05.30.2011 – Twenty-First Year – Num. 101
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CATHOLICISM MEANS MARIAN CHARACTER
VATICAN CITY, 28 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of the "Mariä Verkündigung" Marian Congregation of Men of Regensburg, Germany. They had come to the Vatican to celebrate with the Pope the 70th anniversary of his induction in that congregation in the Archbishopric Seminary of St. Michael of Traunstein, Germany.
Cover of Mary: The Church at the Source
The Pope recalled that when he entered the seminary, Europe was going through "a dark age. It was a time of war. One after the other, Hitler had subjugated Poland, Denmark, Benelux, and France. In April of 1941 ... he had occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. It seemed that the continent was in the hands of this power that, at the same time, put the future of Christianity in doubt. We had been admitted to the Congregation but shortly thereafter the war against Russia began. The seminary was dissolved and, before it was able to reassemble, the congregation was scattered to the four winds".
That is why, the pontiff continued, his entry in the "Mariä Verkündigung" was not "an 'exterior fact', but it stayed with me as 'an interior fact' because it had always been clear that Catholicism could not exist without a Marian character, that being Catholic meant belonging to Mary".
"Here, through the bishops' ad limina visits", the Holy Father commented, "I constantly sense how people - especially those in Latin America but in other continents as well - can entrust themselves to the Mother; how they can love the Mother and, through the Mother, can then learn to love Christ. I sense how the Mother continues to give birth to Christ; how Mary continues to say 'yes' and to bring Christ to the world".
"Mary is the great believer. She has taken up Abraham's mission of belief and made Abraham's faith into concrete faith in Jesus Christ, thus showing us all the way of faith, the courage to entrust ourselves to the God who puts Himself in our hands, the joy of being His witnesses. Then she shows us the determination to remain fast when all others have fled, the courage to remain at the Lord's side when he seems lost and thus to bear the witness that led to His Passion".
"I am thus very grateful", the Pope concluded, "to know that in Bavaria there are approximately 40,000 congregants; that still today there are men who, together with Mary, love the Lord. Men who, through Mary, are learning to know and to love the Lord and who, like her, bear witness to the Lord in difficult times as well as happy ones; who remain with Him under the Cross and who continue to live the Passion joyfully together with Him. Thank you all for continuing to hold this witness high, so that we might know that there are Catholic Bavarian men and members of the congregation who continue along the path initiated by the Jesuits in the XVI century and who continue to demonstrate that faith doesn't belong to the past but always opens itself to 'today' and especially to 'tomorrow'".
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KNOWLEDGE OF GOSPEL PRODUCES TRUE JOY
VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope commented on the passage from the Acts of the Apostles from the sixth Sunday of Easter when Phillip, "one of the deacons, arrived in a city of Samaria. There he preached the Risen Christ and his proclamation was accompanied by numerous healings. The episode ends very significantly: 'There was great joy in that city'. This expression, which basically communicates a sense of hope, strikes us every time. It is as if it said: 'It is possible! It is possible for humanity to know true joy because, wherever the Gospel reaches, there life flourishes".
"Phillip and the other disciples, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, carried out in the villages of Palestine what Jesus had done: they preached the Good News and worked miraculous signs. It was the Lord who acted through them. As Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom of God, the disciples announced the Risen Jesus, proclaiming that He is Christ, the Son of God, baptizing in his name and driving out every illness of body and spirit".
The Holy Father affirmed that "reading this passage, one thinks spontaneously of the Gospel's healing power, which throughout the centuries has 'watered' so many peoples like a beneficial river. Some great saints brought hope and peace to entire cities - think of Charles Borromeo in Milan during the time of plague; Mother Teresa of Calcutta; and those many missionaries, whose names are known to God, who have given their lives to bring the news of Christ and to make profound joy flourish among persons".
"While the powerful of this world sought to conquer new territories for political and economic interests", he continued, "Christ's messengers went everywhere with the purpose of bringing Christ to human beings and human beings to Christ, knowing that He alone can give true freedom and eternal life. The Church's vocation today is still evangelization: to the many the peoples who have not yet been 'watered' by the living waters of the Gospel as well as to those who, although having ancient Christian roots, are in need of new nourishment to bear new fruit and to rediscover the beauty and joy of the faith".
The Pope pointed out that "Blessed John Paul II was a great missionary, as an exhibit organized in Rome in these days documents. He re-launched the mission 'ad gentes' and, at the same time, promoted the new evangelization".
After praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope noted that "last Saturday in Cerreto Sannita, Italy, Sr. Maria Serafina of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (born Clotilde Micheli), was proclaimed Blessed. Born in Trentino, she founded in Campania the Institute of the Sisters of the Angels. On recalling the 100th anniversary of her birth in heaven, we rejoice with her spiritual daughters and all those devoted to her".
Addressing the Polish pilgrims, Benedict XVI noted that "yesterday was the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, the 'Primate of the Millennium'. Invoking the gift of his beatification, let us learn from him a total abandonment to the Mother of God. Let his trust, expressed with the words: 'I have entrusted all to Mary', be a special model for us. Let us recall this at the end of the month of May, which is especially dedicated to the Virgin".
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WORD OF GOD, CONSOLATION AND CHALLENGE FOR CHRISTIANS IN INDIA
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - "The Second Vatican Council reminds us that, among the more important responsibilities of bishops, the proclamation of the Gospel is pre-eminent", said Benedict XVI today to the prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India at the end of their ad limina visit, emphasizing that it is "a source of satisfaction that the proclamation of God's word is bearing rich spiritual fruit in your local Churches, especially through the spread of small Christian communities in which the faithful come together for prayer, reflection on the Scriptures and fraternal support".
"Every effort should be made", he continued, "to stress that individual and group prayer is, by its very nature, born of and leads back to, the wellspring of grace found in the Church's sacraments and her entire liturgical life. Nor can it be forgotten that the word of God not only consoles but also challenges believers, as individuals and in community, to advance in justice, reconciliation and peace among themselves and in society as a whole. ... In fidelity to the new commandment to love one another as the Lord has loved us, Christians of all times and places have striven to serve their fellow human beings selflessly and to love them with all their heart. After all, love is God's gift to humanity; it is his promise and it is our hope".
"In this light, I am pleased to note the impressive signs of the Church's charity in many fields of social activity, a service borne in a particular way by her priests and religious. ... The Church's schools prepare young people of all faiths and none to build a more just and peaceful society. Church agencies have been instrumental in the promotion of microcredit, helping the poor to help themselves. In addition, they promote the Church's healing and charitable mission through clinics, orphanages, hospitals and innumerable other projects aimed at promoting human dignity and well-being ... May Christ's faithful in India", the Pope prayed, "continue to assist all those in need in the communities around them, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or social status, out of the conviction that all have been created in God's image and all are due equal respect".
In conclusion, the Holy Father spoke of "the grave challenges which threaten to undermine the unity, harmony and sanctity of the family", which the bishops had referred to him, and about "the work which must be done to build a culture of respect for marriage and family life. A sound catechesis which appeals especially to those preparing for marriage", he said, "will do much to nourish the faith of Christian families and will assist them in giving a vibrant, living witness to the Church's age-old wisdom regarding marriage, the family, and the responsible use of God's gift of sexuality.
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ENTHUSIASM AND COURAGE GIVE START TO PROCLAIMING CHRIST
VATICAN CITY, 30 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon the Holy Father received participants in the plenary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, instituted in October of 2010, along with its president, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella.
Referring to the theme of the next synod of bishops in October of 2012, the theme of which will be "The New Evangelization and the Transmission of the Christian Faith", the Pope said that "the term 'new evangelization' recalls the need of a new way of evangelizing, especially for those who live in a situation like today's where the development of secularization has left deep marks on even traditionally Christian countries".
"The crisis we are living through", he stated, "carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people's lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life. ... Moreover, the phenomenon of people who wish to belong to the Church but who are strongly determined by a vision of life that is opposed to the faith is often seen".
Benedict XVI emphasized that "proclaiming Jesus Christ, the sole Savior of the world, is more complex today than in the past, but our task continues to be the same as at the beginning of our history. The mission hasn't changed, just as the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the apostles and first disciples should not change".
The Church's message, he continued, "needs to be renewed today in order to convince modern persons, who are often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find the ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, the salvation without with life is contradictory and lacking in what is essential. This includes those who remain tied to Christian roots but who have a difficult relationship with modernity. It is important to make them understand that being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity".
The Pope expressed the desire that in the plenary's work these days, the members and consultors outline "a plan to help the entire Church and the particular different Churches in the commitment of the new evangelization; a plan whereby the urgency of a renewed evangelization takes charge of formation, particularly that of the new generations, and is united to the proposal of concrete signs capable of making the Church's response in this particular moment clear".
"If, on the one hand, the entire community is called to revive the missionary spirit in order to offer the new message that persons of our times are hoping for, it cannot be forgotten", he finished, "that the lifestyle of believers needs real credibility, as much more convincing as the more dramatic is the condition of the persons to whom it is addressed".
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