Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

Keep your relationship with God alive, even on vacation, pope said


Pope Benedict’s vacation advice from a recent general
audience: “We must set aside time in life for God, to open our life to God with
a thought, a meditation, a small prayer and not to forget Sunday is the day of
the Lord.” And in another place he said: “He who neglects contemplation is
deprived of the vision of the light of God; he who is carried away with worry
and allows his thoughts to be crushed by the tumult of the things of the world
is condemned to the absolute impossibility of penetrating the secrets of the
invisible God …While at work, with its frenetic rhythms, and during vacation,
we have to reserve moments for God. [We have to] open our lives up to him,
directing a thought to him, a reflection, a brief prayer. And above all, we
mustn’t forget that Sunday is the day of Our Lord, the day of the liturgy, [the
day] to perceive in the beauty of our churches, in the sacred music and in the
Word of God, the same beauty of our God, allowing him to enter into our being.
Only in this way is our life made great; it is truly made a life.”

Seized by Christ, Saint Padre Pio leads the way for renewal, Pope said

Pope in prayer before St Pio.jpg

As part of the inaugural observances for the Year of the
Priest, Pope Benedict made a pilgrimage to and celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Graces at San Giovanni Rotondo, resting place of  Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. In the days following the feast of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus and with devotion to Our Lady in mind, the Pope recalled that the fruit of Padre Pio’s close bond with the Sacred Heart of Christ and His mother, Mary, inspired him to found the House for the Relief of Suffering:  “All his life and his apostolate took place under the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin and by the power of her intercession. Even the House for the Relief of Suffering he considered to be the work of Mary, ‘Health of the sick.'”

Pope at Rotondo.jpg

Born Francisco Forgione, at the age 23 the obscure Capuchin Franciscan friar was said to have received the gift of the sacred stigmata. On Saint Pio‘s hands and side the wounds were similar to the stigmata, or the wounds of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, according to Christian belief. The Pope proposed to us another model for priests by giving the example of this friar from Pietrelcina: “A simple man of humble origins, ‘seized by Christ‘ (Phil 3:12) … to make of him an elected instrument of the perennial power of his Cross: the power of love for souls, forgiveness and reconciliation, spiritual fatherhood, effective solidarity with the suffering. The stigmata, that marked his body, closely united him to the Crucified and Risen Christ.”

Relating today’s gospel with the life of Saint Pio, His
Holiness also said to the gathered faithful:

The solemn gesture of calming the stormy sea is clearly a
sign of the lordship of Christ over the negative powers and it induces us to think of His divinity: “Who is He – ask the disciples in wonder -that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mk 4:41). Their faith is not yet steadfast, it is taking shape, is a mixture of fear and trust; rather Jesus trusting abandonment to the Father is full and pure. This is why He sleeps during the storm, completely safe in the arms of God – but there will come a time when Jesus will feel anxiety and fear: When His time comes, He shall feel upon himself the whole weight of the sins of humanity, as a massive swell that is about to fall upon Him. Oh yes, that shall be a terrible storm, not a cosmic one, but a spiritual one. It will be Evil’s last, extreme assault against the Son of God…. In that hour, Jesus was on the one hand entirely One with the Father, fully given over to him – on the other, as in solidarity with sinners, He was
separated and He felt abandoned.

Remaining united to Jesus, [Padre Pio] always had his sights on the depths of the human drama, and this was why he offered his many sufferings, why he was able to spend himself in the care for and relief of the
sick – a privileged sign of God’s mercy, of his kingdom which is coming, indeed, which is already in the world, a sign of the victory of love and life over sin and death. Guide souls and relieving suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: as the servant of God, Pope Paul VI said of him.”

Pio pic gift to Pope.jpg

At one point in his address the Benedict spoke to the
Franciscan friars and those connected with the spiritual groups linked to Saint Pio and anyone else, the Pope affirmed: “The risks of activism and secularization are always present, so my visit was also meant to confirm fidelity to the mission inherited from your beloved Father. Many of you, religious and laity, are so taken by the full duties required by the service to pilgrims, or the sick in the hospital, you run the risk of neglecting the real need: to listen to Christ to do the will of GodWhen you see that you are close to running this risk, look to Padre Pio: In his example, his sufferings, and invoke his intercession, because it obtains from the Lord the light and strength that you need to continue his mission soaked by love for God and fraternal charity.”

Following Mass, the Holy Father led the faithful in the Angelus prayer (the great prayer recalling the Incarnation) calling to mind Padre Pio’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Benedict remarked, “To the intercession of Our Lady and St Pio of Pietrelcina I would like to entrust the Special Year for Priests, which I opened last Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May it be a privileged opportunity to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests to serve the Church and humanity in the third millennium!”

Watch the video clip

Another video explaining more of Padre Pio’s life

Read the papal homily

Read the papal address to priests and youth

Pope speaks with the young

On May 30th, the Vigil of Pentecost, Pope
Benedict answered three questions of young people with extraordinary simplicity. The tenderness of the Pope’s answers is breadth-taking. This it the second time he’s
taken questions from the youth. The following is Alessandro’s question and you can read the rest of questions here. Plus, visit the Holy Childhood Association website AND get involved with their mission as the Pope encourages.

Dear Pope Benedict, you are the first missionary. How can we
young people help you to proclaim the Gospel?

PopeBenedictXVI_kids.jpg

Answer: I would say that one initial way is this: work with the
Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood. In this way you are part of a great
family that brings the Gospel to the world. In this way you belong to a great
network. We see here how the family of the different peoples is reflected. You
are in this great family: each one does his part, and together you are
missionaries, bearers of the missionary work of the Church. You have an
excellent program: to listen, pray, learn, share, support. These are essential
elements that really are a way of being missionary, of advancing the growth of
the Church and the presence of the Gospel in the world. I would like to
highlight some of these points.

First of all, prayer. Prayer is a reality: God listens to
us, and when we pray, God enters into our lives
, he becomes present among us,
active. Prayer is a very important thing, which can change the world, because
it makes the power of God present
. And it is important to help each other to
pray: we pray together in the liturgy, we pray together in the family. And here
I would say that it is important to begin the day with a little prayer, and
also to end the day with a little prayer: remembering our parents in prayer.
Pray before lunch, before dinner, and on the occasion of the common celebration
on Sunday. A Sunday without the Mass, the great common prayer of the Church, is
not a real Sunday: the heart of Sunday is missing, and with it the light of the
week
. And you can also help others – especially when there are no prayers at
home, when prayer is unknown – you can teach others to pray: pray with others
and introduce them to communion with God.

Next, listening, which means really learning what Jesus
tells us. Moreover, knowing the Sacred Scripture, the Bible. In the story of
Jesus, we come to know the face of God, we learn what God is like
. It is
important to know Jesus deeply, personally. This is how he enters into our
lives, and, through our lives, enters into the world.

And also sharing, not wanting things for ourselves alone,
but for all; sharing with others. And if we see another who may be in need, who
is less fortunate, we must help him and in this way make the love of God
present without big words, in our little personal world, which is part of the
big world. And in this way we become a family together, where each respects the
other: bearing with the other in his uniqueness, even accepting those we don’t
like, not letting anyone be marginalized, but helping him to be part of the
community
. All of this simply means living in this big family of the Church, in
this big missionary family.

Living the essential points like sharing, knowing Jesus, prayer, listening to each other, and solidarity is a missionary activity, because it helps the Gospel to become a reality in our world.

Pope & the Thatcher

On May 27, 2009 Pope Benedict and former Prime Minister of England,
Pope & the Thatcher May 27 09.jpg

Christ is the answer, Pope reminds the Benedictines and all peoples


montecassino1.jpgIn speaking to the Benedictines at Montecassino, the Pope was speaking to all Benedictines, solemnly professed and oblates, and to the laity, in general. He proposes once again the person of Saint Benedict as a person who knew well that Christ is the answer to all things. The Pope’s homily at Vespers follows:

Almost at the end of my visit today, I am particularly pleased to pause in this sacred place, in this abbey, four times destroyed and rebuilt, the last time after the bombings of World War II, 65 years ago. “Succisa virescit” [in defeat we are strengthened; when cut down, this tree grows again]: the words of its new coat of arms represent well its history. Monte Cassino, just as the secular oak tree planted by St. Benedict, was “pruned” by the violence of war, but has risen more vigorous. More than once I also have had the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of the monks, and in this abbey I spent many unforgettable hours of quiet and prayer. This evening we entered singing “Laudes Regiae” together to celebrate the Vespers of the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus. To each of you I express the joy of sharing this moment of prayer, greeting everyone with affection, grateful for the welcome that you have reserved for me and those who accompany me in this apostolic pilgrimage.

Pietro Vittorelli.jpg

In particular, I greet Abbot Dom Pietro Vittorelli, who has made himself the spokesman of your common sentiments. I extend my greetings to
the abbots, the abbesses, and to the Benedictine communities present here.

Today the liturgy invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Ascension of the Lord. In the brief reading taken from the first letter of Peter, we were urged to fix our gaze on our Redeemer, who died “once and for all for sins” in order to lead us back to God, at whose right hand he sits “after having ascended to heaven and having obtained sovereignty over the angels and the principalities and the powers” (cf. 1 Pt 3, 18.22). “Raised on high” and made invisible to the eyes of his disciples, Jesus has not however abandoned them, but was: in fact, “put to death in the body, but made to live in the spirit” (1 Pt 3:18). He is now present in a new way, inside the believers, and in him salvation is offered to every human being without distinction of people, language, or culture. The first letter of Peter contains specific references to the fundamental Christological events of the Christian faith. The Apostle’s intention is to highlight the universal scope of salvation in Christ. A similar desire we find in St. Paul, of whom we are celebrating the two thousandth anniversary of his birth, who to the community of Corinth, writes: “He (Christ) died for all, so that those who live, live no longer for themselves but for him, who has died and is risen for them.” (2 Cor 5, 15).

To live no longer for themselves but for Christ: this is what gives full meaning to the lives of those that let themselves be conquered by him. The human and spiritual journey of St. Benedict attests to this clearly, he who, leaving all things behind, dedicated himself to the faithful following of Jesus. Embodying in his own life the reality of the Gospel, he has become the founder of a vast movement of spiritual and cultural renaissance in the West. I would now like to refer to an extraordinary event of his life, which the biographer St. Gregory the Great relates, and with which you are certainly well acquainted. One could almost say that the holy patriarch was “lifted up” in an indescribable mystical experience. On the night of October 29 of the year 540 — reads the biography — and, facing the window, “with his eyes fixed on the stars he recollected himself in divine contemplation, the saint felt that his heart was inflamed … For him, the star filled firmament was like the embroidered curtain that revealed the Holy of Holies. At one point, he felt his soul felt itself carried to the other side of the veil, to contemplate the revealed face of him who dwells in inaccessible light” (cf. AI Schuster, History of Saint Benedict and his time, Ed Abbey Viboldone, Milan, 1965, p. 11 et seq.). Of course, similar to what happened to Paul after his heavenly rapture, St. Benedict, following this extraordinary spiritual experience, also found it necessary to start a new life. If the vision was transient, the effects were lasting, his very character — the biographers say — was changed, his appearance always remained calm and his behavior angelic, and even while he was living on earth, he understood that in his heart he was already in heaven.

St. Benedict received this gift of God not to satisfy his intellectual curiosity, but rather because the charism with which God had endowed him had the ability to reproduce in the monastery the very life of heaven and reestablish the harmony of creation through contemplation and work. Rightly, therefore, the Church venerates him as an “eminent teacher of the monastic life” and “doctor of spiritual wisdom in the love of prayer and work; shining guide of people in the light of the Gospel” who,”raised to heaven by a luminous road” teaches people of all ages to seek God and the eternal riches prepared by him (cf. Preface of the Holy in the monastery to the MR, 1980, 153).

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Yes, Benedict was a shining example of holiness and pointed the monks to Christ as their only great ideal; he was a master of civility, who proposed a balanced and adequate vision of the demands of God and of the final ends of man; he also always kept well in mind the needs and the reasons of the heart, in order to teach and inspire a genuine and constant brotherhood, so that in the complexity of social relationships the unity of spirit capable of always building and maintaining peace was never lost sight of. It is not by
chance that the word Pax [peace] is the word that welcomes pilgrims and visitors at the gates of the abbey, rebuilt after the terrible disaster of the Second World War, which stands as a silent reminder to reject all forms of violence in order to build peace: in families, within communities, between peoples and all of humanity. St. Benedict invites every person that climbs this mountain to seek peace and follow it: “inquire pacem et sequere eam” [seek peace and follow it.] (Ps. 33,14-15) (Rule, Prologue, 17).

By its example, monasteries have become, over the centuries, centers of fervent dialogue, encounter and beneficial union of diverse peoples, unified by the evangelical culture of peace. The monks have known how to teach by word and example the art of peace, implementing in a concrete way the three “ties” that Benedict identifies as necessary to maintain the unity of the Spirit among men: the cross, which is the very law of Christ, the book which is culture, and the plow, which indicates work, the lordship over matter and time. Thanks to the activity of the monastery, articulated in the three-fold daily commitments of prayer, study and work, entire populations of Europe have experienced a genuine redemption and a beneficial moral, spiritual and cultural development, learning in the spirit of continuity with the past, of concrete action for the common good, and of openness to God and the transcendent aspect of the world. We pray that Europe always exploit this wealth of principles and Christian ideals, which constitutes an immense cultural and spiritual wealth.

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This is possible but only if the constant teaching of St.
Benedict is embraced, the “quaerere Deum,” to seek God, as the fundamental commitment of man. Human beings cannot achieve full self-realization or ever be truly happy without God. It is your special responsibility, dear monks, to be living examples of this interior and profound relationship with him, implementing without compromise the program that your founder summarized in the “nihil amori Christi praeponere” [put nothing before the love of Christ.] (Rule 4.21). In this holiness consists, a valid proposal for every Christian, more than ever in our time, in which the need to anchor life and history to solid spiritual principles is felt.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, your vocation is a timely as ever, and your mission as monks is indispensable.

From this place, where his mortal remains rest, the patron saint of Europe continues to urge everyone to continue his work of evangelization and human promotion. I encourage you in the first place, dear brethren, to remain faithful to the spirit of your origins and to be authentic interpreters of this program of social and spiritual rebirth. The Lord grants you this gift, through the intercession of your holy founder, of his holy sister St. Scholastica, and of the saints of your order. And may the heavenly Mother of the Lord, who today we invoke as “Help of Christians,” watch over you and protect this abbey and all your monasteries, as well as the diocesan community that lives around Monte Cassino. Amen!

Pope Benedict XVI
Homily at Vespers II
The Abbey of Monte Casino
May 24, 2009

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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