Pope on the season of Lent

Vatican, 26-02-2012

“The season of Lent is a time to renew and strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, acts of penance, works of fraternal charity”, said Pope Benedict XVI this Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus prayer with thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered beneath his study window in St Peter’s Square.

False power of finance and media

Vatican, February 2012

“The world of finance, while necessary, no longer represents an instrument that favours our wellbeing or the life of mankind, instead it has become an oppressive power, that almost demands our adoration, mammon, the false divinity that truly dominates the world”.
This was Pope Benedict XVI’s reflection on the role of finance and the media during a visit to Rome’s Major Seminary. Drawing from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans he said: “Faced with conformity and submission to this power, we are non-conformists: it is not having, but being that counts!. We do not submit to this, we use it as a means, but with the freedom of the children of God”.


The spell of Lourdes           

The World Day of the Sick is a feast day of the Roman Catholic Church which was instituted on May 13, 1992 by Pope John Paul II.

The World Day of Sick is celebrated on February 11th, the anniversary of the date of the first apparition of Our Lady to St. Bernadette in a cave just outside Lourdes. The French town has since become one of the major pilgrimage destinations in the world with over 5 million sick and disabled people travelling there each year.

Credibility and transparency

2012-02-04 Vatican

In these years of heated debate and strong criticism towards the Holy See and the Church, it is absolutely necessary to remain firm, and – drawing inspiration from the Pope’s following of the Gospel standards of truth and moral strength – to show a firm determination to continue to give a coherent witness to moral values. The matter is especially urgent in two fields that attract a great deal of public attention: the issue of the sexual abuse of children, and that of economic-financial transparency.In the first sphere, the actions taken by the Pope, and the commitments developed in various local Churches that have been harshly tried by the scandal, have set in motion a series of initiatives: to listen to and help the victims of abuse, to examine the causes of abuse; and to raise awareness of, and work to prevent sexual abuse of children. By promoting these initiatives, it can be confidently said that we are heading in the right direction. The Conference being held this week at the Gregorian University of Rome – “Towards healing and renewal” – with the participation of over 100 episcopal conferences and 30 religious orders, and with the launch of an international centre that will continue its drive, is new proof of that. The Church intends to render justice to those harmed by abuse; to be itself renewed; and to be able to help a society and a world where sexual abuse is rampant, to effectively fight this scourge.


In the second sphere, the Holy See is working to insert its institutions into the international system of control over economic activity in the fight against money laundering, organised crime and terrorism. On several occasions the Vatican’s financial institutions, in particular the Institute for Works of Religion, have been accused unjustly: recently in the United States, a legal case against the Institute for Works of Religion—the third in three years—was dismissed due to its total groundlessness. And now, a series of new regulations will guarantee that activities carried out in the service of the Church are completely safe and transparent. The road is a long and difficult one but the way is clear and the will to do what is right is assured. And the Church’s witness to the Gospel will greatly benefit from it.

Pope Benedict: no violence in God’s name

2012-01-13 Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI entrusted the year 2012 to Mary, Mother of God, praying that it be lived by all under the sign of reciprocal respect and of the common good, and expressing the hope that no act of violence be committed in the name of God, Who is the Supreme Guarantor of justice and peace. The Pope’s prayer came at the end of remarks he delivered during a special audience for the officers and functionaries of the Italian State Police detail charged with serving the area of St. Peter’s and the Vatican. The Holy Father expressed to all his personal gratitude and that of his collaborators for what he called, “the precious and delicate work” that they do in maintaining public order, guaranteeing security and tranquillity to the millions of pilgrims and tourists who visit the square and the Basilica each year. The Pope encouraged the officers and functionaries of the Inspectorate to be authentic promoters of justice and sincere builders of peace, and asked Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Peace, to sustain the police and all those who work with him in the service of Christ’s people. 

The Child is our salvation

Urbi et Orbi Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI (Christmas, 25 December 2011)

Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.

This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).

This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”

The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”

Pope Benedict: Advent a time for honest self assessment

Vatican, December 4  2011

“As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives”, said Pope Benedict XVI Sunday, in his reflections before the midday Angelus prayer on this second Sunday of Advent.

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday marks the second stage of Advent. This period of the liturgical year highlights the two figures who played a prominent role in preparation for the historical coming of the Lord Jesus, the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. In fact today’s Gospel of Mark focuses on the figure of the Baptist. Indeed it describes the personality and mission of the Precursor of Christ (cf. Mk 1.2 to 8). Beginning with his outward appearance, John is presented as a very ascetic figure dressed in camel skin, he feeds on locusts and wild honey, found in the desert of Judea (cf. Mk 1.6). Jesus himself once held him in contrast to those who “wear fine clothing” in the “royal palaces ” (Mt 11.8). The style of John the Baptist was meant to call all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas, when the Lord – as Saint Paul would say – “became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich”(2 Cor 8.9).

With regard to the John’s mission, it was an extraordinary appeal to conversion: his baptism “is tied to a fiery invitation to a new way of thinking and acting, it is above all linked to the announcement of God’s justice” (Jesus of Nazareth I, Milan 2007, p. 34) and the imminent appearance of the Messiah, defined as “he who is mightier than I” and who will “baptize with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1,7.8). Therefore, John’s appeal goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of He who is “the Greatest” and made himself small, he who is “the Strongest” but became weak.

All four Evangelists describe the preaching of John the Baptist referring to a passage from the prophet Isaiah: ” A voice proclaims:In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God'”(Isaiah 40.3 ). Mark also adds a quote from another prophet, Malachi, who says: ” Now I am sending my messenger— he will prepare the way before me ” (Mk 1.2, see Mal 3.1). These references to the Old Testament Scriptures “speak of the saving intervention of God, coming out of his inscrutability to judge and save, we must open the door to Him, preparing the way” (Jesus of Nazareth, I, p. 35).

To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin who awaits, we entrust our journey towards the Lord who comes, as we continue our journey of Advent to prepare our hearts and our lives for the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us.

The courage of fraternity

2011-11-25 L’Osservatore Romano

The global economic crisis requires, “the courage of fraternity,” said the Pope on Thursday morning, November 24th, receiving in audience the participants at the Italian Caritas conference on the 40th anniversary of their founding. According to the Pontiff, the current, “gap between the north and south of the world, and the wounded the human dignity of so many people,” indicate a need today for, “charity able to expand in concentric circles from small economic systems to large ones.”

Benedict XVI is particularly concerned with, “an increasing poverty, the weakening of families, and the uncertainty faced by the young,” but also for the dramatic consequences of natural disasters and wars, especially concerning the, “vast world of migration.” Phenomena which indicate, according to the Pope, the concrete “risk of diminishing hope.”

Humanity, Benedict XVI said, “needs not only benefactors, but also humble and practical people who, like Jesus, stand next to their brothers and sisters, and share some of their burden.” In other words, “humanity is looking for signs of hope.” Thus the need to not lose sight of the true, “source of hope,” which, “is in the Lord.” This is why, the Pope said, “We need Caritas; not to delegate it with the responsibility for charitable service, but that it may be a sign of the charity of Christ, a sign which brings hope.”

The Pope asked the workers and volunteers of Caritas to help the Church, “to make the love of God visible,” amongst those most in need, animated by the knowledge that, “the Christian distinction,” is, “faith which is worked through charity.”

“Live gratuitousness,” the Pope said, “and help others to live it. Call everyone to the essentiality of love which is shown through service. Accompany those brothers and sisters who are weakest. Animate Christian communities. Tell the world about the word of love that comes from God. Look to charity as the synthesis of all of the charisms of the Spirit.” The Church’s activity, the Pope said, “does not seek to substitute, even less to assuage, the collective and civil conscience, but accompanies them in a spirit of sincere collaboration and with due concern for autonomy and subsidiarity.”

Mexican Founder to Be Beatified at Guadalupe Shrine

MEXICO CITY, SEPT. 16, 2011 Sister María Inés Teresa Arias will be beatified at the most visited Marian shrine in the world: the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

The nun, who died in 1981, founded the Poor Clare Missionaries of the Blessed Sacrament.

The beatification is scheduled for next April 21. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, will lead the beatification in representation of the Pope.

Sister María Inés Teresa was born Manuela de Jesús Arias Espinosa.

Her congregation is now active on every continent, focused on teaching and health care ministry.

Cardinal to Youth in Madrid: WYD Is Decisive for Your Future

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 16, 2011 – Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, welcomed youth to Madrid today with the affirmation that their presence is an “unwavering ‘yes!’ Yes, faith is possible.”

The Vatican official of the dicastery charged with organizing World Youth Days thus got the 26th World Youth Day under way. “The day we have all been waiting for has arrived,” he exclaimed.

“You have come to this meeting with the Holy Father Benedict XVI bringing with you all your plans and hopes, as well as your concerns and apprehensions about the choices that lie ahead,” the cardinal stated. “These will be days that you will never forget, days of important discoveries and decisions that will be decisive for your future.”

The 66-year-old cardinal noted that faith will be at the center of reflection for the Youth Day participants — estimated to number more than 1 million.

“Faith is a decisive factor in each person’s life,” he said. “Everything changes according to whether God exists or not. Faith is like a root that is nourished by the lifeblood of the word of God and the sacraments. It is the foundation, the rock on which life is built, the dependable compass that guides our choices and gives clear direction to our lives.

“Many of us might wonder: in our world today where God is often rejected and people live as if God did not exist, is it still possible to have faith?’

The cardinal answered that the young people’s presence in Madrid, “from the most remote corners of the planet” is a proclamation “to the whole world — and in particular to Europe which is showing signs of being very lost — [of their] unwavering ‘yes!’ Yes, faith is possible. It is in fact a wonderful adventure that allows us to discover the magnitude and beauty of our lives.”

The Vatican official, himself a native of Poland, also proposed that Blessed John Paul II is a “special guest” in Madrid.

“Blessed John Paul II has come back to you, the young people that he loved so much, and who was equally loved by you. He has returned as your blessed patron and as a protector in whom you can trust,” Cardinal Ryłko affirmed. “He has returned as a friend — a demanding friend, as he liked to call himself.

“He has come to say to you yet again and with much affection: Do not be afraid! Choose to have Christ in your lives and to possess the precious pearl of the Gospel for which it is worthwhile giving everything!”

Documentary Gives Pornography a Human Face

Film to Show at World Youth Day

ROME, JULY 29, 2011  The “digital age” generation flocking to Madrid for World Youth Day in a couple week’s time will be made aware of one of the darker sides of digital culture: the flourishing business of Internet pornography.

Thanks to an award-winning documentary created by Anteroom Pictures in New York City, the pornography industry will be exposed and analyzed before the young audience.

“Out of the Darkness” features the story of Shelley Lubben, a former sex worker and porn star who left that life behind and converted to Christianity.

The film is the winner of the Mystery of Love award at the 2011 John Paul II International Film Festival in Miami. It’s on to World Youth Day in Spain for a screening on Aug. 17.




“God Does Not Force Us to Believe in Him, But He Draws Us to Himself”

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 10, 2011 – The first public Angelus address by Benedict XVI held this summer in Castel Gandolfo.

Dear brothers and sisters!

I thank you for having come for the Angelus here in Castel Gandolfo, where I arrived a few days ago. I gladly welcome the occasion to address my cordial greetings to all the inhabitants of this dear town with wishes for a good summer.

In today’s Sunday gospel (Matthew 13:1-23), Jesus tells the crowd the celebrated parable of the sower. It is a passage that is in some sense “autobiographical” because it reflects the experience itself of Jesus, of his preaching: He identifies himself with the sower, who sows the good seed of the Word of God, and sees the different effects that follow according to the type of reception that is given to the proclamation. There are those who listen superficially but do not accept it; there are those who take it in at the moment but lack constancy and lose everything; there are those who are overcome by the worries and seductions of the world; and there are those who listen in a receptive way like good soil: Here the Word bears fruit in abundance.

But this Gospel also insists on the “method” of Jesus’ preaching, that is, precisely, the use of parables. “Why do you speak to them in parables?” the disciples ask (Matthew 13:10). And Jesus answers by making a distinction between them and the crowd: To the disciples, that is, to those who have already decided for him, he can speak openly of the Kingdom of Heaven; but to others he must speak in parables, precisely to awaken the decision, the conversion of the heart; parables, in fact, by their nature require an effort at interpretation, they engage one’s reason but also freedom.

St. John Chrysostom explains: “Jesus pronounced these words with the intention of drawing his listeners to him and to call them, assuring them that if they turn to him, he will heal them (Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, 45, 1-20). Ultimately, the true “Parable” of God is Jesus himself, his Person who, through the sign of humanity at the same time conceals and reveals the divinity. In this way God does not force us to believe in him, but he draws us to himself with the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son: love, in fact, always respects freedom.


Benedict XVI’s Corpus Christi Homily

“Thank You, Lord Jesus! Thank You for Your Fidelity”

ROME, JUNE 24, 2011  Here is an unofficial Vatican Radio translation of Benedict XVI’s homily for the feast of Corpus Christi, celebrated Thursday in Rome.

Dear brothers and sisters!  

The feast of Corpus Domini is inseparable from the Holy Thursday Mass of Caena Domini, in which the institution of the Eucharist is also celebrated. While on the evening of Holy Thursday we relive the mystery of Christ who offers himself to us in the bread broken and wine poured out, today, in celebration of Corpus Domini, this same mystery is proposed for the adoration and meditation of God’s people, and the Blessed Sacrament is carried in procession through the streets of towns and villages, to show that the risen Christ walks among us and guides us toward the kingdom of heaven. Today we openly manifest what Jesus has given us in the intimacy of the Last Supper, because the love of Christ is not confined to the few, but is intended for all. This year during the Mass of Our Lord’s Last Supper on Holy Thursday, I pointed out that the Eucharist is the transformation of the gifts of this land — the bread and wine — intended to transform our lives and usher in the transformation of the world. Tonight I would like to return to this point of view.

Everything starts, you might say, from the heart of Christ, who at the Last Supper on the eve of his passion, thanked and praised God and, in doing so, with the power of his love transformed the meaning of death, which he was about to encounter. The fact that the sacrament of the altar has taken on the name “Eucharist,” “thanksgiving,” expresses this: that the change in the substance of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is the fruit of the gift that Christ made of himself, a gift of a love stronger than death, divine love that brought him to rise from the dead. That is why the Eucharist is the food of eternal life, the Bread of life. From the heart of Christ, from his “Eucharistic Prayer” on the eve of his passion, flows the dynamism that transforms reality in its cosmic, human and historical dimensions. All proceeds from God, from the omnipotence of his love One and Triune, incarnate in Jesus. The heart of Christ is immersed in this love; because of this he knows how to thank and praise God even in the face of betrayal and violence, and thus changes things, people and the world.

This transformation is possible thanks to a communion stronger than division, the communion of God himself. The word “communion,” which we use to designate the Eucharist, sums up the vertical and horizontal dimension of the gift of Christ. The beautiful and eloquent expression “receive communion” refers to the act of eating the bread of the Eucharist. In fact, when we carry out this act, we enter into communion with the very life of Jesus, in the dynamism of this life that is given to us and for us. From God, through Jesus, to us: a unique communion is transmitted in the Holy Eucharist. We have heard as much, in the second reading, from the words of the Apostle Paul to the Christians of Corinth: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ”(1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

St. Augustine helps us to understand the dynamics of holy Communion when referring to a kind of vision he had, in which Jesus said to him: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”(Confessions, VII, 10, 18). Therefore, while the bodily food is assimilated by the body and contributes to sustain it, the Eucharist is a different bread: We do not assimilate it, but it assimilates us to itself, so that we become conformed to Jesus Christ and members of his body, one with him. This is a decisive passage. Indeed, precisely because it is Christ who, in Eucharistic communion, transforms us into him, our individuality, in this encounter, is opened up, freed from its self-centeredness and placed in the Person of Jesus, who in turn is immersed in the Trinitarian communion. Thus, while the Eucharist unites us to Christ, we open ourselves to others making us members one of another: We are no longer divided, but one thing in him. Eucharistic communion unites me to the person next to me, and to the one with whom perhaps I might not even have a good relationship, but also to my brothers and sisters who are far away, in every corner of the world. Thus the deep sense of social presence of the Church is derived from the Eucharist, as evidenced by the great social saints, who have always been great Eucharistic souls. Those who recognize Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, recognize their brother who suffers, who is hungry and thirsty, who is a stranger, naked, sick, imprisoned, and they are attentive to every person, committing themselves, in a concrete way, to those who are in need.

So from the gift of Christ’s love comes our special responsibility as Christians in building a cohesive, just and fraternal society. Especially in our time when globalization makes us increasingly dependent upon each other, Christianity can and must ensure that this unity will not be built without God, without true Love. This would give way to confusion and individualism, the oppression of some against others. The Gospel has always aimed at the unity of the human family, a unity not imposed from above, or by ideological or economic interests, but from a sense of responsibility toward each other, because we identify ourselves as members of the same body, the body of Christ, because we have learned and continually learn from the Sacrament of the Altar that communion, love is the path of true justice.

Let us return to Jesus’ act in the Last Supper. What happened at that moment? When he said: This is my body which is given to you, this is my blood shed for you and for the multitude, what happened? Jesus in that gesture anticipates the event of Calvary. He accepts his passion out of love, with its trial and its violence, even to death on the cross; by accepting it in this way he transforms it into an act of giving. This is the transformation that the world needs most, because he redeems it from within, he opens it up to the kingdom of heaven. But God always wants to accomplish this renewal of the world through the same path followed by Christ, indeed, the path that is himself. There is nothing magic in Christianity. There are no shortcuts, but everything passes through the patient and humble logic of the grain of wheat that is broken to give life, the logic of faith that moves mountains with the gentle power of God. This is why God wants to continue to renew humanity, history and the cosmos through this chain of transformations, of which the Eucharist is the sacrament. Through the consecrated bread and wine, in which his Body and Blood is truly present, Christ transforms us, assimilating us in him: He involves us in his redeeming work, enabling us, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to live according to his same logic of gift, like grains of wheat united with him and in him. Thus unity and peace, which are the goal for which we strive, are sown and mature in the furrows of history, according to God’s plan.

Without illusions, without ideological utopias, we walk the streets of the world, bringing within us the Body of the Lord, like the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Visitation. With the humble awareness that we are simple grains of wheat, we cherish the firm conviction that the love of God, incarnate in Christ, is stronger than evil, violence and death. We know that God is preparing for all people new heavens and new earth where peace and justice prevail — and by faith we glimpse the new world, that is our true home. Also this evening as the sun sets on our beloved city of Rome, we set out again on this path: With us is Jesus in the Eucharist, the Risen One, who said, “I am with you always, until the end of world “(Mt 28:20). Thank you, Lord Jesus! Thank you for your fidelity, which sustains our hope. Stay with us, because the evening comes. “Jesus, good shepherd and true bread, have mercy on us; feed us and guard us. Grant that we find happiness in the land of the living.” Amen.

Holy Spirit Will Make You Fearless, Pontiff Tells Youth

VATICAN CITY  – As the Church prepares for Sunday’s celebration of Pentecost, Benedict XVI is telling young people that the Holy Spirit will make them “fearless witnesses of Christ.”

The Pope said this today during greetings to youth, sick and newlyweds, with which he customarily closes the general audience.

“I exhort you, dear young people, to frequently invoke the Holy Spirit who makes you fearless witnesses of Christ,” the Holy Father said.

He expressed a prayer that the Holy Spirit, “the Comforter,” would help the sick to “receive the mystery of suffering in faith and to offer it for the salvation of all mankind.”

Finally, the Pontiff said: “May he sustain you, dear newlyweds, in building your families on the solid foundation of the Gospel.”

Pope Benedict XVI recommends spiritual direction for everyone

Says it is a way to live baptism responsibly

VATICAN CITY  Anyone who wants to live their baptism responsibly should have a spiritual director, said Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope affirmed this May 19 when he addressed members of the Pontifical Theological Faculty Teresianum. The faculty was founded in 1935; the audience with the Holy Father was part of the institute’s celebrations of its 75th anniversary.

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Carmelite institute’s emphasis on spiritual theology in the framework of anthropology. He said that in today’s context, studying Christian spirituality from its anthropological foundations “is of great importance.”

The pontiff recognized that an education at the Teresianum not only prepares students to teach this discipline, but has an “even greater grace” in that it gears students to “the delicate task of spiritual direction.”

As she has never failed to do, again today the church continues to recommend the practice of spiritual direction, not only to all those who wish to follow the Lord up close, but to every Christian who wishes to live responsibly his baptism, that is, the new life in Christ,” the pope stated. “Everyone, in fact, and in a particular way all those who have received the divine call to a closer following, needs to be supported personally by a sure guide in doctrine and expert in the things of God.”

The Holy Father noted how a spiritual guide helps ward off subjectivist interpretations as well as providing the counseled with the guide’s “own supply of knowledge and experiences in following Jesus.”

He likened spiritual direction to the “personal relationship that the Lord had with his disciples, that special bond with which he led them, following him, to embrace the will of the Father (Luke 22:42), that is, to embrace the cross.”

The Bishop of Rome urged the Teresianum students to “make a treasure of all that you will have learned in these years of study, to support all those whom Divine Providence will entrust to you, helping them in the discernment of spirits and in the capacity to second the motions of the Holy Spirit, with the objective of leading them to the fullness of grace, ‘until we all attain,’ as St. Paul says, ‘to the measure of the fullness of Christ.’’


Silence the Din to Hear God’s Call and  Sift Through the Noise to Hear Christ, urges Pope

VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2011  Benedict XVI says that every ecclesial community is called to promote and safeguard priestly and consecrated vocations, since the Lord’s voice is at risk of being submerged by many other voices. He noted that today’s liturgy presents Christ the Good Shepherd, while the flock’s attitude toward the Good Shepherd is presented “with two specific verbs: listening and following.”

“These terms designate the fundamental characteristics of those who live as followers of the Lord,” the Holy Father stated. “First of all, listening to his word from which faith is born and nourished. Only those who are attentive to the Lord’s voice are able to determine by their own conscience the right choices to act according to God. From listening, then, is derived the following of Jesus: we act as disciples after we have listened and internalized the Master’s teaching, to live it daily.”

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2011 Benedict XVI is encouraging young people to sift through the “many voices of this world” so as to be able to recognize the voice of Christ.

“Dear young people,” he said, “I hope you will be able to recognize, in the midst of the many voices of this world, the voice of Christ, who continues to address his invitation to the heart of the one who knows how to listen. Be generous in following him. Do not be afraid to put your energies and your enthusiasm at the service of his Gospel.”

Pope beatifies John Paul II

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI beatified Pope John Paul II before 1.5 million faithful in St. Peter’s Square and surrounding streets Sunday, moving the beloved former pontiff one step closer to possible sainthood in one of the largest turnouts ever for a Vatican Mass. During the last weeks of 2010, doctors and theologians from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints gathered in the strictest of secrecy, to finally approve the miracle that has taken the “Venerable” John Paul II to the altars.

It was the instant and unexplainable healing of a French nun, Marie Simon-Pierre, who suffered from advanced Parkinson’s. The disease forced her to retire from her duties as a nurse in the maternity hospital of Arles, France. In June 2005, after praying to John Paul II for an improvement in her disease, the Parkinson’s totally disappeared.

Pope’s homily rejects evolution without ‘divine reason’


Pope Benedict XVI holds up the book of the Gospels Saturday during the Easter Vigil mass, in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican. The pontif began Saturday night’s ceremony by lighting a candle that symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI marked the holiest night of the year for Christians by stressing that humanity isn’t a random product of evolution.

Benedict emphasized the Biblical account of creation in his Easter Vigil homily Saturday, saying it was wrong to think at some point “in some tiny corner of the cosmos there evolved randomly some species of living being capable of reasoning and of trying to find rationality within creation, or to bring rationality into it.”

“If man were merely a random product of evolution in some place on the margins of the universe, then his life would make no sense or might even be a chance of nature,” he said. “But no, reason is there at the beginning: creative, divine reason.”

Church teaching holds that Roman Catholicism and evolutionary theory are not necessarily at odds: A Christian can, for example, accept the theory of evolution to help explain developments, but is taught to believe that God, not random chance, is the origin of the world. The Vatican, however, warns against creationism, or the overly literal interpretation of the Bibilical account of creation.

The Easter Vigil is the most important liturgy on the church’s calendar, when the faithful mark the passage from Christ’s death to his resurrection on Easter Sunday. It is rich with symbols, fire and light signifying Jesus’ resurrection, and the water used to baptize people into the faith.

On Saturday night, Benedict baptized six adults from Switzerland, Albania, Russia, Peru, Singapore and China, pouring water over their heads as he prayed.

Good Friday:  Pope Benedict XVI on suffering

VATICAN CITY – In an unprecedented move, Pope Benedict XVI held a televised question-and-answer session to mark Good Friday, fielding queries from as far away as Japan, Iraq and the Ivory Coast on topics as wide-ranging as death, violence, intimidation and suffering.

Benedict told a Japanese girl frightened by the devastating quake and tsunami in her homeland that her suffering isn’t in vain and assured a Muslim woman in violence-wracked Ivory Coast of the Vatican’s peace efforts there.

In a prerecorded appearance on Italian state TV, the pope replied to some of a few thousand questions submitted online by Catholics and non-Catholics alike on the solemn day when Christians reflect on the suffering and crucifixion of Christ.

The unusual TV appearance was broadcast a few hours before Benedict was due at a service of prayer and meditation in St. Peter’s Basilica. Later, he was expected at the Colosseum in Rome for the traditional Way of the Cross procession.

Dressed in white robes during the Q&A, Benedict sat at a desk and spoke softly in Italian.

The first question came from Elena, a 7-year-old Japanese girl who told the pope that many children her age were killed in the March 11 disaster and asked why children have to be so sad.

“I also have the same questions: Why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease?” Benedict said. “And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent.”

Trying for words of comfort, the pope told her that “even if we are still sad, God is by your side.”

He said Elena should tell herself: “One day, I will understand that this suffering was not empty, it wasn’t in vain, but behind it was a good plan, a plan of love.”

A Muslim woman, speaking from Ivory Coast, where months of political standoff have been marked by deadly fighting, asked the pope: “As an ambassador of Jesus, what do you advise for our country?”

Benedict told her the Vatican was doing what it can and said he asked an African cardinal from among his aides to go to Ivory Coast “to try to mediate, to speak with the various groups and various people to encourage a new beginning.”

“The only path is to renounce violence, to begin anew with dialogue,” the pontiff said.

Another question came from young people in Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, where Christians have been fleeing warfare and intense religious persecution.

“We Christians in Baghdad are persecuted like Jesus,” came the question, along with a plea for advice on how to help fellow Christians reconsider their desire to emigrate.

Benedict replied that he prays daily for the Christians in Iraq, and urged them to “have faith, to be patient.”

One woman whose middle-aged son has been in a vegetative state since Easter 2009 wanted to know if his soul had left his body.

Benedict assured the mother that his soul is “still present in his body,” comparing the situation to a guitar with broken strings. “The instrument of the body is fragile like that, it is vulnerable, and the soul cannot play, so to speak, but remains present,” the pope told her. “I am also sure that his hidden soul feels your love deep down.”

The Vatican’s campaign against euthanasia is an important part of Benedict’s papacy. It has condemned those who would remove breathing devices or feeding tubes from people in a vegetative state, although Catholic teaching holds that faithful do not have to use extraordinary means to keep people alive.