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Pope's Words to Prelates of Hong Kong and Macao
"Christ Is Also for China a Teacher, Pastor and Loving Redeemer"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the bishops of the Chinese dioceses of Hong Kong and Macao at the conclusion of their five-yearly visit.
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My dear Brother Bishops,
Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104:30). With these words I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to you. I thank His Eminence Cardinal Zen for the kind words of filial devotion which he expressed on your behalf. Please be assured of my personal affection and my prayers for you and for all who have been entrusted to your pastoral care. I am thinking at this moment of the priests, the religious men and women and all the lay faithful of your two diocesan communities. This Ad Limina Apostolorum visit is an occasion to renew your commitment to make Jesus ever more visible in the Church and better known in society by bearing witness to his love and the truth of his Gospel.
As I wrote in my letter of 27 May 2007 to the Catholic Church in China, referring to the invitation Duc in altum (cf. Lk 5:4) which Jesus offered to Peter, to his brother Andrew and to the first disciples, "these words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever' (Heb 13:8)" (cf. No. 3). Your two particular Churches are also called to be witnesses to Christ, to look forward in hope and to announce the Gospel facing up to the new challenges that the people of Hong Kong and Macao must embrace.
The Lord has given every man and woman the right to hear the proclamation that Jesus Christ "loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). Corresponding to this right is the duty to evangelize: "For I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16; cf Rom 10:14). All of the Church's activities are oriented towards evangelization and may not be separated from the commitment to assist everyone to encounter Christ in faith, which is the primary aim of evangelization: "Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little" (Benedict XVI Homily during Holy Mass at Munich's Neue Messe Esplanade [10 September 2006] AAS 98  710).
The Church's mission is taking place today in the context of globalization. I observed recently that the forces generated by globalization hold humanity suspended between two poles. On the one hand are the many social and cultural bonds which tend to promote attitudes of world-wide solidarity and shared responsibility for the good of mankind. On the other hand, there are worrying signs of fragmentation and individualism dominated by secularism which pushes the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipses the very source of harmony and unity of the universe. The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon draw attention to the need for a solid formation and call for concentrated efforts aimed at supporting the spiritual and moral ethos of your people.
I am aware that in both Dioceses, just as in the rest of the Church, an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy is needed. Hence the invitation extended to you as Bishops who are responsible for your ecclesial communities, to give special attention to young priests confronted with new pastoral challenges arising from the task of evangelizing a society as complex as today's. Ongoing formation of the clergy "is an intrinsic requirement of the gift and sacramental ministry received; and it proves necessary in every age. It is particularly urgent today, not only because of rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions of individuals and peoples among whom the priestly ministry is exercised, but also because of that 'new evangelization' which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church at the end of the Second Millennium" (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis [25 March 1992], 70: AAS  78). Your pastoral solicitude should embrace especially all consecrated men and women, called to render visible in the Church and in the world, the characteristic traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient.
Dear Brothers, as you know, Catholic schools offer an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations. This crucial aspect of personal growth is what motivates Catholic parents, and those from other religious traditions, to seek out Catholic schools. In this regard I wish to send greetings to all the men and women who offer generous service to the Catholic schools of both Dioceses. They are called to be "witnesses of Christ, epiphany of the love of God in the world" and to posses "the courage of witnessing and the patience of dialogue" serving "human dignity, the harmony of creation, the existence of peoples and peace" (Consecrated Persons and their mission in schools, 1-2). It is therefore of great importance to be close to students and to their families, to watch over the formation of the young in the light of Gospel teaching and to follow closely the spiritual needs of all who form part of the school community. The Catholic schools of your two dioceses have given significant impulse to the social development and cultural growth of your people. Today these educational centres face new difficulties; be assured that I am with you, and I encourage you to ensure that this important service will never fall by the wayside.
In your mission as Pastors, draw confidence from the Paraclete who defends, counsels and protects (cf. Jn 14:16)! Encourage the faithful to welcome all to which the Spirit gives birth! I have recalled on different occasions that ecclesial movements and new communities are a "luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church his Bride" (cf. Message to the Participants in the Congress of 22 May 2006). Addressing them as my "dear friends of the movements", I encouraged them to act so that they would always be "schools of communion, journeying together and learning the truth and the love that Jesus has revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the Apostles, in the great family of his disciples" (ibid.). I exhort you to support the movements with great love because they are one of the most important new realities fostered by the Spirit in the Church in order to put into practice the Second Vatican Council (cf. Address to the participants of a Seminar promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity [17 May 2008]). I pray too that the movements themselves will make every effort to harmonize their activities with the pastoral and spiritual programmes of the Dioceses.
I am personally grateful to you for the affection and devotion you have shown to the Holy See in different ways. As I congratulate you on the many achievements of your well organized Diocesan communities, I encourage you to even greater commitment in the search for adequate means of presenting the Christian message of love in a more comprehensible way to the world in which you live. By doing so you will effectively show to all your brothers and sisters the enduring youthfulness and inexhaustible capacity for renewal of the Gospel of Christ, and bear witness to the fact that one can be authentically Catholic and authentically Chinese at the same time.
I also encourage your Dioceses to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance. In this regard I cannot but recognize the invaluable service which the charitable organization Caritas of both Dioceses has offered to the needy with such generosity and professionalism. We must never forget however that Christ is also for China a Teacher, Pastor and loving Redeemer. The Church must never allow this good news to remain unspoken.
I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your Brother Bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church. I willingly avail myself of the occasion to send to the Catholic community of China and to all the people of that vast country the assurance of my prayers and my affection.
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
You are Peter!
Gospel Commentary for solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Today’s Gospel is the Gospel in which the keys are given to Peter. The Catholic tradition has always taken this Gospel as the basis for the Pope’s authority over the entire Church.
Someone might object that there is nothing here about the papal office. Catholic theology responds in the following way. If Peter is called the Church’s “foundation” or “rock,” then the Church can only continue to exist if its foundation continues to exist.
It is unthinkable that such solemn prerogatives -- “To you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven” -- refer only to the first 20 or 30 years of the Church’s life, and that they would cease with the apostle’s death. Peter’s role thus continues in his successors.
Throughout the first millennium, all the Churches universally recognized this office of Peter, even if somewhat differently in East and West.
The problems and divisions crept up in the second millennium, which has just concluded.
Today we Catholics admit that these problems and divisions are not entirely the fault of the others, the so-called schismatics, first the Eastern Churches and then the Protestants.
The primacy instituted by Christ, as all things human, has sometimes been exercised well and at other times not so well. Gradually political and worldly power mixed with the spiritual power and with this came abuses.
Pope John Paul II, in his letter on ecumenism, “Ut unum sint,” suggested the possibility of reconsidering the concrete forms in which the Pope’s primacy is exercised in such a way as to make the concord of all the Churches around the Pope possible again. As Catholics, we must hope that this road of conversion to reconciliation be followed with ever greater courage and humility, especially implementing incrementally the collegiality called for by the Second Vatican Council.
What we cannot desire is that the ministry itself of Peter, as sign and source of the Church’s unity, will disappear. This would deprive us of one of the most precious gifts that Christ has given to the Church besides going against Christ’s own will.
To think that the Church only needs the Bible and the Holy Spirit to interpret it in order for the Church to live and spread the Gospel, is like saying that it would have been sufficient for the founders of the United States to write the American Constitution and show the spirit in which it must be interpreted without providing any government for the country. Would the United States still exist?
One thing that we can all immediately do to smooth the road toward reconciliation between the Churches is to begin reconciling ourselves with our Church.
“You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church”: Jesus says my “Church,” in the singular, not my “churches.” He had thought of and wanted only one Church, not a multiplicity of independent churches, or worse, churches fighting among themselves.
The word “my,” as in “my Church,” is possessive. Jesus recognizes the Church as “his”; he says “my Church” as a man would say “my bride” or “my body.” He identifies himself with it, he is not ashamed of it.
On Jesus’ lips the word “Church” does not have any of those subtle negative meanings that we have added to it.
There is in that expression of Christ a powerful call to all believers to reconcile themselves with the Church. To deny the Church is like denying your own mother. “You cannot have God for father,” St. Cyprian said, “if you do not have the Church for your mother.”
It would be a beautiful fruit of the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul if we too were to learn to say of the Catholic Church to which we belong that it is "my Church!"
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for this Sunday are Acts 12:1-11; 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; Matthew 16:13-19.
Papal Homily for Quebec Congress
"The Eucharist Is Not a Meal Among Friends"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave via satellite Sunday at the closing Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress. The congress was held in Quebec City. The homily was given in English and French.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While you are gathered for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, I am happy to join you through the medium of satellite and thus unite myself to your prayer. I would like first of all to greet the Lord Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, and the Lord Cardinal Jozef Tomko, special envoy for the congress, as well as all the cardinals and bishops present. I also address my cordial greetings to the personalities of civil society who decided to take part in the liturgy. My affectionate thought goes to the priests, deacons and all the faithful present, as well as to all Catholics of Quebec, of the whole of Canada and of other continents. I do not forget that your country celebrates this year the 400th anniversary of its foundation. It is an occasion for each one of you to recall the values that animated the pioneers and missionaries in your country.
"The Eucharist, gift of God for the Life of the World," this is the theme chosen for this latest International Eucharistic Congress. The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure. It is the sacrament par excellence; it introduces us early into eternal life; it contains the whole mystery of our salvation; it is the source and summit of the action and of the life of the Church, as the Second Vatican Council recalled ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 8).
It is, therefore, particularly important that pastors and faithful dedicate themselves permanently to furthering their knowledge of this great sacrament. Each one will thus be able to affirm his faith and fulfill ever better his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling that there is a fruitfulness of the Eucharist in his personal life, in the life of the Church and of the world. The Spirit of truth gives witness in your hearts; you also must give witness to Christ before men, as the antiphon states in the alleluia of this Mass. Participation in the Eucharist, then, does not distance us from our contemporaries; on the contrary, because it is the expression par excellence of the love of God, it calls us to be involved with all our brothers to address the present challenges and to make the planet a place where it is good to live.
To accomplish this, it is necessary to struggle ceaselessly so that every person will be respected from his conception until his natural death; that our rich societies welcome the poorest and allow them their dignity; that all persons be able to find nourishment and enable their families to live; that peace and justice may shine in all continents. These are some of the challenges that must mobilize all our contemporaries and for which Christians must draw their strength in the Eucharistic mystery.
"The Mystery of Faith": this is what we proclaim at every Mass. I would like everyone to make a commitment to study this great mystery, especially by revisiting and exploring, individually and in groups, the Council's text on the Liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery. In this way, each person will arrive at a better grasp of the meaning of every aspect of the Eucharist, understanding its depth and living it with greater intensity. Every sentence, every gesture has its own meaning and conceals a mystery. I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it. I urge priests especially to give due honor to the Eucharistic rite, and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay, in the Eucharistic action. The liturgy does not belong to us: it is the Church's treasure.
Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament -- by this we mean deepening our communion, preparing for it and prolonging it -- is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11:11; cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 577).
We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great have all said, following Saint Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17), the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church's unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honor Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.
I would also like to invite the pastors and faithful to a renewed care in their preparation for reception of the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wills to make his dwelling in us, asking him for healing. To bring this about, we must do everything that is in our power to receive him with a pure heart, ceaselessly rediscovering, through the sacrament of penance, the purity that sin has stained, "putting our soul and our voice in accord," according to the invitation of the Council (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No.11). In fact, sin, especially grave sin, is opposed to the action of Eucharistic grace in us. However, those who cannot go to communion because of their situation, will find nevertheless in a communion of desire and in participation in the Mass saving strength and efficacy.
The Eucharist had an altogether special place in the lives of saints. Let us thank God for the history of holiness of Quebec and Canada, which contributed to the missionary life of the Church. Your country honors especially its Canadian martyrs, Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, who were able to give up their lives for Christ, thus uniting themselves to his sacrifice on the Cross.
They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church of Canada, with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d'Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, Marie-Catherine of Saint Augustine, Mgr Francis of Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Belanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. Put yourselves in their school; like them, be without fear; God accompanies you and protects you; make of each day an offering to the glory of God the Father and take your part in the building of the world, remembering with pride your religious heritage and its social and cultural brilliance, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.
The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of covenant. "The prayers and the rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice make the whole history of salvation revive ceaselessly before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle, and make us penetrate ever more its significance" (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, [Edith Stein], Wege zur inneren Stille Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of covenant by conforming our life increasingly every day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as Vatican Council II reminds: "Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree " ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 7). In a certain way, it is a "heavenly liturgy," anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, until he comes (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26).
In order that the People of God never lack ministers to give them the Body of Christ, we must ask the Lord to make the gift of new priests to his Church. I also invite you to transmit the call to the priesthood to young men, so that they will accept with joy and without fear to respond to Christ. They will not be disappointed. May families be the primordial place and the cradle of vocations.
Before ending, it is with joy that I announce to you the meeting of the next International Eucharistic Congress. It will be held in Dublin, in Ireland, in 2012. I ask the Lord to make each one of you discover the depth and grandeur of the mystery of faith. May Christ, present in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit, invoked over the bread and wine, accompany you on your daily way and in your mission. May you, in the image of the Virgin Mary, be open to the work of God in you. Entrusting you to the intercession of Our Lady, of Saint Anne, patroness of Quebec, and of all the saints of your land, I impart to all of you an affectionate Apostolic Blessing, as well as to all the persons present, who have come from different countries of the world.
Dear friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a conclusion I invite you all to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin! I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.
[Translation of the French portions by ZENIT]
The Politically Incorrect Guide to the ConstitutionPosted by Thomas Woods at June 17, 2008 12:37 PM
I'll be spending an hour with Kevin Gutzman, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, starting very soon -- 2pm ET -- on my weekly program here. Archive here.
Statement on Assyrian-Catholic Meeting
Hoped That "the Churches Will Continue to Grow in the Unity Christ Wills"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a statement regarding an informal meeting held in the United States between representatives of the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, as a follow-up to Assyrian Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV's visit to Benedict XVI one year ago.
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An informal consultation between representatives of the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East took place near Chicago, Illinois, USA, on June 13 and 14, 2008. This was a follow-up meeting one year after the visit of His Holiness Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV to Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. The meeting was hosted by the Assyrian Church of the East at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois.
The representatives of the Assyrian Church of the East were Reverend Cor-bishop George Toma, of St Andrew parish in Des Plaines, Illinois, Reverend Cor-bishop David Royel of Mar Yosip parish in San Jose, California, and Reverend Father William Toma of St. Mary's parish in Roselle, Illinois. The Catholic representatives were Monsignor Johan Bonny from the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Reverend Father Ronald G. Roberson, CSP, from the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Reverend Father Thomas Baima, of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. The Assyrian representatives were designated by Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV, and the Catholic representatives by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
During the course of the meeting, the representatives exchanged information about recent events in their churches. They focused in particular on the difficulties that have developed in relations between the Assyrian and Chaldean churches on the West Coast of the United States. Consideration was also given to the past activities of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East, and the future course of the dialogue. Various ways in which Catholics and Assyrians can work together in areas where both communities exist were also considered, such as the training of clergy, the production of common catechetical material, and other joint projects. Ample attention was also given to the desperate situation of Assyrians and other Christians in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, and ways in which our churches can work together to support them.
Ideas and proposals concerning these issues were formulated and will be brought to the attention of the competent Church authorities for appropriate decisions. The members were grateful for the opportunity to reflect together on the present situation, and left the meeting hopeful that the Churches will continue to find appropriate ways to grow in the unity that Christ wills.
On Sunday morning June 15, the members of the consultation attended a Holy Qurbana (Eucharist) presided over by His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, at St. Mary's Church in Roselle, Illinois. The members were received by the Patriarch at breakfast after the liturgy. A message of greeting from Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, was presented to the Patriarch.
June 19, 2008
Cardinal Arinze Homily on the Eucharist
"A Mystery to Be Lived"
QUEBEC CITY, JUNE 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, gave Saturday at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress. The congress ended today.
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WITNESSES TO THE EUCHARISTIC CHRIST
Our beloved Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, gives us his commandment: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15:12).
Today in this International Eucharistic Congress we focus on how we are to be witnesses to our Eucharistic Lord in the midst of the world. Mutual love is the commandment of Jesus. The Holy Eucharist calls us to this love. This love is to be exercised in the concrete situation of life in the world. This universal call to holiness is nourished by the Holy Eucharist. Those will now be the four elements for our reflection.
1. Mutual Love is the Commandment of Jesus
The Gospel just proclaimed tells us clearly that to love one another is the commandment of Jesus. We are to love one another as he has loved us. And he tells us how: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). And Jesus did just that. For love of us and for our salvation he came down from heaven (cf. Credo). For our salvation he was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross (cf. Phil 2:8). Moreover, he gave us in his Church the Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist for the supreme act of adoration and for close union with him. Indeed, Jesus has given us a supreme example of love. In the Second Reading at this Mass, Saint Paul sings the praises of love. Love is greater than speaking many languages, or prophecy, or knowledge, or faith or making large donations, or even delivering our body to be burned! Love is patient, kind, not jealous, arrogant or irritable. It rejoices in the right and endures all things (cf. 1 Co 13:1-7).
2. The Eucharistic Celebration calls us to Mutual Love
The Eucharist is not only a mystery to be believed and celebrated, but also a mystery to be lived. At the end of Mass the deacon, or the priest, tells us that we are sent to live the mystery that we have celebrated, meditated and received. The Holy Eucharist sends us to show love and solidarity to our brothers and sisters who are in need. There are first the poor, the hungry, the sick, the prisoners, the handicapped, the old, and the homeless. Works of charity done in their favour are manifestations that we are living the message of our Eucharistic celebration. But we are also sent to console those who are in sorrow, to help to liberate those held in slavery, including the victims of sexual, racial or other forms of oppression, to give hope to street children, and to help underdeveloped peoples rise to an acceptable level of human existence.
Love for our neighbour must not stop here. It has to include the spiritually hungry and needy. People are hungry for the Word of God, for the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore missionary work, catechesis in its many forms and leading people to the Church and to the Sacraments are necessary manifestations of love of neighbour. The Prophet Isaiah speaks of these various ways of bringing good news to the poor in the First Reading of this Mass (cf. Is 61:1-3). The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, told us that mutual love, especially solicitude for people in need, will show that we are true disciples of Christ and prove the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebration (cf. Mane Nobiscum Domine, 28). And Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that "A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented" (Deus Caritas Est, 14).
3. In the Midst of the World
There is a relationship between the Eucharistic Celebration and social commitment. By our celebrating the paschal mysteries of Christ and receiving his Body and Blood, we are put in communion also with our brothers and sisters. We are sent to promote and live out that communion in society. We do this especially by promoting justice, peace and harmony in society. The 2005 Assembly of the Synod of Bishops declared: "All who partake of the Eucharist must commit themselves to peacemaking in our world scarred by violence and war, and today in particular, by terrorism, economic corruption and sexual exploitation" (Prop. 48). As Pope Benedict states in the Postsynodal Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, "it is not the proper task of the Church to engage in the political work of bringing about the most just society possible; nonetheless she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the struggle for justice" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 89). The Church preaches mutual love and respect for the rights of others, beginning with the right to life, honesty and solidarity. This helps towards the conversion of hearts and the disposition of people to work out political, social, economic, and other needed solutions. In the Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist the Church prays that "this sacrament of love be for us the sign of unity and the bond of charity," and that "the Body and Blood of Christ join all your people in brotherly love" (Roman Missal: Votive Mass of the Holy Eucharist: Prayer over the Gifts and Prayer after Communion).
4. Following the Example of the Saints
The Second Vatican Council teaches that there is a universal call to holiness: "All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity" (Lumen Gentium, 40). Every Christian witnesses to Christ and becomes holy according to that person's vocation and mission. The Holy Eucharist nourishes this life of Christian witness. Let us give examples of some Saints, many of whom are African, since this day in this Eucharistic Congress is Africa Day. Thanks to the Eucharistic Jesus, we have the martyrs of Abitina in Proconsular Africa who gave their lives rather than forgo Sunday Mass, "We cannot live without the Lord's Supper," they declared. We have Saints Perpetua and Felicitas martyred in the early Church in North Africa. We have witnesses to Christ as martyrs in defence of chastity such as Agnes of Rome, Maria Goretti of Nettuno and Anuarite Nengapeta of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We have also martyrs in Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions of Uganda, Blessed Isidore Bakanja of Congo and Blessed David Okelo and Gilde Irwa of Uganda.
Valiant witnesses as mothers and spouses are, for example, Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine, Saint Gianni Beretta-Molla who preferred to die after childbirth rather than have an abortion, Luigi and Maria Beltrame-Quattrocchi, husband and wife who were beatified together in 2001, and Blessed Victoire Rasoamanarivo of Madagascar who was a model wife, widow and active lay apostle. Among priests on the African continent the world knows the great Saint Augustine and Saint Cyprian in North Africa. But we have also in our times the Blessed Cyprian Michael Tansi of Nigeria who was a model diocesan priest for 13 years and who then became a Cistercian in England for 14 years before his death in 1964.
Time does not allow me to go on listing more witnesses of Christ. These great followers of Jesus were given life by the Holy Eucharist. We are told about the mysterious bread which nourished and strengthened the prophet Elijah: "He arose, and ate and drank, and walked in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God" (1 K 19:8). In the strength of the Holy Eucharist, these witnesses to Christ in the midst of the world walked the forty days and forty nights of their earthly pilgrimage, right up to their meeting with the Lord in life eternal.
On Being Unafraid
"He Who Fears God Feels Interiorly the Security of a Child"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus teaches us on the one hand "not to be afraid of men" and on the other hand to "fear" God (cf. Matthew 10:26, 28). We are thus moved to reflect on the difference that exists between human fears and the fear of God.
Fear is a natural part of life. From the time we are children we experience forms of fear that are revealed to be imaginary or that disappear. There are other fears that follow them that have a precise basis in reality: These must be faced and overcome by human effort and confidence in God. But there is also -- and today above all -- a more profound form of fear of an existential type that sometimes overflows into anxiety: It is born from a sense of emptiness that is linked to a culture that is permeated by a widespread theoretical and practical nihilism.
In the face of the ample and diversified panorama of human fears, the word of God is clear: He who "fears" the Lord is "not afraid." The fear of God, which the Scriptures define as the "beginning of true wisdom," coincides with faith in God, with the sacred respect for his authority over life and the world. Being "without the fear of God" is equivalent to putting ourselves in his place, feeling ourselves to be masters of good and evil, of life and death.
But he who fears God feels interiorly the security of a child in the arms of his mother (cf. Psalm 130:2): He who fears God is calm even in the midst of storms, because God, as Jesus has revealed to us, is a Father who is full of mercy and goodness. He who loves God is not afraid: "In love there is no fear," writes the Apostle John. "Perfect love," he goes on, "casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment and whoever is afraid is not perfected in love" (1 John 4:18).
The believer, therefore, is not afraid of anything, because he knows that he is in the hands of God, he knows that evil is irrational and does not have the last word, and that Christ alone is the Lord of the world and life, the Incarnate Word of God, he knows that Christ loved us to the point of sacrificing himself, dying on the cross for our salvation.
The more we grow in this intimacy with God, impregnated with love, the more easily we will defeat every kind of fear. In today's Gospel passage Jesus exhorts us twice not to be afraid. He reassures us as he did the apostles, as he did St. Paul, appearing to him is a vision one night in a particularly difficult moment in his preaching: "Do not be afraid," Jesus said to him, "for I am with you" (Acts 18:9). Strengthened by Christ's presence and comforted by his love, the Apostle of the Gentiles did not even fear martyrdom.
We are preparing to celebrate the bimillennium of St. Paul's birth with a special jubilee year. May this great spiritual and pastoral event awaken in us, too, a renewed confidence in Jesus Christ, who calls us to announce and witness to his Gospel without being afraid of anything.
I invite you, then, dear brothers and sisters, to prepare yourselves to celebrate with faith this Pauline Year, which, if it may please God, I will solemnly open next Saturday evening at 6 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, with the first vespers for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. From this moment we entrust this great ecclesial initiative to the intercession of St. Paul and Mary most holy, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of Christ, source of our joy and our peace.
[Following the Angelus the Pope made the following remarks:]
With great emotion I learned this morning of the ferry that was capsized in the typhoon that has raged in the Philippines. As I assure the people of these islands who have suffered from Typhoon Fengshen of my spiritual nearness, I offer a prayer to the Lord for the victims of this new tragedy at sea in which many children also seem to have been involved.
Today in Beirut, capital of Lebanon, Yaaqub da Ghazir Haddad, whose name in the world was Khalil, a priest of the Order of Capuchin Friars Minor and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon, was beatified. Felicitations to his spiritual daughters. I hope with all my heart that the intercession of Blessed Abuna Yaaqub, joined with that of the saints of Lebanon, will obtain for that beloved and martyred country, which has suffered too much, progress toward a stable peace.
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[The Holy Father also greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]
I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today's Gospel reminds us that we are personally loved by our heavenly Father, whose providence watches over us and frees us from all fear. May these consoling words strengthen us in our witness to the joy and hope proclaimed by the Gospel! Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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