By: David Kerr (with editing)
(EWTN News/CNA) Vatican City, Aug 26, 2012 / 01:09 pm
Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that a lack of sincerity in life is “the mark of the devil” as witnessed in the decision of Judas Iscariot to continue following Jesus Christ even after he had ceased to believe in him.
“The problem is that Judas did not go away, and his most serious fault was falsehood, which is the mark of the devil. This is why Jesus said to the Twelve: ‘One of you is a devil’,” said the Pope.
The pontiff said that Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary to help them to believe in Jesus as St. Peter did and “to be always sincere with him and with all people.”
The Pope continued his recent weeks’ reflections upon Jesus’s “Bread of Life” discourse as delivered in the synagogue of Capernaum.
After Christ declared himself to be “the living bread which came down from heaven” many of those who had followed him, records St. John in his Gospel, “drew back and no longer went about with him.”
Asked by Jesus if they too will leave, St. Peter replied on behalf of the Twelve “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
The one exception, said Pope Benedict, was Judas Iscariot who “could have left, as many of the disciples did; indeed, he would have left if he were honest.” Instead, he chose to remain with Jesus. Not because of faith or love, said the Pope, but out of a secret desire to take vengeance on his master.
“Because Judas felt betrayed by Jesus, and decided that he in turn would betray him. Judas was a Zealot, and wanted a triumphant Messiah, who would lead a revolt against the Romans.” Jesus, however, “had disappointed those expectations.”
The Pope, turning to the 11 apostles who did believe, reminded pilgrims of “a beautiful commentary” of St. Augustine in which the Church Father observed how St. Peter “believed and understood.”
“He does not say we have understood and believed, but we believed and understood. We have believed in order to be able to understand,” wrote St. Augustine in his Commentary on the Gospel of John.
The Pope Would Like You To!
Czestochowa, Poland, Aug 16, 2012 / 05:20 pm (EWTN News/CNA) Participants in a decades-old pro life initiative and a centuries-old pilgrimage in Poland received affirmation from Pope Benedict on the feast of the Mary’s Assumption into heaven.
In an Aug. 15 telegram to mark the 25th anniversary of a prayer project known as the “Spiritual Adoption of the Unborn Child,” the Pope told pilgrims traveling from Krakow to Jasna Gora that their prayers are appreciated and are promoting a culture of life, Vatican Radio reported.
Although Catholics have been taking part in the pilgrimage honoring Our Lady of Czestochowa for over three centuries without interruption, it was not until 1987 that a group began interceding specifically for children who are at risk of being aborted.
Since then, the prayer project has spread to nations across the globe.
During a nine month period, participants “spiritually adopt” a child, vowing to pray a decade of the Rosary daily in the hope that the baby will be spared from abortion.
In addition to the Rosary, participants may include variations to their intercession, such as praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament or fasting for the child, as well as praying for the parents and any difficulties they may be facing.
The Pope said that he appreciates the efforts of those involved with “spiritual adoption” and believes their prayers are working to promote a culture of life in all areas that are contrary to the Gospel message.
Unilateral Interpretation of Vatican II Penalizes Adoration of the Eucharist
- Christ didn’t “abolish the sacred but to bring it to fulfillment.”
- concentrating our relationship/celebration with the Eucharistic Christ only on Mass we run the risk that the rest of time and space is emptied of His presence.
Pope Benedict XVI Adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament
written by Martin Barillas: Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in the basilica of St. John Lateran on June 8, to march the celebration of the Catholic solemnity of Corpus Christi – the Body of Christ. The pontiff also led a Eucharistic procession along Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. The pope pronounced a homily during the Mass in which he spoke of the sacredness of the Eucharist, which in Greek means ‘giving thanks’ and which for Catholics the central form of worship in which the elements of bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus, under the appearance of the aforementioned foods.
“A unilateral interpretation of Vatican Council II has penalized this dimension”, the Holy Father explained, “effectively limiting the Eucharist to the moment of celebrating Mass. It is, of course, very important to recognize the importance of celebration, in which the Lord calls His people, bringing them together around the table of the Word and Bread of life, nourishing them and uniting them to Himself in the sacrificial offering. This interpretation of the liturgical gathering, in which the Lord works and achieves His mystery of communion, naturally retains all its validity, but a rightful balance must be restored. … By concentrating our relationship with the Eucharistic Christ only on Mass we run the risk that the rest of time and space is emptied of His presence. Thus our perception of Jesus’ constant, real and close presence among us and with us is diminished”.
“It is a mistake to establish a contrast between celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with one another. The opposite is true. The cult of the Blessed Sacrament represents the spiritual ‘environment’ within which the community can celebrate the Eucharist correctly and truthfully. Only if preceded, accompanied and followed by this interior attitude of faith and adoration, can liturgical activity express its full meaning and value”, the Pope said.
He then went on to explain that, at the moment of adoration, we are all at the same level, “on our knees before the Sacrament of Love. The common and ministerial priesthood come together in the cult of the Eucharist. … By remaining together in silence before the Lord, present in His Sacrament, we have one of the most authentic experiences of being Church, one that is complementary to our celebration of the Eucharist. … Communion and contemplation cannot be separated, they go together”, and if contemplation is lacking “even sacramental communion can become a superficial gesture on our part”.
Turning then to consider the sacredness of the Eucharist, Benedict XVI noted that here too, in the recent past, there has been “some misunderstanding of the authentic message of Holy Scripture. The Christian novelty of worship has been influenced by a certain secularist mentality of the 1960s and 1970s. It is true, and it remains valid, that the center of worship is no longer in the ancient rites and sacrifices, but in Christ Himself, His person, His life, His Paschal Mystery. Yet this fundamental novelty must not lead us to conclude that the sacred no longer exists”.
Christ “did not abolish the sacred but brought it to fulfillment, inaugurating a new worship which is entirely spiritual but which nonetheless, as long as our journey in time continues, still uses signs and rites. These will only fall into disuse at the end, in the celestial Jerusalem where there will be no temple”.
Moreover, the Holy Father went on, “the sacred has an educational function. Its disappearance inevitably impoverishes culture, and especially the formation of the new generations. … Our Father God … sent His Son into the world, not to abolish the sacred but to bring it to fulfillment. At the culmination of this mission, at the Last Supper, Jesus established the Sacrament of His Body and His Blood, the Memorial of His Paschal Sacrifice. By doing so he put Himself in the place of the ancient sacrifices, but He did so in the context of a rite, which he ordered the Apostles to perpetuate as a supreme sign of the true sacrifice, which is Him. With this faith, … day after day we celebrate the Eucharistic Mystery, and adore it as the center of our lives and the heart of the world”.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.
Evil, Posing As Good, Seeks To Destroy The Moral Foundations Of Society!
News.VA, The Vatican Today
During a lunch with members of the College of Cardinals on Monday to mark the 7th anniversary of his pontificate,
Pope Benedict thanked his closest advisors for all their support during both the joys and the difficulties of his Petrine ministry.
The Pope began by thanking God for the joyous days as well as what he called ‘the dark nights’ and went on to reflect about the presence of evil in the world.
We can see, he said, how evil seeks to dominate our world, through cruelty and violence, but also in more subtle ways, posing as a force for good while destroying the moral foundations of society.
Recalling the old fashioned use of the term ‘the Church militant’, the Pope said we must fight against evil and for this reason it is important to have friends to support us in this struggle.
Recalling also the words of Our Lord, ‘Take heart, I have overcome the world’, Pope Benedict said we are on the Lord’s team and therefore we will be victorious.
“There Is A Risky Imbalance Between What Is Possible And What Is Morally Good!”
By: David Kerr
Pope Benedict XVI used a May 3 address to doctors and medical students to warn that the spread of relativism is resulting in scientific advances having “unpredictable consequences.”
The Pope told the faculty and students of Rome’s Agostino Gemelli Teaching Hospital in an outdoor speech that “ours is a time when the experimental sciences have transformed the worldview and understanding of man.”
While he granted that scientific discoveries are a “reason for pride,” the pontiff warned that they are often “not without troubling implications,” such that “behind the widespread optimism of scientific knowledge, the shadow of a crisis of thought is spreading.”
“Rich in means, but not in aims, mankind in our time is often influenced by reductionism and relativism which lead to a loss of the meaning of things,” he said, identifying the roots of the crisis.
The Pope observed that it is as if modern man is “dazzled by technical efficacy,” and therefore “forgets the essential horizon of the question of meaning, thus relegating the transcendent dimension to insignificance.”
When meaning is lost and the transcendent forgotten, he explained, “thought becomes weak” and “an ethical impoverishment gains ground, which clouds legal references of value.”
All in all, the Pope stated, “the once fruitful root of European culture and progress seems forgotten.”
This techno-practical mentality “generates a risky imbalance between what is technically possible and what is morally good, with unpredictable consequences.”
Pope Benedict proposed solving this dangerous imbalance by urging society to “rediscover the vigor and dynamism of the meaning of transcendence, in a word, it must open up to the horizon of the ‘quaerere Deum’ (search for God).”
Research, no matter how passionately or tenaciously it is done, is “not capable of finding a safe harbor by its own means, because man is not able to fully elucidate the strange shadow that hangs over the question of eternal realities,” he added.
Instead, is it God who “must take the initiative to encounter and speak to man,” he said.
The Pope also focused on the “fruitful reciprocity” between science and faith, a relationship that he described as “almost a complementary need to understand reality.”
Pope Benedict made the visit to the hospital to mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Gemelli’s medical college, which is the teaching hospital of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.
In addition to the medical students and faculty, his speech was also attended by many students from the Catholic University’s Bioethics Center, which aims to assist scientists and doctors in taking an ethical approach to medical research and treatment.
The Pope urged them to pursue research that is “illuminated by faith and science” so that from “these two ‘wings’” their work “draws impetus and momentum, without ever losing the right humility, the sense of its own limitations.”
This type of approach results in the search for God becoming “fruitful for intelligence, a leaven of culture, promoting true humanism, a research that does not stop at the superficial.”
“Dear friends,” the Pope said, “allow yourselves to always be guided by the wisdom that comes from above, from a knowledge illuminated by faith, remembering that wisdom requires the passion and hard work of research.”
“The Absence Of God And Moral Values Are Putting The World At Risk”
By: Philip Pullella (with editing)
Benedict presided at a solemn Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica to usher the 1.2 billion-member church into the most important day of its liturgical calendar.
The basilica, the largest church in Christendom, was in the dark for the start of the service to signify the darkness in Jesus’ tomb before what Christians believe was his resurrection from the dead three days after his crucifixion.
The some 10,000 faithful in the basilica lit candles as the pope moved up the central aisle on a wheeled platform he uses to conserve his strength and then the basilica’s lights were turned on when he reached the main altar.
Wearing gold and white vestments at the Mass, his last Holy Week service before Easter Sunday, Benedict wove his sermon around the theme of darkness and light.
“The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil,” he said.
“The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general,” he said.
Benedict, repeating one of the central themes of his pontificate, said man was too often in awe of technology instead of being in awe of God.
“If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other ‘lights’, that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk,” he said.
“With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify,” he said.
Disobedience Is Not A Path Of Renewal For The Church!
From EWTN News:
The following is the text from the Holy Father’s Holy Thursday homily. Our Courageous Pope hammers home the absolute necessity of obedience to the Church.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Church Has Not Been Given Authority To Ordain Women
At this Holy Mass our thoughts go back to that moment when, through prayer and the laying on of hands, the bishop made us sharers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, so that we might be “consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:19), as Jesus besought the Father for us in his high-priestly prayer. He himself is the truth. He has consecrated us, that is to say, handed us over to God for ever, so that we can offer men and women a service that comes from God and leads to him. But does our consecration extend to the daily reality of our lives – do we operate as men of God in fellowship with Jesus Christ? This question places the Lord before us and us before him. “Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?” After this homily, I shall be addressing that question to each of you here and to myself as well. Two things, above all, are asked of us: there is a need for an interior bond, a configuration to Christ, and at the same time there has to be a transcending of ourselves, a renunciation of what is simply our own, of the much-vaunted self-fulfilment. We need, I need, not to claim my life as my own, but to place it at the disposal of another – of Christ. I should be asking not what I stand to gain, but what I can give for him and so for others. Or to put it more specifically, this configuration to Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, who does not take, but rather gives – what form does it take in the often dramatic situation of the Church today? Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for all true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?
But let us not oversimplify matters. Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions which threatened to stifle the word and the will of God? Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word. His concern was for true obedience, as opposed to human caprice. Nor must we forget: he was the Son, possessed of singular authority and responsibility to reveal the authentic will of God, so as to open up the path for God’s word to the world of the nations. And finally: he lived out his task with obedience and humility all the way to the Cross, and so gave credibility to his mission. Not my will, but thine be done: these words reveal to us the Son, in his humility and his divinity, and they show us the true path.
Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions?
No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.
Fidelity To Christ Is The Basis For Any Authentic Renewal
Dear friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal. But perhaps at times the figure of Jesus Christ seems too lofty and too great for us to dare to measure ourselves by him. The Lord knows this. So he has provided “translations” on a scale that is more accessible and closer to us. For this same reason, Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. For his disciples, he was a “translation” of Christ’s manner of life that they could see and identify with. Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way: from Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch, from the great pastors Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, through to Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Mary Vianney and the priest-martyrs of the 20th century, and finally Pope John Paul II, who gave us an example, through his activity and his suffering, of configuration to Christ as “gift and mystery”. The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realize that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.
The Catechism Of The Catholic Church And Vatical II Texts Are Essential Tools To Guide The Church!
Dear friends, I would like briefly to touch on two more key phrases from the renewal of ordination promises, which should cause us to reflect at this time in the Church’s life and in our own lives. Firstly, the reminder that – as Saint Paul put it – we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) and we are charged with the ministry of teaching, the munus docendi, which forms a part of this stewardship of God’s mysteries, through which he shows us his face and his heart, in order to give us himself. At the meeting of Cardinals on the occasion of the recent Consistory, several of the pastors of the Church spoke, from experience, of the growing religious illiteracy found in the midst of our sophisticated society. The foundations of faith, which at one time every child knew, are now known less and less. But if we are to live and love our faith, if we are to love God and to hear him aright, we need to know what God has said to us – our minds and hearts must be touched by his word. The Year of Faith, commemorating the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, should provide us with an occasion to proclaim the message of faith with new enthusiasm and new joy. We find it of course first and foremost in sacred Scripture, which we can never read and ponder enough. Yet at the same time we all experience the need for help in accurately expounding it in the present day, if it is truly to touch our hearts. This help we find first of all in the words of the teaching Church: the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential tools which serve as an authentic guide to what the Church believes on the basis of God’s word. And of course this also includes the whole wealth of documents given to us by Pope John Paul II, still far from being fully explored.
The Church Needs Saints
All our preaching must measure itself against the saying of Jesus Christ: “My teaching is not mine” (Jn 7:16). We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are. Naturally this should not be taken to mean that I am not completely supportive of this teaching, or solidly anchored in it. In this regard I am always reminded of the words of Saint Augustine: what is so much mine as myself? And what is so little mine as myself? I do not own myself, and I become myself by the very fact that I transcend myself, and thereby become a part of Christ, a part of his body the Church. If we do not preach ourselves, and if we are inwardly so completely one with him who called us to be his ambassadors, that we are shaped by faith and live it, then our preaching will be credible. I do not seek to win people for myself, but I give myself. The Curé of Ars was no scholar, no intellectual, we know that. But his preaching touched people’s hearts because his own heart had been touched.
The last keyword that I should like to consider is “zeal for souls”: animarum zelus. It is an old-fashioned expression, not much used these days. In some circles, the word “soul” is virtually banned because – ostensibly – it expresses a body-soul dualism that wrongly compartmentalizes the human being. Of course the human person is a unity, destined for eternity as body and soul. And yet that cannot mean that we no longer have a soul, a constituent principle guaranteeing our unity in this life and beyond earthly death. And as priests, of course, we are concerned for the whole person, including his or her physical needs – we care for the hungry, the sick, the homeless. And yet we are concerned not only with the body, but also with the needs of the soul: with those who suffer from the violation of their rights or from destroyed love, with those unable to perceive the truth, those who suffer for lack of truth and love. We are concerned with the salvation of men and women in body and soul. And as priests of Jesus Christ we carry out our task with enthusiasm. No one should ever have the impression that we work conscientiously when on duty, but before and after hours we belong only to ourselves. A priest never belongs to himself. People must sense our zeal, through which we bear credible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Lord to fill us with joy in his message, so that we may serve his truth and his love with joyful zeal. Amen.
“Evil Does Not Have The Last Word In Human History”
LEON, Mexico, (Zenit.org).- On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI presided over vespers held in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Light, in León.
He started his homily by noting how in the painting in the Church that depicts Our Lady she is seen as holding her Son in one hand and with the other reaches out to sinners.
“For this reason, we invoke her frequently as ‘our hope’ because she has shown us Jesus and passed down to us the great things which God constantly does for humanity,” he said.
Passing on to comment on the reading they had heard at vespers he said: “The people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not acknowledge Christ, yet, by condemning him to death, they fulfilled the words of the prophets.
“Human evil and ignorance simply cannot thwart the divine plan of salvation and redemption,” he added.
“There is no reason, then, to give in to the despotism of evil” the Pope said. “Let us instead ask the risen Lord to manifest his power in our weakness and need.”
The Pontiff said that he had been looking forward to this meeting with the bishops of Mexico and Latin America.
“I see this meeting as an occasion to turn our gaze together to Christ, who has entrusted you with the splendid duty of preaching the Gospel among these peoples of sturdy and deep-rooted Catholic faith,” he told them.
The Pope acknowledged the challenges and difficulties facing their dioceses, but added that they are able to move forward with confidence, knowing that the Lord is risen and “that evil does not have the last word in human history.”
Confirming in faith
He thanked the bishops for their patience and work carried out with humility.
“Know that you can count on a special place in the prayers of the one who has received from Christ the charge of confirming his brethren in faith,” he said.
Referring to the anniversary of two centuries of independence for countries in Latin America Benedict XVI referred to the work carried out by missionaries who proclaimed Christ.
“They gave their all for Christ, demonstrating that in him men and women encounter the truth of their being and the strength needed both to live fully and to build a truly humane society in accordance with the will of their Creator,” he observed.
Speaking about the forthcoming Year of Faith the Pope said it would be an opportunity for people to liberate themselves from sin and slavery, and to be able to achieve authentic freedom.
He recommended the study and reading of Scripture. “I encourage you to continue to share freely the treasures of the Gospel, so that they can become a powerful source of hope, freedom and salvation for everyone.”
Before finishing the Pope urged the bishops to care well for their seminarians and also to ensure good faith formation for the lay faithful involved in catechesis, the liturgy and other areas of the Church’s activities.
“I urge you to be vigilant in proclaiming day and night the glory of God, which is the life of mankind,” the Pope added.