Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. John Chrysostom


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Mosaic of St. John Chrysostom, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
"It can be said that John of Antioch, nicknamed "Chrysostom", that is, "golden-mouthed", because of his eloquence, is also still alive today because of his works. An anonymous copyist left in writing that "they cross the whole globe like flashes of lightening".

Chrysostom's writings also enable us, as they did the faithful of his time whom his frequent exiles deprived of his presence, to live with his books, despite his absence. This is what he himself suggested in a letter when he was in exile (To Olympias, Letter 8, 45).

He was born in about the year 349 A.D. in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other - in 403 and 407.
...
After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time. At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.

He was baptized in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371. This event marked Chrysostom's official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus. From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius. He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an "old hermit". In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on "the laws of Christ", the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul. Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided, and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation. In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7): it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.
...
Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city. He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, and became a famous preacher in his city's churches. He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.

The year 387 was John's "heroic year", that of the so-called "revolt of the statues". As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor's statues. It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor's impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion. This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers: 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant. He was not a speculative theologian.

Nevertheless, he passed on the Church's tradition and reliable doctrine in an age of theological controversies, sparked above all by Arianism or, in other words, the denial of Christ's divinity. He is therefore a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development achieved by the Church from the fourth to the fifth centuries.

His is a perfectly pastoral theology in which there is constant concern for consistency between thought expressed via words and existential experience. It is this in particular that forms the main theme of the splendid catecheses with which he prepared catechumens to receive Baptism.

On approaching death, he wrote that the value of the human being lies in "exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life" (Letter from Exile). Both these things, knowledge of truth and rectitude of life, go hand in hand: knowledge has to be expressed in life. All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of faith.

John Chrysostom was anxious to accompany his writings with the person's integral development in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions. The various phases of his growth are compared to as many seas in an immense ocean: "The first of these seas is childhood" (Homily, 81, 5 on Matthew's Gospel).

Indeed, "it is precisely at this early age that inclinations to vice or virtue are manifest". Thus, God's law must be impressed upon the soul from the outset "as on a wax tablet" (Homily 3, 1 on John's Gospel): This is indeed the most important age. We must bear in mind how fundamentally important it is that the great orientations which give man a proper outlook on life truly enter him in this first phase of life.

Chrysostom therefore recommended: "From the tenderest age, arm children with spiritual weapons and teach them to make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with their hand" (Homily, 12, 7 on First Corinthians).

Then come adolescence and youth: "Following childhood is the sea of adolescence, where violent winds blow..., for concupiscence... grows within us" (Homily 81, 5 on Matthew's Gospel).

Lastly comes engagement and marriage: "Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature person who assumes family commitments: this is the time to seek a wife" (ibid.).

He recalls the aims of marriage, enriching them - referring to virtue and temperance - with a rich fabric of personal relationships. Properly prepared spouses therefore bar the way to divorce: everything takes place with joy and children can be educated in virtue. Then when the first child is born, he is "like a bridge; the three become one flesh, because the child joins the two parts" (Homily 12, 5 on the Letter to the Colossians), and the three constitute "a family, a Church in miniature" (Homily 20, 6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).

Chrysostom's preaching usually took place during the liturgy, the "place" where the community is built with the Word and the Eucharist. The assembly gathered here expresses the one Church (Homily 8, 7 on the Letter to the Romans), the same word is addressed everywhere to all (Homily 24, 2 on First Corinthians), and Eucharistic Communion becomes an effective sign of unity (Homily 32, 7 on Matthew's Gospel).

His pastoral project was incorporated into the Church's life, in which the lay faithful assume the priestly, royal and prophetic office with Baptism. To the lay faithful he said: "Baptism will also make you king, priest and prophet" (Homily 3, 5 on Second Corinthians).

From this stems the fundamental duty of the mission, because each one is to some extent responsible for the salvation of others: "This is the principle of our social life... not to be solely concerned with ourselves!" (Homily 9, 2 on Genesis). This all takes place between two poles: the great Church and the "Church in miniature", the family, in a reciprocal relationship."
Benedict XVI, General Audience, 19 September 2007.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Benedict XVI on Saint Benedict


http://hilltopshepherd.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/st-benedict-by-dominican-artist-fra-angelico.jpg"The name Benedict also evokes the extraordinary figure of the great 'patriarch of western monasticism,' St. Benedict of Norcia, co-patron of Europe with Cyril and Methodius. The progressive expansion of the Benedictine Order which he founded exercised an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity throughout the European continent. 

For this reason, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany, and especially in Bavaria, my own land of origin; he constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a powerful call to the irrefutable Christian roots of European culture and civilization." 

Benedict XVI, 1st General Audience, April 2005.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cardinal Ratzinger on capital punishment and just war

http://theorderoftheway.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/iraq-war.jpg"Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."

(Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles - sent by Cardinal Ratzinger to Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and made public in July, 2004, n. 3)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Benedict XVI on Gregorian chant

Certainly as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that one song is as good as another. Generic improvisation or the introduction of musical genres which fail to respect the meaning of the liturgy should be avoided. … [W]hile respecting various styles and various sufficiently laudable traditions, we desire, as was requested by the Synod Fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy. … Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (Sacramentum Caritatis 42; 62)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ratzinger on bourgeois pelagianism and the pelagianism of the pious

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0c/Pelagius.jpg/220px-Pelagius.jpg"If God really does exist and if He does in fact bother about people He cannot be so fearfully demanding as He is described by the faith of the Church. Moreover, I am no worse than others; I do my duty, and the minor human weaknesses cannot really be as dangerous as all that.' This attitude is a modern version of 'acedia' - a kind of anxious vertigo that overcomes people when they consider the heights to which their divine pedigree has called them. In Nietzchean terms it is the mentality of the herd, the attitude of someone who just cannot be bothered to be great. It is the bourgeois because it is calculating and pragmatic and comfortable with what is common and ordinary, rather than aristocratic and erotic...
 
They [pious pelagians] want security, not hope. By means of a tough and rigorous system of religious practices, by means of prayers and actions, they want to create for themselves a right to blessedness. What they lack is the humility essential to any love - the humility to be able to receive what we are given over and above what we have deserved and achieved. The denial of hope in favour of security that we are faced with here rests on the inability to bear the tension of waiting for what is to come and to abandon oneself to God's goodness."

Quoted in Tracey Rowland, Ratzinger's Faith.
 
NB Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special Divine aid.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. Therese of Lisieux

“Therese received permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux at the tender age of fifteen. Her name in religion – Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face – expresses the heart of her spirituality, centered on the contemplation of God’s love revealed in the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

 In imitation of Christ, Therese sought to be little in all things and to seek the salvation of the world. Taken ill in her twenty-third year, she endured great physical suffering in union with the crucified Lord; she also experienced a painful testing of faith which she offered for the salvation of those who deny God.

By striving to embody God’s love in the smallest things of life, Therese found her vocation to be "love in the heart of the Church". May her example and prayers help us to follow "the little way of trust and love" in spiritual childhood, abandoning ourselves completely to the love of God and the good of souls.”

Benedict XVI, General Audience, 6 April 2011.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. Francis of Assisi

Fresco of St. Francis at Sacro Speco, Subiaco.
“Continuing our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the greatest figures of the Church’s history. The story of Saint Francis’ life and conversion, and his complete devotion to Christ, poor and suffering, is well known. After gathering a small group of companions and followers, including Saint Clare, Francis sought the approval of Pope Innocent III for his movement which was completely committed to the renewal of the Church in holiness and to the preaching of the Gospel.

Near the end of his life, Francis’ configuration to the Crucified Lord culminated in his reception of the stigmata at La Verna. His deep piety found expression in a great devotion to the Eucharist, as the sacrament of Christ’s real presence, and his love for creation as God’s handiwork.

The life and teaching of Saint Francis has inspired countless people to the imitation of Christ through the embrace of inward and outward poverty. May his example teach us ever greater love for the Lord and his Church, and help us to know the immense spiritual joy born of the imitation of Christ and the pursuit of holiness”.

Benedict XVI, General Audience, 27 January 2010.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Benedict XVI on Divine Mercy

 
“My next stop, at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, gave me the opportunity to stress that Divine Mercy alone illumines the mystery of man. It was here at the neighbouring convent that Sr Faustina Kowalska, contemplating the shining wounds of the Risen Christ, received a message of trust for humanity which John Paul II echoed and interpreted and which really is a central message precisely for our time:  Mercy as God's power, as a divine barrier against the evil of the world.”

Benedict XVI, General Audience, 31 May 2006.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benedict XVI on Liturgy (2)

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A session during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
“Having focused for several weeks now on prayer as taught to us in the sacred Scriptures, we turn to another precious source of prayer, namely the liturgy. The word “liturgy” in Greek means “work done by the people and for the people”.  Here, this “people” is the new People of God, brought into being by Christ, a people which does not exist by itself and which is not bound by blood, territory or country, but is brought into being through the Paschal Mystery.

The liturgy is also the “work of God”. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, it is by means of the liturgy that Christ our Redeemer and High Priest continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. This is the great marvel of the liturgy: God acts, while we are caught up in his action.

The Council began its work by discussing the liturgy, and rightly so, for the liturgy reminds us of the primacy of God.  The fundamental criterion for it is its orientation towards the Father, whose saving love culminates in the death and resurrection of his Son. It is in the liturgy that we “lift up our hearts”, opening ourselves to the word of God as we gather with our brethren in a prayer which rises within us, and which is directed to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit."

Benedict XVI, General Audience, 26 September 2012.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. Pio of Pietrelcina

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/pictures/9_23_pio2.jpg
“God never annihilates human beings but transforms them with his Spirit and orientates them to serving his plan of salvation. Padre Pio retained his own natural gifts and his own temperament, but he offered all things to God, who was able to make free use of them to extend Christ's work: to proclaim the Gospel, to forgive sins and to heal the sick in body and in mind.

Like Jesus, Padre Pio did not have to battle with earthly enemies, in radical combat, but rather with the spirit of evil (cf. Eph 6: 12). The greatest "storms" that threatened him were the assaults of the devil, from which he defended himself with 'the armour of God'

Benedict XVI, San Giovanni Rotondo, 21 June 2009.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Benedict XVI on Saint Matthew

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St. Matthew by Caravaggio
“Matthew, the author of the first of the four Gospels, was a publican – a tax-collector – and the story of his call to become an Apostle reminds us that Christ excludes no one from his friendship.

Tax-collectors were considered public sinners, and we can hear an echo of the scandal caused by the Lord’s decision to associate with such men in his declaration that he came "not to call the just but sinners"
(Mt 2:17).

This is the heart of the "good news" which Jesus came to bring: the offer of God’s grace to sinners! The parable of the publican in the Temple makes this same point: by humbly acknowledging their sins and accepting God’s mercy, even those who seem farthest from holiness can become first in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
 
Benedict XVI, General Audience, 20 August 2006.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Benedict XVI on Peace

 
 
"The effectiveness of commitment to peace depends on the concept that the world has of human life. If we want peace, we must defend life. This logic not only disqualifies war and terrorist acts but also any attempt on the life of the human being, a creature loved by God. The indifference or denial of what constitutes the true nature of man does not respect this grammar is the natural law inscribed on the human heart.
...

The task of education is to guide the maturation of the ability to make choices free and fair, that may go against prevailing opinions, fashions, political and religious ideologies. This is the price of the development of a culture of peace. Obviously, we must banish verbal or physical violence. This is always an attack on human dignity, both culprit and victim."
...

Believers today have an essential role of witness to the peace that comes from God and is a gift that is given to all the personal, family, social, political and economic life. You can not allow that evil to triumph by the passivity of good men. It would be worse to do nothing."

Benedict XVI, meeting with political leaders and civilians, Lebanon, 15 September 2012.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Benedict XVI on Ecclesia in Medio Oriente

Benedict XVI signing Ecclesia in Medio Oriente

"Your presence makes my signing of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente all the more solemn; it testifies that this document, while addressed to the universal Church, has a particular importance for the entire Middle East.

Providentially, this event takes place on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, a celebration originating in the East in 335, following the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection built over Golgotha and our Lord’s tomb by the Emperor Constantine the Great, whom you venerate as saint. A month from now we will celebrate the seventeen-hundredth anniversary of the appearance to Constantine of the Chi-Rho, radiant in the symbolic night of his unbelief and accompanied by the words: "In this sign you will conquer!" Later, Constantine signed the Edict of Milan, and gave his name to Constantinople. It seems to me that the Post-Synodal Exhortation can be read and understood in the light of this Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, and more particularly in the light of the Chi-Rho, the two first letters of the Greek word "Christos". Reading it in this way leads to renewed appreciation of the identity of each baptized person and of the Church, and is at the same time a summons to witness in and through communion. 

Are not Christian communion and witness grounded in the Paschal Mystery, in the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ? Is it not there that they find their fulfilment? There is an inseparable bond between the cross and the resurrection which Christians must never forget. Without this bond, to exalt the cross would mean to justify suffering and death, seeing them merely as our inevitable fate. For Christians, to exalt the cross means to be united to the totality of God’s unconditional love for mankind. It means making an act of faith! To exalt the cross, against the backdrop of the resurrection, means to desire to experience and to show the totality of this love. It means making an act of love! To exalt the cross means to be a committed herald of fraternal and ecclesial communion, the source of authentic Christian witness. It means making an act of hope!

In examining the present situation of the Church in the Middle East, the Synod Fathers reflected on the joys and struggles, the fears and hopes of Christ’s disciples in these lands. In this way, the entire Church was able to hear the troubled cry and see the desperate faces of many men and women who experience grave human and material difficulties, who live amid powerful tensions in fear and uncertainty, who desire to follow Christ – the One who gives meaning to their existence – yet often find themselves prevented from doing so. That is why I wanted the First Letter of Saint Peter to serve as the framework of the document. At the same time, the Church was able to admire all that is beautiful and noble in the Churches in these lands. How can we fail to thank God at every moment for all of you (cf. 1 Th 1:2; Part One of the Post-Synodal Exhortation), dear Christians of the Middle East! How can we fail to praise him for your courage and faith? How can we fail to thank him for the flame of his infinite love which you continue to keep alive and burning in these places which were the first to welcome his incarnate Son? How can we fail to praise and thank him for your efforts to build ecclesial and fraternal communion, and for the human solidarity which you constantly show to all God’s children?

Ecclesia in Medio Oriente makes it possible to rethink the present in order to look to the future with the eyes of Christ. By its biblical and pastoral orientation, its invitation to deeper spiritual and ecclesiological reflection, its call for liturgical and catechetical renewal, and its summons to dialogue, the Exhortation points out a path for rediscovering what is essential: being a follower of Christ even in difficult and sometimes painful situations which may lead to the temptation to ignore or to forget the exaltation of the cross. It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride, and unity over division. In the light of today’s Feast, and in view of a fruitful application of the Exhortation, I urge all of you to fear not, to stand firm in truth and in purity of faith. This is the language of the cross, exalted and glorious! This is the "folly" of the cross: a folly capable of changing our sufferings into a declaration of love for God and mercy for our neighbour; a folly capable of transforming those who suffer because of their faith and identity into vessels of clay ready to be filled to overflowing by divine gifts more precious than gold (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-18). This is more than simply picturesque language: it is a pressing appeal to act concretely in a way which configures us ever more fully to Christ, in a way which helps the different Churches to reflect the beauty of the first community of believers (cf. Acts 2:41-47: Part Two of the Exhortation); in a way like that of the Emperor Constantine, who could bear witness and bring Christians forth from discrimination to enable them openly and freely to live their faith in Christ crucified, dead and risen for the salvation of all.

Ecclesia in Medio Oriente provides some elements that are helpful for a personal and communal examination of conscience, and an objective evaluation of the commitment and desire for holiness of each one of Christ’s disciples. The Exhortation shows openness to authentic interreligious dialogue based on faith in the one God, the Creator. It also seeks to contribute to an ecumenism full of human, spiritual and charitable fervour, in evangelical truth and love, drawing its strength from the commandment of the risen Lord: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:19-20).

The Exhortation as a whole is meant to help each of the Lord’s disciples to live fully and to pass on faithfully to others what he or she has become by Baptism: a child of light, sharing in God’s own light, a lamp newly lit amid the troubled darkness of this world, so that the light may shine in the darkness (cf. Jn 1:4f. and 2 Cor 4:1-6). The document seeks to help purify the faith from all that disfigures it, from everything that can obscure the splendour of Christ’s light. For communion is true fidelity to Christ, and Christian witness is the radiance of the paschal mystery which gives full meaning to the cross, exalted and glorious. As his followers, "we proclaim Christ crucified … the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Cor 1:23-24; cf. Part Three of the Exhortation).

"Fear not, little flock" (Lk 12:32) and remember the promise made to Constantine: "In this sign you will conquer!" Churches of the Middle East, fear not, for the Lord is truly with you, to the close of the age! Fear not, because the universal Church walks at your side and is humanly and spiritually close to you! It is with this hope and this word of encouragement to be active heralds of the faith by your communion and witness, that on Sunday I will entrust the Post-Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente to my venerable brother Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops, and to all priests, deacons, men and women religious, the seminarians and all the lay faithful. "Be of good cheer" (Jn 16:33)! Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, the Theotókos, I invoke God’s abundant gifts upon all of you with great affection! God grant that all the peoples of the Middle East may live in peace, fraternity and religious freedom! May God bless all of you!"

Benedict XVI, Melkite Greek Basilica of Saint Paul, in Harissa, Lebanon, 14 September 2012.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Benedict XVI on Prayer

http://iconreader.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/unknown-artist-agnus-dei-lamb-of-god-basilica-dei-santi-cosma-e-damiano-roma-italy-7th-century.jpg
Agnus Dei, Basilica dei Santi Cosma e Damiano, Rome
"Christ, the Lamb, Who was immolated in the sacrifice of the cross but stands in sign of His resurrection. The Lamb, Christ, Who died and rose again, will progressively open the seals so as to reveal the plan of God, the profound meaning of history.
...
Raising our gaze to God's heaven in an unbroken relationship with Christ, ... in individual and community prayer, we learn to see things in a new way and to grasp their most authentic significance. ...

The Lamb then opens the first four seals of the scroll and the Church sees the world of which she is part; a world containing ... the evils accomplished by man, such as violence ... and injustice, ... to which must be added the evils man suffers such as death, hunger, and sickness.

In the face of these often dramatic issues the ecclesial community is invited never to lose hope, but to remain firm in the belief that the apparent omnipotence of the Evil One in fact comes up against true omnipotence, that of God.
...

(T)he power of God has entered man's history, a power capable not only of counterbalancing evil, but also of overcoming it. ... God became so close as to descend into the darkness of death and illuminate it with the splendour of divine life. He took the evil of the world upon Himself to purify it with the fire of His love.
...
How can we progress in this Christian interpretation of reality? The Book of Revelation tells us that prayer nourishes this vision of light and profound hope in each one of us and in our communities. ... The Church lives in history, she is not closed in herself but courageously faces her journey amidst difficulties and sufferings, forcefully affirming that evil does not defeat good, that darkness does not shade God's splendour. This is an important point for us too: as Christians we can never be pessimists. ... Prayer, above all, educates us to see the signs of God, His presence and His action; or rather, it educates us to become lights of goodness, spreading hope and indicating that the victory is God's.
...

At the end of the vision an angel places grains of incense in a censer then throws it upon the earth. Those grains represent our prayers and we can be sure that there is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer. No prayer is lost. ... God is not oblivious to our prayers. ... When faced with evil we often have the sensation that we can do nothing, but our prayers are in fact the first and most effective response we can give, they strengthen our daily commitment to goodness. The power of God makes our weakness strong".

Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Hall, 12 September 2012.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Benedict XVI on religion

“In his letter, Apostle James warns about the danger of a false religion. He tells Christians: 'Be of those who practice the Word, not only those who hear it. You will only be deceiving yourselves.'
...

The  purpose of religion is to live life while listening to God. By doing His Will, one lives in true freedom. If this sense is lost, then religion is reduced to secondary activities, instead of satisfying the human need to have a good relationship with God.”

Benedict XVI, Angelus, 3 September 2012

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. John the Baptist


http://forallsaints.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/saint-john-the-baptists-head.jpeg
“Today, the Church celebrates the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John, whose birth we celebrate on the twenty-fourth of June, gave himself totally to Christ, by preparing the way for him through the preaching of repentance, by leading others to him once he arrived, and by giving the ultimate sacrifice.
Dear friends, may we follow John’s example by allowing Christ to penetrate every part of our lives so that we may boldly proclaim him to the world. May God bless all of you!

In the Roman Martyrology, reference is made to a second finding of the precious relic, transported, on this occasion, in the church of San Silvestro in Rome. These little historical references help us to understand how how and deeply St. John the Baptist is venerated.”
 
Benedict XVI, General Audience, Castel Gandolfo, 29 August 2012.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Benedict XVI on Judas Iscariot

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Judas kissing Jesus
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever'. This revelation, as I have said, remained incomprehensible to them, because they understood it in a material sense.
...
The problem is that Judas did not go away, and his most serious fault was falsehood, which is the mark of the devil.” 
 
Benedict XVI, Angelus, Castel Gandolfo, 26 August 2012.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Cardinal Ratzinger on Giorgio La Pira

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Giorgio La Pira
“.. an eminent figure in politics, culture and spirituality of the last century ... La Pira worked for the cause of fraternal existence among nations ... setting an example to present day Catholics for a common effort to promote this basic good in various spheres: in society, politics, the economy, cultures and among religions.” 

Cardinal Ratzinger, meeting with the National Association of Italian Local Authorities 26 April 2004.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Benedict XVI on the Queenship of Mary

http://www.roman-catholic-saints.com/images/Queenship-of-Mary.jpg
“It (the Feast of the Queenship of Mary) was established eight days after the Assumption, to show the strong bond between the royalty of Mary and her glorification in body and soul with her son Jesus.

...
 
There is the notion that a king or a queen are people of power and riches, but these are not the riches of Jesus and Mary. The Kingdom of Christ is built on humility, service and love.
...  
May the prayers of Our Lady guide us along our pilgrimage of faith, that we may share in her Son’s victory and reign with Him in His eternal Kingdom.”

Benedict XVI, General Audience, Castel Gandolfo, 22 August 2012.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Benedict XVI on the Eucharist

Let us rediscover the beauty of the Sacrament of Eucharist, which shows us all the humility and holiness of God, who becomes small.

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.
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Jesus explains himself the image of the bread saying, that he was sent to offer his own life, and those who want to follow him are asked to join him in a deep and personal way, participating in his sacrifice of love.
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Listening to this speech at Capernaum, the crowd understood that Jesus was not a Messiah who aspired to an earthly throne. Jesus was hinting at the sacrifice of the Cross, in which he would become the Bread broken for the masses.”

Benedict XVI, Castel Gandolfo, 19 August 2012.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Father Ratzinger on the Future of the Church

http://i.imgur.com/JJt3u.jpg“From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and … will have to start from the beginning. She no longer will be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendour … Contrary to what has happened until now, she will present herself much more as a community of volunteers …
 
As a small community, she will demand much more from the initiative of each of her members, and she will also certainly acknowledge new forms of ministry and raise up proven Christians who have a calling to the priesthood. The normal care of souls will be made by smaller communities, in social groups with some affinity. …
 
This will be achieved with effort. The process of crystallisation and clarification will demand a great effort. It will make her a poor Church and a Church of the little people … All this will require time. The process will be slow and painful.” 

Joseph Ratzinger, Faith and Future (Glaube und Zukunft), 1971, pp. 76-77.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Benedict XVI on the Assumption of Mary

http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19980701.GRAPHICS/assumption.jpg“It is Mary herself who prophetically pronounces some words that lead us in this direction: 'henceforth all generations shall call me blessed "(Lk 1.48). It is a prophecy for the entire history of the Church.
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In the Assumption we see that in God there is room for man, God himself is the house with many rooms that Jesus tells us: God is man's house. Opening up to God we do not lose anything. On the contrary, our life becomes more rich and great.
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It's certain that a world away from God will not be better, but worse. Only the presence of God can ensure a good world.
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Let us entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession, that she might ask the Lord to strengthen our belief in eternal life, help us to live well and with hope the time that God gives to us – a Christian hope, which is not just nostalgia for Heaven, but living and active desire for God here in the world, a desire that makes us indefatigable pilgrims, feeding in us the courage and strength of faith, a fortitude that is at once the power of love.

Benedict XVI, Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary in the parish of San Tommaso da Villanova at Castel Gandolfo, 15 August 2012.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Benedict XVI on Don Luigi Giussani

http://communio.stblogs.org/Luigi%20Giussani5.jpg“Don Giussani undertook to reawaken in the youth the love of Christ, 'The Way, Truth and Life'. Insisting that He alone is the only way to achieve the deepest longings of the human heart and that Christ does not save us without our humanity, but through it.”
 
Benedict XVI, Audience for Communion and Liberation members, 24 March 2007.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Benedict XVI on Ecclesia semper reformanda


Benedict XVI farewell address February 28“I am helped by an expression of Romano Guardini written in the year in which the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen gentium, in his last book with a personal dedication to me, so the words of this book are particularly dear to me. Guardini said that the Church is not an institution devised and built at table, but a living reality. She lives along the course of time, evolving, like any living being, transforming herself. Yet her nature remains the same.”  

Benedict XVI, Farewell Discourse to the Cardinals, Clementine Hall, Vatican City, 28 February 2013.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Benedict XVI on temptations




"In this Year of Faith, Lent is a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as the fundamental criterion of our life and of the life of the Church. This always entails a struggle, a spiritual combat, because the spirit of evil naturally sets itself against our sanctification and seeks to make us deviate from the way of God.

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 assail our conscience, disguising themselves as suitable and efficacious, even good, proposals.

The evangelists Matthew and Luke present three temptations of Jesus, differing in part only in their order. The nucleus of these temptations always consists in using God for one's own ends, giving more importance to success or to material goods. The tempter is deceptive: he does not direct us immediately toward evil, but toward a false good, making us believe that the true realities are power and what satisfies primary needs.

In this way, God becomes secondary; he is reduced to a means, in the end he becomes unreal, no longer counts, disappears. In the final analysis, in temptations, faith is at stake, because God is at stake. In the decisive moments of life and, if we see clearly, at 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 the true Good, that which is really good?

As the Fathers of the Church teach us, temptations are part of Jesus's '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 of extreme distance from God. In this way, he is the hand that God stretched out to man, to the lost sheep, to bring him back 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).

We are not, therefore, afraid to face, we also, the combat against the spirit of evil: the important thing 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."  Benedict XVI, Angelus, 17 February 2013.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Benedict XVI on the Roman Curia

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_WPjZST8SC40/S4mmCTuwbTI/AAAAAAAA19I/OAl2I12f6Wo/s400/clerical+whispers.jpg"I would like to thank all of you and not only for this week, but for these past eight years that you have carried with me—with great skill, affection, love and faith—the weight of the Petrine ministry. This gratitude remains with me and, even if this 'exterior', 'visible' communion.

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Our spiritual closeness remains, the deep communion in prayer. We go forward with this certainty, certain of God's victory, certain of the truth of beauty and love.”

Benedict XVI, Message at the end of the spiritual exercises, 23 February 2013.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Benedict XVI on his future

"The Lord is calling me 'out to the mountain' to devote more time to prayer and meditation, but this does not mean I'm abandoning the Church. In fact, if God is asking this of me, it's precisely to continue serving the Church with the same dedication and love with which I have served so far, but in a way that's more suited for my age and strength."


Benedict XVI, Angelus, 24 February 2013.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Benedict XVI on Liturgy (1)



http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_WPjZST8SC40/TIPU3ZJFi6I/AAAAAAAA-4Q/vwxSemaStZg/s1600/cw.jpg
The Church stands and falls with the Liturgy. When the adoration of the divine Trinity declines, when the faith no longer appears in its fullness in the Liturgy of the Church, when man’s words, his thoughts, his intentions are suffocating him, then faith will have lost the place where it is expressed and where it dwells. For that reason, the true celebration of the Sacred Liturgy is the center of any renewal of the Church whatsoever.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Benedict XVI on Music



“This evening's concert has given us an idea of the  multiplicity of musical creativity and its vast harmony. Music is not just a succession of sounds-it has a rhythm, at the same time cohesion and harmony. It has its own structure and depth.
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Music is an expression of spirit, a place inside the person, created for all that is true, good and beautiful. It is no coincidence that music often accompanies our prayers. It awakens our senses and our soul when, in prayer we find God.”
 
Benedict XVI, Concert organized by Caritas and by musician Thomas Beckmann, Castel Gandolfo, 13 August, 2012.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Benedict XVI to the youth in Lebanon

Benedict XVI in Lebanon, September 2012


Dear friends,

you are living today in this part of the world which witnessed the birth of Jesus and the growth of Christianity. It is a great honour! It is also a summons to fidelity, to love of this region and, above all, to your calling to be witnesses and messengers of the joy of Christ. The faith handed down from the Apostles leads to complete freedom and joy, as the many Saints and Blesseds of this country have shown. Their message lights up the universal Church. It can light up your lives as well. Many of the Apostles and saints lived in troubled times and their faith was the source of their courage and their witness. Find in their example and intercession the inspiration and support that you need!
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You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you. She counts on you! Be young in the Church! Be young with the Church! The Church needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. All this is important and it takes time. Seek beauty and strive for goodness! Bear witness to the grandeur and the dignity of your body which "is for the Lord" (1 Cor 6:13b). Be thoughtful, upright and pure of heart! In the words of Blessed John Paul II, I say to you: "Do not be afraid! Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ!" An encounter with Jesus "gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (Deus Caritas Est, 1). In Christ you will find the strength and courage to advance along the paths of life, and to overcome difficulties and suffering. In him you will find the source of joy. Christ says to you: "Salàmi ō-tīkum" This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.
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Bring the love of Christ to everyone! How? By turning unreservedly to God the Father, who is the measure of everything that is right, true and good. Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live "rooted and built up in Christ, and established in the faith" (Col 2:7). The Year of Faith, which is about to begin, will be a time to rediscover the treasure of the faith which you received at Baptism. You can grow in knowledge and understanding of this treasure by studying the Catechism, so that your faith can be both living and lived. You will then become witnesses to others of the love of Christ. In him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which he inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. "Love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:35). This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian. This is the true revolution of love!

Christ asks you, then, to do as he did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. I know that many among you take part in various activities sponsored by parishes, schools, movements and associations. It is a fine thing to be engaged with and for others. Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! Brotherhood is a foretaste of heaven!
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Yesterday I signed the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. This letter is also addressed to you, dear young people, as it is to the entire People of God. Read it carefully and meditate upon it so as to put it into practice. To help you, I remind you of the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: "You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written in your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Cor 3:2-3). Dear friends, you too can be a living letter of Christ. This letter will not be written with pen and paper, but with the witness of your lives and your faith. In this way, with courage and enthusiasm, you will enable those around you to understand that God wants the happiness of all without distinction and that Christians are his servants and his faithful witnesses.

Young people of Lebanon, you are the hope and the future of your country. You are Lebanon, a land of welcome, of openness, with a remarkable power of adaptation. At this moment, we cannot forget those millions of individuals who make up the Lebanese diaspora and maintain solid bonds with their land of origin. Young people of Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and as your country teaches you.

I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis. It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.

I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war.

In conclusion, let us turn to Mary, the Mother of the Lord, our Lady of Lebanon. From the heights of Mount Harissa she protects and accompanies you with a mother’s love. She watches over all the Lebanese people and over the many pilgrims who come from all directions to entrust to her their joys and their sorrows! This evening, let us once more entrust to the Virgin Mary and to Blessed John Paul II, who came here before me, your own lives and the lives of all the young people of Lebanon and the countries of the region, particularly those suffering from violence or from loneliness, those in need of strength and consolation. May God bless you all! And now together, let us lift up our prayer to Mary: "A salamou á-laïki ya Mariam" (Hail Mary)

 Benedict XVI, Meeting with the youth of Lebanon, 15 September 2012

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cardinal Ratzinger on Liturgy - 1




In an interview with Raymond Arroyo (EWTN) in 2003, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger argued that:

  • the liturgy post-Vatican II was not implemented correctly;
  • there were cases where priests 'invented' things during Mass and became self-centred;
  • ad orientem could in some cases help people to understand better Mass;
  • Mass in the vernacular was positive but the main prayers should remain in Latin so that Catholics around the world felt that they belong to the same Church;
  • the Tridentine Mass was never abrogated and faithful should have better access to it, in obedience with their Bishops.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Benedict XVI on St. Dominic

"Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers.  In his life, Saint Dominic was able to combine constant prayer and zealous activity in the service of the Lord and his Church.  By his example and intercession, may all of us rediscover the importance and beauty of daily prayer, and bear joyful witness to our faith in Christ the Saviour!”. 

Benedict XVI, General Audience, Castel Gandolfo, 8 August 2012

Monday, February 18, 2013

Vatican Council II according to Benedict XVI

 Concluding remarks from the address to the priests of Rome (14 February 2013):

vatican Council ii... there was the Council of the Fathers - the true Council - but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council in and of itself, and the world perceived the Council through them, through the media. So the immediately efficiently Council that got thorough to the people, was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers evolved within the faith, it was a Council of the faith that sought the intellectus, that sought to understand and try to understand the signs of God at that moment, that tried to meet the challenge of God in this time to find the words for today and tomorrow.

So while the whole council - as I said - moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics. It was a hermeneutic of politics. The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world. There were those who sought a decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the Word for the "people of God", the power of the people, the laity. There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all ... popular sovereignty. Naturally they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help. This was the case for the liturgy: there was no interest in the liturgy as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, similar to a community activity, something profane.

 And we know that there was a trend, which was also historically based, that said: "Sacredness is a pagan thing, possibly even from the Old Testament. In the New Testament the only important thing is that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, that is, in the secular world". Sacredness ended up as profanity even in worship: worship is not worship but an act that brings people together, communal participation and thus participation as activity. And these translations, trivializing the idea of the Council, were virulent in the practice of implementing the liturgical reform, born in a vision of the Council outside of its own key vision of faith. And it was so, also in the matter of Scripture: Scripture is a book, historical, to treat historically and nothing else, and so on.

And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us. I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious. Thank you.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Benedict XVI on Faith

“In the days full of worries and problems, but also in those of rest and relaxation, the Lord invites us not forget that it's necessary to worry about the material bread and restoring forces, even more fundamental is growing in a relationship with God, strengthening our faith in Him who is the 'bread of life.”
 
“Faith is fundamental. This is not about to follow an idea, or a project, but to find Jesus as a living person and become willingly involved totally for Him and His Gospel.” 

Benedict XVI, Angelus, 5 August 2012

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Benedict XVI on Lent


http://mumbailaity.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/b_xvi_-_s-_sabina.jpgLet us live Lent as a "Eucharistic" time in which, welcoming the love of Jesus, we learn to spread it around us with every word and deed. Contemplating "him whom they have pierced" moves us in this way to open our hearts to others, recognizing the wounds inflicted upon the dignity of the human person; it moves us in particular to fight every form of contempt for life and human exploitation and to alleviate the tragedies of loneliness and abandonment of so many people. May Lent be for every Christian a renewed experience of God's love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must "re-give" to our neighbour, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need.

(Benedict XVI, Message for Lent, 2007)

Benedict XVI on St. Alphonsus de' Liguori


Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saint Alphonsus de’ Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorists, a great moral theologian and a master of prayer. Saint Alphonsus teaches us the beauty of daily prayer, in which we open our minds and hearts to the Lord’s presence and receive the grace to live wisely and well.  By his example and intercession, may you and your families come to know God’s saving love and experience his abundant blessings! (General Audience, 1 August 2012)