Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Two new Doctors of the Church: The Lord’s effective witnesses in the world

Reminding us that the Holy Spirit “continues to inspire women and men who engage in the pursuit of truth” Pope Benedict announced that on October 7, at the beginning of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he would proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church. “These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and came from different cultural backgrounds,” he said. “But the sanctity of life and depth of teaching makes them perpetually present: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into that experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitutes the horizon of permanent life and action of the Church.”

The Pope continued: “Especially in light of the project of the New Evangelization, to which the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be dedicated, and on the vigil of the Year of Faith, these two figures of saints and doctors are of considerable importance and relevance.”

Pope: live according to the Spirit of unity and truth; the beg the Spirit to guide us to objective Truth

I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.

This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing. We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superficial and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?

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Work, culture and education according to Benedict

Last week Benedict XVI spoke to people who belong to various movements in the Church that make contributions to work, culture and education. Why is my posting this important? Because I believe what the Pope has to say is crucial in following his lead in the life I lead, and I believe it is helpful for others who desire to live similarly. I am confronted –in a good way– with questions about the value of work, culture and education and the place of the Church in these sectors. As Father Giussani told us, the Church is not here to fix our problems but to offer us a lens by which we can judge the reality in front of us so that we can fix a problem. Pay close attention to what Benedict has to say:

Work is not only an instrument of individual profit, but it is a moment in which to express ones’ own skills with a spirit of service in a professional activity, be it factory work, agricultural, scientific or otherwise,” 

“Culture, voluntary service and work constitute the indivisible trinomial of the Catholic laity’s daily life, which makes belonging to Christ and the Church more real, in the private as much as in the public spheres of society.” 

The lay faithful put themselves in the game when they touch one or more of these contexts and, in the cultural service, by showing solidarity with those in need and on the job, they strive to promote human dignity.”

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Pope lunches with friends, speaks of struggle against evil

At Monday’s lunch with many of the cardinals –not all–Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the struggle he and they are engaged together: for good against evil. Not exactly a lite topic for discussion for a lunch celebrating one’s 85th birthday and 7th anniversary of election to the Chair of Saint Peter, but a point that is true and needs to be addressed.

In reading his text (below) you will notice the Pope’s use of the concept ecclesia militans – the Church Militant – which he admits is “old fashion” but still fitting today. When we say “the Church Militant” it means all living Christians who struggle against sin, the devil, or as the Apostle Paul says  “..the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

“Church Militant” has two other sisters, “Church Triumphant” and “Church Suffering” that give context to Christian life in light of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints and of what we know the Church to be.

The quick definition of the “Church Triumphant” (Ecclesia Triumphans), indicates those who live in the beatific vision, they see and are seen by God; we say these people are in heaven. The feast day for those in heaven is November 1, All Saints Day.  When we speak of the “Church Suffering” (also called the Church Penitent, Ecclesia Penitens; or Church Expectant, Ecclesia Expectans), we believe that this group of believers are the souls in purgatory. The feast day is  All Souls, November 2.

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Saint Peter’s prayer is accompanied by immense joy

Peter in Prison Rembrandt.jpg

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now consider Saint Peter’s miraculous liberation from imprisonment on the eve of his trial in Jerusalem. Saint Luke tells us that as “the Church prayed fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5), Peter was led forth from the prison by an Angel of light. The account of Peter’s rescue recalls both Israel’s hasty exodus from bondage in Egypt and the glory of Christ’s resurrection. Peter was sleeping, a sign of his surrender to the Lord and his trust in the prayers of the Christian community. The fulfillment of this prayer is accompanied by immense joy, as Peter rejoins the community and bears witness to the Risen Lord’s saving power. Peter’s liberation reminds us that, especially at moments of trial, our perseverance in prayer, and the prayerful solidarity of all our brothers and sisters in Christ, sustains us in faith. As Peter’s Successor, I thank all of you for the support of your prayers and I pray that, united in constant prayer, we will all draw ever closer to the Lord and to one another.

Pope Benedict XVI

10 May 2012

Do we have perseverance in prayer? 
Are we in prayerful solidarity with others?

What really sustains our prayer?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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