Pope Benedict XVI: September 2010 Archives

We are all pilgrims; we are all called to seek the face of God; we are all called to follow the Divine Other; we are called to dine richly on the divine gift of the Eucharist, the Food for the journey (viaticum) and to rest on the heart of Christ. I remember my religious superiors telling me that in making a pilgrimage Saint Ignatius of Loyola laid more emphasis on what happened to one's heart during the pilgrimage than merely getting to the destination. While getting to a holy place is important it ranks second to the conversion of heart that is hoped for during the pilgrimage experiment. How true. It wouldn't matter if you got to Santiago de Compostella or not if your heart wasn't radically changed according to the mind of Christ. My dream is to make the pilgrimage to the great shrine of Saint James, the place of the Lord's friend; I pray for the grace that my heart be turned inside-out. In the meanwhile, I'll make the road to the confessional my walk in the Way of Christ. The pope sets the stage for a pilgrimage spot is and how we Catholics are to be as welcoming as Christ is to the pilgrim. Read a portion of the Pope letter to the bishop and people of Compostella:

Benedict XVI simple arms.jpg

With great pleasure I would like to express my spiritual closeness to the congress participants to encourage and accompany them in carrying out a pastoral task of such great importance in ecclesial life. I will personally make a pilgrimage soon to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James, the "Lord's friend", in the same way that I have made my way to other places in the world which many of the faithful visit with fervent devotion. In this regard, from the beginning of my pontificate, I have wanted to live my ministry as the Successor of Peter with the sentiments of a pilgrim who travels over the roads of the world with hope and simplicity bringing on his lips and in his heart the saving message of the Risen Christ, and strengthening his brothers in faith (cf. Lk 22:32). As an explicit sign of this mission, my coat-of-arms includes the pilgrim's shell, among other elements.

In these historic moments in which we are called, with greater force if possible, to evangelize our world, the riches offered to us by the pilgrimage to shrines should be highlighted. First of all, for its great ability to summon and bring together a growing number of pilgrims and religious tourists, some of whom are in complicated human and spiritual situations, somewhat distant from living the faith and with a weak ecclesial affiliation. Christ speaks to all of them with love and hope. The desire for happiness that is imbedded in the soul finds its answer in Him, and human suffering together with Him has a meaning. With his grace, the noblest causes also find their complete fulfillment. As Simeon met with Christ in the temple (cf. Lk 2:25-35), so too a pilgrim should have the opportunity to discover the Lord in the shrine.


For this purpose, efforts should be made so that visitors may not forget that shrines are sacred places in order to be in them with devotion, respect and propriety. In this way, the Word of Christ, the Son of the living God, can ring out clearly, and the event of his death and resurrection, the foundation of our faith, can be proclaimed completely. Very careful attention should also be given to welcoming the pilgrims, by highlighting, among other elements, the dignity and beauty of the shrine, the image of "God's dwelling... with the human race" (Rev 21:3), the moments and spaces for both personal and community prayer, and attention to devotional practices. In the same way, it can never be stressed enough that shrines should be lighthouses of charity, with unceasing dedication to the neediest through concrete works of solidarity and mercy, and constant readiness to listen, favoring in particular the faithful's reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and taking part worthily in the Eucharistic celebration, making this the center and apex of all the pastoral activity of the shrines. In this way it will be made manifest that the Eucharist is indeed the pilgrim's nourishment, the "Sacrament of the God who does not leave us alone on the journey but stays at our side and shows us the way" (Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, May 22, 2008).

Pilgrim of Santiago De Compostela and Procession MWolgemut.jpg

In fact, different from a wanderer whose steps have no established final destination, a pilgrim always has a destination, even if at times he is not explicitly aware of it. And this destination is none other than the encounter with God through Christ in whom all our aspirations find their response. For this reason, the celebration of the Eucharist can really be considered the culmination of the pilgrimage.

As "God's co-workers" (1 Co 3:9), I exhort all of you to be dedicated to this beautiful mission so that through your pastoral care, you will favor in pilgrims the knowledge and imitation of Christ who continues to walk with us, enlighten our lives with his Word, and share with us the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. In this way, the pilgrimage to the shrine will be a favorable occasion to strengthen the desire in those who visit it to share the wonderful experience with others of knowing they are loved by God and sent to the world to give witness to that love.

The Vatican, September 8, 2010

Benedictus PP. XVI

I couldn't follow the Pope's UK trip after very early Friday morning so I find myself reviewing the magnificent papal event. If you've not read Benedict's UK addresses, I highly recommend that you do so. What follows are some of the stunning thoughts of the Holy Father from an education gathering at St Mary's University College. I have to say, when I was in the Catholic school system as a student and as a teacher, the idea of becoming a saint, or at least using the word 'saint'  never crossed my mind. Sad to say. Sure we spoke about virtue, grace, sin, sacrament, love, God but we may have talked around the idea of becoming a saint which is not a good thing. BUT becoming a saint has a new currency in my life. The tenderness and clarity of the Pope's address to the youth is nothing but beautiful. The are resonances in the talk of Sts Benedict, Francis, Dominic and Ignatius of Loyola, and Fr Giussani. Here are some excerpts, emphasis mine.

St Mary's youth.jpg

It is not often that a Pope, or indeed anyone else has the opportunity to speak to the students of all the Catholic schools of England, Wales and Scotland at the same time. And since I have the chance now, there is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.

Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?


When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy.

Happiness is something we all want but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple - true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Pope & students.jpg

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person's friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend. God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.

In your Catholic schools, there is always a bigger picture over and above the individual subjects you study, the different skills you learn. All the work you do is placed in the context of growing in friendship with God, and all that flows from that friendship. So you learn not just to be good students, but good citizens, good people. ... Always remember that every subject you study is part of a bigger picture. Never allow yourselves to become narrow. The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world. We need good historians and philosophers and economists, but if the account they give of human life within their particular field is too narrowly focused, they can lead us seriously astray.

A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to become saints. I know that there are many non-Catholics studying in the Catholic schools in Great Britain, and I wish to include all of you in my words today. I pray that you too will feel encouraged to practise virtue and to grow in knowledge and friendship with God alongside your Catholic classmates. You are a reminder to them of the bigger picture that exists outside the school, and indeed, it is only right that respect and friendship for members of other religious traditions should be among the virtues learned in a Catholic school. I hope too that you will want to share with everyone you meet the values and insights you have learned through the Christian education you have received.

On the plane to Scotland this morning the Pope held the typical Q&A session with reporters. THE more important of the Q&A, in my opinion, is noted below. The questions are vetted prior to the asking.

Pope answers questions on plane to Scotland.jpg


The UK, like many other Western countries - there is an issue that you have already touched on in the first answer -it is considered a secular country. There is a strong atheist movement, even for cultural reasons. However, there are also signs that religious faith, particularly in Jesus Christ, is still alive on a personal level. What can this mean for Catholics and Anglicans? Can anything be done to make the Church as an institution, more credible and attractive to everyone?


I would say that a Church that seeks to be particularly attractive is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for her own ends, she does not work to increase numbers and thus power. The Church is at the service of another: she serves, not for herself, not to be a strong body, rather she serves to make the proclamation of Jesus Christ accessible, the great truths and great forces of love, reconciling love that appeared in this figure and that always comes from the presence of Jesus Christ. In this regard, the Church does not seek to be attractive in and of herself, but must be transparent for Jesus Christ and to the extent that she is not out for herself, as a strong and powerful body in the world, that wants power, but is simply the voice of another, she becomes truly transparent for the great figure of Christ and the great truth that he has brought to humanity. The power of love, in this moment one listens, one accepts. The Church should not consider herself, but help to consider the other and she herself must see and speak of the other. In this sense, I think, both Anglicans and Catholics have the same simple task, the same direction to take. If both Anglicans and Catholics see that the other is not out for themselves but are tools of Christ, children of the Bridegroom, as Saint John says, if both carry out the priorities of Christ and not their own, they will come together, because at that time the priority of Christ unites them and they are no longer competitors seeking the greatest numbers, but are united in our commitment to the truth of Christ who comes into this world and so they find each other in a genuine and fruitful ecumenism.

At one point in the Pope's homily in Glasgow, Scotland, today he said:

Pope Benedict in Glasgow Scotland Sept 16 2010.jpg

The evangelization of culture is all the more important in our times, when a "dictatorship of relativism" threatens to obscure the unchanging truth about man's nature, his destiny and his ultimate good.  There are some who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatize it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty. Yet religion is in fact a guarantee of authentic liberty and respect, leading us to look upon every person as a brother or sister. For this reason I appeal in particular to you, the lay faithful, in accordance with your baptismal calling and mission, not only to be examples of faith in public, but also to put the case for the promotion of faith's wisdom and vision in the public forum. Society today needs clear voices which propose our right to live, not in a jungle of self-destructive and arbitrary freedoms, but in a society which works for the true welfare of its citizens and offers them guidance and protection in the face of their weakness and fragility. Do not be afraid to take up this service to your brothers and sisters, and to the future of your beloved nation.

A few ideas to consider based on what said above:

  • notice: the pope speaks about the evangelization of culture, not only evangelization;
  • understand: relativism has become dictatorial in all ways, particularly in its approach truth, how it understands true happiness and man's eternal destiny is questioned, abused and rejected as unimportant for the 21st century person;
  • question: why and in what ways have some people relegate God, honest intercourse between faith and reason and human dignity to the sidelines, what are the avoiding?, and why do voices of dissent get more credence than eternal truth;
  • question: has religion lost its ability to guarantee authentic human liberty?, how can we propose otherwise?;
  • question: why do Catholics shy away -perhaps even intimated from making their voice heard in the public square--from talking about their faith in Christ as the supreme savior of all of humanity?;
  • how any true notion of what true welfare of people is be neglectful of the unborn, the elderly, prisoners, children, the poor and homeless, etc?
Now are the times that I wish God kept Father Richard John Neuhaus and Cardinal Dulles among us! In case you haven't noticed, what the Pope is talking about here is exactly what groups like Communion and Liberation and Opus Dei are doing what the Holy Father asks to happen in the Church and society.

Pope Benedict XVI began his State and Pastoral visit to the UK today. Addressing Queen Elizabeth and all Britons in Scotland,  His Holiness said:

Benedict XVI & Queen II.jpg
The name of Holyroodhouse recalls the 'Holy Cross' and points to the deep Christian roots that are still present in every layer of British life. The monarchs of England and Scotland have been Christians from very early times and include outstanding saints like Edward the Confessor and Margaret of Scotland. ... Many of them consciously exercised their sovereign duty in the light of the Gospel, and in this way shaped the nation for good at the deepest level. As a result, the Christian message has been an integral part of the language, thought and culture of the peoples of these islands for more than a thousand years. Your forefathers' respect for truth and justice, for mercy and charity come to you from a faith that remains a mighty force for good in your kingdom, to the great benefit of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Today, the United Kingdom strives to be a modern and multicultural society. In this challenging enterprise, may it always maintain its respect for those traditional values and cultural expressions that more aggressive forms of secularism no longer value or even tolerate. Let it not obscure the Christian foundation that underpins its freedoms; and may that patrimony, which has always served the nation well, constantly inform the example your government and people set before the two billion members of the Commonwealth and the great family of English-speaking nations throughout the world.
Prayer is realizing that we are in relationship with the Trinity: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Prayer before the Blessed Trinity is what defines us. For the month of September, let us keep in mind and heart the following prayer intentions proposed by the Holy Father:

The general intention

That the proclamation of the Word of God may renew people's hearts, encouraging them to work toward authentic social progress.

The missionary intention

That by opening our hearts to love we may put an end to the wars and conflicts which continue to bloody our world.

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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This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Benedict XVI category from September 2010.

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