Thursday, November 29, 2012

Consistory and Angelus Nov. 24-25

Angelus Message – Christ the King, November 25, 2012


            Blessed Solemnity of Christ the King!  For the Church, this weekend was a particularly special one due to the six new cardinals that were created by Pope Benedict XVI (see below).  One is an American, Cardinal James Michael Harvey.  One is from Lebanon, Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï; one from the Philippines, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; one from Nigeria, Cardinal John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan; one from India, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal; and one is from Colombia, Cardinal Salazar Gómez.  Congratulations to them! 

            In Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus message, after the First Mass with the new Cardinals, the Holy Father spoke about the importance of the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, which, as he teaches, sums up the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection and dominion over all.  As Catholics, we gaze with eager anticipation for the second coming of Christ, when God will be all in all, when Christ will hand over the Kingdom to His Father.  He spoke about how the mission of Jesus and His message consist in proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, which “is first of all manifested in the very person of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, 5) in his death and resurrection.  The Holy Father instructs, “This Kingdom of Christ has been entrusted to the Church, which is the ‘seed’ and ‘beginning’ and has the task of announcing it and spreading it among all the nations with the power of the Holy Spirit.  At the end of the determined time the Lord will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father and will present to him all who have lived by the commandment of love”.  May we be among those who have lived by the commandment of love!  As we work to announce and proclaim the Kingdom of God, as the Holy Father tells us, we are to convert to the Gospel and firmly decide to follow the King, who came to serve and bear witness to the truth.  In this light, he invited all to pray with him for the newly created Cardinals, “that the Holy Spirit strengthen them in faith and in charity and fill them with him gifts so that they live their new responsibility as a further commitment to Christ and his Kingdom”. 

            Speaking to the English speakers present at the Angelus prayer, he spoke of another beatification, this one in Macas, Ecuador!  Her name is Blessed Maria Troncatti, who was a religious sister of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.  Giving a brief history, the Holy Father explains, “She was born in Val Camonica, Italy, and was a nurse during the First World War.  She later went to Ecuador where she dedicated herself to the people of the forest, in evangelizing and human development.  Let us give thanks to God for this generous witness of hers!”

            Further, he spoke about the upcoming pilgrimage of university students to the Tomb of Saint Peter for the Year of Faith, in which he will preside at First Vespers!  Get ready, university students!


Image from . 

Monday, November 26, 2012

The reasonableness of faith

The reasonableness of faith as an encounter with the splendour of God’s truth.
General Audience, November 21, 2012

In last week's audience, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the relationship between faith and reason.  When greeting the English-speaking pilgrims, he said, "Far from being in conflict, faith and science go hand in hand in the service of man’s moral advancement and his wise stewardship of creation."  The Catholic perspective never places faith in opposition to reason; rather, as Blessed Pope John Paul II said in the introduction to Fides et Ratio:

"Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves."

Blessed Pope John Paul II--picture from the banner
at his beatification
In this same line of thought, Pope Benedict spoke about the fruitful relationship that is possible between faith and reason:
  • Through faith we discover that the encounter with God perfects and elevates whatever is true, good and beautiful in us.
  • Faith makes possible an authentic knowledge of God; this knowledge involves the whole person and gives a whole new flavor to life, a new and joyful way of being in the world.
Fideism, which Pope Benedict defines as the will to believe against reason--in other words, I believe this thing because it does not make sense--has always been rejected by Catholic tradition.  Why is this so?

God is Truth, and can therefore never be an absurdity, that is, something that I believe in because I cannot know it.  At the same time, this does not deny that God is a mystery.  But the fact that something or someone is a mystery to us does not automatically make that thing "irrational."  Rather, let's think of mystery as an overabundance of meaning, significance, and truth.  The Holy Father cited the classic example of looking into the sun: when you look directly at the sun, you only see darkness.  But we all know that this doesn't mean that the sun is dark.  Rather, it is so luminous that we are not capable of seeing all its light at the same time.

Faith allows us to look at God, but that doesn't mean that we understand all of God all at once.  It is also false to say that faith blocks the human reason, because our faith is exercised with reason: "I believe so that I may understand; I think so that I may believe." (St. Augustine)

It's important to understand this point, because from here we can see that the Catholic faith actually nurtures trust in human reason.  Again, from Fides et Ratio:
'Faith is in a sense an “exercise of thought”; and human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice.'

'The world is not a shapeless mass of magma, but the better
we know it and the better we discover its marvellous mechanisms
the more clearly we can see a plan,
 we see that there is a creative intelligence.
Albert Einstein said that in natural law is revealed
“an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it,
all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings
is an utterly insignificant reflection” (The World As I See It, 1949).'
--Pope Benedict XVI, General audience, November 14, 212
Once we see the connection between faith and reason, we can begin to build up a virtuous relationship between science and faith.  Scientific research brings us to ever new truths about man and the world; we see its fruits all around us and we are grateful for the amazing discoveries already reached.  A question arises though: What can faith possibly have to say to the world of science?  The two seem diametrically opposed in our world view.

A truly lived faith does not enter into conflict with science, but cooperates with it.  Faith offers the fundamental criteria for the promotion of the common good.  Seeking the true good of man includes supporting research geared at the service of life and the well-being of all.  Scientific research that promotes responsible stewardship of creation is also very important.  When science, however, attempts against or opposes the original plan of God, the effects will backfire, and man will harm himself.  Faith assures that scientific progress will always be for the good and truth of man, remaining faithful to the designs of God.
God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world.  God, who alone made heaven and earth, can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself.  --Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 216
Image of Pope John Paul II from
Image of Albert Einstein from

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On the Coming of the Son of Man

Angelus Message – November 18, 2012


            Sunday’s Gospel, Mark 13:24-32, known as the “eschatological discourse” in which Jesus speaks of the end times, is described by Pope Benedict XVI as “probably the most difficult text in the Gospels”.  This difficultly, he acknowledges, lies in both the content and the language used.  Christ, when relating of the end times, speaks using Old Testament imagery about the tumult of nature, but does something different, too.  He adds Himself, the Son of Man, as the new center.  The Holy Father states, “The ‘Son of Man’ is Jesus Himself, who links the present with the future; the ancient words of the prophets have finally found a center in the person of the Messiah of Nazareth: he is the central event that, in the midst of the troubles of the world, remains the firm and stable point”.  Christ is our center, and in Him we trust.

            Reflecting on the words, “The sky and the earth will pass away but my words will not pass away”, the Holy Father speaks of the creative power of God’s Word.  His Word made the earth and all contained therein.  Christ is the Word, and the Word, because he is the Word made flesh, passes through his very being, his actions, and his human words, which direct and orient the “thought and path of man on earth”.  Oftentimes when we think of the end times, we think of different Hollywood movies or we think of the different, in a certain sense, worries or paranoia that develop.  The Holy Father teaches, though,

…Jesus does not describe the end of the world and when he uses apocalyptic images he does not conduct himself like a ‘visionary’.  On the contrary, he wants to take away the curiosity of his disciples in every age about dates and predictions, and wishes instead to give them a key to a deep, essential reading, and above all to indicate the right path to take, today and tomorrow, to enter into eternal life.  Everything passes – the Lord tells us – but God’s Word does not change, and before this Word each of us is responsible for his conduct.  It is on this basis that we will be judged.

He concludes saying that we all need a stable center for our life and our hope and our meaning because we find ourselves enveloped in relativism.  With the intercession and help of the Virgin Mary, may we accept this center found in Christ. 

Again, this week, the Holy Father spoke of another beatification, which took place on November 17, 2012 in Argentina!  Her name is Argentina Maria Crescencia Perez (1897-1932) of the Daughters of Mary Most Holy of the Garden.  Her motto was, “Do what God wants, want what God wants, and be where God wants”.  The Holy Father declared, “She lived in the first half of the last century and is a model of evangelical sweetness animated by faith.  Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

Information and photo taken from


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ways that bring us to the knowledge of God.

In the audience of November 14, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI meditated briefly on different ways for men and women to arrive at the knowledge of God.  As we search for God, however, we have to remember that this is not one-sided.  God’s initiative always precedes our own questioning: He illuminates, guides, and at the same time respects our freedom.
There are ways that open the heart of man to the knowledge of God, and there are signs that lead us to God.  There are also difficulties and obstacles to faith.  Let’s look at the those first.  The Holy Father mentioned three:

1. atheism
2. skepticism
3. indifference to the vertical or transcendent dimension of man

The first, atheism, isn’t so much a scientific theory of reality that denies God, although that does exist.  The Holy Father is talking about “pratical atheism”, in which the truths of faith or religious rites are not negated, but simply considered irrelevant for daily life.  In other words, faith in God is pretty much useless.  In this mindset, we can live our faith in a superficial way, as if God did not really exist.
The second obstacle, skepticism, considers God as a “projection” of the human spirit, an illusion, or the product of a society that is alienated from itself.  Coupled with a strong secularism, the result is an understanding of man as absolutely autonomous, the measure and maker of reality. 

The third obstacle is particularly insidious, and is a result of the processes of the first two.  Humans, separated from God, are reduced to “one dimension”, the horizontal one.  What exactly does reducing man to “one dimension” mean?  By throwing out God, man’s ethical horizon also becomes obscure, fostering relativism and an ambiguous idea of freedom.  The reducing of man and the subsequent ethical meltdown that occurs is one of the fundamental causes of the totalitarian regimes that led to such tragic consequences in the last century.

And yet, this is what we believe:
The root reason for human dignity lies in man’s call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by God’s love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator.  Gaudium et Spes, 19

Out of the truth of our faith we respond to the obstacles we face.  “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope… (1 Peter 3:15)”
The reasons, or ways, that Pope Benedict suggests are: the world, man, and faith.  He is taking the three obstacles we encountered above and turning them into opportunities.

1.  The world
Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air, amply spread around everywhere, question the beauty of the sky, question the serried ranks of the stars, question the sun making the day glorious with its bright beams, question the moon tempering the darkness of the following night with its shining rays, question the animals that move in the waters, that amble about on dry land, that fly in the air; their souls hidden, their bodies evident; the visible bodies needing to be controlled, the invisible souls controlling them; question all these things. They all answer you, 'Here we are, look; we're beautiful.'  Their beauty is their confession. Who made these beautiful changeable things, if not one who is beautiful and unchangeable?  - Saint Augustine, Sermon 241

2.  The human person
“Do not go abroad, but return within yourself: truth dwells in the inner man.”  - Saint Augustine, De vera religione, 39, 72

We have the capacity, because we are created in the image and likeness of God, to look profoundly within ourselves and read there the thirst for the infinite that we carry within, that pushes us to go beyond and directs us to the only One who can satiate it.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 33: The human person: with his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence.

3.  Faith
The person who believes is united to God, and his or her very existence becomes a witness of the Risen Lord.  Through faith, God converts us and transforms our daily life: mindsets, judgments, and concrete choices and actions.  Faith is not an escape, an illusion, a cozy blanket, a sentiment, no—none of those things.  It is the involvement of my whole life in the Gospel, the Good News that is capable of setting me free.  It requires that I purify my own life so that I may be conformed to Christ, Who is the true Way that leads to God.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On trusting God - November 11, 2012

Angelus – November 11, 2012 – On Trusting God


            This week, in his Sunday Angelus message in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI addressed those present and spoke about the two widows found in Sunday’s Mass readings, one found in 1 Kings 17:10-16 and the other found in the Gospel, Mark 12:41-44.  First explaining what occurred in the readings, he comments, “Both of these women are desperately poor and precisely in this situation demonstrate a great faith in God”.  Pope Benedict argues that from these two readings and these two women, a “precious teaching about faith” can be found.  He expounds, “It is about the interior attitude of those who base their lives on God, on His Word, and completely entrust themselves to Him”.  In Scripture, widows were often very poor and in need.  However, Pope Benedict urges,


Nevertheless, Scripture says that the objective condition of need, in this case the fact of being a widow, is not sufficient: God always asks for our adherence in faith, which is expressed in love of Him and neighbour.  No one is ever so poor that he cannot give something.  And in fact both of our widows today demonstrate their faith through acts of charity…


            Pope Benedict also quoted Pope Saint Leo the Great (whose feast day was November 10th), saying, “No act of goodness is without value before God, no act of mercy is without fruit”. 

            He concluded his message showing how our Blessed Mother is the perfect example of how one entrusts oneself to God completely, and he asks for her help during this Year as we grow and strengthen our confidence in God and His Word.  During this next week, may we practice and live with full trust and confidence in God and His provident care. 

            While greeting those in the Square, His Holiness acknowledged the beatification of Maria Luisa Prosperi, who was beatified on Saturday in Spoleto, Italy.  She was a religious, a Benedictine abbess, who lived from 1779-1847.  She was also a mystic, “who desired to associate herself with Christ’s Passion in a singular way”. 

            Blessed Maria Luisa Prosperi, pray for us!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The desire for God

General audience November 7, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI began this week's General audience with a quote from the Catechism:

"The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for." 

He reflected that such a statement could be seen as provocative in our secularized Western culture, but the fact of the matter is that every man and woman faces the question of what "the Good" is and how to obtain it. 

One way that such questions begin to surface in us is through the experience of human love.
Through love, man and woman experience in a new way, thanks to one another, the greatness and the beauty of life and reality.  If love is real, then it also calls men and women to come out of themselves in order to be with and for the other.  The "initial ecstasy" of human love is thus translated into a "pilgrimage":

Love is indeed “ecstasy”, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God. - from Deus caritas est

Other human experiences also lend themselves to this movement toward a reality greater than the individual; such encounters, like friendship, beauty, and the love of truth, will call a person to go beyond his or her self.  Every desire that we experience is an echo of a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied--the cor inquietum that Saint Augustine wrote about.  It is the desire for God.

It is possible to find again authentic religious meaning in our life, but what can help us awaken our longing for God?  Pope Benedict spoke of the pedagogy of desire, which has two main aspects.

The first thing to do is to learn (or re-learn) to taste the real joys of life.  Not every satisfaction has the same effect on us.  Some leave us bitter and empty, making life seem meaningless and even insipid.  Other satisfactions, however, will bring peace to our souls while at the same time making us more energetic and generous.  Think of friendship and solidarity with those who suffer; think of family and service that calls me out of my own little world; also the love of art, beauty, knowledge, nature...all these things vivify us, and through them will emerge the desire for God.

 The second aspect of the pedagogy of desire is never to content ourselves with the measure we have already attained.  The truest joys are those that liberate our cor inquietum, our restless heart, and make us desire a more arduous and greater good.

By educating our desires, we will learn to tend toward the Good that we cannot procure of our own strength; we will never become discouraged by the strain or by the obstacles that come from our sins.  When desire opens the door for God, this is already a sign of faith--faith that is a grace of God.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Angelus – November 4, 2012 – On God's Love


            Reflecting upon this Sunday's Gospel, Matthew 12:28-34, the Holy Father spoke about our Lord's great commandment to love God and our neighbor.  He reminds us that the saints are those who, by trusting in the grace of God, seek to live this law. 

            In his address, Pope Benedict XVI twice used the example of the relationship of parents with their children.  He stated, “The commandment of love can be put fully into practice by those who live in a deep relationship with God, precisely in the way that a child becomes capable of living through a good relationship to his mother and father”.  Again, he further comments, “If God's love has sunk deep roots in a person, he is able to love even those who do not merit this love, just as God loves us.  Fathers and mothers do not love their children only when they merit it: they love them always, even if, of course, they make them understand when they have made mistakes”. 

            The Holy Father teaches that above all love is a gift.  It something we all can know and experience, and it can grow and develop in our own lives.  It is a self-giving without thinking about the cost, a reaching out to the other without caving in upon oneself.  He states,

We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes but with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ.  It is a look that comes from the heart and does not stop at the surface; it goes beyond appearances and succeeds in grasping the expectations of the other: of being listened to, of being gratuitously attended to; in a word, of being loved.  But there is also the inverse path: opening myself to the other as he is, reaching out to him, making myself available, I open myself also to knowing God, to knowing that he exists and that he is good.

            Further, the Holy Father spoke about how the love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparably related.  Jesus did not invent this, but revealed it by His words and, above all, by His actions.  “In the Eucharist he grants us a twofold love, giving us himself, so that, nourished by this Bread, we love each other as he loved us.”  He ends asking, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, that we may know how to show our faith with a clear witness of love of neighbor.  Blessed Mother, pray for us!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Angelus Message – Feast of All Saints


            Blessed Solemnity of All Saints!  Today, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus in Saint Peter's Square and presented a beautiful message on the dual dimension of the Church – the Church journeying on earth in time and history, and the Church that is celebrating the never-ending feast in heaven, which is the fullness of life in God.  He pointed out that “these two dimensions are united by the reality of the 'communion of saints'”. 

            The Holy Father beautifully unfolds the mystery of communion, a “mystery totally centered on Jesus Christ: it is He who introduced this new dynamic to mankind, a movement that leads toward God and at the same time towards unity, towards peace in its deepest sense”.  This begins and unfolds on earth, and he teaches us that, “Being a Christian, being part of the Church means being open to this communion, like a seed that unfolds in the ground, dying, and sprouts upwards, toward heaven.”  Pope Benedict states that the saints lived this mystery in a very intense way and also in a very personal way.  “In fact, being united to Christ, in the Church, does not negate ones' personality, but opens it, transforms it with the power of love, and confers on it, already here on earth, an eternal dimension.” 

            He continues saying that it means to be conformed and molded to the image of the Son of God, and that the mystery of communion, this insertion in Christ, also puts us in communion with all the other members of the Church, of His Mystical Body.  This is a “communion that is perfect in 'Heaven', where there is no isolation, no competition or separation.” 

            In his final thoughts, the Holy Father reflects:

“In the saints, we see the victory of love over selfishness and death: we see that following Christ leads to life, eternal life, and gives meaning to the present, every moment that passes, because it is filled with love and hope.  Only faith in eternal life makes us truly love the history and the present, but without attachment, with the freedom of the pilgrim, who loves the earth because his heart is in Heaven.”

            He concluded by asking the Blessed Virgin Mary “to obtain for us the grace to strongly believe in eternal life and feel ourselves in true communion with our deceased loved ones”. 


            Today, also, at Saint Peter's Basilica, as they do each year, they display a series of relics on the main altar in Basilica.  Pilgrims are invited to venerate and honor the relics, reminding all of the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us.  All you holy men and women, pray for us!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Faith within the Church

General Audience: October 31, 2012

Wednesday's General audience gave Pope Benedict XVI to expound on last week's look at the act of faith.  This week, the Pope linked the personal act of faith to the faith of the Church: you can't have one without the other.  Or, as Saint Cyprian says, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.”

Recap: Faith is a gift of God because he is the one who comes to encounter us.  Faith is also a response to this encounter: we accept God as the firm foundation of our life.  Faith then begins to transform our existence.
  • Faith has more than an individual perspective.  To believe is not just the result of reflection in solitude; it is the fruit of relationship, of dialogue, which includes listening, receiving, and responding.  Faith is truly personal only if it is also communal.  The community in which I believe is the Church.  "My" faith is only mine if it is also the faith of the one Church.
  • From Lumen Gentium 9:
    God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness. 
    A screenshot of footage from the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Credit: CTV/CNA.
    There is an uninterrupted chain and an unbreakable link between the life of the Church, the proclamation of the Word of God, and the celebration of the sacraments; this has reached our times, and it's called Tradition.  It is the guarantee that what we believe is the original message of Christ, preached by the Apostles.  Scripture contains the the Word of God, and the Tradition of the Church conserves it and faithfully transmits it.
  • Faith grows and matures within the ecclesial community.  Saint Paul, in his letter to the Romans, calls the Christians in Rome "saints"--but he didn't mean it in the way we usually think of saints, like Saint Kateri Tekakwitha.  So what did he mean?  That those who have and live the faith in Christ are called to become a reference point for everybody else.  We, like the Romans that Paul was writing to, are called to put others in contact with the Person and message of Jesus, who reveals the face of the living God.  The faith of the Church forms us in this mission.
  • The tendency to relegate faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature.  In the Church we have not only a confirmation of our faith, but also the very real experience of it in the Word, the Sacraments, the grace which sustains us, and the witness of love.
  • The experience of communion with God is what faith brings us through the life of the Church.  That communion is the basis for communion and peace among men.  Individualism does not makes us stronger, it chokes our relationships and makes them ever more fragile.  Faith makes us bearers of love and communion with God for the whole human race.

Friday, November 2, 2012

October 28, 2012 – Angelus Message – Closing of the Synod of Bishops


            Sunday, October 28, 2012 marked the end of a three-week journey of meetings and discussions for the Synod of Bishops, called by Pope Benedict XVI, on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.  Throughout this time, the streets have been bustling with visitors from all over the world who have been involved with the meetings in some fashion or another.  Bishops, priests, and lay faithful came together to present the needs of the Church in our contemporary era and to reflect on the reality facing the Church, as well as ways and avenues of presenting the faith to the faithful and today's secularized socieities.   Pope Benedict XVI reflected,


 “...the whole Church was represented and, thus, involved in this work, which will not fail to bear its fruits with the Lord’s grace. First of all, however, the Synod is always a moment of vibrant ecclesial communion, and I would to thank God for this together with all of you. He has once again made us experience the beauty of being Church, and to be it precisely today, in this world as it is, in the midst of this humanity with its toils and its hopes.”


He once again acknowledged and stressed the importance of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the beginning of the Year of Faith, relating how it helpful it was during these past few weeks to be thinking and meditating upon Blessed John Paul II, Servant of God Paul VI, and the Council.  The Holy Father believes that this thrust for new evangelization was a dynamism beginning in the 1950s with the emphasis to evangelize traditionally Christian countries that had become “mission territories”.  Offering these thoughts, Pope Benedict stated,


“Thus there emerged the need for a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the secularized societies, with the twofold certainty that, on the one hand, it is only he, Jesus Christ, the one who is truly new, who answers to the expectations of the men of every age, and, on the other hand, that his message must be transmitted in changed social and cultural contexts.”


Following, the Holy Father said he would try to order and elaborate a teaching from all the information he personally listened to and all the information that he gathered and was given through collaborators.  Summarizing, he stated,


“From this moment we can say that there has emerged from this Synod a strengthened commitment to the spiritual renewal of the Church herself so as to spiritually renew the secularized world; and this renewal will come from the rediscovery of Jesus Christ, of his truth and of his grace, of his 'countenance' so human and so divine upon which the mystery of God’s transcendence shines.


He concluded, entrusting all the fruits and labor of the Synod meetings to the Blessed Mother, Mary Star of the New Evangelization, asking her intercession to bring all to Christ with courage and joy. 


After praying the Angelus, he asked a prayer request for all the victims of the hurricane that had hit at that time in the Caribbean islands, especially Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.  He stated, “I invite everyone to prayer and solidarity, to alleviate the grief of the families of the victims and to offer help to the thousands who have been injured.”  May we join together in prayer with our Holy Father for all those who have been affected by the devastating effects of the hurricane weather in the Caribbean islands and on the East Coast of the United States of America. 


May we also pray that these meetings will continue to bear much fruit in the Church, and that we each may know and rediscover Christ, His truth, His grace, and His countenance.  Blessed Mother, pray for us!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

"The real protagonists of the new evangelization are the saints..."


Vatican Basilica
Sunday, 28 October 2012


Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The miracle of the healing of blind Bartimaeus comes at a significant point in the structure of Saint Mark’s Gospel. […] Saint Augustine, in one of his writings, makes a striking comment about the figure of Bartimaeus, which can be interesting and important for us today.  He reflects on the fact that in this case Mark indicates not only the name of the person who is healed, but also the name of his father, and he concludes that “Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most remarkable wretchedness, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging. And this is also the reason, then, why Mark has chosen to mention only the one whose restoration to sight acquired for the miracle a fame as widespread as was the notoriety which the man’s misfortune itself had gained” (On the Consensus of the Evangelists, 2, 65, 125: PL 34, 1138).  Those are Saint Augustine’s words.

This interpretation, that Bartimaeus was a man who had fallen from a condition of “great prosperity”, causes us to think.  It invites us to reflect on the fact that our lives contain precious riches that we can lose, and I am not speaking of material riches here.  From this perspective, Bartimaeus could represent those who live in regions that were evangelized long ago, where the light of faith has grown dim and people have drifted away from God, no longer considering him relevant for their lives.  These people have therefore lost a precious treasure, they have “fallen” from a lofty dignity – not financially or in terms of earthly power, but in a Christian sense – their lives have lost a secure and sound direction and they have become, often unconsciously, beggars for the meaning of existence.  They are the many in need of a new evangelization, that is, a new encounter with Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mk 1:1), who can open their eyes afresh and teach them the path.  It is significant that the liturgy puts the Gospel of Bartimaeus before us today, as we conclude the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization.  This biblical passage has something particular to say to us as we grapple with the urgent need to proclaim Christ anew in places where the light of faith has been weakened, in places where the fire of God is more like smouldering cinders, crying out to be stirred up, so that they can become a living flame that gives light and heat to the whole house.

The new evangelization applies to the whole of the Church’s life.  It applies, in the first instance, to the ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life.  I would like here to highlight three pastoral themes that have emerged from the Synod.  The first concerns the sacraments of Christian initiation.  It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  The importance of Confession, the sacrament of God’s mercy, has also been emphasized.  This sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord’s call to holiness, addressed to all Christians.  In fact it has often been said that the real protagonists of the new evangelization are the saints: they speak a language intelligible to all through the example of their lives and their works of charity.

Secondly, the new evangelization is essentially linked to the Missio ad Gentes.  The Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ.  During the Synod, it was emphasized that there are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel.  So we must ask the Holy Spirit to arouse in the Church a new missionary dynamism, whose progatonists are, in particular, pastoral workers and the lay faithful.  Globalization has led to a remarkable migration of peoples.  So the first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelized long ago.  All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News.

A third aspect concerns the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism.  During the Synod, it was emphasized that such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularized countries.  The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful.  Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing new language attuned to the different world cultures, proposing the truth of Christ with an attitude of dialogue and friendship rooted in God who is Love.  In various parts of the world, the Church has already set out on this path of pastoral creativity, so as to bring back those who have drifted away or are seeking the meaning of life, happiness and, ultimately, God.  We may recall some important city missions, the “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, the continental mission, and so on.  There is no doubt that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, will abundantly bless these efforts which proceed from zeal for his Person and his Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters, Bartimaeus, on regaining his sight from Jesus, joined the crowd of disciples, which must certainly have included others like him, who had been healed by the Master.  New evangelizers are like that: people who have had the experience of being healed by God, through Jesus Christ.  And characteristic of them all is a joyful heart that cries out with the Psalmist: “What marvels the Lord worked for us: indeed we were glad” (Ps 125:3).  Today, we too turn to the Lord Jesus, Redemptor hominis  and lumen gentium, with joyful gratitude, making our own a prayer of Saint Clement of Alexandria: “until now I wandered in the hope of finding God, but since you enlighten me, O Lord, I find God through you and I receive the Father from you, I become your coheir, since you did not shrink from having me for your brother.  Let us put away, then, let us put away all blindness to the truth, all ignorance: and removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God ...; since a light from heaven shone down upon us who were buried in darkness and imprisoned in the shadow of death, [a light] purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth” (Protrepticus, 113: 2 – 114:1).  Amen.

(Cited on November 1, 2012 from