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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Saturday, 27 November 2010

ADVENT III - Pope Benedict xvi on Advent




Note: This commentary was given as part of a series of commentaries/meditations on the Psalms and Canticles used in the four week Psalter of the Divine Office. As noted below, this Psalm is part of the Evening Prayer for Sunday of the Fourth Week. Relations between this Psalm and the other readings of Advent are not hard to discern.
BENEDICT XVI
GENERAL AUDIENCE

Wednesday, 12 October 2005
Psalm 122[121]Peace upon you!
Evening Prayer – Sunday of Week Fourth
1. We have just heard and enjoyed as a prayer one of the most beautiful and fervent songs of ascents. It is Psalm 122[121], a living, shared celebration of Jerusalem, the Holy City to which the pilgrims climb.
Indeed, in the opening line, two moments lived by the faithful are amalgamated:  that of the day on which the pilgrim rejoiced when he accepted the invitation to “go to God’s house” (v. 1), and that of his joyful arrival at the “gates” of Jerusalem (cf. v. 2); now at last he is walking on that beloved Holy Land. A festive hymn is on his lips at that very moment in honour of Zion, whose deep spiritual significance he contemplates.
2. As a “strongly compact” city (v. 3), a symbol of security and stability, Jerusalem is the heart of the unity of the 12 tribes of Israel that converge towards it as the centre of their faith and worship. They go up there, in fact, “to praise the Lord’s name” (v. 4) in the place that “Israel’s law” (Dt 12: 13-14; 16: 16) has chosen as the only legitimate and perfect shrine.
There is another important reality in Jerusalem that is also a sign of God’s presence in Israel: “the thrones… of the House of David” (cf. v. 5); that is, the Davidic dynasty governs, an expression of the divine action in history that was to lead to the Messiah (II Sam 7: 8-16).
3. The “thrones… of the House of David” are at the same time called “thrones of judgment” (v. 5), because the king was also the supreme judge. Thus, Jerusalem, a political capital, was also the highest tribunal where controversies were settled in the final instance: in this way, when Jewish pilgrims left Zion, they returned to their villages feeling more righteous and peaceful.
The Psalm thus traced an ideal portrait of the Holy City with her religious and social function, showing that biblical religion is neither abstract nor intimistic, but a leaven of justice and solidarity. Communion with God is necessarily followed by the communion of brothers and sisters with one another.
4. We now come to the final invocation (cf. v. 6-9). It is marked throughout by the Jewish word shalom, “peace”, traditionally considered to be the etymological root of Jerushalajim, the Holy City itself, interpreted as “city of peace”.
It is well known that shalom alludes to the messianic peace that in itself brings joy, prosperity, goodness and abundance. Indeed, in the pilgrim’s final farewell to the temple, to the “house of the Lord our God”, he adds “good” to “peace”: “I will ask for your good” (v. 9). This anticipates the Franciscan greeting: “Peace and good!”. We all have something of a Franciscan soul. This greeting expresses the hope that blessings will be poured out upon the faithful who love the Holy City, upon the physical reality of its walls and buildings in which the life of a people pulsates, on all its brothers and sisters and friends. In this way, Jerusalem will become a hearth of harmony and peace.
5. Let us end our meditation on Psalm 122[121] with an idea for reflection suggested by the Fathers of the Church for whom the ancient Jerusalem was the sign of another Jerusalem, also “built as a city strongly compact”.
This city, St Gregory the Great says in his Homilies on Ezekiel, “has here a great construction in the customs of the saints. In a building, one stone supports the other, because each stone is set upon another, and the one that supports another is in turn supported by another. This is exactly how in our Holy Church each one is sustaining and sustained. The closest support one another, and so it is by using them that the building of charity is erected.
“This explains Paul’s exhortation: “Help carry one another’s burdens; in that way you will fulfil the law of Christ’ (Gal 6: 2). Emphasizing the force of this law, he says: “Love is the fulfilment of the law’ (Rom 13: 10).
“Indeed, if I do not make an effort to accept you as you are and you do not strive to accept me as I am, the building of love between us can no longer be erected, bound though we may be by reciprocal and patient love”.
And to complete the image, let us not forget that “there is one foundation that supports the full weight of the construction; and it is our Redeemer, who alone bears all together the customs of us all. The Apostle says of him: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that has been laid, namely, Jesus Christ’ (I Cor 3: 11). The foundation sustains the stones but the stones do not sustain the foundation: in other words, our Redeemer bore the burden of all our sins, but in him there was no sin to be borne” (2, 1, 5: Opere di Gregorio Magno,III/2, Rome, 1993, pp. 27, 29).
Thus, Pope St Gregory the Great tells us what the Psalm means for our lives in practice. He tells us that we must be a true Jerusalem in the Church today, that is, a place of peace, “supporting one another” as we are; “supporting one another together” in the joyful certainty that the Lord “supports us all”. In this way the Church will grow like a true Jerusalem, a place of peace. But let us also pray for the city of Jerusalem, that it may increasingly be a place for the encounter of religions and peoples; that it may truly be a place of peace


VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square. 

* * * 

Dear Brothers and Sisters: 

I want to thank the Lord once again, along with you, for the apostolic journey I undertook over the past days to Turkey: I felt accompanied and supported by the prayer of the whole Christian community. I address to all my cordial gratitude! 

Next Wednesday, during the general audience, I will have the opportunity to speak at greater length of this unforgettable spiritual and pastoral experience, which I hope will bear good fruits for an ever more sincere cooperation among the disciples of Christ and for a fruitful dialogue with Muslim believers. 

Now I am compelled to renew my gratitude to those who organized the trip and contributed in different ways to its peaceful and fruitful unfolding. In particular, I am thinking of Turkey's authorities and of the friendly Turkish people, who offered me a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality. 

Above all I would like to remember with affection and recognition the beloved Catholic community, which lives on Turkish soil. I think of it as we enter, this Sunday, in the time of Advent. 

I was able to see and celebrate Holy Mass with these brothers and sisters of ours, who are in conditions that are often difficult. It is truly a small, varied flock rich in enthusiasm and faith which, so to speak, lives the Advent experience constantly and intensely, supported by hope. 

In Advent, the liturgy often repeats and assures us, as though seeking to defeat our mistrust, that God "is coming": He comes to be with us, in each one of our situations; he comes to live among us, to live with and in us; he comes to fill the distances that divide and separate us; he comes to reconcile us with himself and with one another. He comes in the history of humanity to knock on the door of every man and woman of good will to offer individuals, families and peoples the gift of fraternity, concord and peace. 

Therefore, Advent is par excellence the time of hope, in which believers in Christ are invited to remain in vigilant and active expectation, nourished by prayer and by a concrete commitment of love. May Christ's approaching nativity fill the hearts of all Christians with joy, serenity and peace! 

To live this Advent period more authentically and fruitfully, the liturgy exhorts us to look at Mary most holy and to undertake spiritually with her the path to the cave of Bethlehem. When God knocked on the door of her youth, she received him with faith and love. In a few days, we will contemplate her in the luminous mystery of her Immaculate Conception. Let us be attracted by her beauty, reflection of divine glory, so that "the God that is coming" will find in each one of us a good and open heart, which he can fill with his gifts. 

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English he said:] 

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year. 

The Gospel speaks of Christ, the son of man, and invites us to prepare our hearts to receive him. May Advent be a time of purification that leads to love, as we look with hope to the dawn of his coming. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday! 

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Jesus' advent gives life-changing hope, Benedict XVI teaches
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.- Before Sunday's Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI taught the importance of leading our lives with trust and hope in the coming of the Lord. This hope, he said, should encourage us to "an intense life, rich with good works."
The courtyard at Castel Gandolfo was filled with faithful and pilgrims, some of whom sung the "Ave Maria" as they waited for the Holy Father to appear on the second story balcony of the Apostolic Palace.
After being met with a burst of cheers, the Pope taught about Jesus' words to the disciples from Sunday's Gospel in which He continued to speak on "the value of the person in the eyes of God and on the uselessness of earthly worries."
This discourse, said the Holy Father, is not about "praise for disengagement.” Rather, he explained, our heart is opened to a hope that enlightens our existence when we listen to Jesus’ “reassuring invitation”: “Do not be afraid, little flock; for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.”
Quoting from the Encyclical Spe Salvi, he added that the Gospel is not merely a communication but “makes things happen and is life-changing.”
“The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life."
He pointed to the example of Abraham, described in the Letter to the Hebrews as one who goes out with "a hopeful heart." Not knowing where he is going, he is "trusting only in God" and His promise of land and numerous descendants.”
Through the three parables in the Gospel, the Pope continued, Jesus illustrates to us how the expectation of his coming, "the blessed hope," should lead us "even further to an intense life, rich with good works."
His invitation to sell our possessions and to give alms to prepare the way to heaven, explained Benedict XVI, is an invitation to “use things without selfishness, thirst for possession or dominance, but according to the logic of God, the logic of the attention to others, the logic of love..."
He concluded by remembering several saints who laid down their lives, whose feast days fall this week. He recalled Sunday's feast of the founder of the Dominicans, St. Dominic of Guzman, whose order "carries out the mission of instructing society on the truth of faith, preparing themselves with study and prayer."
He also named 3rd century deacon and martyr St. Lawrence whose feast is to be celebrated on Aug. 10 and the foundress of the Poor Clares, St. Clare of Assisi (Aug. 11). Before beginning the Marian prayer, he drew attention to two 20th century martyrs, both killed at Auschwitz: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast days fall on Aug. 9  and Aug. 14, respectively.
Both of them, he said, "lived through the dark time of the Second World War, without ever losing sight of (their) hope, the God of life and love."

Benedict XVI introduces “Spe Salvi”, calls Advent “the time of hope par excellence”
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.- In the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. on Saturday, the Pope presided at the celebration of the first Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent.
The Holy Father began his homily by recalling how "Advent is the time of hope par excellence" and how Christians, "as they prepare to celebrate the great feast of the birth of Christ the Savior, revitalize their expectation of His glorious return at the end of time."
"It was to the subject of hope," he said," that I dedicated my second Encyclical, which was published yesterday. And today I am happy to present it ideally to the entire Church on this first Sunday of Advent so that, while preparing for Christmas, the community and the individual faithful may read and meditate upon it, and so rediscover the beauty and profundity of Christian hope."
After underlining how "true and certain hope is founded on faith in God- Love, the merciful Father," Benedict XVI made it clear that Advent is a "favorable time for the rediscovery of hope, a hope that is not vague and illusory but sure and trustworthy because it is 'anchored' in Christ, God-made-man and the rock of our salvation."
In his Letter to them, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians "that before embracing faith in Christ they had no hope and were 'without God in the world'," said the Pope. "This expression seems more valid than ever," he added, "because of the paganism of our own day. In particular we may refer it to contemporary nihilism which corrodes hope in man's heart, causing him to think that emptiness reigns within him and around him: emptiness before birth, emptiness after death. The truth is that without God, hope fades."
"What is at stake," he said, "is the relationship between existence in the here and now, and what we call the 'beyond:' this is not a place in which we will 'end up' after death, but rather the reality of God, the fullness of life to which each human being is, so to say, reaching out. To this expectation of mankind God responded in Christ with the gift of hope.
"Man," the Pope added, "is the only creature who is free to say yes or no to eternity, in other words to God. Human beings can extinguish hope in themselves, eliminating God from their lives. ... God knows man's heart. He knows that those who refuse Him have not known His true face, and for this reason He never ceases to knock at our door like a humble pilgrim seeking welcome. This is why the Lord grants new time to humanity: so that everyone may come to know Him! And this too is the significance of a new liturgical year that begins: it is a gift of God Who wishes once more to reveal Himself in the mystery of Christ, through the Word and the Sacraments."
Benedict XVI highlighted how "God loves us and for this reason expects us to return to Him, to open our hearts to His love, to put our hand in His and remember that we are His children. This expectation of God's always precedes our own hope, just as His love always reaches us first."
"All human beings are called to hope, thus responding to God's expectation in them," the Pope concluded. "Hope is indelibly written in man's heart because God our Father is life, and we were made for eternal and blessed life."




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