Category Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Francis and Benedict bless statue of St Michael

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Popes Francis and Benedict at opening this morning at the blessing of a statue of Saint Michael the Archangel, near the Vatican Governorate. Pope Francis said,

“In the Vatican Gardens there are several works of art. But this, which has now been added, takes on particular importance, in its location as well as the meaning it expresses. In fact it is not just celebratory work but an invitation to reflection and prayer, that fits well into the Year of Faith. Michael – which means “Who is like God” – is the champion of the primacy of God, of His transcendence and power. Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him.”

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Windows into Heaven –Knights of Columbus Museum exhibits Russian icons

I am always looking for the way heaven touches earth. Perhaps you are, too. The image that comes to mind is the finger of God touching that of Adam in a painting done by Michelangelo. I also recall that the Incarnation is a manifestation of the beauty of heaven touching the ordinariness of earth and making our existence forever beautiful. These are some thoughts on an experience of “Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons and Treasures” at the Knights of Columbus Museum (New Haven, CT). Though the icons aren’t in their original liturgical context, they nonetheless open the heart and mind onto something and someone beautiful. The icons, for me, are more than nice pieces of Christian art; they truly are positions of grace that allow my desires to be opened anew by an experience with the Divine Majesty. There is an emphasis here on the personal relationship we have with the Trinity. To say otherwise is to neglect a piece of your humanity because the beauty of the icon does invite us to a different way of living the faith.

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I was just reading an address of Cardinal Ratzinger on beauty. An amazing act of the Spirit to allow me to see the icons and then reflect with Ratzinger on the experience. He had addressed the annual meeting organized by members of Communion and Liberation in August 2002. A paragraph sticks out:

To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth. I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

“The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty”

Rimini Meeting 2002

Take the time this summer to visit the KofC Museum and be inspired! Allow yourself to be wounded by beauty, as Ratzinger said.

The Spirit of the Liturgy from Benedict to Francis

Abbot Michael C. Zielinski OSB, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, discusses what is being taught by the most recent pontiffs. Abbot Michael notes the continuity and distinctions in celebrating of the sacred Liturgy by Popes Benedict and Pope Francis. But there are some things that Abbot Michael notes that are not liturgical per se, “the spirit” can be a bit vague some ways. Moreover, there are things that are already expected as the result of the theology and upheld by the rubrics. More reflection on what the synthesis and art of celebrating means, teaches and how it sanctifies. Here is a beginning… The Catholic News Service provides the video feed.

3 poses of Ratzinger

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The Holy Spirit makes us sons and daughters of God

This weekend we are celebrating the Pentecost. The gift of the Holy Spirit was promised by Jesus; the Spirit is what creates and sustains us. In 2006 Pope Benedict met with members of the ecclesial movements. What follows the points he made on the Holy Spirit that I thought would be good to meditate on today. Our study and prayer to and in the Spirit is not well known in the Church so I think this material appropriate for formation and evangelization. As part of the Year of Faith observances the ecclesial movements are meeting with Pope Francis today and tomorrow. Come, Holy Spirit!

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The Holy Spirit, in giving life and freedom, also gives unity. These are three gifts that are inseparable from one another. I have already gone on too long; but let me say a brief word about unity.

To understand it, we might find a sentence useful which at first seems rather to distance us from it. Jesus said to Nicodemus, who came to him with his questions by night:  “The wind blows where it wills” (Jn 3: 8). But the Spirit’s will is not arbitrary. It is the will of truth and goodness. 

Therefore, he does not blow from anywhere, now from one place and then from another; his breath is not wasted but brings us together because the truth unites and love unites.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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