Category Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Do you desire eternal life?

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, on All Saints’ Day, we dwelt upon “the heavenly city, Jerusalem, our mother” (Preface of All Saints). And today, our souls turn again to these last things as we commemorate all the faithful departed, those “who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and sleep in peace.” It’s very important for us Christians to live our relationship with the dead in the truth of faith, and to look at death and the afterlife in the
death.jpglight of Revelation. Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the first communities, exhorted the faithful to “not be downhearted, like the others who have no hope.” “If in fact” he wrote, “we believe that Jesus died and rose, so also God, by means of Jesus, will gather up with him all those who have died” (1 Thes 4:13-14). It’s necessary even today to spread the message of the reality of death and eternal life — a reality particularly subject to superstitious and syncretic beliefs, for the Christian truth cannot risk itself to be mixed up with mythologies of various sorts.

In my encyclical on Christian hope, I myself investigated the mystery of eternal life. I asked: even for the men and women of today, the Christian faith is a hope that can transform and sustain their lives? Even more radically: the men and women of our time likewise desire eternal life? Or maybe their earthly existence has become their only horizon? In reality, as St Augustine already observed, everyone wants the “blessed life,” that happiness. We don’t know what it is or what it’s like, but we feel ourselves attracted toward it. This is a universal hope, shared by people of all times and places. The expression “eternal life” gives a name to this insuppressible expectation: not a progression without end, but the immersion of oneself in the ocean of infinite love, where time, the beginning and end exist no more. A fullness of life and of joy: it’s this for which we hope and await from our being with Christ.

Let us today renew our hope in eternal life, one really drawn in the death and resurrection of Christ. “I am risen and now I am always with you,” the Lord tells us, and my hand sustains you. Wherever you might fall, you will fall in my hands and I will be present even at the gate of death. Where none can accompany you any longer and where you can bring nothing, there I await you to transform for you darkness into light. Christian hope is never something merely individual, it’s always a hope for others. Our lives are deeply linked, one to another, and the good and bad each one does always impacts the rest. So the prayer of a pilgrim soul in the world can help another soul that continues purifying itself after death. And for this, today the church invites us to pray for our beloved dead and to spend time at their tombs in the cemeteries. Mary, star of hope, make stronger and more authentic our faith in eternal life and sustain our prayer of suffrage for our departed brothers.


Benedictus XVI PP


The Pope’s Prayer Intention for November 2008

Benedict XVI arms4.JPG“[B]y prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father” (CCC 2629). Petition is not the highest kind of prayer, but precisely because it is not, it is humble and honest, and thus pleasing to God. (Prayer, CIS Hart Series booklet)


The general intention

That the testimony of love offered by the saints may fortify Christians in their devotion to God and their neighbor, imitating Christ who came to serve and not to be served.


The mission intention

That the Christian communities of Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may know how to find the most suitable ways to announce Him, in full faithfulness to the Gospel, to the people of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality.


Visit the Catholic Information Service (CIS) and read or listen to the booklet on Prayer.

The Pope’s Prayer Intentions for October 2008

Bxvi adoring.jpg“Prayer is less a function and more a disposition. Indeed, prayer, as the
Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, is ‘a vital and personal relationship with the living God…the living relationship of the children of God with their Father'” (nn. 2558, 2565).




How much more vital and personal can prayer be than when it is before the Beloved?


The general intention

That the Synod of Bishops may help all those engaged in the service of the Word of God to transmit the truth of faith courageously in communion with the entire Church.


The mission intention

That in this month dedicated to the missions, every Christian community may feel the need to participate in the universal mission with prayer, sacrifice, and concrete help.

Greening the Vatican: Pope urges concern for the environment

A growing concern is the sustainability of the earth given the life we lead. Uncritical
earth cust.jpgconsumption of goods and lack of regard for sound ecological principals can be distressing and theologically bankrupt. The good stewardship of the gifts God has given is paramount. In the recent past the pope told assembled audiences that the created world is a great gift of God but it is “exposed to serious risks by life choices and lifestyles that can degrade it. In particular, environmental degradation makes poor people’s existence intolerable.” In another place Pope Benedict said, “In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way.”


Reading The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church we see a teaching that says the world’s poor, who very often live in slums, are connected to the environmental crisis. In cases of poverty and hunger, it is “virtually impossible” to avoid environmental exploitation.


The Holy Father urges us to listen to “the voice of the Earth” or risk destroying it.  Moreover he said, “We cannot simply do what we want with this Earth of ours, with what has been entrusted to us.”


Noting that the world’s religions have shown a growing interest in the environment, particularly the ramifications of climate change; look at the statements of Patriarch Bartholomew, known as the “Green Patriarch,” on environmental matters. He voices his concern and pledges support; so I would say that Orthodox Christians are ahead of Western Christians when it comes to working for a more green environment. A rather dire prediction was given by Benedict: “We must respect the interior laws of creation, of this Earth, to learn these laws and obey them if we want to survive. This obedience to the voice of the Earth is more important for our future happiness…than the desires of the moment. Our Earth is talking to us and we must listen to it and decipher its message if we want to survive.”


At the new year, Pope Benedict’s World Day of Peace message of 2008 focused two paragraphs on our responsibility for the earth today and for the future. He said,


The family needs a home, a fit environment in which to develop its proper relationships.
Mother earth.jpgFor the human family, this home is the earth, the environment that God the Creator has given us to inhabit with creativity and responsibility. We need to care for the environment: it has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion. Human beings, obviously, are of supreme worth vis-à-vis creation as a whole. Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit towards nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves. Nor must we overlook the poor, who are excluded in many cases from the goods of creation destined for all. Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow. It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances. If the protection of the environment involves costs, they should be justly distributed, taking due account of the different levels of development of various countries and the need for solidarity with future generations. Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken, decisions aimed at strengthening that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God, from whom we come and towards whom we are journeying.


In this regard, it is essential to “sense” that the earth is “our common home” and, in our stewardship and service to all, to choose the path of dialogue rather than the path of unilateral decisions. Further international agencies may need to be established in order to confront together the stewardship of this “home” of ours; more important, however, is the
children garden.jpgneed for ever greater conviction about the need for responsible cooperation. The problems looming on the horizon are complex and time is short. In order to face this situation effectively, there is a need to act in harmony. One area where there is a particular need to intensify dialogue between nations is that of the stewardship of the earth’s energy resources. The technologically advanced countries are facing two pressing needs in this regard: on the one hand, to reassess the high levels of consumption due to the present model of development, and on the other hand to invest sufficient resources in the search for alternative sources of energy and for greater energy efficiency. The emerging counties are hungry for energy, but at times this hunger is met in a way harmful to poor countries which, due to their insufficient infrastructures, including their technological infrastructures, are forced to undersell the energy resources they do possess. At times, their very political freedom is compromised by forms of protectorate or, in any case, by forms of conditioning which appear clearly humiliating.


solar.jpgYahoo carries a video story on the installation of solar panels at the Paul VI Audience Hall and Ecotality Life publishes a story on the greening of the Vatican. The point is not that we garner Catholic support for green technology, green gadgets and green gizmos for a new industry but that we take seriously the needs of the planet, our own needs and those of our brothers and sisters.


The Catholic News Service carried two stories yesterday on the eco-friendly work of the Pope:


First saplings of Vatican reforestation project to be planted

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The first saplings of the Vatican Climate Forest, a reforestation project to offset the Vatican’s carbon dioxide emissions, will be planted in November, the Vatican newspaper said. The U.S.-based Planktos Inc. and its Hungarian partner, KlimaFa Ltd., are restoring more than 600 acres of forests in Hungary along the Tisza River to offset emissions of carbon dioxide, or CO2. The two companies earn money by selling greenhouse-gas mitigation credits to individuals and businesses. Whatever carbon dioxide emissions an individual or company cannot eliminate can be offset by planting trees or buying the carbon mitigation credits of a company that plants trees or takes other action to eliminate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Planktos and KlimaFa announced in 2007 that they would donate to the Vatican enough mitigation credits to offset the Vatican’s annual CO2 production, estimated at 10,000 tons.


People must live morally, ethically, to save environment, says pope

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — The only way to put an end to environmental degradation is for people to live more simply and ethically, said Pope Benedict XVI. All of creation represents “an enormous gift from God to humanity” so people have a responsibility to “protect this treasure” and dedicate themselves “against an indiscriminate use” of the earth’s resources, he said. The pope made his comments during a Sept. 27 audience with members of the Italian Tourist Youth Center and the Belgium-based International Bureau of Social Tourism. The audience also marked World Tourism Day which is sponsored by the U.N. World Tourism Organization. It was dedicated this year to the theme “Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change.” The pope said, “Environmental degradation can only be stopped by spreading an appropriate culture of behavior that includes more sober lifestyles.”

Pope Benedict’s Homily at Albano Cathedral, Italy

Pope incensing.jpgALBANO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2008 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’ homily today at Mass in the Cathedral of Albano, Italy, near the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. The cathedral’s altar was dedicated at this Mass.
(emphasis mine)


* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!


Today’s celebration is so rich in symbols and the Word of God that has been proclaimed helps us to understand the meaning and value of what we are doing here. In the first reading we heard the story of Judas Macabeus’ purification of the Temple and the dedication of the new altar of holocausts in 164 B.C., three years after the Temple had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. 1 Macabees 4:52-59). The Feast of the Dedication, which lasted eight days, was instituted to commemorate that event. This feast, initially linked to the Temple, where the people went in procession to offer sacrifices, was also connected with the illumination of the houses, and it survived in this form after the destruction of Jerusalem.


The sacred author rightly underscores the joy that characterizes that event. But how much greater, dear brothers and sisters, must our joy be, knowing that every day on this altar, that we are preparing to consecrate, the sacrifice of Christ is offered; on this altar he will continue to immolate himself, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, for our salvation and that of the whole world. In the Eucharistic mystery, that is renewed on every altar, Jesus is really present. His is a dynamic presence, which seizes us in to make us his, to assimilate us to him; it draws us with the power of his love, bringing us out of ourselves to unite us with him, making us one with him.


Christ’s real presence makes each of us his “house,” and we all together form his Church, the spiritual edifice of which St. Peter speaks. “Come to him,” the apostle writes, “a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).


Somewhat developing this beautiful metaphor, St. Augustine observes that through faith men are like wood and stone gathered from forests and mountains for building; through baptism, catechesis and preaching they are cut, squared, and filed down; but they only become the Lord’s house when they are ordered by charity. When believers are reciprocally connected according to a determinate order, mutually and closely arranged and bound, when they are united together by charity they truly become the house of God that does not fear ruin (cf. Sermon 336).


It is therefore the love of Christ, the charity that “never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:8), the spiritual energy that unites those who participate in the same sacrifice and who nourish themselves from the same Bread broken for the salvation of the world. Is it indeed possible to be in communion with the Lord if we are not in communion with each other? How can we present ourselves divided and far from each other at God’s altar? May this altar upon which the sacrifice of the Lord will soon be renewed be for you, dear brothers and sisters, be a constant invitation to love; always draw near to it with a heart open to the love of Christ and to spreading it, to receiving and bestowing forgiveness.


In this regard the Gospel passage that was proclaimed a little while ago offers us an important lesson for life (cf. Matthew 5:23-24). It is a brief but pressing and incisive call to fraternal reconciliation, a reconciliation that is indispensable if we are to present our offering worthily at the altar; it is a reminder that takes up again a teaching that is already quite present in the preaching of the prophets. The prophets vigorously denounced the uselessness of those acts of worship that lacked the correspondent moral dispositions, especially in relation to one’s neighbor (cf. Isaiah 1:10-20; Amos 5:21-27; Micah 6:6-8). Every time that you come to the altar for the Eucharistic celebration your soul opens to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the apologies of those who have hurt you and ready, in turn, to forgive.


In the Roman liturgy the priest, having offered the bread and wine, bows toward the altar
LITURGY.JPG and prays in a low voice: “Lord, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice that we offer with humble and contrite hearts.” The priest thus prepares to enter, together with the whole assembly of the faithful, into the heart of the Eucharistic mystery, into the heart of that celestial liturgy to which the second reading, taken from the Book of Revelation, refers.

St. John presents an angel who offers “incense together with the prayers of all the saints, burning them on the altar of gold placed before the throne” of God (cf. Revelation 8:3). The altar of sacrifice becomes in a certain way the point of encounter between heaven and earth; the center, we could say, of the one Church that is at the same time heavenly and in pilgrimage on earth, where, in the midst of the persecutions of the world and God’s consolations, the Lord’s disciples proclaim his passion and death until he returns in glory (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 8). Indeed, every Eucharistic celebration already anticipates the triumph of Christ over sin and the world, and shows in mystery the splendor of the Church, “immaculate bride of the immaculate Lamb, Bride that Christ loved and gave himself up for to make her holy (cf. Lumen Gentium, No. 6).


These reflections draw our attention to the rite that we are about to perform in this cathedral of yours, which we admire today in its renewed beauty and that we rightly desire to continue to make welcoming and decorous. It is a task that involves all of you and that, in the first place, calls upon the whole diocesan community to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. Concretely, it is a matter of bearing witness with your life to your faith in Christ and the total confidence that you place in him.


It is also a matter of cultivating ecclesial communion that is, first of all, a gift, a grace, fruit of God’s free and gratuitous love, that is, something divinely efficacious, always present and working in history, beyond all contrary appearances. Ecclesial communion is, however, also a task entrusted to the care of each individual. May the Lord grant you to live an evermore convinced and active communion, in cooperation and co-responsibility at every level: among the priests, the consecrated, and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your region, among the various lay groups.


Certainly … difficulties, challenges and problems are not lacking, but the hopes and the opportunities for announcing and witnessing to God’s love are also great. May the Spirit of the risen Lord, who is also the Spirit of Pentecost, disclose his horizons of hope to you and strengthen the missionary drive in you to the vast horizons of the new evangelization. Let us pray for this, continuing our Eucharistic celebration.

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]
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory