord with these words: "Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra" [our life, our sweetness and our hope]. Let us learn from her to live and die in the hope that never disappoints.

[After the Angelus the Pope said:]

I am following with concern the tragic episodes that have occurred in Nigeria in the past few days and, as I pray for the victims, I ask people to put an end to all violence, which does not solve problems but increases them, sowing hatred and division also among believers.

[He said in English:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. In today's Gospel Jesus invites us to be prepared, like the wise maidens, for the definitive encounter with him who will come to complete his work of salvation at the end of time. May the light of faith always guide us and may the gift of Christian love grow strong in our hearts and in our deeds as we journey to the eternal wedding feast. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

[He added in Italian:]

Lastly I address a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially to the group from Veruno with the Mayor and other administrators, as well as the faithful from Rieti and from Piedmonte di Barano d'Ischia. Our thoughts today cannot but turn to the city of Genoa, harshly affected by floods. I offer the assurance of my prayers to the victims, their relatives and all who have suffered serious damage. May the Madonna della Guardia sustain the beloved Genoese people in their solidarity and commitment to overcoming this trial. Dear pilgrims, I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. A good Sunday to you all!

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On All Saints Day
"We Are All Going to Another Life"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday, the feast of All Saints, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those who had gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Solemnity of All Saints is a propitious occasion to lift our gaze from earthly realities marked by time, to the dimension of God, the dimension of eternity and of sanctity. The liturgy reminds us today that sanctity is the original vocation of every baptized person (cf. Lumen Gentium, 40). Christ, in fact, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit is the only Holy One (cf. Revelation 15:4) loved the Church as his Bride and gave himself for her, in order to sanctify her (cf. Ephesians 5:25-26). Because of this, all the members of the People of God are called to become saints, in keeping with the Apostle Paul's affirmation: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). We are invited to consider the Church not only in her temporal and human aspect, marked by fragility, but as Christ wished her to be, that is "the communion of saints" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 946). In the Creed we profess that the Church is "holy," holy because she is the Body of Christ, she is the instrument of participation in the Holy Mysteries -- in the first place the Eucharist -- and the family of the saints, to whose protection we are entrusted on the day of our baptism.

Today we venerate this innumerable community of All the Saints, who, through their diverse life journeys, point out to us different ways of sanctity, gathered under a common denominator: to follow Christ and to conform ourselves in Him up to the last of our human affairs. All the states of life, in fact, can become, with the action of grace and with commitment and perseverance, ways of sanctification.

The commemoration of the deceased faithful, to which tomorrow, Nov. 2, will be dedicated, helps us to remember our dear ones who have left us, and all souls on the way to the fullness of life, on the horizon of the heavenly Church, to which today's Solemnity has elevated us. From the earliest times of the Christian faith, the earthly Church, acknowledging the communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, has cultivated with great piety the memory of the deceased and has offered prayers for them. Our prayer for the dead is, therefore, not only useful but also necessary, given that it not only can help them, but that at the same time it makes effective their intercession in our favor (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 958). Also the visit to cemeteries, while protecting the bonds of affection with those who have loved us in our life, reminds us that we are all going to another life, beyond death. May tears due to the earthly distancing not prevail over the certainty of the resurrection, over the hope of attaining the blessedness of eternity, "the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace totality" (Spe Salvi, 12). The object of our hope is the enjoyment of the presence of God in eternity. Jesus promised it to his disciples, saying: "but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you" (John 16:22).

We entrust to the Virgin Mary, Queen of All Saints, our pilgrimage to our heavenly homeland, while we invoke her intercession for our deceased brothers and sisters.

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to wish all of you a happy All Saints Day! This wonderful feast, along with tomorrow’s commemoration of the faithful departed, speaks to us of the beauty of our faith and of the joy that awaits us in heaven with our loved ones who have fallen asleep in Christ. Let us therefore pray earnestly that we may all be joyfully united one day in the Father’s house. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Practicing Our Preaching
Christ "Expresses the Truth of His Teaching Through Fidelity to the Father's Will"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave last Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday's liturgy the Apostle Paul invites us to approach the Gospel "not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the Word of God" (1 Titus 2:13). This is how we can welcome Jesus' admonishments to our consciences in order to change our conduct and conform to them. In today's [Gospel] passage he upbraids the scribes and Pharisees, who had the role of teachers in their community, because their conduct was openly contrary to the teaching that they insistently proposed to others. Jesus points out that they "say but do not do" (Matthew 23:3); rather, "they tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them" (Matthew 23:4). The sound teaching should be accepted but it risks being betrayed by an inconsistent way of life. For this reason Jesus says: "do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example" (Matthew 23:3). Jesus' attitude is exactly the opposite: He first practices the commandment of love, which he teaches everyone, and he can say that it is a burden that is light and easy since he helps us to bear it together with him (cf. Matthew 11:29-30).

Thinking of teachers who oppress others' freedom in the name of their own authority, St. Bonaventure indicates who the true Teacher is: "No one can teach or do or attain the truths that can be known unless the Son of God is present" (Sermo I de Tempore, Dom. XXII post Pentecosten, Opera omnia, IX, Quaracchi, 1901, 442). Jesus sits on the "cathedra" as "the greater Moses, who broadens the Covenant to include all nations" ("Jesus of Nazareth," Ignatius Press, 2007, 66). He is our true and only Master! We are thus called to follow the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, who expresses the truth of his teaching through fidelity to the Father's will, through the gift of himself. Blessed Antonio Rosmini writes; "The first teacher forms all the other teachers, as he also forms all of the disciples themselves because [both] exist only on account of that first tacit but powerful teaching" ("Idea della Sapienza," 82, in: "Introduzione alla filosofia," vol. II, Roma 1934, 143). Jesus also roundly condemns vainglory and observes that acting "to be admired by people" (Matthew 23:5) puts one at the mercy of human approval, threatening the values that constitute personal authenticity.

Dear friends, the Lord Jesus presented himself to the world as a servant, completely stripping himself, and lowered himself to the point of giving the most eloquent lesson of humility and love on the cross. From his example there flows the proposal of life: "Whoever wishes to be greatest among you will be your servant" (Matthew 23:11). Let us invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy and pray, in particular, for those in the Christian community who are called to the service of teaching that they may always witness by deeds the truths that they transmit with words.

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On the Newly Canonized
"Let Us Measure Our Actions Every Day by His Call to Love"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on Sunday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds in St. Peter's Square. He had just finished celebrating Mass for the canonization of three saints.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding this solemn celebration, I would like to cordially greet everyone.

[In Italian, he said:]

I turn first to pilgrims who have come to pay homage to St. Guido Maria Conforti and St. Luigi Guanella, with a thought of special affection and encouragement for members of the Institutes founded by them: the Xavieran Missionaries, the Daughters of Our Lady of Providence and the Servants of Charity. I greet the bishops and civil authorities and thank each of them for their presence. Once again, Italy has offered the Church and the world brilliant testimonies of the Gospel; let us give glory to God and let us pray that in this nation the faith may never cease to renew itself and bear good fruit.

[Translation by L'Osservatore Romano]

[In Spanish, he said:]

I very cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims who have come to Rome to participate in the joyful celebration of the proclamation of these new saints. Together with the archbishops and bishops who accompany you, the official delegations and those devoted to those canonized today, following them in spirit, I particularly greet the Servants of St. Joseph, who have the great joy of seeing the holiness of their founder recognized for the universal Church. May the example and intercession of these personalities honored in the Church motivate everyone to renew their commitment to live their faith in Christ with their whole heart, and give witness in the diverse spheres of society. Thank you very much.


[In English, he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present, especially those here for today’s canonizations. In this Sunday's Gospel passage, Jesus urges us to love God above all things and to love our neighbour as ourselves. Let us measure our actions every day by his call to love, and live it with courage and joy. May almighty God bless all of you!

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On the Year of Faith
"It Would Be Opportune to Remember the Beauty and the Centrality of the Faith"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Yesterday and today there was an important event here at the Vatican regarding the new evangelization, an event that concluded this morning with a Eucharistic celebration over which I presided in St. Peter's Basilica. The initiative, organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, had the main objective of going deeper into the issues surrounding a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in nations with an ancient Christian tradition, and at the same time, it presented various testimonies and significant experiences. Numerous people from around the world have responded to this invitation, people committed to this mission, which Blessed John Paul II already clearly indicated to the Church as an urgent and gripping challenge.

[John Paul II] -- in the footsteps of the Second Vatican Council, and those of Paul VI, the one who put the council's implementation into motion -- was, in fact, a tireless defender of the mission ad gentes, that is, to the peoples and territories where the Gospel has not yet put down roots, as well as a herald of the new evangelization.

These are aspects of the one mission of the Church, and it is therefore meaningful to consider them together in this month of October, marked by the celebration of World Mission Day, precisely next Sunday.

Just as I did a few minutes ago in the homily of the Mass, I happily take advantage of this opportunity to announce that I have decided to convoke a special "Year of Faith," which will begin Oct. 11, 2012 -- the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council -- and will conclude Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe.

I have explained the motives, goals and guidelines of this year in an apostolic letter that will be published soon. The Servant of God Paul VI convoked a similar "Year of Faith" in 1967, on the occasion of the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul, during a period of great cultural changes. I believe that, now that a half century has passed since the opening of the Council, and linked to the happy memory of Blessed John XXIII, it would be opportune to remember the beauty and the centrality of the faith, the need to strengthen and deepen it, both at the personal and the community level, and to do this in a perspective that is not so much celebratory, but rather, missionary -- precisely in the perspective of the mission ad gentes and the new evangelization.

Dear friends, in the liturgy of this Sunday, we read what St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: "For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction." May this word from the Apostle of the Gentiles be the promise and the program for the missionaries of today -- priests, religious and laity -- committed to proclaim Christ to those who do not know him, or those who have reduced him to a mere historical figure. May the Virgin Mary help each Christian to be an effective witness of the Gospel.


[After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the crowds in several languages. In English, he said:]

I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that over and above our duties to one another and to the civil authorities, we have obligations to Almighty God. We pray for the wisdom always to recognize where our duty lies, and in all things to give due praise and honour to our Creator and Redeemer. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Calabria, the Land of Marian Piety
"Have Always in Your Heart Ecclesial Communion and Missionary Commitment"

LAMEZIA TERME, Italy, OCT. 9, 2011- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus after celebrating Mass in an industrial site in Lamezia Terme, during his pastoral visit to the Italian city.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we come to the end of our celebration, we turn with filial devotion to the Virgin Mary, whom this month of October we venerate in particular with the title Queen of the Holy Rosary.

I know that there are many Marian shrines present in this land of yours, and I am happy to learn that here in Calabria popular piety is alive. I encourage you to practice it constantly in the light of the teachings of Vatican Council II, of the Apostolic See, and of your pastors. I entrust your diocesan community affectionately to Mary, so that it will be united in faith, hope and charity. May the Mother of the Church help you to have always in your heart ecclesial communion and missionary commitment. May she support the priests in their ministry, help parents and teachers in their educational task, console the sick and the suffering, preserve in young people a pure and generous soul.

Let us also invoke Mary's intercession for the most serious social problems of this territory and of the whole of Calabria, especially those of work, of youth, of the care of handicapped people, who require increasing attention on the part of everyone, in particular of the institutions.

In communion with your bishops, I exhort you in particular, lay faithful, not to hold back the contribution of your competence and responsibility in the building of the common good.

As you know, this afternoon I will go to Serra San Bruno to visit the Carthusian Order. St. Bruno came to this land nine centuries ago, and he left a profound sign, with the strength of his faith. The faith of the saints renews the world! With the same faith, you too renew today your beloved Calabria!

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On the Lord's Work in History
"God Gives Himself Into Our Hands"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel closes with Jesus' warning addressed to the chief priests and elders of the people that is particularly severe: "The Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will bear its fruits" (Matthew 21:43). These are words that make us think of the great responsibility of those who, in every age, are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord, especially with the role of authority; they move us to complete fidelity to Christ. He is the "stone that the builders rejected" (cf. Matthew 21:42), because they judged him an enemy of the law and a threat to public order; but he himself, rejected and crucified, is risen, becoming the "cornerstone" upon which every human existence and the entire world can rest with absolute security.

The parable of the unfaithful tenants, to whom a man gave his vineyard to be cultivated to bear fruit, speaks of this truth. The owner of the vineyard represents God himself, while the vineyard symbolizes God's people as well as the life that he has bestowed upon us to do good through our commitment and his grace. St. Augustine says that "God cultivates us like a field to make us better" (Sermo 87, 1, 2: PL 38, 531). God has a project for his friends but unfortunately man's answer is often oriented to infidelity, which translates into rejection. Pride and egoism impede the recognition and acceptance even of God's most precious gift: his only begotten Son. When, in fact, "he sent them his son," writes the Evangelist Matthew, "they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him" (Matthew 21:37, 39). God gives himself into our hands, he allows himself to be an unfathomable mystery of weakness and manifests his omnipotence in fidelity to a plan of love that, in the end, foresees also punishment for the wicked (cf. Matthew 21:41).

Solidly anchored in faith in the cornerstone that is Christ, we remain in him as a branch that cannot bear fruit on its own if it does not remain in the vine. Only in him, through him and with him is the Church, the people of the New Covenant, built up. In this connection the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote: "The first benefit which we trust the Church will reap from a deepened self-awareness, is a renewed discovery of its vital bond of union with Christ. This is something which is perfectly well known, but it is supremely important and absolutely essential. It can never be sufficiently understood, meditated upon and preached" ("Ecclesiam Suam," August 6, 1964: AAS 56 [1964], 622).

Dear friends, the Lord is always near and working in human history, and he also accompanies us with the unique presence of his angels, whom the Church venerates today as "guardians," that is, ministers of the divine care for every man. From the beginning until the hour of death, human life is surrounded by their unceasing protection. And the angels are the crown of the august Queen of Victories, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary, who in the first Sunday of October, precisely at this hour, receives the fervid plea, from the sanctuary in Pompeii and from the whole world, that evil be defeated and the goodness of God be revealed in its fullness.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, this afternoon, in Ivrea, Italy, Sister Antonia Maria Verna, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea, will be proclaimed blessed. The rite will be celebrated by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my secretary of state. We thank God for the luminous figure of this newly beatified woman, who lived between the 18th and 19th centuries, a model for women who lead the consecrated life and those who are teachers.

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On a New Sense of Life and Existence
"The Good News ... Is Destined to Reach All People and Nations"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In today's liturgy we have the beginning of St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians, that is, to the members of the community that the Apostle himself established at Philippi, an important Roman colony in Macedonia, present day northern Greece. Paul arrived in Philippi during his second missionary journey, sailing from the coast of Anatolia and crossing the Aegean Sea. That was the Gospel's first entrance into Europe. We are near the year 50, so about 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. And yet, in the Letter to the Philippians there is a hymn to Christ that already presents a complete synthesis of his mystery: incarnation, "kenosis," that is, humiliation unto death on the cross, and glorification.

This mystery itself became one with the life of the Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter while he was in prison, awaiting a sentence of life or death. He writes: "For me to live is Christ and die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). It is a new sense of life, of human existence, that consists in living communion with the living Jesus Christ; not only with a historical person, a master of wisdom, a religious leader, but with a man in whom God dwells personally. His death and resurrection are the Good News that, starting from Jerusalem, is destined to reach all people and nations, and to transform all cultures from within, opening them to the fundamental truth: God is love; he became man in Jesus and with his sacrifice he ransomed humanity from slavery to evil, giving it a trustworthy hope.

St. Paul was a man who brought together three worlds: the Jewish world and the Greek and Roman worlds. It is not by chance that God entrusted to him the mission of bringing the Gospel from Asia Minor to Greece and to Rome, building a bridge that would take Christianity to the very ends of the earth. Today we live in an epoch of new evangelization. Vast horizons open up to the Gospel, while regions of ancient Christian tradition are called to rediscover the beauty of the faith. The protagonists of this mission are the men and women who, like St. Paul, can say: "For me to live is Christ " -- persons, families, communities, who decide to work in the vineyard of the Lord, according to the image of this Sunday's Gospel (cf. Matthew 20:1-16). Humble and generous workers, who do not ask any other recompense than participating in the mission of Jesus and the Church. "If living in the body," St. Paul continues, "means working and bearing fruit, I do not know which to choose" (Philippians 1:22): full union with Christ beyond death or service to his mystical body on earth.

Dear friends, the Gospel has transformed the world, and it is still transforming it, like a river that waters a great field. Let us turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary that in the whole Church priestly, religious and lay vocations ripen in service to the new evangelization.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday in Turin, Monsignor Francesco Paleari of the Society of Priests of St. Joseph of Cottolegno was proclaimed Blessed. He was born in Pogliano Milanese in 1863 into a humble peasant family, he entered the seminary at a young age and, immediately after ordination, he dedicated himself to the poor and the sick in the Little House of Providence (Piccola Casa della Divina Provvidenza), but also to teaching, distinguishing himself for his affability and patience. Let us give thanks to God for this luminous witness of his love!

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this "Angelus" prayer, including those from the Acton Institute and the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear Jesus compare the Kingdom of Heaven to the actions of a landowner who is generous to all the workers in his vineyard. Perhaps at times we may feel envious of the success of others or feel that we have not been sufficiently thanked for our service. May we always strive to be humble servants of the Lord and rejoice when God bestows abundant graces on those around us. I wish you a good Sunday. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

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On the Virgin's "Fiat"
The Risen Christ Is the "Source of Hope and Comfort for Daily Life"

ANCONA, Italy, SEPT. 11, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus. The Holy Father had just finished celebrating Mass during his visit to conclude the 25th Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Ancona.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before ending this solemn Eucharistic celebration, the Angelus prayer invites us to mirror ourselves in Mary Most Holy to contemplate the abyss of love from which the Sacrament of the Eucharist comes. Thanks to the Virgin's "fiat," the Word became flesh and came to dwell among us. Meditating on the mystery of the Incarnation, we all turn with our minds and hearts to the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto, only a few kilometers from here. The Marche region is illumined by the spiritual presence of Mary in her historic shrine, which makes these hills still more beautiful and enjoyable! To her I entrust at this time the city of Ancona, the diocese, the Marche and the whole of Italy, so that faith in the Eucharistic mystery will always be alive in the Italian people, who in every city and in every country, from the Alps to Sicily, render present the Risen Christ, source of hope and comfort for daily life, especially in difficult moments.

Today our thought goes to Sept. 11 ten years ago. In remembering to the Lord of Life the victims of the attacks carried out that day and their families, I invite the leaders of nations and men of good will to always reject violence as a solution to problems, to resist the temptation to hatred and to act in society, inspired by the principles of solidarity, justice and peace.

Finally, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy I pray that the Lord will recompense all those who worked for the preparation and organization of this National Eucharistic Congress, and to them I express my most heartfelt gratitude!

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On Fraternal Correction
"There Is a Co-responsibility in the Journey of the Christian Life"


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 4, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds that gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The biblical readings for the Mass this Sunday center on the theme of fraternal charity in the community of believers, which has its source in the communion of the Trinity. The apostle Paul affirms that the whole Law of God has its fullness in love in such a way that in our relationships with others, the 10 Commandments and every precept are summed up thus: "You will love your neighbor as yourself" (cf. Romans 13:8-10). The Gospel text, taken from Matthew 18, which treats of the life of the Christian community, tells us that brotherly love also includes reciprocal responsibility, on account of which, if my brother sins against me, I must be charitable to him and, first of all, speak with him personally, showing him that that what he said or did is not good. This way of behaving is called fraternal correction: it is not a reaction to the offense I have suffered but a being moved by love for my brother. St. Augustine comments: "He who has offended you, in offending you, he has caused himself a grave injury, and will you not care for the wound of your brother? […] You must forget that you have been offended but not your brother’s wound" (Sermon 82, 7).

And what if my brother does not listen to me? In today's Gospel, Jesus indicates a gradual approach: first go back and talk to him with two or three other persons so as to help him better grasp what he has done; if despite this he rejects the observation, the community must be told; and if he does not listen to the community either, it is necessary to make him see the rupture that he himself has provoked, separating himself from the Church. All of this shows that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life: everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service.

Another fruit of charity in the community is unified prayer. Jesus says: "If two of you on earth agree to ask for something, my Father who is in heaven will grant it. Because wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst" (Matthew 18:19-20). Personal prayer is certainly important, indeed indispensable, but the Lord assures his presence in the community that -- even if it is very small -- is united and of one accord, because it reflects the reality itself of God One-and-Three, perfect communion of love. Origen says that "we must play in this symphony" (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew 14:11), that is, within this concord of the Christian community. We must participate both in fraternal correction, which requires much humility and simplicity of heart, and in prayer, that it might rise up to God from a community truly united in Christ.

Let us plead for all of this through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church, and of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor, whom we commemorated in yesterday’s liturgy.

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On Thinking Like God and Accepting the Cross
"To Think According to the World Is to Put God Aside"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds that gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today's Gospel, Jesus explains to his disciples that he must "go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Matthew 16:21). Everything seems to be turned upside down in the heart of the disciples! How is it possible that "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (verse 16), can suffer to the point of death?

The Apostle Peter rebels, he does not accept this, so he spoke up and said to the Master: "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you" (verse 22). What appears evident is the difference between the loving design of the Father, which goes so far as the gift of his only-begotten Son on the cross to save humanity, and the expectations, the desires, the plans of the disciples.

And this discord occurs also today: when the fulfillment of one's life is directed solely to social success, to physical and economic wellbeing, then one no longer reasons according to God, but according to men (verse 23). To think according to the world is to put God aside, not to accept his plan of love, almost impeding the fulfillment of his wise will. Because of this, Jesus says something particularly harsh to Peter: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me" (ibid.).

The Lord shows that "the path of the disciples is to follow him, the Crucified. In all three Gospels, however, he explains this following in the sign of the cross ... as the way to 'lose oneself,' which is necessary for man and without which it is not possible for him to find himself" (Gesù di Nazaret, Milan 2007, 333 [cf. Jesus of Nazareth, pg. 287]).

As with the disciples, Jesus also addresses the invitation to us. "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). A Christian follows Christ when he accepts his cross with love, which in the eyes of the world seems a defeat and a "loss of life" (cf. verses 25-26). But the Christian knows that he does not carry the cross alone but with Jesus, sharing in his way of donation. The Servant of God Paul VI wrote: "In a mysterious way, Christ Himself accepts death ... on the cross, in order to eradicate from man's heart the sins of self-sufficiency and to manifest to the Father a complete filial obedience" (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino).

By willingly accepting the cross, Jesus carries the cross of all men and becomes the source of salvation for the whole of humanity. St. Cyril of Alexandria comments: "The victorious cross has illumined him who was blinded by ignorance, has released him who was a prisoner of sin, has brought redemption to the whole of humanity" (Catechesis Illuminandorum XIII, 1: de Christo crucifixo et sepulto: PG 33, 772 B).

We entrust our prayer to the Virgin Mary and to St. Augustine, whose memorial is today, so that each one of us will be able to follow the Lord on the way of the cross and allow ourselves to be transformed by divine grace, renewing our way of thinking, so that we "may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2).

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On Nourishing Faith
"Our Heart Must Live the Experience of Conversion Every Day"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2011 Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered at the pontifical summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The passage of this Sunday's Gospel begins with the indication of where Jesus was going: Tyre and Sidon, in the northwest of Galilee, pagan land. And it is here that he meets a Canaanite woman, who turns to him and asks him to heal her daughter, tormented by a demon (cf. Matthew 15:22).

Now in this request we can perceive the beginning of the journey of faith that grows and is reinforced in the dialogue with the divine Teacher. The woman is not afraid to cry out to Jesus "Have mercy on me," an expression the recurs in the Psalms (cf. 50:1). She calls him "Lord" and "Son of David" (cf. Matthew 15:22), thus manifesting firm hope of being heard. What is the Lord's attitude in response to the pain of a pagan woman?

Jesus' silence might seem disconcerting, so much so that it arouses the intervention of the disciples, but it is not a question of insensitivity to that woman's pain. St. Augustine rightly comments: "Christ showed himself indifferent to her, not to refuse mercy to her, but to inflame her desire" (Sermon 77, 1: P: 38, 483).

Jesus' seeming detachment, who says "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel" (24), does not discourage the Canaanite woman, who insists: "Lord, help me!" (25). And even when she receives an answer that seems to close all hope -- "It is not fair to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs" (26) -- she does not desist. She does not want to take anything from anyone: in her simplicity and humility she is content with little, she is satisfied with crumbs, she is content with just a look, a good word from the Son of God. And Jesus is in admiration of such a great response of faith and says to her: "Be it done for you as you desire" (28).

Dear friends, we are also called to grow in faith, to open ourselves and to receive freely the gift of God, and to trust and to also cry out to Jesus: give us faith, help us to find the way!" It is the way that Jesus made his disciples, the Canaanite woman and men of all times and nations follow, and each one of us. Faith opens us to know and to accept Jesus' real identity, his novelty and uniqueness, his Word, as source of life, to live a personal relationship with him.

Knowledge of the faith grows, it grows with the desire to find the way, and it is finally a gift of God, which is revealed to us not as something abstract without a face and without a name, but faith responds to a Person, who wishes to enter into a relationship of profound love with us and to involve our whole life. That is why our heart must live the experience of conversion every day; every day must see our passing from a man withdrawn into himself to a man open to God's action, to a spiritual man (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14), who allows himself to be challenged by the Word of the Lord and opens his life to his Love.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us therefore nourish our faith every day, with profound listening to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments, with personal prayer as "cry" to Him and with charity for our neighbor. We invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom tomorrow we will contemplate in her glorious Assumption to heaven in soul and body, so that she will help us to proclaim and to witness with our life the joy of having found the Lord.

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On the Assumption
"Mary Was the 1st to Take Into Her Arms the Son of God ... Now She Is the 1st to Be Next to Him"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday before and after praying the midday Angelus on the feast of the Assumption.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the heart of the month of August, Christians of the East and West celebrate jointly the Feast of the Assumption to Heaven of Mary Most Holy. In the Catholic Church, the dogma of the Assumption -- as was noted -- was proclaimed during the Holy Year of 1950 by my venerable predecessor the Servant of God Pope Pius XII. This memorial, however, sinks its roots in the faith of the early centuries of the Church.

In the East, the feast is still called today the "Dormition of the Virgin." In an ancient mosaic of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, which is inspired precisely in the Eastern icon of the"Dormition," the Apostles are pictured. Alerted by the angels of the earthly end of the Mother of Jesus, they gather around the Virgin's bed. At the center is Jesus who holds a little girl in his arms: It is Mary, become "little" for the Kingdom, and led by the Lord to Heaven.

In the passage of St. Luke's Gospel for today's liturgy, we read that "in those days Mary rose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah" (Luke 1:39). In those days Mary went in haste from Galilee to a small city near Jerusalem, to go and meet her cousin Elizabeth. Today we contemplate her going up to the mountain of God and entering into the heavenly Jerusalem, "clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars" (Revelation 12:1).

The biblical passage of Revelation, which we read in the liturgy of this solemnity, speaks of a fight between the woman and the dragon, between good and evil. St. John seems to propose to us the very first pages of the Book of Genesis, which narrate the dark and dramatic event of Adam's and Eve's sin. Our forefathers were defeated by the Evil One; in the fullness of time, Jesus, the new Adam, and Mary, the new Eve, defeated the enemy definitively, and this is the joy of this day! With Jesus' victory over evil, interior and physical death was also defeated. Mary was the first to take into her arms the Son of God, Jesus, who became a child; now she is the first to be next to him in the glory of Heaven.

That which we celebrate today is a great mystery, and above all a mystery of hope and of joy for all of us: In Mary we see the end toward which all those who know how to link their lives to that of Jesus are journeying, those who know how to follow him as Mary did. This feast, then, speaks of our future, it tells us that we also will be next to Jesus in the joy of God and it invites us to have courage, to believe that the power of the Resurrection of Christ can operate also in us and make us men and women who every day seek to live as risen ones, taking the light of goodness to the darkness of evil that is in the world.

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On Storms and Tempests
"Bear Life's Adversities Courageously, Trusting in God"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 13, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the Italian-language address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 7 before reciting the midday Angelus together with those gathered at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Sunday's Gospel we find Jesus who, after withdrawing to the mountain, prays throughout the night. The Lord, having distanced himself from the people and the disciples, manifests his communion with the Father and the need to pray in solitude, far from the commotion of the world.

This distancing, however, must not be seen as a lack of interest in individuals or trust in the Apostles. On the contrary, Matthew recounts, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, "and go before him to the other side" (Mt 14:22), where he would see them again. In the meantime the boat "was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them" (v. 24). And so in the fourth watch of the night [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea" (v. 25); the disciples were terrified, mistaking him for a ghost and "cried out for fear" (v. 26). They did not recognize him, they did not realize that it was the Lord.

Nonetheless Jesus reassured them: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (v. 27). This is an episode from which the Fathers of the Church drew a great wealth of meaning. The sea symbolizes this life and the instability of the visible world; the storm points to every kind of trial or difficulty that oppresses human beings. The boat, instead, represents the Church, built by Christ and steered by the Apostles.

Jesus wanted to teach the disciples to bear life's adversities courageously, trusting in God, in the One who revealed himself to the Prophet Elijah on Mount Horeb "in a still small voice" [the whispering of a gentle breeze] (1 Kings 19:12).

The passage then continues with the action of the Apostle Peter, who, moved by an impulse of love for the Teacher, asks him to bid him to come to him, walking on the water. "But when he saw the wind [was strong], [Peter] was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'" (Mt 14:30).

St. Augustine, imagining that he was addressing the Apostle, commented: the Lord "leaned down and took you by the hand. With your strength alone you cannot rise. Hold tight to the hand of the One who reaches down to you" (En. in Ps. 95, 7: PL 36, 1233), and he did not say this to Peter alone but also to us.

Peter walks on the water, not by his own effort but rather through divine grace in which he believes. And when he was smitten by doubt, when he no longer fixed his gaze on Jesus but was frightened by the gale, when he failed to put full trust in the Teacher's words, it means that he was interiorly distancing himself from the Teacher and so risked sinking in the sea of life.

So it is also for us: if we look only at ourselves we become dependent on the winds and can no longer pass through storms on the waters of life. The great thinker Romano Guardini wrote that the Lord "is always close, being at the root of our being. Yet we must experience our relationship with God between the poles of distance and closeness. By closeness we are strengthened, by distance we are put to the test" (Accettare se stessi, Brescia 1992, 71).

Dear friends, the experience of the Prophet Elijah who heard God passing and the troubled faith of the Apostle Peter enable us to understand that even before we seek the Lord or invoke him, it is he himself who comes to meet us, who lowers Heaven to stretch out his hand to us and raise us to his heights; all he expects of us is that we trust totally in him, that we really take hold of his hand.

Let us call on the Virgin Mary, model of total entrustment to God, so that amidst the plethora of anxieties, problems and difficulties which churn up the sea of our life, may our hearts resonate with the reassuring words of Jesus who also says to us "Take heart, it is I; have no fear!"; and may our faith in him grow.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Compassion and Sharing
"Christ Is Attentive to Material Needs, But He Wished to Give More"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 13, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the Italian-language address Benedict XVI delivered July 31 before reciting the midday Angelus together with those gathered at the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday’s Gospel describes the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves that Jesus worked for a great throng of people who had followed him to listen to him and to be healed of various illnesses (cf. Mt 14:14).

As evening fell the disciples suggested to Jesus that he send the crowds away so that they might take some refreshment. But the Lord had something else in mind: "You give them something to eat" (Mt 14:16). However they had "only five loaves... and two fish." Jesus’ subsequent action evokes the sacrament of the Eucharist: "He looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds" (Mt 14:19).

The miracle consists in the brotherly sharing of a few loaves, which, entrusted to the power of God, not only sufficed for everyone, but enough was left over to fill 12 baskets. The Lord asked this of the disciples so that it would be they who distributed the bread to the multitude; in this way he taught and prepared them for their future apostolic mission: in fact, they were to bring to all the nourishment of the Word of life and of the sacraments.

In this miraculous sign the incarnation of God and the work of redemption are interwoven. Jesus, in fact, "went ashore" from the boat to meet the men and women (cf. Mt 14:14). St Maximus the Confessor said that the Word of God made himself present for our sake, by taking flesh, derived from us and conformed to us in all things save sin, in order to expose us to his teaching with words and examples suitable for us" (Ambigua 33: PG 91, 1285 C).

Here the Lord offers us an eloquent example of his compassion for people. We are reminded of all our brothers and sisters in the Horn of Africa who in these days are suffering the dramatic consequences of famine, exacerbated by war and by the lack of solid institutions. Christ is attentive to material needs but he wished to give more, because man always "hungers for more, he needs more" (Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, p. 267 (English translation). God’s love is present in the bread of Christ; in the encounter with him "we feed on the living God himself, so to speak, we truly eat the ‘bread from Heaven’" (ibid. p. 268).

Dear friends, "in the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God’s compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. The Eucharistic mystery thus gives rise to a service of charity towards neighbour" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, No. 88). St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus whom the Church is commemorating today, also bore witness to this. Indeed Ignatius chose to live "finding God in all things, loving him in all creatures" (cf. Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, III, 1, 26).

Let us entrust our prayers to the Virgin Mary, so that she may open our hearts to compassion for our neighbor and to fraternal sharing.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Solomon's Heart
"The Capacity to Hear the Voice of Truth, to Be Docile to Its Instructions"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 24, 2011- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those who had gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in the Liturgy, the Old Testament reading presents to us the figure of King Solomon, son and successor of David. He is presented to us at the beginning of his reign, when he was still very young. Solomon inherited a demanding task and the responsibility that weighed on him was great for a young sovereign. The first thing that he did was offer a solemn sacrifice to God –- "1,000 holocausts," the Bible says. Then the Lord appeared to him in a vision at night and promised him to grant him what he asked for in prayer. And here we see the greatness of Solomon's soul: he did not ask for a long life, nor riches, nor the elimination of his enemies; instead he said to the Lord: "Grant a docile heart to your servant that he might know how to render justice to his people and know how to distinguish good from evil" (1 Kings 3:9). And the Lord heard him, so that Solomon became celebrated in all the world for his wisdom and his just judgments.

Solomon asked God for "a docile heart." What does this expression mean? We know that in the Bible the "heart" does not only mean a part of the body, but the center of the person, the seat of his intentions and his judgments. We might say that it is the conscience. "Docile heart" therefore means a conscience that knows how to listen, which is sensitive to the voice of truth, and because of this it is able to discern good from evil. In the case of Solomon, the request is guided by the responsibility of leading a nation, Israel, the people through whom God had chosen to manifest his plan of salvation to the world. For this reason the king of Israel must seek to be in harmony with God, listening to his Word, to lead his people in the ways of the Lord, the ways of justice and peace.

But Solomon's example is valid for every man. Each of us has a conscience to be in a certain sense "king," that is, to exercise the great human dignity of acting according to a properly formed conscience, doing good and avoiding evil. Moral conscience presupposes the capacity to hear the voice of truth, to be docile to its instructions. Persons who are called to the office of ruling of course have a further responsibility, and therefore -- as Solomon says -- have even more need of God. But each person has his own part to perform in the concrete situation in which he finds himself. An erroneous mentality suggests that we ask God for nice things and privileged situations; in fact, the true quality of our life and social existence depends on each person's properly formed conscience, on the capacity of each and every person to recognize the good, separating it from evil, and to attempt patiently to realize it.

So, let us ask for the help of the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Her "heart" is perfectly "docile" to the Lord's will. Although she is a humble and simple person, Mary is a queen in the eyes of God, and as such we venerate her. May the Holy Virgin help us also to form, with God's grace, a conscience always open to the truth and sensitive to justice, to serve the Kingdom of God.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

To our dismay once again news has arrived of death and violence. We all experience a deep sorrow for the grave terroristic acts that occurred on Friday in Norway. Let us pray for the victims, for the wounded and for their loved ones. To all I wish to repeat the urgent call to abandon the way of hate forever and to flee from the logic of evil.

[In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, the Lord urges us to see the Kingdom of God as the most important thing in our lives, a treasure which will last to life eternal. May we welcome Christ ever more fully into our hearts and allow his grace to transform our lives. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the joy and peace of God's heavenly Kingdom!

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Our Good and Great Father
"Where He Is Not, There Can Be No Good"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those who had gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel parables are brief narratives that Jesus uses to proclaim the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. Using images and situations of daily life, the Lord "wishes to indicate the true foundation of everything. He shows us ... the God who acts, who enters our life and wants to take us by the hand" (Gesu di Nazaret, I, Milan, 2007, 229).

With these reflections, the divine Teacher invites us to recognize first of all the primacy of God the Father: Where he is not, there can be no good. He is a decisive priority for everything. Kingdom of Heaven means, in fact, lordship of God, and that means that his will must be assumed as the guiding criterion of our existence.

The subject contained in this Sunday's Gospel is precisely the Kingdom of Heaven. "Heaven" should not be understood only in the sense of some height that is above us, because this infinite space also has the form of man's interiority. Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a field of wheat, to make us understand that within us is sown something small and hidden, which, nevertheless, has an unrestrainable vital force. Despite all the obstacles, the seed will develop and the fruit will mature. This fruit will only be good if the terrain of life has been cultivated according to the divine will. Because of this, in the parable of the good seed and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30,) Jesus warns us that, after the owner planted the seed, "while all were sleeping," "his enemy" came and sowed weeds. This means that we must be ready to guard the grace received on the day of our baptism, continuing to nourish faith in the Lord, which prevents evil from taking root. Commenting on this parable, St. Augustine observed that "many at first are weeds and then become good seed" and he added: "if the former, when they were evil, were not endured with patience, they would not have attained the praiseworthy change" (Quaest. septend. in Ev. sec. Matth., 12, 4:PL 35, 1371).

Dear friends, the Book of Wisdom -- from which today's first reading draws, emphasizes this dimension of the divine being and states: "There is no god besides you who have the care of all ... For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all." (Wisdom 12:13,16). And Psalm 85 [86] confirms it: "You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you" (verse 5).

Hence, if we are children of such a great and good Father, we must seek to resemble him! This was the aim that Jesus set himself with his preaching; he said, in fact, to those who listened to him: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Let us turn with confidence to Mary, whom we invoked yesterday with the title of Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel, so that she will help us to follow Jesus faithfully, and thus live as true children of God.

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Jesus, Himself a Parable
"God Does Not Force Us to Believe in Him, But He Draws Us to Himself"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 10, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus. It was the first public Angelus address to be held this summer in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

I thank you for having come for the Angelus here in Castel Gandolfo, where I arrived a few days ago. I gladly welcome the occasion to address my cordial greetings to all the inhabitants of this dear town with wishes for a good summer.

In today's Sunday gospel (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus tells the crowd the celebrated parable of the sower. It is a passage that is in some sense "autobiographical" because it reflects the experience itself of Jesus, of his preaching: He identifies himself with the sower, who sows the good seed of the Word of God, and sees the different effects that follow according to the type of reception that is given to the proclamation. There are those who listen superficially but do not accept it; there are those who take it in at the moment but lack constancy and lose everything; there are those who are overcome by the worries and seductions of the world; and there are those who listen in a receptive way like good soil: Here the Word bears fruit in abundance.

But this Gospel also insists on the "method" of Jesus' preaching, that is, precisely, the use of parables. "Why do you speak to them in parables?" the disciples ask (Matthew 13:10). And Jesus answers by making a distinction between them and the crowd: To the disciples, that is, to those who have already decided for him, he can speak openly of the Kingdom of Heaven; but to others he must speak in parables, precisely to awaken the decision, the conversion of the heart; parables, in fact, by their nature require an effort at interpretation, they engage one's reason but also freedom.

St. John Chrysostom explains: "Jesus pronounced these words with the intention of drawing his listeners to him and to call them, assuring them that if they turn to him, he will heal them (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 45, 1-20). Ultimately, the true "Parable" of God is Jesus himself, his Person who, through the sign of humanity at the same time conceals and reveals the divinity. In this way God does not force us to believe in him, but he draws us to himself with the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son: love, in fact, always respects freedom.

Dear friends, tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of St. Benedict, abbot and patron saint of Europe. In light of this Gospel we look to him as a master of listening to the Word of God, a deep and persevering listening. We must always learn from the great patriarch of Western monasticism to give God the place that belongs to him, the first place, offering him, with morning and evening prayer, our daily activities. May the Virgin Mary help us by her example to be "good soil" where the seed of the word might bear fruit.

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On the Yoke of Christ
"The Force of Truth ... Is What Can Ensure a Future Worthy of Man"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 3, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In today's Gospel the Lord Jesus repeats to us those words we know well, but which always move us: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Matthew 11:28-30). When Jesus went about the roads of Galilee proclaiming the Kingdom of God and curing many sick, he felt compassion for the crowds "because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd" (cf. Matthew 9:35-36).

That gaze of Jesus seems to extend to today, to our world. Even today it rests on so many people oppressed by difficult conditions of life, but also deprived of valid points of reference to find a meaning and aim to their existence. Many of the weak are found in the poorest countries, tested by poverty; and even in the richest countries there are so many dissatisfied men and women, in fact sick with depression. Then we think of the numerous dispersed peoples and refugees, and all those who emigrate putting their own life at risk. Christ's look pauses on all these people, rather on each one of these children of the Father who is in Heaven and repeats: "Come to me, all you ..."

Jesus promises to give all "rest," but he puts a condition: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart." What is this "yoke," which instead of weighing is light, and instead of crushing lifts? The "yoke" of Christ is the law of love, it is his commandment, which he left to his disciples (cf. John 13:34; 15:12). The true remedy for the wounds of humanity -- whether they are material, such as hunger and injustice, or psychological and moral, caused by a false sense of well being -- is a rule of life based on fraternal love, which has its source in the love of God.

It is therefore necessary to abandon the path of arrogance and violence that is used to procure positions of greater power, so as to ensure success at any cost. Also, out of respect for the environment, it is necessary to give up the aggressive lifestyle that has become prevalent in the last centuries and to adopt a reasonable "meekness." But above all in human, interpersonal and social relations, the rule of respect and of nonviolence, that is, the force of truth against any abuse is what can ensure a future worthy of man.

Dear friends, yesterday we celebrated the particular liturgical memorial of Mary Most Holy praising God for her Immaculate Heart. May the Virgin help us to "learn" from Jesus' true humility, to take up with determination his light yoke, to experience interior peace and become in turn capable of consoling our brothers and sisters who continue to work hard as they travel the path of life.

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On the Eucharist as Antidote to Individualism
"Without the Eucharist the Church Simply Would Not Exist"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in Italy and other countries Corpus Domini is celebrated, the feast of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord, which he instituted with the Last Supper and which is the Church's most precious treasure. The Eucharist is like the beating heart that gives life to the whole mystical body of the Church: a social organism entirely founded on the spiritual but concrete link with Christ. As the Apostle Paul states: "Because there is one bread, we, although many, are one body: all of us in fact participate in the one bread" (1 Corinthians 10:17).

Without the Eucharist the Church simply would not exist. It is the Eucharist in fact that makes a human community a mystery of communion, able to bring God to the world and the world to God. The Holy Spirit, which transforms the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, also transforms into members of the Body of Christ those who receive it with faith, so that the Church is truly the sacrament of the unity of men with God and of men with each other.

In a culture that is ever more individualistic -- like that in which Western societies are immersed and which is spreading throughout the world -- the Eucharist constitutes a kind of "antidote," which operates in the minds and hearts of believers and continually sows in them the logic of communion, of service, of sharing, in a word, the logic of the Gospel. The first Christians, in Jerusalem, were an evident sign of this new way of life because they lived in fraternity and held all of their goods in common so that no one should be indigent (cf. Acts 2:42-47). Where did all of this come from? From the Eucharist, that is, the risen Christ, really present with his disciples and working with the power of the Holy Spirit. And in the succeeding generations, through the centuries, the Church, despite human limits and errors, continued to be a force for communion in the world. We think especially of the most difficult periods, the periods of trial: What did it mean, for example, for countries that were under the heal of totalitarian regimes to have the possibility to gather for Sunday Mass! As the ancient martyrs of Abitene proclaimed: "Sine Dominico non possumus" – without the "Dominicum," that is, the Sunday Eucharist, we cannot live. But the void produced by false freedom can be dangerous, and so communion with the Body of Christ is a medicine of the intellect and will to rediscover taste for the truth and the common good.

Dear friends, let us call upon the Virgin Mary, whom my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II defined as a "Eucharistic woman" ("Ecclesia de Eucharistia," 53-58). In her school our life too becomes fully "Eucharistic," open to God and to others, able to transform evil into good by the power of love, which fosters unity, communion, fraternity.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, today too I have the joy to announce the proclamation of some newly beatified persons. Yesterday, in Lübeck, Germany, Johannes Prassek, Eduard Müller and Hermann Lange, who were killed by the Nazis in Hamburg in 1943, were beatified. Today there will be three beatifications in Milan: Don Serafino Morazzone, an exemplary parish priest in Lecchese, who lived in the 18th and 19th centuries; Father Clement Vismara, heroic PIME missionary in Burma; and Enrichetta Alfieri, a Sister of Charity, called the "angel" of the Milanese prison of San Vittore. We praise the Lord for these luminous witnesses to the Gospel!

In Italy on this Sunday that precedes the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul we celebrate the Day for the Pope's Charity. I would like to thank warmly all those who, with prayer and donations, offer their support to my apostolic and charitable ministry. Thank you! May the Lord give you recompense!

[In English he said:]

I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, particularly the group from Saint Fidelis Parish in Toronto. In many places today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. May our hearts rejoice in the great gift of Jesus, the Bread of Life, who has given himself for us and has come to nourish us. As we open our hearts to others and walk the path of life, may he always sustain and guide us. God bless you all!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Happy Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. I wish you all a good Sunday!

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Papal Address to Association of Sts. Peter and Paul
"Fidelity Is needed! We Live in a Society That Has Lost This Value"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear friends of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul,

I greet you with joy and affection! I am glad to meet with you while you are gathered for the occasion of the 40th anniversary of your founding: a happy moment that invites thanksgiving, to the Lord first of all, and to the beloved Servant of God Paul VI, who did so much to renovate the environment of the Vatican according to contemporary exigencies. I greet your president in particular, Dr. Calvino Gasparini, and I thank him for his courteous words; I greet the spiritual assistant, Monsignor Joseph Murphy, the other officials and all the members of the Association, as well as the former assistants, among whom is Cardinal Coppa, who honors us with his presence, and Cardinal Bertone, who as a young priest was a formator for the Palatine Guards of the time. At the altar of the Lord and the tomb of St. Peter in this moment we especially remember all of those who in these 40 years have led the Association and those who were dedicated members. May the Lord grant the peace and beatitude of his Kingdom to those among them who have left this world.

In this meeting with you in my heart the sentiment of gratitude dominates, and it is directed to you for the service that you offer, above all for the love and the spirit of faith with which you carry it out. You dedicate part of your time -- harmonizing it with family duties, and often at the expense of your leisure -- to coming to the Vatican to help with the good order of various celebrations. Furthermore, you undertake various charitable projects in collaboration with the Figlie della Carità Sisters and the Missionaries of Charity. Such efforts require a profound motivation, which must always be renewed by an intense spiritual life. To help others to pray, we must have our heart turned toward God; to recall them to respect for holy places and holy things, it is necessary for us to have in us the Christian sense of the sacred; to help our neighbor with true Christian love, we must have a humble soul and the eyes of faith. Your attitude, often without words, constitutes an indication, an example, a reminder, and as such also has an educational value.

Your personal formation is naturally a presupposition for all of this; and I would like to tell you that precisely because of this, as for everything that you do, I am especially grateful. The Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, like every authentic ecclesial association, pays special attention, first of all, to the formation of its members, never as a substitute or alternative to parishes, but always in a complementary way with respect to them. Thus, I am glad that you are well inserted in your parish communities and that you educate your children in the meaning of the parish. At the same time I am pleased that the Association is in the appropriate measure demanding in planning specific periods of formation for those who desire to be effective members and regularly offers opportune moments to support perseverance. A special thought goes out precisely to those who pronounced the solemn promise of fidelity this morning; I wish them the joy of feeling like disciples of Christ in the Church, and I exhort them to give a valid witness to the Gospel in every sphere of their life. Again from this same perspective, I supported from the beginning the project of launching a youth component. I greet the young people with special affection, and I encourage them to follow the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, loving God with their whole heart, tasting the beauty of Christian friendship and serving Christ with great discretion in our poorest brothers.

Dear friends, I also thank you for the congratulations, and above all for the prayers, on the occasion of my 60th anniversary of priesthood. The gift that you gave me, a beautiful chasuble, is a reminder for me that I am always first of all a priest of Christ, and it also invites me to remember you when I celebrate the redemptive Sacrifice. I thank you from my heart!

Finally, I would like to entrust all of you to the Virgin Mary. I know that in your Association she is venerated with the title of "Virgo Fidelis." Today more than ever fidelity is needed! We live in a society that has lost this value. Change, "mobility," "flexibility," are exalted for economic and organization reasons that are sometimes legitimate. But the quality of a human relationship is seen in fidelity! Sacred Scripture shows us that God is faithful. With his grace and Mary's help, may you be faithful to Christ and to the Church, ready to endure with humility and patience the price that this carries. May the Virgo Fidelis obtain peace for your families and that authentic Christian vocations be born in them to marriage, the priesthood and the consecrated life. For this I assure you a special remembrance in my prayer, while I bless all of you and all of your loved ones from my heart.

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On World Refugee Day
"Guarantee a Welcome and Dignified Living Conditions for Refugees"

SERRAVALLE, San Marino, JUNE 19, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today in Italian and French before praying the Marian prayer of the Angelus after celebrating Mass in the Olympic Stadium of Serravalle at the beginning of his one-day trip to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro.

* * *

[In Italian, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we conclude this celebration, the midday hour invites us to turn in prayer to the Virgin Mary. Also in this land, our Most Holy Mother is venerated in various shrines, ancient and modern. To her I entrust all of you and the whole Sammarinese and Montefeltrina population, in a particular way persons suffering in body and spirit. At this moment I address a special thought of gratitude to all those who cooperated in the preparation and organization of my visit. My heartfelt thank you!

[In French, he said:]

I am happy to recall that today in Dax, France, Sister Marguerite Rutan, Daughter of Charity, has been proclaimed blessed. In the second half of the 18th century she worked with great commitment in the hospital in Dax, but in the tragic persecution following the Revolution, she was sentenced to death for her Catholic faith and fidelity to the Church.

I participate spiritually in the joy of the Daughters of Charity and of all the faithful who, in Dax, are taking part in the beatification of Sister Marguerite Rutan, luminous witness of the love of Christ for the poor.

[In Italian, he said:]

Finally, I wish to remind that tomorrow is World Refugee Day. On this occasion, this year we mark the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the international convention to protect those who are persecuted and forced to flee their own countries. I urge civil authorities and all people of good will to guarantee a welcome and dignified living conditions for refugees, until they can freely and safely return to their homeland.

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The Church's Baptism Day
"The Breath of the Holy Spirit Fills the Universe"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 12, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Solemnity of Pentecost that we are celebrating today concludes the liturgical season of Easter. In effect, the paschal mystery -- the passion, death and resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven -- finds its fulfillment in the powerful effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered together with Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and the other disciples. It was the "baptism of the Church," a baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5).

As recounted by the Acts of the Apostles, on the morning of Pentecost, a roaring, as of wind, rolled through the cenacle and upon each of the disciples a tongue like fire descended (cf. Acts 2:2-3). St. Gregory the Great comments: "Today the Holy Spirit has descended with a sudden sound upon the disciples and within his love has transformed the minds of beings of flesh, and while tongues of fire appeared without, hearts became enflamed within so that, receiving God in the vision of fire, they were ardent with love" (Hom. in Evang. XXX, 1: CCL 141, 256).

God's voice divinized the human language of the Apostles, who became able to proclaim the one divine Word polyphonically. The breath of the Holy Spirit fills the universe, generates faith, brings truth, preparing unity among the nations. "At that sound the crowd came together and was disturbed, for each one heard in his own language" of the "great deeds of God" (Acts 2: 6, 11).

Blessed Antonio Rosmini explains that "on the day of Christian Pentecost God promulgated … his law of love, writing with the Holy Spirit, not on tablets of stone but in the hearts of the Apostles, and through the Apostles communicated it then to the whole Church" ("Catechismo disposto secondo l'ordine delle idée," no. 737, Torino, 1863). The Holy Spirit, "who is the Lord and giver life" -- as we recite in the Creed -- is joined to the Father through the Son and completes the revelation of the Most Holy Trinity. He comes from God as the breath of his mouth and has the power to sanctify, to abolish divisions, to resolve the confusion wrought by sin. He, incorporeal and immaterial, bestows the divine goods, assisting living beings, so they act in conformity with the good. As intelligible Light he gives meaning to prayer, he gives vigor to the evangelizing mission, he makes the hearts of those who hear the glad tidings burn, he inspires Christian art and liturgical melody.

Dear friends, the Holy Spirit, who creates faith in us in the moment of our baptism, allows us to live as children of God, conscious and obliging, according to the image of the Only Begotten Son. The power to remit sins is a gift of the Holy Spirit too; in fact, appearing to the Apostles on Easter night, Jesus breathes upon them and says: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive shall be forgiven" (John 20:23).

To the Virgin Mary, temple of the Holy Spirit, we entrust the Church, that she might always live according to Jesus Christ, his Word, and his commandments, and that through the perennial action of the Spirit Paraclete she might proclaim to all that "Jesus is Lord" (1 Corinthians 12:3).

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, I am happy to recall that tomorrow in Dresden, Germany, Alois Andritzki, priest and martyr, who was killed by the National Socialists in 1943 at the age of 28, will be proclaimed blessed. Let us praise the Lord for this heroic witness of the faith, who joins the ranks of those who gave their lives in the name of Christ in the concentration camps.

This day of Pentecost I would like to entrust to your intercession the cause of peace in the world. May the Holy Spirit inspire courageous proposals for peace and support the effort to advance it, that dialogue might prevail over arms and respect for man's dignity overcome party interests. May the Spirit, who is the bond of communion, rectify hearts twisted by egoism and help the human family to rediscover and carefully safeguard its fundamental unity.

The day after tomorrow, June 14, is World Blood Donor Day -- millions of persons who in a silent way contribute to the help of brothers in difficulties. To all blood donors I address a cordial greeting and invite young people to follow their example.

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Regina Caeli prayer. My particular greeting goes to the group of ringers from the United States. On this Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Let us pray that we may be confirmed in the grace of our Baptism and share ever more actively in the Church's mission of proclaiming the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the Holy Spirit's gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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The Joy the Gospel Brings
"It Is Possible for Humanity to Know True Joy"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles states that after a first violent persecution, the Christian community of Jerusalem, except for the Apostles, spread to the surrounding areas. Philip, one of the deacons, arrived in a city of Samaria. There he preached the Risen Christ, and his proclamation was supported by numerous healings, so that the outcome of the episode was very positive: "There was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:8).

We are deeply impressed again and again by this expression, which in essence communicates a sense of hope, as if saying: It is possible! It is possible for humanity to know true joy, because wherever the Gospel arrives, life flourishes, just as an arid terrain that, irrigated by rain, is immediately verdant.

With the strength of the Holy Spirit, Philip and the other disciples accomplished in the villages of Palestine what Jesus had done: They preached the Good News and worked miraculous signs. It was the Lord who acted through them. As Jesus proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, so the disciples proclaimed the Risen Jesus, professing that he is the Christ, the Son of God, baptizing in his name and driving out every illness from the body and the spirit.

"There was great joy in that city." Reading this passage, one thinks spontaneously of the healing power of the Gospel, which in the course of the centuries has "irrigated" so many populations, like a beneficial river. Some great men and women saints took hope and peace to whole cities -- we think of Charles Borromeo in Milan at the time of the plague; of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and of so many missionaries, whose names are known by God, who have given their lives to take the proclamation of Christ and to make profound joy flower among men. While the powerful of this world sought to conquer new territories for political and economic interests, Christ's messengers went everywhere for the purpose of taking Christ to men and men to Christ, knowing that he alone can give true liberty and eternal life.

Also today the vocation of the Church is evangelization: whether to populations which have not yet been "irrigated" by the living water of the Gospel, or those that, though having ancient Christian roots, are in need of new sap to bear new fruits, and rediscover the beauty and joy of the faith.

Dear friends, Blessed John Paul II was a great missionary, as an exhibition on display now in Rome shows. He re-launched the mission ad gentes and, at the same time, promoted the new evangelization. Let us entrust both to the intercession of Mary Most Holy. May Christ's Mother accompany the proclamation of the Gospel always and everywhere, so that the spaces where men rediscover the joy of living as children of God will multiply and spread in the world.

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the people in various languages. In Polish, he said:]

I address my greeting to all the Poles. Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, Primate of the Millennium. Invoking the gift of his beatification, let us learn from him total abandonment to the Mother of God. May his trust expressed in the words: "I have put everything in Mary" be for us a particular model. We recall this at the end of the month of May dedicated in a particular way to Our Lady. I bless you from my heart.

[In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims at today’s Regina Cæli, especially those from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. In the Gospel today, our Lord declares: "I will not leave you orphans", promising that the gift of the Holy Spirit will make us adopted children of God. Let us pray that we may be faithful to that gift and live fully the new life that Christ offers us. May God bless you all!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Way, the Truth and the Life
"To Proclaim Jesus Christ ... Is the Main Task of the Church

VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel of this Sunday, the Fifth of Easter, proposes a twofold commandment on faith: to believe in God and to believe in Jesus. In fact, the Lord said to his disciples: "Believe in God and believe also in me" (John 14:1). They are not two separate acts, but just one act of faith, full adherence to the salvation wrought by God the Father through his Only-begotten Son.

The New Testament put an end to the Father's invisibility. God has shown his face, as Jesus' answer to the Apostle Philip confirms: "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). With his incarnation, death and resurrection, the Son of God has freed us from the slavery of sin to give us the freedom of the children of God and has shown us the face of God, which is love: God can be seen, he is visible in Christ.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote: "We must not distance ourselves from what constitutes all our good and our remedy, that is, the most holy humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Interior Castle, 7, 6: "Opere Complete," Milan, 1998, 1001). Therefore, only by believing in Christ, by remaining united to him, the disciples, among whom we also are, can continue their permanent action in history: "Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do" (John 14:12).

Faith in Jesus means to follow him daily, in the simple actions that make up our day. "It is part of the mystery of God that he acts so gently, that he only gradually builds up his history within the great history of mankind; that he becomes man and so can be overlooked by his contemporaries and by the decisive forces within history; that he suffers and dies and that, having risen again, he chooses to come to mankind only through the faith of the disciples to whom he reveals himself; that he continues to knock gently at the doors of our hearts and slowly opens our eyes if we open our doors to him" (Jesus of Nazareth II, 2011, 276).

St. Augustine says that "it was necessary for Jesus to say: 'I am the way, the truth and the life' (John 14:6) because once the way was known, it remained to know the goal" (Tractatus in Ioh,, 69, 2: CCL 36, 500), and the goal is the Father. For Christians, for each one of us, hence, the way to the Father is to allow ourselves to the guided by Jesus, by his word of truth, and to receive the gift of his life. Let us make our own St. Bonaventure's invitation: "Open, therefore, your eyes, lend your spiritual ear, open your lips and dispose your heart, so that you will be able to see, hear, praise, love, venerate, glorify, honor your God in all creatures" ("Itinerarium mentis in Deum," I. 15).

Dear friends, the commitment to proclaim Jesus Christ, "the way, the truth and the life" (John14:6), is the main task of the Church. Let us invoke the Virgin Mary so that she will always assist the pastors and those who in the different ministries to proclaim the happy message of salvation, so that the Word of God is diffused and the number of disciples multiplied (cf. Acts 6:7).

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors who join us for this Regina Caeli prayer. In a special way I greet the participants in the leadership training course offered by the St. Egidio community, assuring them of my prayers for their efforts to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor and needy in their native countries. Also in these days the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation, organized by the World Council of Churches, is meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. The Convention is the culmination of a decade-long programme aimed at combating all forms of violence. Let us join in prayer for this noble intention, and recommit ourselves to eliminating violence in families, in society and in the international community. Dear friends, in the joy of this Easter season, may we be strengthened by the Risen Lord to follow him faithfully and to share in his life. Upon you and your families I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I address my cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular to the numerous candidates for Confirmation of the diocese of Genoa, led by cardinal Bagnasco. A thought then goes to the large group of the Pro-Life Movement: dear friends, I congratulate you in particular for the commitment with which you help women who face difficult pregnancies, engaged couples and spouses who desire responsible procreation; thus you work concretely for the culture of life. I pray to the Lord that, thanks also to your contribution, the "yes to life" will be a motive of unity in Italy and in every country of the world. I bless the children accompanied by UNITALSI, who overcoming the hardship of illness make themselves witnesses of peace. I encourage the sick and volunteers present on the occasion of the National Week of Multiple Sclerosis. I greet the members of the Teresian Institution on the centenary of the Association; the faithful from Saiano, from Montegranaro and from some parishes of Rome; the schoolchildren of Verona and the youngsters of Torano Nuovo. I wish all a good Sunday.

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On Workers for the Lord's Harvest
"There Will Always Be a Need for Shepherds Who Announce the Word"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Easter presents us with one of the most beautiful images that, from the first centuries of the Church, has portrayed the Lord Jesus: that of the Good Shepherd. St. John’s Gospel, in the 10th chapter, describes to us the particular traits of the relationship between Christ the Shepherd and his flock, a relationship that is so close that no one can ever steal the sheep from his hands. The sheep, in fact, are united to him by a bond of love and mutual knowledge, which guarantees them the incommensurable gift of eternal life. Also, the attitude of the flock toward the Good Shepherd, Christ, is presented by the evangelist with two specific verbs: listening and following. These terms designate the fundamental characteristics of those who live as followers of the Lord. First of all, listening to his word from which faith is born and nourished. Only those who are attentive to the Lord’s voice are able to determine by their own conscience the right choices to act according to God. From listening, then, is derived the following of Jesus: we act as disciples after we have listened and internalized the Master’s teaching, to live it daily.

On this Sunday it is natural to remember the Shepherds of the Church of God, and those who are being formed to become Shepherds. I therefore invite you to say a special prayer for bishops -- including the Bishop of Rome! -- for parish priests, for all those who have a responsibility in leading the flock of Christ, that they might be faithful and wise in carrying out their office. In particular, let us pray for vocations to the priesthood on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, that authentic workers for the Lord’s harvest never be lacking.

Seventy years ago Venerable Pius XII instituted the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations. The happy intuition of my predecessor was founded on the conviction that vocations grow and mature in the particular Churches, facilitated by healthy family contexts and strengthened by the spirit of faith, charity and piety. In my message for this day I stressed that a vocation is followed when we leave behind “our will that is closed in itself and our idea of self-actualization, to immerse ourselves in another will, God’s, letting ourselves be guided by it.” In this time too when the Lord’s voice risks being submerged by so many other voices, every ecclesial community is called to promote and safeguard vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Men, in fact, always have need of God, even in our technological world, and there will always be a need for Shepherds who announce the Word and help us to meet the Lord in the sacraments.

Dear brothers and sisters, reinvigorated by Easter joy and faith in the Risen Christ, let us entrust our proposals and our intentions to the Virgin Mary, Mother of every vocation, that with her intercession she awaken and support numerous holy vocations in service to the Church and the world.

[Before praying the Regina Caeli with the faithful, the Holy Father also made the following remarks:]

I continue to follow the armed conflict in Libya with great attention. This conflict has caused a great number of victims and suffering above all among the civilian population. I renew a pressing call that the path of negotiation and dialogue prevail over that of violence, with the help of international organizations that are seeking a solution to the crisis. I assure, furthermore, my prayerful and heartfelt participation in the local Church’s undertaking to help the population, in particular through consecrated persons present in the hospitals.

My thoughts also turn to Syria, where it is urgent that a coexistence marked by concord and unity be restored. I ask God that there be no more bloodshed in that homeland of great religions and civilization, and I invite the authorities and all citizens to stop at nothing in seeking the common good and in accepting the legitimate aspirations for a future of peace and stability.

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, the beatification of Pope John Paul II had, as you know, a global impact. There are other exemplary witnesses of Christ, much less known, that the Church proposes with joy for the veneration of the faithful. Today in Würzburg, Germany, Georg Häfner, a diocesan priest who died in the concentration camp at Dachau is being proclaimed blessed. And last Saturday at Pozzuoli another priest was beatified, Giustino Maria Russolillo, the founder of the Society of the Divine Vocation. We thank the Lord that he does not allow the Church to do without holy priests!

[In English he said:]

I greet with joy the English-speaking visitors gathered here today, and I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome will strengthen your faith and your love for the Lord Jesus. Today we pray especially for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, asking Christ our Lord to send shepherds to care for his flock, so that God’s people may have life in abundance. Upon all of you I invoke the peace and joy of the Risen Lord!

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your presence.

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The Mother, Present With the Son
"If We Follow Her ... the Virgin Will Lead Us to Him"

VENICE, Italy, MAY 8, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli. The Pope was in Venice for a two-day trip to the region.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

At the end of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, we turn our gaze to Mary, Regina Caeli. With the dawn of Easter she became the Mother of the Risen One and her union with him is so profound that there where the Son is present, the Mother cannot fail to be present. In these beautiful surroundings, gifts and signs of the beauty of God, how many shrines, churches and chapels are dedicated to Mary! In her the luminous face of Christ is reflected. If we follow her with docility, the Virgin will lead us to him.

In these days of the Easter season let us allow ourselves to be conquered by the risen Christ. In him the new world of love and peace constitutes the profound aspiration of every human heart. May the Lord grant to you the inhabitants of these lands rich with a long Christian history, to live the Gospel on the model of the nascent Church, in which “the multitude of those who had come to the faith were of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32).

Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who supported the first witnesses of her Son in preaching the Good News, that she might also today support the apostolic efforts of priests; make the witness of those in religious life fruitful; animate the daily work of parents in the first transmission of the faith to their children; illuminate the path of young people so that they might walk confidently in the way traced by their fathers; fill the hearts of the elderly with hope; comfort the sick and all of the suffering with her nearness; assist the work of numerous laypeople who actively collaborate in the new evangelization, in parishes, in associations, such as Catholic Action, which is so deeply rooted and present in these lands; in the movements, which, in the variety of their charisms and their action, are a sign of the richness of the ecclesial fabric – I have in mind such groups as Focolare, Communion and Liberation and the Neocatechumenal Way, to mention but a few. I encourage everyone to work with the true spirit of communion in this great vineyard in which the Lord has called us to work. Mary, Mother of the Risen One and of the Church, pray for us!

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On Easter Monday
"The Lord’s Resurrection Marks the Renewal of Our Human Condition"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 29, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Easter Monday, April 25, before praying the Regina Caeli in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Surrexit Dominus vere! Alleluja! The Lord’s Resurrection marks the renewal of our human condition. Christ triumphed over death, caused by our sin, and restores us to immortal life. This event gave rise to the whole of the Church’s life and to the very existence of Christians.

On this day, Easter Monday, we read in the first missionary discourse of the nascent Church: "This Jesus", the Apostle Peter proclaimed, "God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2:32-33).

One of the characteristic signs of faith in the Resurrection is the greeting among Christians during Eastertide, inspired by the ancient liturgical hymn: "Christ is risen! / He is truly risen!". It is a profession of faith and a commitment of life, as it was for the women described in Matthew’s Gospel: "And behold, Jesus met them and said: ‘Hail!’. And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me’" (28: 9-10).

"The whole Church", the Servant of God Paul VI wrote, "receives the mission to evangelize, and the work of each individual member is important for the whole…. She remains as a sign -- simultaneously obscure and luminous -- of a new presence of Jesus, of his departure and of his permanent presence. She prolongs and continues him" (Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi, 8 December 1975, n. 15.

How can we encounter the Lord and increasingly become his authentic witnesses? St Maximus of Turin stated: "Anyone who wishes to reach the Saviour must first, in his own faith, seat him at the right hand of the Divinity, and place him with heartfelt conviction in Heaven" (Sermon 39 a, 3: CCL 23, 157), in other words one must learn to focus the gaze of one’s mind and heart constantly on the heights of God, where the Risen Christ is. In this way God encounters man in prayer and adoration.

The theologian Romano Guardini noted that "adoration is not something additional, something secondary… it is a matter of the utmost importance, of feeling and of being. In adoration man recognizes what is valid in the pure, simple and holy sense" (cf. La Pasqua, Meditazioni, Brescia 1995, 62). Only if we are able to turn to God, to pray him, do we discover the deepest meaning of our life and the daily routine is illumined by the light of the Risen One.

Dear friends, today the Church in both the East and the West is celebrating St. Mark the Evangelist, a wise herald of the Word and a writer of Christ’s teaching -- as he was described in ancient times. He is also Patron of the city of Venice, where, please God, I shall make a Pastoral Visit on 7 and 8 of May. Let us now invoke the Virgin Mary, so that she may help us faithfully and joyfully carry out the mission which the Risen Lord entrusts to each one.

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The Resurrection of Lazarus
"It Is a Reality That Goes Beyond the Limits of Our Reason"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 10, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

There are only two weeks until Easter, and the biblical readings of this Sunday all speak of resurrection. They do not yet speak of Jesus' resurrection -- which will irrupt as something absolutely new -- but of our resurrection, the one to which we aspire and that Christ himself granted to us, rising from the dead. In effect, death is for us like a wall that keeps us from seeing what lies beyond; and yet our heart desires to go beyond this wall, and even if we are unable to know what it hides, we nevertheless think about it, we imagine it, we express our yearning for eternity with symbols.

To the Hebrew people, in exile far from Israel, the prophet Ezekiel announces that God will open the tombs of the deported people and bring them back to their land, to lay them to rest in peace (cf. Ezekiel 37:12-14). This ancestral aspiration of man to be buried together with his fathers is a longing for a "fatherland" that will receive him at the end of his earthly toil. This notion does not yet contain the idea of a personal resurrection from the dead, which appears only toward the end of the Old Testament, and still at the time of Jesus it was not accepted by all of the Jews. After all, even among Christians, faith in the resurrection and eternal life is often accompanied by many doubts and much confusion, because it is a reality that goes beyond the limits of our reason, and requires an act of faith. In today's Gospel -- the resurrection of Lazarus -- we hear the voice of faith speak from the lips of Martha, Lazarus' sister. In reply to Jesus who says to her: "Your brother will rise again," she says: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day" (John 11:23-24). But Jesus responds: "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he die, he will live" (John 11:25-26). Here is the novelty that breaks and goes beyond every barrier! Christ destroys the wall of death, in him there dwells the fullness of God, who is life, eternal life. For this reason death did not have power over him; and Lazarus' resurrection is the sign of his complete dominion over physical death, which before God is like a dream (cf. John 11:11).

But there is another death, which cost Christ the most difficult struggle, indeed the price of the cross: It is spiritual death, sin, which threatens to ruin the existence of every man. Christ died to defeat this death, and his resurrection is not a return to the previous life, but the opening to a new reality, a "new earth," finally reconnected to God's heaven. This is why St. Paul wrote: "If the Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you" (Romans 8:11). Dear Brothers, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, who already participates in this Resurrection, that she might help us to declare with faith: "Yes, O Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God" (John 11:27), to discover truly that he is our salvation.

[After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In English he said:]

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Lenten Angelus prayer, including those from the Cathedral School of Skara, Sweden. In today's Gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead as a sign that he himself is "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). Let us renew our faith in Christ's promises as we prepare to unite ourselves to the Church's celebration of the Paschal Mystery. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!

[In Italian he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you, have a good Sunday.

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On Laetare Sunday
"Let Us Revive in Ourselves the Gift Received in Baptism"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Lenten journey that we are embarked upon is a special time of grace during which we can experience the gift of the Lord’s benevolence in our regard. The liturgy of this Sunday, which we call “Laetare Sunday,” invites us to rejoice and be glad as the entrance antiphon of the Eucharistic celebration proclaims: “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts” (cf. Isaiah 66:10-11).

What is the profound reason for this joy? Today’s Gospel, in which Jesus heals a man blind from birth, tells us. The question that the Lord Jesus asks the man who was blind constitutes the culmination of the account: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” (John 9:35). That man recognizes the sign that Jesus works and passes from the light of the eyes to the light of faith: “I believe, Lord” (John 9:38).

It is to be noted how a simple and sincere person, in a gradual way, sets out on the journey of faith: In a first moment he meets Jesus as a “man” among others, then he considers him a “prophet,” and in the end his eyes open and he proclaims him “Lord.” In opposition to the faith of the blind man there is the hardening of the hearts of the Pharisees who do not want to accept the miracle, because they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The crowd, instead, stops to debate about what happened and remains distant and indifferent. The parents themselves of the blind man are overcome by fear of the judgment of others.

And we, what attitude do we assume toward Jesus? We too, because of the sin of Adam, are born “blind,” but in the baptismal fount we were enlightened by the grace of Christ. Sin wounded humanity, destining it to the obscurity of death, but in Christ there shines the newness of life and the goal to which we are called. In him, reinvigorated by the Holy Spirit, we receive the strength to defeat evil and do good. In fact, the Christian life is a continually conforming to Christ, the image of the new man, to attain full communion with God. The Lord Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), because in him “there shines the knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 4:6) that continues to reveal in the complex plot of history the meaning of human existence.

In the rite of baptism, the candle that is presented, lit from the great paschal candle, which is the symbol of the risen Christ, is a sign that helps us grasp what happens in the sacrament. When we let our life be illumined by the light of Christ, we experience the joy of being liberated from all that threatens our life’s complete fulfillment. In these days that prepare us for Easter let us revive in ourselves the gift received in baptism, that flame that is sometimes in danger of being extinguished. We must make it burn brighter with prayer and charity toward our neighbor.

We entrust the Lenten journey to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, that all may encounter Christ, the Savior of the World.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters, yesterday was the sixth anniversary of the death of my beloved predecessor, Venerable John Paul II. Because of his upcoming beatification, I did not celebrate the traditional Mass of suffrage for him, but I recalled him affectionately in prayer, as I think all of you did. While through the Lenten journey we prepare for the feast of Easter, we also draw near with joy to the day in which we will be able to venerate this great Pontiff and witness of Christ as Blessed, and entrust ourselves still more to his intercession.

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Christ, Weary and Thirsty
"Jesus' Weariness ... Can Be Seen as a Prelude to the Passion"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This third Sunday of Lent is marked by the celebrated dialogue of Jesus with the Samaritan woman, recounted by the Evangelist John. The woman goes every day to get water from an ancient well put there by the patriarch Jacob, and that day Jesus was sitting there, "tired from the journey" (John 4:6). St. Augustine comments: "It is not for nothing that Jesus is tired … the power of Christ created you, the weakness of Christ recreated you … With his power he created us, with his weakness he has come to find us" (In Ioh. Ev., 15, 2). Jesus' weariness, sign of his true humanity, can be seen as a prelude to the passion, with which he brought the work of our redemption to completion.

The theme of "thirst" emerges in particular in the meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well and it culminates with the cry on the cross: "I thirst" (John 19:28). Of course this thirst, like the weariness, has a physical basis. But Jesus, as Augustine continues, "had thirst of the woman's faith" (In Ioh. Ev. 15, 11), as he has for the faith of all of us. God the Father sent him to quench our thirst for eternal life, giving us his love, but asks our faith for bestowing this gift. Love's omnipotence always respects man's freedom; it knocks at his heart and awaits his answer with patience.

In the meeting with the Samaritan woman the symbol of water is prominent. It clearly alludes to the sacrament of baptism, the source of new life through faith in the grace of God. This Gospel, in fact -- as I pointed out in the catechesis on Ash Wednesday -- is part of the ancient program of preparation of the catechumens for Christian initiation, which took place in the great Vigil on Easter night. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give," Jesus says, "will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:14). This water represents the Holy Spirit, the "gift" par excellence that Jesus has come to bring us from God the Father. Whoever is reborn by the water of the Holy Spirit, that is, baptism, enters into a real relation with God, a filial relation, and can worship "in spirit and truth" (John 4:23, 24), as Jesus discloses to the Samaritan woman. Thanks to the encounter with Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, man's faith comes to its fulfillment, as an answer to God's revelation.

Each one of us can identify ourselves with the Samaritan woman: Jesus awaits us, especially during this season of Lent, to speak to our hearts, to my heart. Let us pause a moment in silence, in our room, or in a church, or in a place apart. Let us listen to the voice that says: "If you knew the gift of God." May the Virgin Mary help us not to miss this opportunity on which our true happiness depends.

[After the Angelus the Pope made the following appeal in Italian:]

In the face of the ever more dramatic news that is coming from Libya, my trepidation for the safety of the civil population grows as does my apprehension for the developments of the situation, which is now marked by the use of arms. In moments of great tension there is a greater urgency to the exigency to have recourse to every means at the disposal of diplomatic action and to support even the weakest signs of openness and desire for reconciliation among all the parties involved, in the pursuit of peaceful and lasting solutions. In this regard, as I lift up my prayer to the Lord for a return to concord in Libya and the whole region of North Africa, I make a concerned appeal to international organizations and to political and military leaders for the immediate launching of dialogue and a suspension of the use of weapons.

I finally address the authorities and citizens of the Middle East, where in recent days various episodes of violence have sprung up, asking that there too the way of dialogue and reconciliation be privileged in the pursuit of just and fraternal coexistence.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[He then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus speaks to the Samaritan women of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the water which wells up to eternal life in those who believe. Through our Lenten observance may all of us be renewed in the grace of our Baptism and prepare with hearts renewed to celebrate the gift of new life at Easter. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

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The Transfiguration
"It Is a Revelation of His Divinity"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I thank the Lord for having granted me the opportunity to make a retreat these past several days, and I am grateful to those who were near to me with their prayers. This Sunday, the second of Lent is called Transfiguration Sunday because the Gospel reading recounts this mystery of the life of Christ. He, after having foretold his passion to the disciples, "took Peter, James and John, the brother of James, with him to a high mountain. He was transfigured before them: his face shined like the sun and his garments became bright as light" (Matthew 17:1-2). In the realm of the senses the light of the sun is the most intense that there is in nature, but in the realm of the spirit the disciples experience, for a brief time, a splendor that is still more intense, that of Jesus' divine glory, which illumines the whole of salvation history. St. Maximus the confessor says that "the garments having become white symbolized the words of Sacred Scripture, which became clear and transparent and luminous" ("Ambiguum" 10: PG 91, 1128 B).

According to the Gospel, alongside the transfigured Jesus "there appeared Moses and Elijah who conversed with him" (Matthew 17:3); Moses and Elijah, the figure of the Law and the Prophets. It was then that Peter, in ecstasy, exclaimed: "Lord, it is good for us to be here! If you wish, I will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah" (Matthew 17:4). But St. Augustine comments saying that we have but one dwelling place: Christ. He is "the Word of God, the Word of God in the Law, the Word of God in the Prophets" (Sermo De Verbis Ev. 78,3: PL 38, 491). In fact, the Father himself proclaims: "This is my Son, the Beloved, in whom I take delight. Listen to him" (Matthew 17:5). The transfiguration did not change Jesus but it is a revelation of his divinity: "the profound interpenetration of his being with God, which then becomes pure light. In his oneness with the Father, Jesus is himself 'light from light'" ("Jesus of Nazareth," San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2008). Peter, James and John, contemplating the divinity of the Lord, are prepared to face the scandal of the cross, as is sung in an ancient hymn: "You were transfigured on the mountain and your disciples, so far as they were able, contemplated your glory, seeing you crucified, they understood that your passion was voluntary and they proclaimed to the world that you are truly the splendor of the Father" ("Kontakion eis ten Metamorphosein," in Menaia, t. 6, Roma 1901, 341).

Dear Friends, we also participate in this vision and this supernatural gift, giving room to prayer and listening to the Word of God. Moreover, especially in this time of Lent, I exhort you, as the Servant of God Paul VI writes, "to respond to the divine precept of penance with some voluntary act beyond that self-denial imposed by the burden of daily life" (apostolic Constitution "Pænitemini," Feb. 17, 1966, III, c: AAS 58 [1966], 182). We invoke the Virgin Mary so that she might help us always to listen to and follow the Lord Jesus Christ even unto the passion and the cross, to participate in his glory also.

[After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

In recent days the troubling news that has come from Libya has also stirred trepidation and fear in me. I prayed especially for this to the Lord during the week of retreat. I follow the latest events with great apprehension. I pray for those who are involved in the dramatic situation in the that country and I address a pressing call to the political and military leaders that they take the security of the citizens to heart and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. I wish to assure the people of my affectionate nearness, as I ask God that peace and concord dawn for Libya and the whole region of North Africa as soon as possible.

[In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. As we continue our journey through Lent, today at Mass we recall the Transfiguration of the Lord and how it prepared the Apostles for the coming scandal of the Cross. Strengthened by our faith in Jesus, true God and true man, may we be inspired, not scandalized, by the Cross given to our Saviour and to our fellow Christians who suffer with him throughout the world. Especially during this holy season, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings!

[In Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday!

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Sin and Evil
"God Is Determined to Deliver His Children From Slavery to Lead Them to Freedom"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

This is the first Sunday of Lent, the 40-day liturgical season in which the Church prepares spiritually for Easter. In substance it is a matter of following Jesus who turns decisively toward the cross, the culmination of this mission of salvation. If we ask: Why Lent? Why the cross? The answer, in radical terms, is this: because evil exists, or rather, sin, which according to Scripture is the deepest cause of every evil.

But this statement is not at all uncontroversial, and the word "sin" is not accepted by many, for it presupposes a religious vision of the world and of man. In effect this is correct: If we eliminate God from the horizon of the world, we cannot speak of sin. Just as when the sun is hidden the shadows disappear and the shadows appear only if the sun is there, so too the eclipse of God necessarily brings the eclipse of sin. Thus the meaning of sin -- which is a different thing from "guilt feelings" as these are understood in psychology -- is only grasped in discovering the meaning of God. The "Miserere" Psalm, attributed to David in the context of his twofold sin of adultery and homicide: "Against you," David says, turning to God, "against you alone I have sinned" (Psalm 51:6).

God's response to moral evil is to oppose sin and save the sinner. God does not tolerate evil because he is Love, Justice, Fidelity; and it is precisely because of this that he does not wish the death of the sinner, but desires that the sinner covert and live. God intervenes to save humanity: We see this in the whole history of the Jewish people, beginning with their liberation from Egypt. God is determined to deliver his children from slavery to lead them to freedom. And the worst and most profound slavery is that of sin. This is why God sent his Son into the world: to free men from the rule of Satan, "origin and cause of every sin."

He sent him in our mortal flesh so that he might become the sacrifice of expiation, dying for us upon the cross. The Devil sets himself with all of his forces against this plan of definitive and universal salvation, which is shown in particular by the Gospel of Jesus' temptations in the desert proclaimed every year on the first Sunday of Lent. In fact, entering into this liturgical season always means siding with Christ against sin, doing spiritual battle -- as an individual and as the Church -- against the evil spirit (collect prayer for Ash Wednesday).

We thus invoke the help of Mary Most Holy for the Lenten journey just begun so that it be rich with the fruit of conversion. I ask a special remembrance in prayer for me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia. This evening we will start a week-long retreat.

[After the Angelus the Pope made the following appeal in Italian:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

The images of the tragic earthquake and consequent tsunami in Japan have deeply shaken us. I would like to renew my spiritual nearness to the dear people of that country, who are dealing with the effects of these calamities with dignity and courage. I pray for the victims and for their families and for all those who are suffering because of these awful events. I encourage those who with praiseworthy readiness are preparing to bring help. We remain united in prayer. The Lord is near!

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On the Foundation of Rock
"Find Space Every Day for the Word of God"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 6, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday's Gospel presents the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, where the Lord Jesus, through the parable of the two houses -- one built on rock and the other on sand -- invites the disciples to listen to his words and to put them into practice (cf. Matthew 7:24). In this way, he situates the disciple and his journey of faith within the horizon of the covenant, constituted by the relationship that God intends with man through the gift of his Word, entering into communication with us.

The Second Vatican Council affirms: "The invisible God in his great love speaks with men as with friends and he tarries with them to invite and admit them to communion with him" ("Dei Verbum," No. 2). "In this vision every man appears as the addressee of the Word of God, engaged and called to enter into this dialogue of love with a free response" (Postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," No. 22). Jesus is the living Word of God. When he taught, the people recognized in his words divine authority itself, the felt the nearness of the Lord, his merciful love, and gave praise to God.

In every age and in every place, those who have the grace to know Jesus -- especially through the reading of the holy Gospel -- are fascinated, recognizing in his preaching, in his gestures, in his Person, the One who reveals God's true face to us, and at the same time, he reveals us to ourselves; he makes us feel the joy of being the children of the Father in heaven, indicating to us the solid basis on which to build our life.

But often man does not base his actions, his existence, on this identity, and prefers the sand of ideologies, power, success and money, thinking that in these he will find stability and the answer to the irrepressible question about happiness and fullness that he carries in his own soul.

And what do we want to build our life on? Who can really answer the restlessness of our heart? Christ is the rock of our life! He is the eternal and definitive Word who keeps us from fearing any adversity, difficulty, hardship (cf. "Verbum Domini," No. 10). May the Word of God permeate the whole of our life, thought and action, as is proclaimed by the first reading of today's liturgy, which is drawn for the Book of Deuteronomy: "Take these words of mine into your heart and soul. Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead" (11:18).

Dear brothers, I exhort you to find space every day for the Word of God, to nourish yourselves from it, to meditate on it continually. It is a precious help for distancing yourself from a superficial activism too, which might satisfy our pride for a moment, but that, in the end, leaves one empty and unsatisfied.

Let us invoke the help of the Virgin Mary, whose existence was marked by fidelity to the Word of God. We contemplate her in the Annunciation, at the foot of the cross and, now, participating in the glory of the risen Christ. Like her, we want to renew our "yes" and entrust our journey to God.

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