Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Saint Paul and the market place: giving testimony to Christ building unity

As you are aware, the Pope is assisted by various departments
as pastor of the Church. Without naming all of them, the significant ones are
Faith, Worship, Saints, Clergy and Evangelization. The latter department is
headed by the Indian cardinal, Ivan Dias. As “Prefect of the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples” he works with the world’s bishops and other
competent folk in sharing the Good News. Each year all the departments meet
with the full body of members and experts to deal with the significant issues
identified by the Pope and the Cardinal. In the case of this address, one can’t help thinking of the work of the of new lay movements in the Church and some of the new religious orders doing the hard work of being in the marketplace. I for one, can’t help remember the Pope’s address to the Benedictine Oblates of St Frances of Rome where he praised them for keeping a religious life with a particular focus of being in the center of the city as a witness to Christ while helping the poor. 

What follows is the Pope’s address to
the plenary session of Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Note the
points emphasized
.

 

On the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Congregation
for the Evangelization of Peoples, I wish to express to you, Lord Cardinal, my
cordial greeting, which I happily extend to the archbishops, bishops and all
those taking part in this assembly. I also greet the secretary, the assistant
secretary, the under-secretary and all the collaborators of this dicastery. I
add the expression of my sentiments of appreciation and gratitude for the service
you render the Church in the area of the mission ad gentes [to the peoples].

The topic you are addressing in this meeting, “St. Paul
and the New Areopagi” — also in light of the Pauline Year concluded a
short while ago — assists in reliving an experience of the Apostle to the
Gentiles while in Athens. After having preached in many places, he addressed
the Areopagus and there proclaimed the Gospel using a language that today we
could describe as “inculturated”
(cf. Acts 17:22-31).

That Areopagus, which at the time represented the center of
culture for the refined Athenian people, today — as my venerated predecessor
John Paul II would say — “can be taken as a symbol of the new sectors in
which the Gospel must be proclaimed” (Redemptoris Missio, 37). In fact,
the reference to that event is an urgent invitation to know how to value the
“Areopagi” of today, where the great challenges of evangelization are
addressed
.

You wish to analyze this topic with realism, taking into
account the many social changes that have occurred: a realism supported by the
spirit of faith, which sees history in the light of the Gospel, and with the
certainty that Paul had of the presence of the Risen Christ
. Resonating and
comforting for us also are the words that Jesus addressed to him in Corinth:
“Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with
you. No one will attack and harm you,” (Acts 18:9-10).

In an effective way, the Servant of God Paul VI said that it
is not just a question of preaching the Gospel, but of “affecting and as
it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind’s criteria of
judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of
inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and
the plan of salvation”
(Insegnamenti XIII, [1975], 1448).

It is necessary to look at the “new Areopagi” with
this spirit; some of these [areas], with present globalization, have become
common, whereas others continue to be specific to certain continents, as was seen
recently in the special assembly for Africa of the synod of bishops. Therefore,
the missionary activity of the Church must be directed to the vital centers of
the society of the third millennium
.

Not to be underestimated is the influence of a widespread
relativistic culture, more often than not lacking in values, which enters the
sanctuary of the family, infiltrates the realm of education and other realms of
society and contaminates them, manipulating consciences, especially those of
the young. At the same time, however, despite these snares, the Church knows
that the Holy Spirit is always acting. New doors, in fact, are opened to the
Gospel, and spreading in the world is the longing for authentic spiritual and
apostolic renewal. As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to
show the true face of Christ, lord of history and sole redeemer of man.

This demands that every Christian community and the Church
as a whole offer a testimony of fidelity to Christ, patiently building that
unity
desired by him and invoked by all his disciples
. The unity of Christians
will, in fact, facilitate evangelization and confrontation with the cultural,
social and religious challenges of our time
.

In this missionary enterprise we can look to the Apostle
Paul, imitate his “style” of life and his apostolic
“spirit” itself, centered totally on Christ. With this complete
adherence to the Lord, Christians will more easily be able to transmit to
future generations the heritage of faith, capable of transforming difficulties
into possibilities of evangelization
.

In the recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I
wished to emphasize that the economic and social development of contemporary
society needs to renew attention to the spiritual life and “a serious
consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in
Christ, reliance upon God’s providence and mercy, love and forgiveness,
self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. Christians long for the
entire human family to call upon God as ‘Our Father!'”
(No. 79).

Lord Cardinal, while thanking you for the service that this
dicastery renders to the cause of the Gospel, I invoke upon you and upon all
those taking part in the present plenary assembly the help of God and the
protection of the Virgin Mary, star of evangelization, while I send my
heartfelt apostolic blessing to all.

From the Vatican, November 13, 2009

BENEDICTUS XVI PP

Leaning on the Master

I frequently
stand in awe of people who, like Pope Benedict, can draw my attention to the
essentials of faith, reason and culture. His audience on Wednesday where he
speaks about St. Bernard is one of these instances because he shows me the
beauty of St. Bernard, the purpose of theology study, life with the saints, and why we have to suffer some things for the Kingdom. For example, the Pope
offers a corrective in my work as a seminarian.

St resting on Jesus' Chest.jpg

Here are a few germane sentences with emphasis added: In one place in the talk Pope says: “Faith is above all an
individual and intimate encounter with Jesus
; it means experiencing His
closeness, His friendship and His love.” He continues “St. Bernard, solidly
based on the Bible and on the Fathers of the Church, reminds us that without a profound
faith in God, nourished by prayer and contemplation, by a profound relationship
with the Lord
, our reflections on the divine mysteries risk becoming a futile
intellectual exercise, and lose their credibility
. Theology takes us back to
the “science of the saints,” to their intuitions of the mysteries of
the living God, to their wisdom, gift of the Holy Spirit, which become the
point of reference for theological thought.”

And given that I think there’s much discussion
in a seminary work, sometimes too much discussion, I am leaning St. Bernard as
he says, “but perhaps He can be sought better and found more easily with
prayer than with discussion. We put an end here to the book, but not to the
search.” 

(Pope Benedict XVI,
Wednesday General Audience, October 21, 2009) 

Wayne Hellman & the Pope

WHellmann & Pope Benedict.jpgIn the mid-1990s when I was in formation at Bellarmine House and a student in St Louis, Missouri, I made the acquaintance of Conventual Franciscan Father Wayne Hellman. Father Wayne was a professor of Theology at Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO. I think he was also the Friar Guardian of the local Conventual Franciscan House (St Bonaventure’s Friary) and one of the nation’s experts in Saint Bonaventure’s theology. 

Wayne was frequently perceived as a zaney Franciscan professor but an incredibly bright and sensitive man, one that you can easily approach. I enjoyed his company. Until reading about his encounter with the young Joseph Ratzinger, didn’t I realize the  interest and scope of theological formation and how he started off. The pedigree of theologians is always of interest to me because I am interested in history and trajectory.

My friend David Miros sent me and a few others a striking story published in the Saint Louis University News of Father Wayne’s recent encounter with the Holy Father. Why is this striking to me and why should you read the story? Because it is a realization how the Holy Spirit works at the lowest and yet the most human of levels: the heart.

Pope Benedict XVI’s monthly prayer intentions for October 2009


B16 one.jpg

The general intention

That Sundays may be lived as the day
on which Christians gather to celebrate the Risen Lord in the table of the
Eucharist

The missionary intention

That all the people of God, whom Christ has
commanded to go and preach the Gospel to every creature, may diligently fulfill
their missionary responsibility.

Love for Christ reawakened thru Luigi Giussani, Benedict XVI recalls

Luigi Giussani 1965 circa Raggio.jpgMy first thought goes — it’s obvious — to your
founder Monsignor Luigi Giussani, to whom many memories tie me, since he had
become a true friend to me. Our last meeting, as Father Carrón mentioned, took
place in Milan Cathedral two years ago, when our beloved Pope John Paul II sent
me to preside at his solemn funeral. 


Through him the Holy Spirit aroused in the
Church a movement — yours — that would witness the beauty of being Christians
in an epoch in which the opinion was spreading that Christianity was something
tiresome and oppressive to live. Father Giussani, then, set himself to reawaken
in the youth the love for Christ
, the way, the truth and the life, repeating
that only he is the road toward the realization of the deepest desires of man’s
heart
; and that Christ saves us not despite our humanity, but through it

Pope
Benedict XVI, address to Communion and Liberation, March 25, 2007

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]yahoo.com.
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