Pope Benedict XVI: November 2011 Archives

Lectio Divina is of course central to Benedictine spirituality, with several hours a day of prayerful reading of Scripture and other spiritual texts required of monks in the Rule.


And it is also one of the central themes of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini.  Scattered through the document are the reasons why lectio is so crucial.  Here is my summation of the reasons he sets out for why we should do lectio divina.


1.  To please God by listening to him. Pope quotes Origen: "Do your reading with the intent of believing in and pleasing God."


2.  To build the Church as a community.  "While it is a word addressed to each of us personally, it is also a word which builds community, which builds the Church...The reading of the word of God... enables us to deepen our sense of belonging to the Church, and helps us to grow in familiarity with God."


3.  To nourish and sustain us 'on our journey of penance and conversion': through it, we grow in love and truth.


4.  In order to discern God's will for us, and convert us: "Contemplation aims at creating within us a truly wise and discerning vision of reality, as God sees it, and at forming within us "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor 2:16).


The Pope particularly recommends lectio divina to seminarians because: "It is in the light and strength of God's word that one's specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one's proper mission carried out..."  Lay people to should be trained, he urges, "to discern God's will through a familiarity with his word, read and studied in the Church under the guidance of her legitimate pastors."


He goes on: "Saint Paul tells us: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect " (12:2). The word of God appears here as a criterion for discernment: it is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Heb 4:12).", and "....by nourishing the heart with thoughts of God, so that faith, as our response to the word, may become a new criterion for judging and evaluation persons and things, events and issues"...."


5.  For the spiritual benefit of others. First, to equip us to fulfill the duty of all Christians to evangelize, contributing to the Churches mission to convert the whole world to Christ. And secondly to aid the souls in purgatory through the Church's offer of indulgences for Scripture reading and certain Scripturally based prayers (such as the Office), which teach us that "to whatever degree we are united in Christ, we are united to one another, and the supernatural life of each one can be useful for the others "

As you know, the Pope is meeting for next several months with all the bishops of the United States. Two weeks ago I noted the Ad Limina Apostolorum of the New England bishops; this week the Pope meets with the New York bishops and next week he'll be meeting with the New Jersey and Pennsylvania bishops. His reflections and leadership on key areas are crucial for all of us to pay attention to right now for the good of the Church. The text of his address to the bishops of these three regions is given below.

Pope with NY bishops.jpg

I greet you all with affection in the Lord and, through you, the Bishops from the United States who in the course of the coming year will make their visits ad limina Apostolorum.

Our meetings are the first since my 2008 Pastoral Visit to your country, which was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades. I wished to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise. It is my hope that the Church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.

Today, Pope Benedict spoke to the volunteers who work with the Cor Unum group led by Cardinal Robert Sarah. He defines very clearly charitable work. Pay attention Communion and Liberation people!!!

I am grateful for the opportunity to greet you as you meet under the auspices of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" in this European Year of Volunteering.

Let me begin by thanking Cardinal Robert Sarah for the kind words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to you and, by extension, to the millions of Catholic volunteers who contribute, regularly and generously, to the Church's charitable mission throughout the world. At the present time, marked as it is by crisis and uncertainty, your commitment is a reason for confidence, since it shows that goodness exists and that it is growing in our midst. The faith of all Catholics is surely strengthened when they see the good that is being done in the name of Christ (cf. Philem 6).

For Christians, volunteer work is not merely an expression of good will. It is based on a personal experience of Christ. He was the first to serve humanity, he freely gave his life for the good of all. That gift was not based on our merits. From this we learn that God gives us himself. More than that: Deus Caritas est - God is love, to quote a phrase from the First Letter of Saint John (4:8) which I employed as the title of my first Encyclical Letter. The experience of God's generous love challenges us and liberates us to adopt the same attitude towards our brothers and sisters: "You received with paying, give without pay" (Mt 10:8). We experience this especially in the Eucharist when the Son of God, in the breaking of bread, brings together the vertical dimension of his divine gift with the horizontal dimension of our service to our brothers and sisters.

Benedict Oct 30 2011.jpgThe general intention

That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.

The missionary intention 

That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.

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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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Pope Benedict XVI category from November 2011.

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