Pope Benedict's Angelus Addresses April 2005 to April 2008 (click here)

 

On Trust in Divine Providence
"The Christian Is Distinguished by His Absolute Trust in the Heavenly Father"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Echoing in today's liturgy is one of the most touching messages of Sacred Scripture. The Holy Spirit has given it through the writing of the so-called "second Isaiah," who to console Jerusalem, disheartened by misfortunes, expresses himself thus: "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you" (Isaiah 49:15). This invitation to trust in the unfailing love of God is supported as much by the thought-provoking page of Matthew's Gospel, in which Jesus exhorts his disciples to trust in the providence of the heavenly Father, who feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field, and knows every need of ours (cf. 6:24-34). This is how the Master expresses himself: "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."

Given the situation of so many people, close and far off, who live in misery, this discourse of Jesus might not seem very realistic, if not evasive. In reality, the Lord wants us to understand clearly that we cannot serve two masters: God and wealth. Whoever believes in God, the Father full of love for his children, puts in the first place the search for the Kingdom, for his will. And this is, in fact, the contrary of fatalism or of a naive irenicism. Faith in providence, in fact, does not dispense us from the exhausting struggle for a dignified life, but it frees us from anxiety about things and from the fear of tomorrow. It is clear that this teaching of Jesus, although remaining always true and valid for all, is practiced in different ways in keeping with the different vocations: A Franciscan brother can follow it in a more radical way, whereas a father of a family must keep in mind his duties towards his wife and children. In every case, however, the Christian is distinguished by his absolute trust in the heavenly Father, as it was for Jesus. It is precisely the relationship with God the Father that gives meaning to the whole of Christ's life, to his words, to his gestures of salvation, to his passion, death and resurrection. Jesus has demonstrated to us what it means to live with our feet firmly planted on the earth, attentive to the concrete situations of our neighbor, and at the same time having our heart always in Heaven, immersed in God's mercy.

Dear Friends, in the light of the Word of God this Sunday, I invite you to invoke the Virgin Mary with the title Mother of Divine Providence. To her we entrust our life, the path of the Church, the events of history. In particular, we invoke her intercession so that we will all learn to live in keeping with a more simple and sober style, in our daily industry and in respect of creation, which God has entrusted to our care.

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Christian Perfection
"He Who Welcomes the Lord in His Life ... Can Begin Again"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On this seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time the biblical readings speak to us about God’s will to make men participants in his life: “Be holy because I the Lord your God am holy,” we read in the Book of Leviticus (19:1). With these words and the precepts that follow from them, the Lord invited the Chosen People to be faithful to the covenant with him, walking in his ways, and established the social legislation on the commandment that says that “you will love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). If we listen, then, to Jesus in whom God took on a mortal body to become every man’s neighbor and reveal his infinite love for us, we hear again that same call, that same objective audacity. The Lord, in fact, says: “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But who can become perfect? Our perfection is to live as children of God in humility concretely doing his will. St. Cyprian wrote that “to God’s paternity there must correspond a conduct as children of God so that God might be glorified and praised by man’s good conduct” (De zelo et livore, 15: CCL 3a, 83).

In what way can we imitate Jesus? Jesus himself says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you will be children of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). He who welcomes the Lord in his life and loves him with all of his heart can begin again. He is able to do God’s will: to realize a new form of existence animated by love and destined for eternity. Paul the Apostle adds: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). If we are truly aware of this reality and our life is deeply formed by it, then our witness becomes clear, eloquent and efficacious. An [early Christian] author wrote: “When the whole being of man is mixed, so to speak, with God’s love, then his soul’s splendor is also reflected on the outside” (John Climacus, “Scala Paradisi,” XXX: PG 88, 1157 B), in the whole of his life. “Love is a great thing,” we read in “The Imitation of Christ,” [it is] “a good that makes every heavy thing light and easily endures every hardship. Love aspires to sail on high, not to be held back by any earthly thing. It is born of God and only in God can it find rest” (III, V, 3).

Dear friends, the day after tomorrow, Feb. 22, we will celebrate the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. To him, the first among the Apostles, Christ entrusted the task of Teacher and Shepherd for the spiritual guidance of the People of God, so that they might be raised up to heaven. Thus, I exhort all pastors “to assimilate that ‘new style of life’ which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles” (“Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests”). We call on the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that she teach us how to love each other and to welcome each other as brothers, children of the same heavenly Father.

[After the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in several languages. In English he said:]

I offer heartfelt greetings to all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus! In particular I greet the young singers from the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London. The Cardinal’s motto, “Amare et Servire," is a beautiful expression of the Christian way of life. We are all called to love unconditionally, as today’s Gospel reminds us, and to place ourselves generously at the service of our neighbor. Upon everyone here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thanks for your attention. Have a good Sunday, goodbye!

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On Christ and the "Fullness" of the Law
"What Is This Superior Justice That He Demands?"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel reading for this Sunday's liturgy continues Jesus' so-called "Sermon on the Mount," which occupies chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew's Gospel. After the Beatitudes, which are his program of life, Jesus proclaims the new law, his Torah, as our Jewish brothers call it. In effect, the Messiah, at his coming, would have also brought the definitive revelation of the law, and this is precisely what Jesus declares: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to bring about their full completion." And, to his disciples, he adds: "If your justice does not go beyond that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17, 20). But in what does this "fullness" of the Law of Christ consist? And what is this "superior" justice that he demands?

Jesus explains this through a series of antitheses between the ancient commandments and his way of reproposing them. Each time he begins by saying: "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors…," and then he says: "But I say to you… ." For example: "You have heard that it was said to your ancestors: 'Do not kill; whoever kills will be liable to judgment.' But I say to you: whoever gets angry with his brother will be liable to judgment" (Matthew 5:21-22). And so it goes seven times.


This way of speaking surprised the people, who were frightened since that "I tell you" was equivalent to assuming for himself the authority of God, the source of the Law. The newness of Christ essentially consists in the fact that he "fulfills" the commandments with the love of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in him. And we, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, who makes us capable of living divine love. Thus, every precept becomes true as a demand of love, and they all are summed up in a single commandment: Love God with your whole heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

"Charity is the fullness of the Law," St. Paul writes (Romans 13:10). In the face of this demand, for example, the sad case of the four Roma children who died last week on the outskirts of this city when their shack caught fire, makes us ask ourselves whether or not are a more solidary and fraternal society, more consistent in love, that is, more Christian, might not have been able to prevent such a tragic event. And this question applies to many other sad events, known and unknown, that occur daily in our cities and our countries.

Dear friends, perhaps it is not by chance that Jesus' first important occasion of preaching is called the "Sermon on the Mount"! Moses climbed Mt. Sinai to receive the Law of God and bring it to the chosen people. Jesus is the very Son of God who descended from heaven to take us to heaven, to the height of God, along the path of love. Indeed, he himself is this way: we must do nothing other than follow him, to put God's will into practice and enter into his Kingdom, in the eternal life. One creature has already arrived at the summit of the mountain: the Virgin Mary. Thanks to her union with Jesus, her justice was perfect: This is why we call her "Speculum justitiae" (Mirror of Justice). Let us entrust ourselves to her that she might guide our steps in fidelity to the Law of Christ.

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I extend warm greetings to the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. "Immense is the wisdom of the Lord", we hear proclaimed in our liturgy today. As the Blessed Virgin Mary entrusted her entire life to that wisdom, may we too place our lives completely under the guidance of God's law of love. Entrusting you to Mary's motherly care, I invoke upon you and your families God's blessings of peace and joy.

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday.

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World Day of the Sick
"The Lord Cares for Man in Every Situation"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2011 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this Sunday's Gospel the Lord Jesus tells his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth ... You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14). Through these images that are rich with meaning, he wants to convey to them the point of their mission and their witness. Salt, in Middle Eastern culture, has different meanings: alliance, solidarity, life and wisdom. Life is the first work of God the Creator and is the source of life; the Word of God itself is compared to light, as the Psalmist says: "Your word is a lamp for my steps, light on my path" (Psalm 119:105). And again in today's liturgy the prophet Isaiah says: "If you open your heart to the hungry, if you satisfy the downhearted, your light will shine in the darkness, your darkness will be as midday" (58:10). Wisdom sums up in itself the beneficial effects of salt and light: In fact the disciples of the Lord are called to bring new "taste" to the world, and to save it from corruption, with the wisdom of God, which shines fully on the face of the Son because he is the "true light that enlightens every man" (John 1:9). United to him, Christians can spread, in the midst of indifference and egoism, the light of God's love, the true wisdom that gives wisdom that grants meaning to man's existence and his actions.

On Feb. 11, the feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, we will celebrate the World Day of the Sick. It is an opportune occasion to reflect, to pray and to increase the ecclesial community's and civil society's awareness of sick brothers and sisters. In the message for this day, inspired by an expression of the first Letter of Peter: "By his wounds you are healed" (2:24), I invite everyone to contemplate Jesus, the Son of God, who suffered and died but is risen. God is radically opposed to the arrogance of evil. The Lord cares for man in every situation, shares his suffering and opens his heart to hope. Thus I exhort all health workers to see in the sick person not only a body marked by fragility, but first of all a person, to whom complete solidarity must be extended and adequate and competent responses given. In this context I further observe that today is the "Day for Life" in Italy. I hope that everyone will work to make the culture of life grow, to put the value of the human being at the center in every circumstance. According to faith and reason the dignity of the person is irreducible to his faculties or the capacities he can manifest, and so it is not lessened when the person himself is weak, handicapped and in need of help.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, so that parents, grandparents, teachers, priests and those who work in education might form the young generations in the wisdom of the heart so that they attain the fullness of life.

[After reciting the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

In these days I am attentively following the delicate situation of that dear Egyptian nation. I ask God that that land, blessed by the presence of the Holy Family, rediscover tranquility and peaceful coexistence in the shared commitment to the common good.

I offer a cordial greeting to the delegations of the medical and surgical departments of the University of Rome, accompanied by the cardinal vicar [of the Diocese of Rome] on the occasion of the conference sponsored by the departments of gynecology and obstetrics on the topic of health assistance during pregnancy. When scientific and technological research are guided by authentic ethical values it is possible to find adequate solutions for the welcoming of nascent life and the promotion of maternity. It is my wish that the new generations of health workers are the bearers of a renewed culture of life.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus urges us to make our light shine before others, to the praise of our Father in heaven. May the light of Christ purify all our thoughts and actions. As the Church celebrates the World Day of the Sick on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, may that same light bring hope and healing to those who are ill. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

[In Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Greetings to all of you. Have a good Sunday.

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On the Beatitudes as a Program of Life
"Teaching That Comes From Above and Touches the Human Condition"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On this Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Gospel presents the first great sermon that the Lord addresses to the people, on the beautiful hills near the Sea of Galilee. "When Jesus saw the crowds," St. Matthew writes, "he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him" (Matthew 5:1-2). Jesus, the new Moses, “takes his seat on the ‘cathedra’ of the mountain” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” Ignatius Press, 2008, p. 65) and proclaims as “blessed” the poor in spirit, the afflicted, the merciful, those who hunger for justice, the pure of heart and the persecuted (cf. Matthew 5:3-10). This is not a new ideology but a teaching that comes from above and touches the human condition -- precisely that which the Lord, becoming incarnate, chose to assume -- to save it. Thus “the Sermon on the Mount addresses the entire world, the present and the future … and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying him on his journey” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” p. 69). The Beatitudes are a new program of life to liberate us from the false values of the world and open us to the true goods, present and future. When, in fact, God consoles, satiates the hunger for justice, dries the tears of the afflicted, it means that, besides recompensing everyone in a material way, he opens the Kingdom of Heaven. “The Beatitudes are the transposition of Cross and Resurrection into discipleship” (ibid., p. 74). The Beatitudes reflect the life of the Son of God who allows himself to be persecuted, despised to the point of being condemned to death, so that men be granted salvation.

An old hermit said: “The Beatitudes are gifts of God, and we must give him great thanks for them and for the recompenses that come from them, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven in the world to come, consolation here, the fullness of every good and mercy from God … once we become the images of God on earth” (Peter of Damascus, in Filocalia, vol. 3, Torino 1985, p. 79). The history itself of the Church, the history of Christian sanctity, are a commentary on the Gospel of the Beatitudes because, as St. Paul writes, “what is weak in the eyes of the world God has chosen to confound the strong; what is ignoble and despised in the eyes of the world, that which is nothing, God chose these to reduce to nothing the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28). This is why the Church does not fear poverty, scorn and persecution in a society that is often attracted by material well-being and worldly power. St. Augustine reminds us that “it is not worthwhile to suffer these evils, but to endure them for the name of Jesus, not only with a peaceful soul but even with joy” (“De sermone Domini in monte,” I, 5,13: CCL 35, 13).

Dear brothers and sisters, we invoke the Virgin Mary, the one who is Blessed par excellence, asking for the strength to seek the Lord (cf. Sophonias 2:3) and to follow him always, with joy, on the path of the Beatitudes.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian he said:]

This Sunday we celebrate “World Leprosy Day,” which was promoted in the 1950s by Raoul Follereau and officially recognized by the U.N.. Leprosy, although it is diminishing, unfortunately still strikes many people in conditions of great misery. I assure all the sick of a special prayer, which I extend to those who care for them and who in various ways work to eliminate Hansen’s Disease. I especially greet l’Associazione Italiana Amici di Raoul Follereau, which celebrates its 50th anniversary.

In the days that follow, various countries of the Far East will celebrate with joy, especially in the intimacy of families, the Lunar New Year. To all those great peoples I wish from my heart serenity and prosperity.

Today is also the “International Day for Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land.” I join with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custody of the Holy Land in inviting everyone to pray to the Lord that he bring minds and hearts together in concrete peace projects.

[In English he said:]

I greet warmly all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus. In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the eight Beatitudes, that beautiful account of what Christian discipleship demands of us. Jesus himself showed us the way by the manner of his life and death, and by rising from the dead he revealed the new life that awaits those who follow him along the path of love. Upon all of you here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke abundant blessings of peace and joy.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Concluding his greetings, in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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World Day of Migrants and Refugees
"The Messiah, the Son of God Was a Refugee"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday is observed the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which every year invites us to reflect on the experience of many men and women, and many families, who leave their own country in search of better conditions of life. Sometimes this migration is voluntary, sometimes, unfortunately, it is forced by wars or persecutions, and it often happens -- as we know -- in dramatic conditions. Because of this the United Nations High Commission for Refugees was instituted 60 years ago. On the feast of the Holy Family, immediately after Christmas, we noted that even Jesus' parents had to flee their own land and take refuge in Egypt to save the life of their child: The Messiah, the Son of God was a refugee. The Church itself has always known migration. Sometimes, unfortunately, Christians feel forced to leave, with suffering, their land, thus impoverishing the country in which their ancestors lived. On the other hand, the voluntary movement of Christians, for various reasons, from one city to another, from one country to another, from one continent to another, are occasions to enhance the missionary dynamism of the Word of God and make the witness to faith circulate more in the mystical Body of Christ, crossing peoples and cultures, and reaching new frontiers, new environments.

"One single human family:" this is the theme of the message that I composed for today's observance. It is a theme that indicates the end, the goal of the great journey of humanity across the centuries: forming one family, naturally with all the differences that enrich it, but without walls, recognizing all as brothers. Thus says the Second Vatican Council: "All peoples constitute one single community. They have one origin since God made the whole human race inhabit the whole face of the earth" ("Nostra aetate," 1). The Church, the Council continues, "is in Christ as a sacrament, that is, sign and instrument of intimate union with God and the unity of the whole human race" ("Lumen gentium," 1). For this reason it is fundamental for Christians, although they are spread throughout the world and, therefore, different by culture and tradition, to be one, as the Lord wishes. This is the purpose of the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity," which will take place in the next couple of days, Jan. 18-25. This year it is inspired by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles: "United in the doctrine of the apostles, in communion, in the breaking of the bread and prayer" (Acts 2:42). The Octave of Christian Unity is preceded tomorrow by the Day of Jewish-Christian Dialogue: an important event which recalls the common roots that unite Jews and Christians.

In turning to the Virgin Mary, with the "Angelus" prayer, we entrust to her protection all migrants and those who give them pastoral care. May Mary, Mother of the Church, obtain for us, moreover, to make progress in the journey toward the full communion of all disciples in Christ.



© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Baptism: Gift and Responsibility
"I Would Like to Encourage All of the Faithful to Rediscover the Beauty of Being Baptized"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 9, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church celebrates the baptism of the Lord, the feast that concludes the liturgical season of Christmas. This mystery of the life of Christ visibly shows that his coming in the flesh is the sublime act of love of the three divine Persons. We can say that from this solemn event the creative, redemptive and sanctifying action of the Most Holy Trinity will become increasingly manifest in Jesus’ public mission, in his teaching, miracles, in his passion, death and resurrection. We read, in fact, in the Gospel according to St. Matthew that “Jesus being baptized, forthwith came out of the water: and lo, the heavens were opened to him: and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him. And behold a voice from heaven saying: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’” (3:16-17).

The Holy Spirit “settles” upon the Son and witnesses to his divinity, while the voice of the Father, coming from the heavens, expresses the communion of love. “The conclusion of the baptismal scene tells us that Jesus has received this true ‘anointing,’ that he is the awaited ‘Anointed One’ [the Christ]” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” San Francisco, 2008), in confirmation of the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight” (Isaiah 42:1). He is truly the Messiah, the Son of the Most High who, coming out of the waters of the Jordan, establishes regeneration in the Spirit and opens, to those who desire it, the possibility of becoming sons of God.

It is not by chance, in fact, that every baptized person acquires the character of son from the name Christian, indisputable sign that the Holy Spirit brings man to be born “again” from the womb of the Church. Blessed Anotonio Rosmini says that “the baptized person undergoes a secret but most powerful operation by which he is raised up to the supernatural order, he is placed in communication with God” (“Del principio supremo della metodica,” Torino, 1857, n. 331). All of this was again fulfilled this morning during the Eucharistic celebration in the Sistine Chapel, where I conferred the sacrament of baptism on 21 newborns.

Dear friends, baptism is the beginning of the spiritual life, which finds its fullness through the Church. In the propitious moment of the sacrament, while the ecclesial community prays and entrusts a new child to God, the parents and godparents commit to welcome the newly baptized person supporting him in Christian formation and education. This is a great responsibility, which comes from a great gift! Thus, I would like to encourage all of the faithful to rediscover the beauty of being baptized and belonging to the great family of God, and to giving a joyous witness to their own faith so that they might bear the fruits of goodness and concord. We ask this through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, to whom we entrust the parents who are preparing their children for baptism and catechists as well. May the whole community share in the joy of being reborn by the water of the Holy Spirit!

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

In the context of the Marian prayer, I would like to offer a special thought for the people of Haiti, one year after the terrible earthquake, which has unfortunately been followed by a grave cholera epidemic. Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” is traveling to the Caribbean island today to express my constant concern and that of the whole Church.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the visitors and pilgrims present for this Angelus prayer. Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord and contemplates once more the revelation of God who is close to humanity, who visits his people in the person of Jesus Christ, in order to set them free from the tyranny of sin and death. May we open the doors of our hearts to Christ and welcome him into the world of today. God’s abundant blessings be upon all of you!
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Holy Family
"That Every Child Coming Into the World Be Welcomed by the Warmth of a Family"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Dec. 26 before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel according to Luke recounts that when the shepherds of Bethlehem had received the Angel's announcement of the Messiah's birth "they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger" (2:16). The first eyewitnesses of Jesus' birth therefore beheld a family scene: a mother, a father and a newborn son. For this reason the Liturgy has us celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on the First Sunday after Christmas. This year it occurred the very day after Christmas, and, taking precedence over the Feast of St Stephen, invites us to contemplate this "icon" in which the little Jesus appears at the centre of his parents' affection and care.

In the poor grotto of Bethlehem -- the Fathers of the Church wrote -- shines a very bright light, a reflection of the profound mystery which envelopes that Child, which Mary and Joseph cherish in their hearts and which can be seen in their expression, in their actions, and especially in their silence. Indeed, they preserve in their inmost depths the words of the Angel's Annunciation to Mary: "the Child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God" (Lk 1:35).

Yet every child's birth brings something of this mystery with it! Parents who receive a child as a gift know this well and often speak of it in this way. We have all heard people say to a father and a mother: "this child is a gift, a miracle!". Indeed, human beings do not experience procreation merely as a reproductive act but perceive its richness and intuit that every human creature who is born on earth is the "sign" par excellence of the Creator and Father who is in Heaven.

How important it is, therefore, that every child coming into the world be welcomed by the warmth of a family! External comforts do not matter: Jesus was born in a stable and had a manger as his first cradle, but the love of Mary and of Joseph made him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved. Children need this: the love of their father and mother. It is this that gives them security and, as they grow, enables them to discover the meaning of life. The Holy Family of Nazareth went through many trials, such as the "massacre of the innocents" -- as recounted in the Gospel according to Matthew -- which obliged Joseph and Mary to flee to Egypt (cf. 2:13-23). Yet, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability and guaranteed Jesus a serene childhood and a sound upbringing.

Dear friends, the Holy Family is of course unique and unrepeatable, but at the same time it is a "model of life" for every family because Jesus, true man, chose to be born into a human family and thereby blessed and consecrated it. Let us therefore entrust all families to Our Lady and to St Joseph, so that they do not lose heart in the face of trials and difficulties but always cultivate conjugal love and devote themselves with trust to the service of life and education.

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following appeal:]

Over this Christmas period, the desire and calls for the gift of peace have become more intense. Yet our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ. I learned with great sadness of the attack on a Catholic church in the Philippines during the celebration of the Christmas liturgy, as well as attacks against Christian churches in Nigeria. The earth has also been stained with blood in other parts of the world, such as Pakistan. I wish to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims of this absurd violence, and I once again reiterate my appeal to abandon the path of hatred in order to find peaceful solutions to conflicts and bring security and tranquillity to those dear people. On this day in which we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, who underwent the dramatic experience of having to flee into Egypt because of the murderous fury of Herod, let us remember all those, especially families, who are forced to abandon their homes because of war, violence and intolerance. I invite you, therefore, to join me in praying fervently that the Lord may touch people's hearts and bring hope, reconciliation and peace

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer on the Feast of the Holy Family. Reflecting on the love of Jesus, Mary and Joseph for one another, we see that Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover the life of Christ and to understand his Gospel. May the peace of the Holy Family always be in your homes and fill you with gladness. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the New Year
"Religious Liberty Is the Privileged Way to Build Peace"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2011  - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 1, the solemnity of Mary Most Holy Mother of God and the 44th World Day of Peace, before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this first Angelus of 2011, I address to all my good wishes for peace and goodness entrusting them to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, who today we celebrate as Mother of God. At the beginning of a new year, the Christian People gather spiritually before the cave of Bethlehem, where the Virgin Mary has given birth to Jesus. Let us ask the Mother for a blessing, and she blesses us showing us the Son: in fact, he is the Blessing in person.

Giving us Jesus, God has given us everything: his love, his life, the light of truth, the forgiveness of sins; he has given us peace. Yes, Jesus Christ is our peace (cf. Ephesians 2:14). He brought to the world the seed of love and of peace, stronger than the seed of hatred and violence; stronger because the Name of Jesus is superior to any other name, it contains all the lordship of God, as the prophet Micah announced: "But you, O Bethlehem, ... from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler .... He shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God ... He himself will be peace!" (5:1-4).

Because of this, before the icon of the Virgin Mother, the Church on this day invokes from God, through Jesus Christ, the gift of peace: it is the World Day of Peace, propitious occasion to reflect together on the great challenges that our era poses to humanity. One of these, dramatically urgent in our days, is that of religious liberty; because of this, this year I have wished to dedicate my Message to this topic: "Religious Liberty, Way for Peace."

We are witnessing today two opposed tendencies, two extremes both negative: on one hand laicism that, in an often deceitful way, marginalizes religion to confine it to the private sphere; on the other fundamentalism, which instead would like to impose itself on all with force. In reality, "God calls humanity to himself with a plan of love that, while it involves the whole person in his natural and spiritual dimension, requires that he correspond in terms of liberty and responsibility, with his whole heart and with his whole being, individual and communal" (Message, 8). Wherever religious liberty is recognized effectively, the dignity of the human person is respected at its roots and, through a sincere search for the true and the good, the moral conscience is consolidated and the institutions themselves and civil coexistence are reinforced (cf. Ibid., 5). Because of this, religious liberty is the privileged way to build peace.

Dear friends, let us turn our gaze again to Jesus, in the arms of Mary, his Mother. Looking at Him, who is the "Prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:5), we understand that peace is not attained with arms, or with economic, political, cultural or media power. Peace is the work of consciences that open to truth and to love. May God help us to progress on this way in the new year that He gives us to live.


[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following appeal:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Message for today's Day of Peace I was able to underline how the great religions can constitute an important factor of unity and peace for the human family, and I reminded, to this end, that in this year of 2011 will be observed the 25th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Peace that the Venerable John Paul II convoked in Assisi in 1986. Because of this, in the forthcoming month of October, I will go as a pilgrim to the city of St. Francis, inviting Christian brothers of different confessions, exponents of religious traditions of the world and, ideally, all men of good will, to join in this journey to recall that historic gesture willed by my predecessor and to renew solemnly the commitment of believers of every religion to live their own religious faith as service for the cause of peace. Whoever is journeying towards God cannot but transmit peace, whoever builds peace cannot but be close to God. I invite you to support this initiative from now on with your prayer.

In this context, I wish to greet and encourage all those who, from yesterday evening and during the whole of today, in the whole Church are praying for peace and for religious liberty. In Italy, the traditional march promoted by CEI, Pax Christi and Caritas took place in Ancona, city that will host next September the National Eucharistic Congress. Here in Rome, and in other cities of the world, Sant'Egidio Community has again proposed the initiative "Peace in All Lands": my heartfelt greeting to all those who took part. I also greet the adherents of the Family Love Movement, who this evening watched in St. Peter's Square and in the dioceses of L'Aquila praying for peace in families and in nations.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In English, he said:]

I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors here today. On the first day of the year the Church pays special honour to the Mother of God, recalling how in humble obedience to the Lord's will she bore in her womb and gave birth to him who is the Light of the World. On this day, too, we pray especially for peace throughout the world, and I invite all of you to join in heartfelt prayer to Christ the Prince of Peace for an end to violence and conflict wherever they are found. Upon all of you, and upon your loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings for the year that lies ahead. Happy New Year!

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Epiphany
"To All Those Who Seek Truth, We Must Offer the Word of God"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, the solemnity of the Epiphany, before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to all peoples, represented by the Magi, who arrived in Bethlehem from the East to pay tribute to the King of the Jews, whose birth they learnt about by the appearance of a new star in the sky (cf. Matthew 2:1-12). In fact, before the arrival of the Magi, knowledge of this event was little known beyond the family circle: in addition to Mary and Joseph, and probably other relatives, it was known by the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, hearing the joyful announcement, went to see the baby while he was still laying in the manger. The coming of the Messiah, awaited by the people as foretold by the prophets, remained thus initially in concealment.

Until, in fact, those mysterious personages -- the Magi -- arrived in Jerusalem to ask news about the "king of the Jews," born a short time ago. Obviously, as it was about a king, they went to the royal palace where Herod resided. But he did not know anything about this birth and, very worried, he immediately convoked the priests and scribes who, based on the famous prophecy of Micah (cf. 5:1), affirmed that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. And in fact, going out again in that direction, the Magi saw the star again, which led them to the place where Jesus was. Having entered, they prostrated themselves and adored him, offering him symbolic gifts: gold, incense and myrrh. See the epiphany, the manifestation: the coming and the adoration of the Magi is the first sign of the singular identity of the son of God, who is also son of the Virgin Mary. From now on the question began to be propagated that would accompany the whole life of Christ, and which in different ways goes across the centuries: who is this Jesus?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of god. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus "the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20).

Once again, we feel in ourselves a profound gratitude to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is the perfect image of the Church which gives the world the light of Christ: she is the Star of evangelization. "Respice Stellam," Saint Bernard says to us: look at the Star, you who go in search of truth and peace; turn your gaze to Mary, and She will show you Jesus, light for every man and for all peoples.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in St. Peter's Square in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

I address my heartfelt greeting and most fervent wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches that tomorrow celebrate Holy Christmas. May the goodness of God, appearing in Jesus Christ, incarnate Word, reinforce in all faith, hope and charity, and give comfort to the communities that are being tested.

I remind then that Epiphany is the Missionary Day of Children, proposed by the Pontifical Work of Holy Childhood. So many children and youngsters, organized in parishes and schools, form a spiritual and solidaristic network to help their contemporaries in greatest difficulty. It is very beautiful and important that children grow with a mentality open to the world, with sentiments of love and fraternity, overcoming egoism and consumerism. Dear children and youngsters, with your prayer and your commitment you collaborate with the mission of the Church. I thank you for this and I bless you!


[In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. On this, the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the Church rejoices in the revelation of Jesus Christ as the light of all peoples. May the light of Christ's glory fill you and your families with joy, strengthen Christians everywhere in their witness to the Gospel, and lead all mankind to the fullness of truth and life which God alone can give. Upon all of you, and in a special way upon the children present, I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Mystery of the Incarnation
"The Word Is a Living Reality"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday, Jan. 2, before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I renew to you all my good wishes for the New Year and I thank all those who have sent me messages of spiritual closeness.

This Sunday's Liturgy proposes anew the Prologue of the Gospel according to St John, solemnly proclaimed on Christmas Day. This wonderful text expresses the mystery of the Incarnation, preached by eyewitnesses, the Apostles, and in particular by John whose feast -- not by chance -- is celebrated on Dec. 27. St Chromatius of Aquileia said that "John was the youngest of all the Lord's disciples; the youngest in age, but already old in faith" (Sermo II, 1 De Sancto Iohanne Evangelista, CCL 9a, 101).

When we read: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (Jn 1:1), the Evangelist, traditionally compared with an eagle - soars above human history, scrutinizing God's depths; but very soon, following his Teacher, he returns to the earthly dimension, saying: "and the Word became flesh" (Jn 1:14).

The Word is "a living reality: a God who... communicates himself by making himself man (J. Ratzinger, Teologia della liturgia, LEV, 209 10, 618). In fact, John testifies that he "dwelt among us" and "we have beheld his glory" (Jn 1:14).

"He lowered himself to assume the humility of our condition", St Leo the Great comments, "without this diminishing his majesty" (Tractatus XXI, 2, CCL 138, 86-87). Further, we read in the Prologue: "From his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace" (Jn 1:16). "What is the first grace that we have received?", St Augustine asks and answers, "it is faith". The second grace, he immediately adds, is "eternal life" (In evangelium Johannis tractatus III, 8.9, CCL 36, 24.25).

I now address in Spanish the thousands of families meeting in Madrid for an important demonstration. I greet with affection the many Pastors and faithful who are gathered in Plaza de Colón, Madrid, in order to celebrate joyfully the value of marriage and the family, on the theme: "The Christian family, hope for Europe".

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to be strong in love and to contemplate with humility the Mystery of Christmas that continues to speak to the heart and to become a school of family and fraternal life. The motherly gaze of the Virgin Mary, the loving protection of St Joseph and the sweet presence of the Baby Jesus are a clear image of what every Christian family must be: an authentic sanctuary of fidelity, respect and understanding in which faith is passed on, hope is strengthened and love is kindled.

I encourage one and all to live the Christian vocation in your homes with renewed enthusiasm, as genuine servants of the love that welcomes, accompanies and protects life. Make your home a real nursery of virtues and a serene and luminous place of trust, in which, guided by God's grace, it is possible to discern wisely the call of the Lord who continues to invite people to follow him.

With these sentiments I fervently commend to the Holy Family of Nazareth the resolutions and fruit of this meeting, so that there may be an increasing number of families in which joy, mutual giving and generosity hold sway. May God always bless you. Let us ask the Virgin Mary, whom the Lord entrusted as Mother to "the disciple whom Jesus loved", for the strength to behave as children "who were born ... of God" (cf. Jn 1:13), accepting one another and thereby expressing brotherly love.

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following appeal:]

Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the news of the serious attack on the Christian Coptic community in Alexandria, Egypt. This despicable act of death, like the current trend of setting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and the whole of humanity which, only yesterday was praying for peace and began a New Year with hope.

In the face of this strategy of violence that is targeting Christians with consequences on the entire population, I pray for the victims and their relatives and I encourage the ecclesial communities to persevere in faith and in the witness of non-violence which comes to us from the Gospel.

I am also thinking of the numerous pastoral workers killed in 2010 in various parts of the world: we likewise address to them our affectionate remembrance before the Lord. Let us remain united in Christ, our hope and our peace!

[He then greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today we continue to contemplate the divine mystery of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the Word of God made flesh for our salvation, the Wisdom of God who has come to enlighten us. Let us always cherish this presence of Jesus who brings us grace and truth! I wish you all a pleasant Sunday and renew my good wishes for a Happy New Year!

[In Italian, he said:]

On this first Sunday of the year: many good wishes to everyone for peace and good in the Lord.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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St. Joseph, Legal Father of Jesus
He "Looks to the Future With Confidence and Courage"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On this fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us how the birth of Jesus came about, taking the perspective of St. Joseph. He was the betrothed of Mary, who, "before they lived together, was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18). The Son of God, realizing an ancient prophecy (cf. Isaiah 7:14), became man in the womb of a virgin, and such a mystery simultaneously manifests the love, wisdom and power of God on behalf of humanity wounded by sin. St. Joseph is presented as a "just man" (Matthew 1:19), faithful to God’s law, ready to do his will. On account of this he enters into the mystery of the Incarnation after an angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream and tells him: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife with you. In fact the child that has been conceived in her comes from the Holy Spirit; she will give birth to a son and you will call him Jesus: he in fact will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). Forgetting the thought of repudiating Mary in secret, he takes her in because his eyes now see the work of God in her.

St. Ambrose comments that "in Joseph there was amiability and the figure of a just man to make the quality of his witness more worthy" (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14,32-33). "He," Ambrose continues, "could not have contaminated the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the fruitful womb of the mystery" (ibid. II, 6: CCL 14, 33). Although he had been concerned, Joseph "did as the angel of the Lord ordered him," certain of doing the right thing. Also giving the name "Jesus" to that child who rules the entire universe, he enters into the ranks of the faithful and humble servants, like the angels and prophets, like the martyrs and the apostles -- in the words of ancient eastern hymns. St. Joseph proclaims the wonders of the Lord, witnessing Mary’s virginity, the gratuitous deed of God, and caring for the earthly life of the Messiah. So, we venerate the legal father of Jesus (Code of Canon Law, 532), because the new man takes form in him, who looks to the future with confidence and courage, does not follow his own project, but entrusts himself totally to the infinite mercy of him who fulfills the prophecies and inaugurates the season of salvation.

Dear friends, to St. Joseph, universal patron of the Church, I would like to entrust all pastors, exhorting them to offer "to faithful Christians and the whole world the humble and daily proposal of the words of Christ" (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests). May our life be evermore conformed to the person of Jesus, precisely because "the one who is himself the Word takes on a body, he comes from God as a man and draws the whole of man’s being to himself, bearing it into the Word of God" ("Jesus of Nazareth," San Francisco, 2008, 334). Let us invoke the Virgin Mary with confidence, the one who is full of grace, "adorned by God," so that at Christmas, which is already near, our eyes may open and see Jesus, and the heart rejoice in this wondrous encounter of love.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today. On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are filled with joy because the Lord is at hand. We heard in today’s Gospel about the promise made to Joseph, that his wife Mary was to bear a child who would save his people from their sins. This child would be called Emmanuel, meaning that from now on, God is truly with us, he lives among us and shares our joys and sorrows, our hopes and our fears. As the great feast of Christmas draws near, I invoke God’s abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Third Sunday of Advent
"The Word of the Lord Does Not Pass"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Third Sunday of Advent the liturgy proposes a passage from the Letter of St. James that opens with this exhortation: "Be constant, my brothers, until the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). It seems to me more important than ever in our days to underscore the importance of constancy and patience, virtues that belonged to the generation of our fathers but which are less popular today in a world that instead exalts change and the capacity always to adapt to new situations. Without taking anything away from these latter, which are also qualities of the human being, Advent calls us to strengthen that interior tenacity, that resistance of the soul that permits us not to despair in waiting for some good thing that is late in coming, but to expect it, indeed, to prepare for its arrival with an active confidence.

"Learn from the farmer," St. James writes, "he awaits with constancy the precious fruit of the earth until it has received the first and the last rains. You too must be constant, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near" (James 5:7-8). The comparison with the farmer is quite expressive: He who has sown seeds in the field has before him some months of patient and constant expectation, but he knows that in the meantime the seed goes through its cycle thanks to the autumn and spring rains. The farmer is not a fatalist, but is the model of a mentality that unites faith and reason in a balanced way because, on one hand, he knows the laws of nature and does his work well, and, on the other hand, he trusts in Providence, because certain basic things are not in his hands but in God's hands. Patience and constancy are precisely the synthesis between human effort and trust in God.

"Strengthen your hearts," Scripture says. How can we do that? How can we strengthen our hearts, which are already rather fragile, and made more unstable by the culture in which we are immersed? We do not lack help: The Word of God is there. Indeed, while everything passes and changes, the Word of the Lord does not pass. If the vicissitudes of life make us feel lost and every certainty seems to crumble, we have a compass for finding direction, we need not fear being adrift. And here the model that is offered to us by the prophets, that is, the model of those persons whom God called to speak in his name. The prophet finds his joy and his strength in the power of the Lord's Word and, while men often seek happiness along paths that turn out to be mistaken, he announces the true hope, the one that doesn't delude because it is founded on the fidelity of God. Every Christian, in virtue of his baptism, has received the prophetic dignity. May every Christian rediscover it and develop it with an assiduous listening to the Divine Word. May the Virgin Mary, whom the Gospel calls blessed because she believed that the Lord's words would be accomplished (cf. Luke 1:45), obtain this for us.

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Immaculate Conception
"Grace Is Greater Than Sin ... God's Mercy Is More Powerful Than Evil"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, when reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today our meeting on the occasion of the prayer of the Angelus acquires a special light, in the context of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In the liturgy of this feast, the Gospel of the Annunciation is proclaimed (Luke 1:26-38), which presents, precisely, the dialogue between the angel Gabriel and the Virgin.

"Rejoice! Full of grace, the Lord is with three," says God's messenger, and in this way reveals Mary's most profound identity, the "name" so to speak with which God himself knows her: "full of grace."

This expression, which is so familiar to us from our childhood, as we say it every time we pray the Hail Mary, explains to us the mystery that we celebrate today. In fact, from the moment she was conceived by her parents, Mary was the object of a singular predilection on the part of God, who in his eternal plan chose her to be the mother of his Son made man and, hence, preserved her from original sin. For this reason, the angel addresses her with this name, which implicitly signifies: "ever full of the love of God," of his grace.

The mystery of the Immaculate Conception is source of interior light, of hope and of consolation. In the midst of life's trials, and especially of the contradictions man experiences in his interior and around him, Mary, Mother of Christ, tells us that Grace is greater than sin, that God's mercy is more powerful than evil, and it is able to transform it into goodness.

Unfortunately, we experience evil every day, which manifests itself in many ways in relations and events, but which has its root in man's heart, a wounded, sick heart, incapable of curing itself. Sacred Scripture reveals to us that at the origin of all evil is disobedience to the will of God, and that death has prevailed because human liberty has yielded to the temptation of the Evil One. However, God does not fail in his plan of love and life: through a long and patient path of reconciliation, he has prepared the new and eternal Covenant, sealed with the blood of his Son, who to offer himself in expiation "was born of woman" (Galatians 4:4).

This woman, the Virgin Mary, benefited in advance from the redeeming death of her Son and from conception was preserved from the contagion of guilt. Because of this, with her immaculate heart, she says to us: Trust Jesus, he saves you.

Dear friends, this afternoon I will renew the traditional homage to the Immaculate Virgin, before the monument dedicated to her, in Piazza di Spagna. With this act of devotion I make myself interpreter of the love of the faithful of Rome and of the whole world for the Mother that Christ has given us. I entrust to her intercession the most urgent needs of the Church and of the world. May she help us above all to have faith in God, to believe in his Word, to always reject evil and choose the good.

[In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today the Church joyfully celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. By her prayers, may our hearts and minds be kept free from sin, so that like Mary we may be spiritually prepared to welcome Christ. Let us turn to her, the Immaculate, who brought Christ to us, and ask her now to bring us to Him. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On St. John the Baptist
"A Star That Shines Before the Rising of the Sun"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel of this second Sunday of Advent (Matthew 3:1-12) presents to us the figure of St. John the Baptist, who, according to a celebrated prophecy of Isaiah (cf. 40:3), went out into the desert of Judea and, with his preaching, called the people to covert and prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah. St. Gregory the Great comments that the Baptist "preaches the right faith and good works … so that the power of grace penetrate, the light of the truth shine, the roads to God be made straight and that the words that are born in the soul after hearing the Word guide to the good" (Hom. in Evangelia, XX, 3, CCL 141, 155). The precursor of Jesus, situated between the Old and the New Covenants, is like a star that shines before the rising of the Sun, of Christ, of him, that is, upon whom -- according to Isaiah's prophecy -- "the Spirit of the Lord will come to rest, the a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2).

In the time of Advent, we too are called to listen to God's voice, which resounds in the desert of the world through the sacred Scriptures, especially when they are preached with the power of the Holy Spirit. Faith, in fact, is fortified the more that it is illuminated by the divine Word, by "all that which," as the Apostle Paul reminds us, "was written previously … for our instruction, that by endurance and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). The Virgin Mary is the model of listening: "As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, St. Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Verbum Domini," No. 28).

Dear friends, "our salvation rests on a coming," Romano Guardini wrote ("La santa note: Dall'Avvento all'Epifania," Brescia 1994, p. 13). "The Savior came from the freedom of God … Thus the decision of faith consists … in welcoming him who draws near to us" (p. 14). "The Redeemer," he adds, "comes to each man: in his joys and anxieties, in his clear knowing, in his perplexities and temptations, in everything that constitutes the nature of his life" (p. 15).

Let us ask the Virgin Mary, in whose womb the Son of the Most High dwelt, and for whom on Wednesday, Dec. 8 we celebrate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to sustain us in this spiritual journey, to welcome the coming of the Lord with faith and with love.

[After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following appeal:]

In this Advent season in which we are called to nourish our expectation of the Lord and to welcome him in our midst, I invite you to pray for all the situations of violence, of intolerance, of suffering that there are in the world, so that the coming of Jesus brings consolation, reconciliation and peace. I think of the many difficult situations such as the continuing attacks in Iraq against Christians and Muslims, of the conflicts in Egypt in which there have been deaths and injuries, of the victims of traffickers and criminals such as the drama of the Eritrean hostages and the hostages of other nationalities in the desert of Sinai. The respect for the rights of all is the presupposition of civil coexistence. Our prayer to the Lord and our solidarity can bring hope to those who are suffering.

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On the First Sunday of Advent
"Man Is Alive So Long As He Waits"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, the first Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year, a new journey of faith that, on one hand, remembers the event of Jesus Christ and, on the other, opens onto its ultimate fulfillment. It is precisely in this double perspective that the season of Advent is situated, both looking to the first coming of the Son of God, when he was born of the Virgin Mary, and to his glorious return, when he will come "to judge the living and the dead," as we say in the "Credo." I would now like to reflect briefly on this suggestive theme of "waiting" (attesa), because it involves a profoundly human reality in which the faith becomes, so to say, completely one with our flesh and our heart.

Our whole personal, familial and social existence passes through this dimension of waiting. Waiting is something that is present in a 1,000 situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important, which draw us in completely and in the deepest way. Among these, we think of a husband and wife waiting for a child; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; we think of a young person waiting to know his grade on a major exam or the outcome of a job interview; in romantic relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved person, of waiting for a letter, or of receiving forgiveness... One could say that man is alive so long as he waits, so long as hope is alive in his heart. And man is able to recognize that what he waits for and what he hopes for discloses something about his moral and spiritual "stature."

Everyone of us, therefore, especially in this season in which we prepare for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? For what, in this moment of my life, does my heart long? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for, together? What unifies our aspirations, what do they have in common? In the time before Jesus' birth the expectation of the Messiah -- that is, of an Anointed one, a descendent of King David, who would have finally liberated the people from every moral and political slavery and have founded the Kingdom of God -- was very strong in Israel. But no one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born from a humble girl like Mary, the betrothed of the just man Joseph. Not even she could have thought of it, and yet in her heart the longing for the Savior was so great, her faith and hope were so ardent, that he was able to find in her a worthy mother. After all, God himself had prepared her before all time. There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting for God and the waiting for Mary, the creature "full of grace," totally transparent to the plan of love of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the woman of Advent, to live with a new spirit in our daily gestures, with the sentiment of a profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Solemnity of Christ the King
"Jesus, From the Throne of the Cross Receives Every Man With Infinite Mercy"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

There has just concluded in the Vatican basilica the liturgy of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe, which was also concelebrated by the 24 new cardinals created yesterday in the consistory. The Solemnity of Christ the King was instituted by Pius IX in 1925 and, later, after the Second Vatican Council, it was linked to the end of the liturgical year. The Gospel of St. Luke presents, as in a great painting, the royalty of Jesus in the moment of his crucifixion. The leaders of the people and the soldiers deride "the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15) and they test him to see if he has the power to save himself from death (cf. Luke 23:35-37). And precisely "on the cross Jesus is exalted to the very 'height' of God, who is love. It is there that he can be 'known.' [...] Jesus gives us 'life' because he gives us God. He can give him to us because he himself is one with God" (Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth," San Francisco, 2008, pp. 349 ff.). In fact, while the Lord finds himself between two criminals, one of them, aware of his own sins, opens himself to truth, arrives at faith and prays to "the king of the Jews": "Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). From him who "is before all things and in whom all things exist" (Colossians 1:17) the so-called "good thief" immediately receives forgiveness and the joy of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. "In truth I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). With these words, Jesus, from the throne of the cross receives every man with infinite mercy. St. Ambrose comments that this "is a beautiful example of conversion to which one should aspire: forgiveness is quickly offered the thief and the grace is more abundant than the request; the Lord in fact," St. Ambrose says, "always give more than what is asked for [...] Life is being with Christ because where Christ is there is the Kingdom" (Expositio Ev. sec. Lucam X, 121: CCL 14, 379).

Dear Friends, in Christian art we can contemplate the way of love that the Lord reveals to us and that he invites us to follow. In fact, in the earliest times "in the arrangement of Christian sacred buildings [...] it became customary to depict the Lord returning as a king -- the symbol of hope -- at the east end; while the west wall normally portrayed the Last Judgment as a symbol of our responsibility for our lives" ("Spe salvi," 41): hope in the infinite love of God and commitment to order our life according to God's love. When we contemplate the depiction of Jesus inspired by the New Testament -- as an ancient council teaches -- we are led to "understand [...] the sublimity and the humiliation of the Word of God and [...] to recall his life in the flesh, his passion and salvific death, and the redemption that thus came to the world" (Council of Trullo [ca. 691 or 692], canon 82). "Yes, we need it, precisely to [...] become capable of recognizing in the pierced heart of the Crucified the mystery of God" (J. Ratzinger, "Teologia della liturgia: La fondazione sacramentale dell'esistenza cristiana," LEV 2010, p. 69).

To the Virgin Mary, in today's observance of her Presentation in the Temple, we entrust the new members of the College of Cardinals and our earthly pilgrimage toward eternity.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Following the invitation of the bishops, in Italy the ecclesial communities are praying for the Christians who are suffering persecutions and discrimination, especially in Iraq. I join this invocation of the God of life and peace, that in every part of the world religious freedom might be secured. I am near to these brothers and sisters through great witness of faith that they bear to God. In today's memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple the Church remembers cloistered men and women with particular affection: it is "Pro Orantibus Day" in which the invitation to concretely support these communities is renewed. To them I impart the apostolic blessing from my heart.

Today is also the "Day of the Victims of the Street." While I assure them a remembrance in prayer, I encourage work in prevention, which is having good results, recalling that prudence and respect for norms are always the first way to protect oneself and others.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I extend a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors here today. I greet especially those who have traveled to Rome in order to be present for this weekend's Consistory, and to pray for the twenty-four new Cardinals. And I greet the groups of pilgrims from Saint Anne's parish, Orange, California, from Immaculate Conception Church, Los Angeles, California, and Saint Patrick's Parish in London. On this feast of Christ the King, we ask the Lord to guide our efforts to proclaim the good news of his Kingdom to people everywhere. Upon all of you, and upon your families and love ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Agricultural Work
"This Is the Moment for the Reevaluation of Agriculture"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the second reading in today's liturgy the Apostle Paul stresses the importance of work in a person's life. This aspect is also recalled by the "Day of Thanksgiving," which is traditionally celebrated in Italy on this second Sunday of November as a day of giving thanks to God at the end of the harvest season. Even if the in other geographical areas the times of cultivation are naturally different, today I would like to follow the lead of the words of St. Paul for some reflections, especially on agricultural work.

The current economic crisis, which has also been addressed recently in the meeting of the so-called Group of 20, must be taken in all its seriousness: It has numerous causes and sends a powerful message about the need for a profound revision of the model of global economic development (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 21). It's an acute symptom that is added to other more grave and already well-known ones, such as the continued imbalance between wealth and poverty, the scandal of hunger, the ecological emergency and the problem of unemployment, which has now become general. In this context a strategic re-launching of agriculture appears decisive. In fact, the process of industrialization has often overshadowed the agricultural sector, which, while also drawing benefit from modern technologies, has nevertheless lost importance, with notable consequences, even at the cultural level. I believe that this is the moment for the reevaluation of agriculture, not in a nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future.

In the current economic situation, the temptation for the more dynamic economies is that of chasing after advantageous alliances that, nevertheless, can have harmful effects for poorer states, prolonging situations of extreme mass poverty of men and women and using up the earth's natural resources, entrusted to man by God the Creator -- as Genesis says -- that he might cultivate and protect it (cf. 2:15). Moreover, despite the crisis, in countries that have long been industrialized, lifestyles marked by unsustainable consumption -- which have damaging effects for the environment and the poor -- still continue. It is necessary, then, to point in a truly unified way to a new balance between agriculture, industry and services, so that development be sustainable, and no one go without bread and work, and so that air and water and the other primary resources be preserved as universal goods (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 27).

To this end, it is essential to cultivate and spread a clear ethic that is up to the task of addressing current challenges: Everyone should educate themselves in more wise and responsible consumption; promote personal responsibility, along with the social dimension of rural activities, which are based on perennial values, such as hospitality, solidarity, and the sharing of the toil of labor. More than a few young people have already chosen this path; also many professionals are returning to dedicate themselves to the agricultural enterprise, feeling that they are responding not only to a personal and family need, but also to a "sign of the times," to a concrete sensibility for the "common good."

Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that these reflections can serve as a stimulus to the international community, while we give our thanks to God for the fruits of the earth and the work of man.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear friends, in this moment, I would like to renew my nearness to the dear people of Haiti, who, because of last January's terrible earthquake, are now suffering from a grave cholera epidemic. I encourage everyone who is responding to this new emergency and, while I assure a special remembrance in my prayer, I call on the international community to generously assist these people.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, in St. Peter's Basilica, I will preside over the first vespers of the first Sunday of Advent and a prayer vigil for those in the early stages of life. This is a joint initiative with the local Churches throughout the world and I have recommended it to be observed in parishes, religious communities, associations and movements too. The time of preparation for Holy Christmas is a propitious moment to invoke divine protection for every human being called into existence, and also for a thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parents.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, particularly the parish groups from California in the United States. Today's Gospel reminds us that our lives and all history will be judged in the light of God's truth. In these final days of the Church's liturgical year, let us pray for the grace to remain always faithful to the Lord, as we look forward to Christ's coming in glory and the fulfillment of his promises. Upon you and your families I invoke God's gifts of wisdom, strength and peace!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On All Saint's Day
"Sanctity ... Is the Objective of a Christian's Life"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at midday on Monday, Solemnity of All Saints, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The Solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrate today, invites us to raise our gaze to heaven and to meditate on the fullness of divine life that awaits us. "We are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed" (1 John 3:2): With these words the Apostle John assures us of the reality of our future relationship with God, as well as the certainty of our future destiny. Since we are his beloved children, we receive the grace to endure the trials of this earthly existence, hunger and thirst for justice, misunderstandings, persecutions (cf. Matthew 5:3-11), and at the same time we inherit already what is promised in the evangelical beatitudes, "in which the new image of the world and of man shines that Jesus inaugurates" (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Milan, 2007, 95).

Sanctity, to imprint Christ in oneself, is the objective of a Christian's life. Blessed Anthony Rosmini writes: "The Word imprinted itself in the souls of his disciples with a sensible aspect ... and with his words ... he had given his own that grace ... with which the soul perceives the Word immediately" (Antropologia soprannaturale, Rome, 1983, 265-166). And we experience in advance the gift of the beauty of sanctity every time we take part in the Eucharistic liturgy, in communion with the "immense multitude" of the blessed, who in heaven eternally acclaim the salvation of God and of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 7:9-10). "The life of Saints does not only comprise their earthly biography, but also their life and action in God after death. Evident in the saints is that, whoever goes to God, does not separate himself from men, but becomes really close to them" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 42).

Consoled by this communion of the great family of the saints, tomorrow we will commemorate all the faithful deceased. The liturgy of Nov. 2 and the pious exercise of visiting cemeteries remind us that Christian death is part of the journey of assimilation to God, which will disappear when God is everything in all. Although separation from earthly affection is certainly painful, we must not be afraid of it, because when it is accompanied by the prayer of suffrage of the Church, it cannot break the profound bonds that unite us to Christ. In this connection, St. Gregory of Niza said: "He who has created everything with wisdom, has given this painful disposition as instrument of deliverance from evil and possibility to participate in hoped for goods" ("De mortuis oratio," IX, Leyden, 1967, 68).

Dear friends, eternity is not "an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace [the] totality" ("Spe Salvi," No. 12) of being, of truth, of love. We entrust to the Virgin Mary, sure guide to sanctity, our pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland, while we invoke her maternal intercession for the eternal rest of our brothers and sisters, who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope added in Italian;]

Yesterday afternoon, in a very grave attack on the Syro-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, dozens of people died and were wounded, among them two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday's Holy Mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, which is even more ferocious as it has hit defenseless persons, gathered in the house of God, which is house of love and reconciliation. I express, moreover, my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, which has been hit again, and I encourage all pastors and faithful to persevere in fortitude and in the firmness of hope. Lastly, in face of the cruel episodes of violence that continue to destroy the populations of the Middle East, I would like to renew my urgent appeal for peace: it is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions. May all join their efforts to end all violence!

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On Zacchaeus and God's Mercy
"God Excludes No One, Neither the Poor Nor the Rich"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The evangelist St. Luke pays special attention to the theme of Jesus' mercy. In his narration in fact we find some episodes that highlight the merciful love of God and of Christ, who said that he had come to call, not the just, but sinners (cf. Luke 5:32). Among Luke's typical accounts there is that of the conversion of Zacchaeus, which is read in this Sunday's liturgy. Zacchaeus is a publican, indeed, he is the head publican of Jericho, and important city on the Jordan River. The publicans collected the tribute that the Jews had to pay to the Roman emperor, and already for this reason they were considered public sinners. What is more, they often profited from their position by extorting money from the people. Because of this Zacchaeus was very rich but despised by his fellow citizens. So when Jesus was passing through Jericho and stopped at the house of Zacchaeus, he caused a major scandal. The Lord, however, knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted, so to speak, to gamble, and he won the bet: Zacchaeus, deeply moved by Jesus' visit, decides to change his life, and promises to restore four times what he had stolen. "Today salvation has come to this house," Jesus says, and concludes: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

God excludes no one, neither the poor nor the rich. God does not let himself be conditioned by our human prejudices, but sees in everyone a soul to save and is especially attracted to those who are judged as lost and who think themselves so. Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God, has demonstrated this immense mercy, which takes nothing away from the gravity of sin, but aims always at saving the sinner, at offering him the possibility of redemption, of starting over from the beginning, of converting. In another passage of the Gospel Jesus states that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matthew 19:23). In the case of Zacchaeus we see that precisely what seems impossible actually happens: "He," St. Jerome comments, "gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the wealth of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Homily on Psalm 83:3). And Maximus of Turin adds: "Riches, for the foolish, feed dishonesty, but for the wise they are a help to virtue; for the latter they offer a chance of salvation, for the former they procure a stumbling block and perdition" (Sermon 95).

Dear Friends, Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus and converted because Jesus first welcomed him! He did not condemn him but he met his desire for salvation. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, perfect model of communion with Jesus, to be renewed by his love, and to show his mercy to others.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday, in the cathedral of Oradea Mare in Romania, Cardinal Peter Erdo beatified Szilárd Bogdánffy, bishop and martyr. In 1949 when he was 38 he was secretly consecrated a bishop and then arrested by the communist regime of his country, Romania, charged with conspiracy. After four years of suffering and humiliation, he died in prison. Let us thank God for this heroic pastor of the Church who followed the Lamb to the very end! May his witness bring comfort to those who even today are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

[In English he said:]

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors presents at today's Angelus prayer! In the liturgy of the word this morning, Our Lord tells us that he "has come to seek out and save those who were lost". May we always know our need for God and embrace his will for us, in love and humility. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the New Evangelization Synod
"The Church Exists to Evangelize"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Angelus the Pope had presided at the closing Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

With the solemn celebration this morning in the Vatican Basilica the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops came to its conclusion. The theme of the meeting was "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." This Sunday is also World Mission Sunday, whose theme this year is "The Building of Ecclesial Communion is the Key to Mission." The similarity between these themes is evident. Both invite us to look upon the Church as a mystery of communion that, by its nature, is destined for the whole person, and to all people. The Servant of God Paul VI thus stated: "The Church exists to evangelize, that is to say, to preach and to teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, to perpetuate the sacrifice of Christ in the Holy Mass, which is the memorial of his death and of his glorious resurrection" (Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii nuntiandi," Dec. 8, 1975, 14: AAS 68, [1976], p. 13).

For this reason, the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in 2012, will be dedicated to the theme "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." In every time and in every place -- even today in the Middle East -- the Church is present and works to gather together all men and offer them to Christ, the fullness of life. As the Italian-German theologian Romano Guardini wrote: "The reality of the 'Church' implies the fullness of being Christian, which develops through history, insofar as the Church embraces the fullness of human reality which is in relation with God" ("Formazione liturgica," Brescia 2008, pp. 106-107).

Dear friends, in today's liturgy we read about the testimony of St. Paul in regard to the final reward that the Lord will give "to all those who awaited his manifestation with love" (2 Timothy 4:8). This is not an inactive or solitary waiting, on the contrary! The Apostle lived in communion with the risen Christ to "bring the proclamation of the Gospel to completion" so that "all nations shall hear it" (2 Timothy 4:17). The missionary task is not to bring about revolution in the world but to transfigure it, drawing power from Jesus Christ who "convokes us at the table of his Word and Eucharist, to taste the gift of his Presence, to form ourselves in his school and live more and more consciously united to him, Master and Lord" ("Message for the 84th World Missionary Day").

Even the Christians of today -- as it is written in the "Letter to Diognetus" -- "show how marvelous and … extraordinary their life together is. They live on earth but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the established laws but go beyond the laws in their way of life. ... They are condemned to death and from it draw life. Although they do good, they are … persecuted and grow in number every day" (V, 4.9.12.16; VI, 9 [SC 33], Paris 1951, 62-66).

To the Virgin Mary, who from Jesus crucified received the new mission of being the Mother of all those who want to believe in him and follow him, we entrust the Christian communities in the Middle East and all the missionaries of the Gospel.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

To the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus prayer I offer warm greetings. We give thanks to God for the blessings received during the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which concluded this morning in St. Peter's Basilica. We also celebrate today World Mission Sunday, which reminds us that ecclesial communion is the key to our task of proclaiming the Gospel. Entrusting this mission to the intercession of our Mother Mary, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I am happy to announce that yesterday, in Vercelli, Sister Alfonsa Clerici was beatified. Sister Alfonsa belonged to the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood of Monza. She was born in Lainate, near Milan, in 1860, and died at Vercelli in 1930. Let us thank God for this sister of ours, whom he guided to perfect charity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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On the 6 Newly Recognized Saints
"Living Image of the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father had just finished celebrating a Mass in which six saints were canonized.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to renew my cordial greeting to all pilgrims who have come to honor the new saints.

[In French:]

I warmly greet the French-speaking pilgrims, among them the official delegation from Canada, and all the Canadians here for the canonization of Brother André Bessette. Taking up his message, I encourage you to follow his footsteps and freely welcome out of love the will of God in your lives. May you as well, like him, overflow with charity for your brothers and sisters who suffer affliction. May God bless you all, as well as your families. Enjoy your stay in Rome!

[In English:]

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have come in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I greet especially the official Delegations from Canada and Australia who have travelled to Rome in honour of Saint André Bessette and Saint Mary MacKillop. May God bless and keep all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I warmly welcome the German-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Saints are the living image of the love of God. Thus, today we find joy in these new saints, Stanislaw Kazimierczyk Soltys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano. They are for us models to follow and advocates for our lives as Christians. May the Lord bless you all.

[In Spanish:]

I warmly greet the Spanish-language pilgrims who have participated in this morning's solemn canonization ceremony, especially the lord cardinals and bishops, as well as the official delegation from Spain. I entrust the Daughters of Jesus to the intercession of St. Cándida, their founder. I also ask God that the new saints will be a model for the Christian people, particularly youth, so that there will be an ever greater number who welcome the call of the Lord and completely entrust their lives to proclaim the greatness of his love.

[In Polish:]

I warmly greet all the Poles who have come for the canonization. In a special way I offer my welcome to the representatives of the episcopate and to the president of the Polish Republic. I rejoice together with you over the glory of the sanctity of your fellow countryman Stanis?aw Kaz'mierczyk. Let us learn from him the spirit of prayer, of contemplation and of sacrifice for our neighbor. May he sustain before God the Church in Poland, you who are present here, your loved ones and your homeland. I bless you from my heart.

[Again in Italian:]

I greet all the Italian pilgrims who celebrate St. Battista Camilla Varano and St. Giulia Salzano as well as the official delegation that is present for this happy circumstance. In particular my thought goes out to the spiritual daughters of the new saints and to the faithful who have come from the Marche and the Campania.

Thinking of Italy, I would like to recall that today in Reggio Calabria, the 46th annual Social Week of Italian Catholics, which addressed an “agenda of hope” for the country’s future, is concluding. I address a cordial greeting to the participants in the conference, who are connected to us by a video link at the moment, and I hope that the pursuit of the common good will always constitute the sure guiding principle for the efforts of Catholics involved in social and political matters.

Now let us turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, who God placed at the center of the great assembly of saints. We entrust to her [and all the other saints] the entire Church, so that, enlightened by her example and sustained by their intercession, the faithful will go forward with an ever new spirit toward the homeland of heaven.

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On the Rosary
"It Leads Directly to Jesus, Contemplated in His Mysteries"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I have just come from St. Peter's Basilica where I presided at the opening Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. This extraordinary synodal gathering, which will last two weeks, will see the meeting in Rome of the pastors of the Church that lives in the Middle East, a very diverse reality: In that land, in fact, the one Church of Christ expresses herself in all the wealth of her ancient traditions. We will be reflecting on the following theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." In fact, in those countries, unfortunately marked by profound divisions and lacerations by age-old conflicts, the Church is called to be the sign and instrument of unity and of reconciliation, on the model of the first community of Jerusalem, in which "the multitude of those who had become Christian were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). This is an arduous task since the Christians of the Middle East often find themselves having to endure difficult conditions of life at the personal, familial and communal levels. But this should not be discouraging: it is precisely in this context that the perennial message of Christ becomes more necessary and urgent: "Convert and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). In my recent visit to Cyprus I consigned the "instrumentum laboris" of this synodal assembly [to the participants]; now that it has begun, I invite everyone to pray, invoking from God an abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The month of October is called the month of the Rosary. This is a "spiritual intonation," so to speak, provided by the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated on October 7. We are thus invited to let ourselves be guided by Mary in this ancient and ever new prayer, which is especially dear to her because it leads directly to Jesus, contemplated in his mysteries of salvation: joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. In the footsteps of the venerable John Paul II (cf. Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae), I would like to recall that the Rosary is a biblical prayer, completely interwoven with Sacred Scripture. It is a prayer of the heart in which the repetition of the "Hail Mary" orients one's though and affection toward Christ, and thus one confidently supplicates his Mother and ours. It is a prayer that aids meditation on the Word of God and is likened to Eucharistic communion on the model of Mary, who carries in her heart all Jesus did and said and his presence itself.

Dear Friends, we know how much the Virgin Mary is loved and venerated by our brothers and sisters of the Middle East. All look upon her as the caring Mother, near to every suffering, and as the Star of Hope. We entrust the assembly that opens today to her intercession so that the Christians of that region are strengthened in communion and bear witness of the Gospel of love and peace to all.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

In recent days there has taken place in Rome the "Mission to Youth 2010," organized by the Diocesan Service for the Pastoral Care of Young People. This year it reached the Tor Bella Monaca and Torre Angela quarters, with many initiatives of spiritual animation, parish, school and university gatherings and visits to the sick. At the center of everything, Eucharistic adoration, that is, the living presence of Jesus Christ. I express my appreciation to the young missionaries, to the seminarians and to all those who were a part of this experience. Thank you, you have done well! May the Lord make the seeds of the Gospel fruitful that you have sown with faith and with love!

[In English he said:]

I offer warm greetings to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. I invite all of you to join me in praying for the 'Special Assembly for the Middle East' of the Synod of Bishops, which opened this morning in Saint Peter's Basilica. May this momentous ecclesial event strengthen the communion of the faithful in the Middle East, especially as they give witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the gift of peace he offers. As we entrust these prayers to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her Spouse, who themselves came from that region, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

[Again in Italian he said:]

Thanks to everyone.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Marian Devotion
"Mary Is the Model of the Christian Life"
PALERMO, Italy, OCT. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday after celebrating an outdoor Mass in Palermo's Foro Italico Umberto I, and before praying the midday angelus.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this moment of profound communion with Christ, present and alive among us and in us, it is a beautiful thing for us as an ecclesial family to turn in prayer to his and our Mother, Mary, most holy and immaculate. Sicily has many Marian sanctuaries and in this place I feel spiritually at the center of this "network" of devotion, which joins all of the cities and villages of the island.

To the Virgin Mary I wish to entrust all of the people of God who live in this beloved land. May she sustain the families in love and in educational commitment; may she fructify the seeds of vocation that God liberally sows among the young people; may she instill courage in trials, hope in difficulties, renewed strength in doing the good. May the Madonna comfort the sick and all those who are suffering, and help the Christian communities so that no one in them be forgotten or in need, but that each one, especially the little and the weak, feel welcomed and valued.

Mary is the model of the Christian life. I ask her above all to quicken your footsteps and fill you with joy on the path to holiness, following the many luminous witnesses to Christ, children of Sicily. In this context I would like to recall that today, in Parma, Anna Maria Adorni is being beatified. In 19th century she was an exemplary wife and mother and then, having become a widow, she dedicated herself to charitable work among women in prison and in difficulty, for whose service she founded two religious institutes. Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the "Living Rosary." I am glad to mention her at the beginning of the month of the rosary. May the daily meditation on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the prayerful Virgin, strengthen us in faith, in hope and in charity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Love With a Capital "L"
"Our Eternal Destiny Is Conditioned by Our Attitude"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. The first one lives in luxury and self-concern, and when he dies, ends up in hell. But the poor man, who ate the scraps from the rich man’s table, is carried by the angels to the eternal dwelling of God and the saints. “Blessed are you poor,” the Lord proclaimed to his disciples, “because yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).

But the message of the parable goes further: It points out that while we are in this world we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Scriptures and live according to his will, because, after death, it will be too late to make amends. So, this parable tells us two things: The first is that he loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation; the second is that our eternal destiny is conditioned by our attitude; it is up to us to follow the road to life that God has shown us, and this is the road of love, not understood as sentiment but as service to others in the charity of Christ.

By a happy coincidence, tomorrow we celebrate the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron of Catholic charitable organizations; the 300th anniversary of his death will be celebrated. In the France of the 1600s, he touched with his own hand the great contrast between the richest and the poorest. In fact, as a priest, he was in the habit of frequenting not only the aristocratic circles, but also the countryside and the Paris slums.

Driven by the love of Christ, Vincent de Paul knew how to organize stable forms of service to marginalized persons, creating the so-called Charitées (charities), that is, groups of women who placed their time and goods at the service of the most marginalized. Among these volunteers, some chose to consecrate themselves totally to God, and thus, together with St. Luise de Marillac, St. Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity, the first women’s congregation to live their consecration “in the world,” in the midst of the people, with the sick and the needy.

Dear friends, only Love with a capital “L” makes for true happiness! This is also demonstrated by another witness, a young woman, who was proclaimed blessed here in Rome. I am speaking of Chiara Badano, an Italian girl born in 1971, who was led to death by an illness when she was a little less than 19 years old, but who was a ray of light for everyone, as her nickname, “Chiara Luce” (clear light), tells us. Her parish, the Diocese of Acqui Terme and the Focolare Movement, which she belonged to, are celebrating today -- and it is a festive day for all young people who can find in her an example of consistent Christianity.

Her last words, of complete adherence to the will of God, were: “Bye-bye Mamma. Be happy because I am.” Let us praise God because his love is stronger than evil and death; and let us thank the Virgin Mary, who guides young people, through difficulties and sufferings too, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. Here are some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

I am happy to welcome, from various countries, the large group of Daughters of Charity, priests of the mission and laypeople of the Vincentian associations as well as the Brothers of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines).

Dear friends, if it pleases God, on Thursday I will return to Rome; so, as I wish you all a good Sunday I also address a cordial “till we meet again” to the community of Castel Gandolfo.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English the Holy Father said:]

I am very pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present here this morning! In today’s Gospel, the story of the rich man and Lazarus is held up to us as a warning to have a special care for the poor in all circumstances. As followers of our blessed Lord, let us always look to others first, before we look to our own comfort. God’s abundant blessings upon you all!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Parables of Mercy
"Although Being Sinners, We Are Loved by God"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday's Gospel -- Chapter 15 of St. Luke -- Jesus tells the three "parables of mercy." When he "speaks of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: They constitute an explanation of his very being and activity" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 12). In fact, the shepherd who finds the lost sheep is the Lord himself who takes sinful humanity upon himself, with the cross, to redeem it. The prodigal son, then, in the third parable, is a young man who, having obtained his inheritance from his father, "travels to a distant country and squanders it living a dissolute life" (Luke 15:13).

Reduced to poverty, he is forced to work as a slave, even feeding himself with the food for the animals. "Then," the Gospel says, "he came to his senses" (Luke 15:17). "The speech he prepares for his homecoming reveals the full extent of the inner pilgrimage he is now making … he returns 'home,' to himself and to the father" (Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth," San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008. Translation slightly modified). "I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'" St. Augustine writes: "It is the Word himself who calls to you to return; the place of imperturbable quiet is where love does not know abandonment" ("Confessions," IV, 11). "When he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion, and he ran to meet him, he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him" (Luke 15:20), and filled with joy he had a feast prepared.

Dear friends, how can we not open our heart to the certainty that, although being sinners, we are loved by God? He never tires to come to meet us, he is the first to take to the road that separates us from him. The book of Exodus shows us how Moses, with confident and audacious supplication, succeeded in moving God, so to say, from the throne of judgment to the throne of mercy (cf. 32:7-11, 13-14). Repentance is the measure of faith and thanks to it one returns to the Truth. St. Paul writes: "I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance, far from the faith" (1 Timothy 1:13). Returning to the parable of the son who returns "home," we note that when the older brother appears indignant over the festive welcome given his brother, it is always the father who goes to meet him and plead with him: "Son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). Only faith can transform egotism into joy and restore right relations with our neighbor and with God. "We must celebrate and rejoice," the father says, "for this brother of yours … was lost and has been found" (Luke 15:32).

Dear brothers, on Thursday I will travel to the United Kingdom, where I will proclaim Cardinal John Henry Newman blessed. I ask everyone to accompany me with prayer on this apostolic voyage. To the Virgin Mary, whose most holy name is celebrated today by the Church, I entrust our path of conversion to God.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in several languages. In Italian. he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Granada, Spain the Capuchin brother Leopoldo de Alpandeire, whose original name was Francisco Sánchez Márquez, is being proclaimed blessed. I rejoice with the Franciscan family who is seeing this brother of theirs added to the numerous ranks of their saints and blessed.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially the Bishops taking part in the ecumenical meeting sponsored by the Focolare Movement. I also greet the young people of the Don Bosco Oratory from Victoria, Gozo, Malta, and the Friends of the John Paul II Foundation from Saudi Arabia. I thank the members of the parish choir from Slovenia for their praise of God in song. In today's Gospel Jesus speaks of the rejoicing in heaven which accompanies the return of sinners to the house of the Father. May his words encourage us to trust always in God's merciful love and forgiveness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the World Youth Day Message
"Friendship With Jesus Is Able to Give to a Young Person What He Needs"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

First of all I am sorry for being late! I have just returned at this moment from Carpineto Romano, where, 200 years ago, Pope Leo XIII was born, Vicenzo Gioacchino Pecci. I thank the Lord for having been able to celebrate the Eucharist among his fellow citizens [of Carpineto Romano] on this important occasion. I would now like briefly to present my recently published Message for the 26th World Youth Day, which will take place in Madrid in less than a year.

The theme that I have chosen for this message takes up a theme of the Letter to the Colossians of the Apostle Paul: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (2:7). It is a resolutely counter-current proposal! Indeed, who today proposes to young people to be “planted” and “firm”? Rather, uncertainty, mobility, volubility are exalted … all aspects that reflect a culture that is indecisive in regard to basic values, principles on the basis of which one’s life is oriented and regulated.

In reality, I myself, through my experience and through contact I have with young people, know well that every generation, indeed, every individual person is newly called to follow the path of discovering the meaning of life. And it is precisely on account of this that I wanted to re-propose a message that, following the biblical style, evokes the images of the tree and the house. The young person, in fact, is like a tree that is growing: to develop well, he needs deep roots that -- when there comes a storm with strong winds -- keep him firmly planted in the soil. Thus, also the image of the building under construction recalls the urgency of sound foundations so that the house is solid and secure.

And here is the heart of the message: It is in the expressions “in Jesus Christ” and “in the faith.” The full maturity of the person, his interior stability, has its basis in relation to God, a relation that passes through the encounter with Jesus Christ. A relationship of deep trust, of authentic friendship with Jesus is able to give to a young person what he needs to deal well with life: serenity and interior light, a capacity to think positively, generosity of soul toward others, availability to give oneself for the good, justice and truth. A last very important aspect: to be a believer the young person is supported by the faith of the Church; if no man is an island, much less is a Christian, who in the Church discovers the beauty of faith shared and witnessed together with others in fraternity and the service of charity.

This message of mine to young people has the date of August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. May the light of the face of Christ shine in the heart of every young person! And may the Virgin Mary accompany with her protection the path of the communities and groups of young people toward the great meeting in Madrid in 2011.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English he said:]

Having just returned from Carpineto Romano, the birthplace of my Predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this “Angelus” prayer. May Pope Leo’s social magisterium continue to inspire the efforts of the faithful to build a just society rooted in the teachings of Christ. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[And in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On Jesus' Humility
"Christ Himself Took the Lowest Place"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 29, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14) we encounter Jesus dining in the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees. Noting that the guests take the first places at table, he tells a parable set at a wedding feast. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor at table. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited, and the host who invited you and him may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man!’ … Rather, when you are invited, take the last place” (Luke 14:8-10).

The Lord does not intend to give a lesson on etiquette nor on the hierarchy among different authorities. He is insisting on a decisive point having to do with humility: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

The deeper meaning of this parable makes us also think about man’s position in relation to God. The “last place” can, in fact, represent the condition of humanity degraded by sin, the condition from which the Incarnation of the only begotten Son alone can free it. For this reason Christ himself “took the lowest place in the world -- the Cross -- and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 35).

At the end of the parable Jesus suggests to the leader of the Pharisees that he not invite his friends, family or rich neighbors to his table but the poorest people and the marginalized, who are unable to pay him back (cf. Luke 14:13-14), so that the gift be gratuitous. In the end the greatest recompense will be given by God, “who governs the world. … We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 35).

Once again, therefore, we gaze upon Christ as model of humility and gratuity: from him we learn patience in temptations, meekness when we are offended, obedience to God in suffering, waiting for him who invited us to say to us: “Friend, come up higher!” (cf. Luke 14:10); the true good, in fact, is to be near him.

St. Louis IX, King of France -- whose memorial was observed last Wednesday -- put into practice what is written in the Book of Sirach: “The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself, and you will find grace before the Lord” (3:18). In his spiritual testament to his son he wrote: “If the Lord gives you some prosperity, not only must you humbly thank him, but take good care and do not become worse because of vainglory or something else, take care not to enter into conflict with God or offend him with his own gifts” (“Acta Sanctorum Augusti” 5 [1868], 546).

Dear friends, today we recall the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the greatest among the prophets of Christ, who knew how to deny himself to make room for the Savior, and who suffered and died for the truth. Let us ask him and the Virgin Mary to guide us along the way of humility to become worthy of the divine recompense.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. Ii English he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here today, especially the group of students from the Pontifical North American College. I pray that all of you, whether you are here on holiday or on pilgrimage or pursuing studies in Rome, will be able to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving. May God bestow abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[And he concluded his greetings in Italian:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On Our Mother and Queen
"Let Us Entrust the Daily Prayer for Peace to Her Intercession"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 22, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Eight days after the solemnity of her Assumption into heaven, the liturgy invites us to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary with the title of "Queen." The Mother of Christ is contemplated being crowned by her Son, that is, linked to his universal kingship, as is depicted in numerous mosaics and paintings. This memorial too recurs this year on Sunday, acquiring greater light from the Word of God and from the weekly Easter ("Pasqua") celebration.

In particular, the icon of the Virgin Mary as Queen has a meaningful verification in today's Gospel, where Jesus states: "Behold, there are those who last who shall be first and those who are first who shall be last" (Luke 13:30). This is a typical expression of Christ, reported many times by the evangelists -- even with similar formulas -- because it evidently reflects a theme dear to his prophetic preaching. The Madonna is a perfect example of such evangelical truth, that is, that God brings low the proud and powerful of this world and raises up the humble (cf. Luke 1:52).

The simple little girl of Nazareth has become the Queen of the world! This is one of the marvels that reveal the heart of God. Naturally, Mary's royalty is completely dependent on Christ's: He is the Lord, who, after the humiliation of death on the cross, the Father exalted above every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). Through a design of grace, the Immaculate Mother was completely bound to the mystery of the Son: to his Incarnation; to his earthly life, at first hidden in Nazareth and then manifested in the messianic mystery; to his passion and death; and finally to the resurrection and ascension in heaven. The Mother shared with the Son not only the human aspects of this mystery but also the profound intention, the divine will, in such a way that her entire existence, poor and humble, was elevated, transformed, glorified, passing through the "narrow gate" that is Jesus himself (cf. Luke 13:24). Yes, Mary was the first to walk along the narrow "way," opened up by Christ, to enter into the Kingdom of God, a way that is accessible to the humble, to those who entrust themselves to the Word of God and who endeavor to put it into practice.

In the history of the cities and peoples evangelized by the Christian message there are innumerable witnesses of public veneration, in some cases even institutional, of the Virgin Mary's royalty. But today we desire above all to renew, as sons of the Church, our devotion to her whom Jesus left to us as Mother and Queen. Let us entrust the daily prayer for peace to her intercession, especially in those places where the absurd logic of violence rages most, so that all men are persuaded that in this world we must help each other as brothers to build the civilization of love. "Maria, Regina pacis, ora pro nobis!"

[Following the Angelus the Holy Fathered greeted those present in several languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In a particular way I welcome a group of young Orthodox Christians from Galilee. Today's Gospel reminds us that the way to heaven is through the narrow door. May we enter through this narrow door by means of prayer, humility and service of our neighbours, and thus live the joy of the Kingdom even now. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Logic of Love
"Use Things Unselfishly Without Thirsting for Possession or Dominion"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 8 before praying the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Sunday's Gospel passage Jesus continues his teaching to the disciples on the value of the person in God's eyes and on the futility of mundane worries. This does not mean doing nothing. Indeed, on hearing Jesus' reassuring invitation: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12: 32), our hearts open up to a hope which illumines and animates real life. We have the certainty that "the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. Whoever has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life" (cf. Encyclical Spe Salvi, n. 2).

As we read in the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews in today's Liturgy, Abraham with a trusting heart entered into the hope that God opened to him, the promise of a land and of "numerous descendants", and left "not knowing where he was to go", trusting only in God (cf. 11: 8-12).

And Jesus in today's Gospel illustrates through three parables how waiting for the fulfilment of the "blessed hope", his Coming, should urge one more and more toward a profound life, rich in good works: "Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys" (Lk 12: 33). It is an invitation to use things unselfishly without thirsting for possession or dominion, but according to the logic of God, the logic of consideration for others, the logic of love: as Romano Guardini succinctly wrote, "in the form of a relationship: beginning with God, in view of God" (cf. Accettare se stessi, Brescia 1992, 44).

On that note, I wish to call attention to several Saints whom we are celebrating this week who based their lives on God and in view of God. Today we are commemorating St Dominic Guzmán, Founder in the 12th century of the Dominican Order which carries out the mission of instructing society on the truth of faith, preparing its members through study and prayer. In that same period St Clare of Assisi, whom we shall commemorate on Wednesday, promoted Franciscan works by founding the Order of the Poor Clares. On 10 August, we commemorate the Deacon St Lawrence, a Martyr of the 3rd century whose remains are venerated in the Basilica of St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls. Finally, we shall commemorate two other Martyrs of the 20th century who shared the same fate at Auschwitz. On 9 August we remember the Carmelite St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, and on 14 August, the Franciscan priest St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Founder of the Militia of Mary Immaculate. Both passed through the dark time of the Second World War without ever losing sight of hope, of the God of Life and of Love.

Let us trust in the motherly support of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, who lovingly shares our pilgrimage. To her we address our prayers.

After the Angelus :

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today's Gospel reminds us that by God's goodness much has been given to us, and much will be required of us. During these quiet days of summer let us thank the Lord for the many blessings we have received and draw ever closer to him in prayer, in fidelity to his commandment of love, and in communion with his Body, the Church. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord! I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week, Thank you!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Saints' Days
"By Choosing God They Possessed Everything They Needed"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUG. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 1 before praying the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The liturgical commemorations of several Saints occurs in these days. Yesterday we commemorated St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus. He lived in the 16th century and was converted after reading the life of Jesus and the Saints, during a long convalescence, while recovering from a wound received in battle. He was so impressed by one of the passages he read that he decided to follow the Lord. Today we are commemorating St Alphonsus Mary Liguori, the Founder of the Redemptorists, who lived in the 17th century and was proclaimed Patron of confessors by Venerable Pius XII. He was aware that God wants everyone to be holy, each one in accordance with his own state, of course.

Then this week the liturgy proposes St Eusebius, the first Bishop of Piedmont, a strenuous defender of Christ's divinity, and, lastly, the figure of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, who guided the Year for Priests that has just ended with his example and to whose intercession I once again entrust all the Pastors of the Church. A common commitment of these Saints was to save souls and to serve the Church with their respective charisms, contributing to renew and enrich her. These men acquired "a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90 [89]: 12), setting store by what is incorruptible and discarding what is irremediably changeable in time: power, riches and transient pleasures. By choosing God they possessed everything they needed, with a foretaste of eternity even in life on earth (cf. Eccles 1-5).

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus' teaching concerns, precisely, true wisdom and is introduced by one of the crowd: "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me" (Lk 12: 13). In answering, Jesus puts him on guard against those who are influenced by the desire for earthly goods with the Parable of the Rich Fool who having put away for himself an abundant harvest stops working, uses up all he possesses, enjoying himself and even deceives himself into thinking he can keep death at an arm's length. However God says to him "Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Lk 12: 20). The fool in the Bible, the one who does not want to learn from the experience of visible things, that nothing lasts for ever but that all things pass away, youth and physical strength, amenities and important roles. Making one's life depend on such an ephemeral reality is therefore foolishness. The person who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, does not fear the adversities of life, nor the inevitable reality of death: he is the person who has acquired a wise heart, like the Saints.

In addressing our prayer to Mary Most Holy, I would like to remember other important occasions: tomorrow it will be possible to profit from the Indulgence known as the Portiuncola Indulgence or the "Pardon of Assisi" that St Francis obtained in 1216 from Pope Honorius III; Thursday, 5 August, in commemorating the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major, we will honour the Mother of God, acclaimed with this title at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and next Friday, the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's death, we will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The date of 6 August, seen as crowned by summer light, was chosen to mean that the splendour of Christ's Face illuminates the whole world.

After the Angelus:

I would like to express my deep pleasure at the entry into force, on this very day, of the Convention on cluster bombs that cause unacceptable damage to civilians. My first thought goes to the many victims who have suffered and continue to suffer serious physical and moral damage, even to the point of losing their lives, because of these insidious explosive devices whose presence on earth often causes long delays in the resumption of their daily activities by entire communities. With the entry into force of the new Convention to which I urge all States to adhere, the International Community has been proof of wisdom, farsightedness and skill in pursuing an important result in the field of disarmament and international human rights. My hope and encouragement is that we may continue with ever greater vigour on this path, for the defence of dignity and human life, for the promotion of integral human development, for the establishment of a peaceful international order and for the realization of the common good of all people and all peoples.

* * *

I am very pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present, especially those of you who have come from Canada and Australia. In the Gospel of today's Mass, our Lord teaches us to store up treasure for ourselves, not on earth, but in heaven. By God's grace, then, let us seek to grow in faith and good works. In this sense, I willingly invoke upon all of you God's abundant blessings!
Thank you for coming. I wish you all a good Sunday!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Example of Mary
"A Source of Courage and Hope for All of Us"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address yesterday, solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin, before he prayed the midday Angelus together with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Solemnity of the Assumption into Heaven of the Mother of God, we celebrate the passage from the earthly condition to heavenly blessedness of her who engendered in the flesh and received in faith the Lord of Life.

Veneration of the Virgin Mary has accompanied the path of the Church since the beginning; Marian feasts began to appear already in the 4th century: exalted in some is the role of the Virgin in the history of salvation; celebrated in others are the principal moments of her earthly existence.

The meaning of today's feast is contained in the final words of the dogmatic definition proclaimed by the Venerable Pius XII on Nov. 1, 1950, of which the 60th anniversary is celebrated this year: "The Ever Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ending the course of her earthly life, was taken to heavenly glory in soul and body" (Apostolic Constitution "Munificentissiumus Deus," AAS 42 [1950], 770).

Artists of all times have painted and sculpted the holiness of the Mother of the Lord adorning churches and shrines. Poets, writers and musicians have paid tribute to the Virgin with liturgical hymns and songs. From East to West the All Holy One is invoked as heavenly Mother, who holds the Son of God in her arms and under whose protection the whole of humanity finds refuge, with the very ancient prayer: "We shelter under your protection, Holy Mother of God: despise not our petitions in our needs, but deliver us from all danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin."

And in the Gospel of today's Solemnity, St. Luke describes the realization of salvation through the Virgin Mary. She, in whose womb the Omnipotent became small, after the Angel's annunciation, without any hesitation, goes in haste to her cousin Elizabeth to take to her the Savior of the world. And, in fact, "when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and [she] was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41); she recognized the Mother of God in her "who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45). The two women, who were awaiting the fulfillment of the divine promises, already had a foretaste of the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the joy of salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us trust in the One who -- as the Servant of God Paul VI affirmed -- "assumed to heaven, has not ceased her mission of intercession and salvation" (Apostolic Exhortation "Marialis Cultus," 18, AAS 66 [1974], 130). To her, guide of the Apostles, support of Martyrs, light of the Saints, we address our prayer, imploring that she accompany us in this earthly life, that she help us to look to Heaven and that she receive us one day together with her Son Jesus.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said in English]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Today we join our voices to the many generations who praise the Virgin Mary and call her blessed for her glorious Assumption into Heaven. Her example of faithful perseverance in doing the will of God and her heavenly reward are a source of courage and hope for all of us. May God bless you and your families with peace and joy!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Our Father
"Words of Sacred Scripture That We Have Known Since Childhood"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with Jesus recollected in prayer, a bit apart from his disciples. When he finished, one of them said: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus did not object, he did not offer strange or esoteric formulas, but with great simplicity said: “When you pray, say: ‘Father…,’” and taught the Our Father (cf. Luke 11:2-4), drawing from his own prayer, with which he addresses God, his Father. St. Luke hands down the Our Father to us in a briefer form than we find in the Gospel of St. Matthew, which has entered into common use. We are before the first words of sacred Scripture that we have known since childhood. They fix themselves in the memory, they form our lives, they accompany us until our last breaths. They reveal that “we are in no way already complete as sons of God, but we must more and more become so and be so through our ever deeper communion with Jesus. Being sons becomes equivalent to following Christ” (Benedetto XVI, “Gesù di Nazaret,” Milano 2007, p. 168).

This prayer also incorporates and expresses human material and spiritual needs: “Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:3-4). It is precisely because of everyday needs and difficulties that Jesus forcefully exhorts: “I say to you: Ask and you shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. Because whoever asks receives and whoever seeks finds and for whoever knocks it is opened” (Luke 11:9-10). It is not an asking to satisfy one’s own wants but rather to keep alive one’s friendship with God, who -- the Gospel always says -- “shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him!” (Luke 11:13).

It was experienced by the ancient “Desert Fathers” and contemplatives of every age, who through prayer, became friends of God, like Abraham, who implored the Lord to save the few just people from the extermination of the city of Sodom (cf. Genesis 18:23-32). St. Teresa of Avila said to her sisters: “We must beg God always to free us from every danger and to take away every evil from us. And however imperfect our desire, we must make an effort to persist in this request. What does it cost us to ask so much, given that we address the Omnipotent?” (“Cammino,” 60 (34), 4, in Opere complete, Milano 1998, p. 846).

Every time we recite the Our Father our voice interweaves with the voice of the Church, because no one who prays is ever alone. “Each one of the faithful must try to seek and can find in the truth and wealth of Christian prayer, taught by the Church, his own way, his own style of prayer … he will thus let himself be guided … by the Holy Spirit, who leads him, through Christ, to the Father” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter on certain aspects of Christian meditation,” 15 October 1989, 29: AAS 82 [1990], 378).

Today is the feast of the Apostle James known as “the Greater,” who left his father and his work as a fisherman to follow Jesus and give his life for him -- the first among the Apostles to do so. From my heart I address a special thought to the many pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela! May the Virgin Mary help us to rediscover the beauty and the profundity of Christian prayer.

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On Martha and Mary
"We Are Reminded of the Need to Rest From Our Daily Labors"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 18, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We are already in the heart of the summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. This is the time in which the schools are closed and in which most vacations are concentrated. Even the pastoral activities of the parishes are reduced, and I myself have suspended audiences for a period. It is therefore a favorable moment to give first place to what is effectively the most important thing in life, that is to say, listening to the Word of God. This Sunday's Gospel always reminds us of this with the celebrated episode of Jesus' visit to the house of Martha and Mary narrated by St. Luke (10:38-42).

Martha and Mary are two sisters; they also have a brother, Lazarus, who, however, does not appear in this case. Jesus passes through their village and -- the text says -- Martha welcomes him (cf. 10:38). This detail gives one to understand that, of the two sisters, Martha is the oldest, the one who rules the house. In fact, after Jesus is accommodated, Mary sits at his feet and listens to him, while Martha is completely absorbed with much serving, which is certainly due to the exceptional guest. We seem to see the scene: One sister is very busy and the other is enraptured by the presence of the Master and his words. After a while Martha, evidently resentful, no longer resists and protests, also feeling that she has the right to criticize Jesus: "Lord, does it not matter to you that my sister has left me to do all the serving? Tell her, therefore, to help me." Indeed, Martha would like to teach the Master! But Jesus, with great calm, answers: "Martha, Martha" -- and this name repeated expresses affection -- "you are anxious and worried about many things, but there is only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her" (Luke 10:41-42). Christ's word is quite clear: no scorn for the active life, nor much less for the generous hospitality; but a plain reminder of the fact that the one thing that is truly necessary is something else: listening to the Word of the Lord; and the Lord is there in that moment, present in the person of Jesus! Everything else will pass and will be taken away from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activity.

Dear Friends, as I said, this Gospel passage is very important at vacation time, because it recalls the fact that the human person must work, must involve himself in domestic and professional concerns, to be sure, but he has need of God before all else, who is the interior light of love and truth. Without love, even the most important activities lose value and do not bring joy. Without a profound meaning, everything we do is reduced to sterile and disordered activism. And who gives us love and truth if not Jesus Christ? So let us learn, brothers, to help each other, to cooperate, but first of all to choose together the better part, which is and will always be our greater good.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages. In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here in Castel Gandolfo. In today's Gospel we are reminded of the need to rest from our daily labors, so that we may give time to the one thing that is truly necessary in our lives -- listening to the word of God in attentive stillness. It is Mary, not Martha, who chose the better part. At this time when many of you are on holiday, I pray that you and your loved ones may be truly refreshed in body and spirit, so that you may return with renewed vigor to the responsibilities of your daily lives. May God bless you all!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Good Samaritan
"The Logic of Christ ... Is the Logic of Charity"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

A few days ago -- as you see -- I left Rome for the summer sojourn at Castel Gandolfo. I thank God who offers me this possibility of rest. To the dear inhabitants of this town, where I always gladly return, I offer my cordial greeting.

This Sunday’s Gospel opens with the question that a doctor of the law poses to Jesus: “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Knowing that he is an expert in the sacred Scriptures, the Lord invites that man to answer the question himself, which, in fact, he formulates perfectly, citing the two principal commandments: love God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Then the doctor of the law, to justify himself, asks: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). This time Jesus answers with the celebrated parable of the “Good Samaritan” (cf. Luke 10:30-37), to point out that it belongs to us to be “neighbors” to whomever has need of help. The Samaritan, in fact, takes charge of the situation of a stranger, whom the brigands left half dead on the side of the road; while a priest and a Levite passed him by, perhaps thinking that, because of a certain precept, they would be contaminated if they came in contact with his blood. The parable, thus, must make us change our attitude following the logic of Christ, which is the logic of charity: God is love, and worshiping him means serving our brothers with sincere and generous love.

This Gospel passage offers the “standard,” which is the “universal love toward the needy whom we encounter ‘by chance’ (cf. Luke 10:31), whoever they may be” (“Deus Caritas Est,” No. 25). Alongside this universal rule, there is also a specifically ecclesial responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need” (“Deus caritas est,” No. 25). The Christian’s project, taken from Jesus’ teaching, is “a heart that sees” where love is needed and acts appropriately (“Deus caritas est,” No. 31).

Dear friends, I would like to recall that today the Church also remembers St. Benedict of Norcia -- the great patron of my pontificate -- the father and legislator of western monasticism. He, as St. Gregory the Great reports, “was a man who lived a holy life … blessed by grace and blessed in grace” (“Dialogi,” II, 1, “Bibliotheca Gregorii Magni,” IV, Roma 2000, p. 136). “He wrote a rule for monks … the mirror of a teaching incarnated in his person: for the holy man could not otherwise teach, than himself lived” (“Dialogi,” II, 36, p. 208). Pope Paul VI proclaimed St. Benedict the Patron of Europe on Oct. 24, 1964, recognizing the wondrous work he did in the formation of European civilization.

I entrust our journey of faith to the Virgin Mary and, in particular, this time of vacation, so that our hearts never lose sight of the Word of God and our brothers in difficulty.

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On the Perfect Model of Obedience
"We Too ... Are Called to Appreciate a Sober Way of Life"

SULMONA, Italy, JULY 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father led the Angelus after finishing Mass during his one-day trip to the Abruzzi region of Italy.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

At the end of this solemn celebration, at the customary time on Sunday, I invite you to recite the Angelus prayer together. To the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate with particular devotion in the sanctuary of the Madonna della Libera, I entrust this Church of Sulmona-Valva: the bishop, the priests and all the people of God. May this Church, united and joyous, walk the way of faith, hope and charity together. Faithful to the legacy of St. Pietro Celestino, may she always know how to combine evangelical radicality and mercy so that all those who seek God may find him.

In Mary, Virgin of silence and listening, St. Peter del Morrone found the perfect model of obedience to the divine will, in a simple and humble life, committed to seeking out the essential, always able to thank the Lord, recognizing everything as a gift of his goodness.

We too, who live in a time of great comfort and possibility, are called to appreciate a sober way of life, to keep our minds and hearts more free to be able to share our goods with our brothers.

May Mary Most Holy, who animated the first community of Jesus’ disciples with her maternal presence, also help the Church of today to bear credible witness to the Gospel.

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On Sts. Peter and Paul
"Received From God Different Charisms and Different Missions"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the Church of Rome celebrates her holy roots, celebrating the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose relics are kept in the two basilicas dedicated to them and that embellish the whole city cherished by resident Christians and pilgrims. The solemnity began yesterday evening with the prayer of the first vespers in the Basilica [of St. Paul Outside the Walls]. The liturgy of the day proposes again Peter's profession of faith in confronting Jesus. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). It is not a statement that is the fruit of reasoning, but a revelation of the Father to the humble fisherman of Galilee, as Jesus himself confirms saying: "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you" (Homily in Matthaeum 54, 2: PG 58, 535). In fact, the Lord ends saying: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

St. Paul -- of whom we recently celebrated the 2,000 years of his birth -- with divine Grace spread the Gospel, sowing the Word of truth and of salvation amid the pagan peoples. The two patron saints of Rome, though having received from God different charisms and different missions to fulfill, are both the foundation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, "permanently open to the missionary and ecumenical dynamic, because sent to the world to proclaim and witness, actualize and expand the mystery of communion that constitutes her" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Communionis notio," May 28, 1992, No. 4: AAS 85 [1993], 840). Because of this, during this morning's Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica, I conferred upon 38 Metropolitan Archbishops the pallium, which symbolizes both communion with the Bishop of Rome as well as the mission to feed with love the one flock of Christ. On this solemn occasion, I also wish to thank from my heart the delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate, testimony of the spiritual bond between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople.

May the example of the Apostles Peter and Paul illumine minds and ignite in the hearts of believers the holy desire to do the will of God, so that the Church journeying on earth may always be faithful to her Lord. Let us turn with confidence to the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who from Heaven guides and sustains the path of the People of God.

Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Following Christ
"One of the Most Beautiful Experiences"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The biblical readings of this Sunday’s Holy Mass give me the opportunity to take up again the theme of Christ’s call and its demands, a theme which I also reflected on a week ago on the occasion of the ordination of new presbyters of the Diocese of Rome. In fact, whoever has the fortune to know a young man or young woman who leaves their family, their studies or work to consecrate himself or herself to God, knows this well, because he has before him a living example of radical response to the divine calling. This is one of the most beautiful experiences that one has in the Church: seeing the Lord’s action in people’s lives, touching it with one’s hand; experiencing that God is not an abstract entity, but a Reality so great and powerful that he can fill man’s heart in a super-abundant way. He is a Person who is alive and near, who loves us and asks us to love him.

The evangelist Luke presents us with Jesus as he is on the road to Jerusalem and meets some men, probably young men, who promise to follow him wherever he goes. He shows himself to be very demanding with them, informing them that “the Son of man” -- Jesus himself, the Messiah -- “has no place to lay his head,” that is, he does not have his own stable place to live, and that whoever chooses to work with him in God’s field cannot change his mind (cf. Luke 9:57-58, 61-62).

To another, Christ himself says: “Follow me,” asking him to completely sever his familial bonds (Luke 9:59-60). These demands might appear too harsh, but in reality they express the newness and absolute priority of the Kingdom of God that is made present in the Person himself of Jesus Christ. In the final analysis it is the radicality that is owed to the Love of God, whom Jesus is the first to obey. Whoever renounces everything, even himself, to follow Jesus, enters into a new dimension of freedom that St. Paul defines as “walking according to the Spirit” (cf. Galatians 5:16). “Christ has freed us for freedom!” the Apostle writes, and explains that this new form of freedom acquired for us by Christ consists in being “in the service of each other” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Freedom and love coincide! Obeying one’s own egoism, on the contrary, leads to rivalry and conflict.

Dear friends, the month of June, characterized by devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ, is already coming to an end. Indeed on the feast of the Sacred Heart we renewed our commitment to sanctification together with the priests of the whole world. Today I would like to invite everyone to contemplate the divine-human heart of the Lord Jesus, to draw from the source itself of God’s Love. Whoever fixes his gaze upon that pierced Heart that is always open out of love for us, senses the truth of this invocation: “Lord, you are my only good” (Responsorial Psalm), and is ready to leave everything to follow the Lord. O Mary, who answered the divine call without holding anything back, pray for us!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

In Lebanon this morning, Estéphan Nehmé, born Joseph Nehmé, was proclaimed blessed. He was a religious of the Lebanese Maronite Order, who lived in Lebanon between the end of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. I heartily rejoice with the Lebanese brothers and sisters, and I entrust them with great affection to the protection of the new Blessed.

On this Sunday that precedes the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, there is observed in Italy and elsewhere the Day of Charity of the Pope. I express my lively gratitude to those who, with prayers and offerings, support the apostolic and charitable activity of the Successor of Peter on behalf of the universal Church and of many brothers both near and far.

[In English he said:]

I extend cordial greetings to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus. On Tuesday of this week we will be celebrating Rome’s feast-day, that is to say, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul -- two great Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel in this city and bore witness to Christ even to the shedding of their blood. Through their prayers, may all who come on pilgrimage to Rome be renewed and strengthened in faith, hope and love. May God’s abundant blessings come down upon all of you and upon your loved ones at home!

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On the Power of the Cross
"Taking up the Cross Means Committing Oneself to Defeating Sin"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning in St. Peter's Basilica I conferred the presbyteral order on 14 deacons of the Diocese of Rome. The sacrament of Holy Orders manifests, on God's part, his solicitous nearness to men and, on the part of him who receives, the complete availability to become the instrument of this nearness, with a radical love, to Christ and to the Church. In this Sunday's Gospel, the Lord asks his disciples: "But you, who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20). The Apostle Peter promptly answers this question: "You are the Christ, the Messiah of God" (Luke 9:20), thus going beyond all the earthly opinions that held Jesus to be one of the prophets. According to St. Ambrose, with this profession of faith, Peter "embraced everything together, because he expressed the nature and the name" of the Messiah (Exp. in Lucam VI, 93, CCL 14, 207). And Jesus, before this profession of faith, renews to Peter and the other disciples the invitation to follow him on the demanding road of love to the cross. To us too, who can know the Lord through faith in his Word and in the sacraments, Jesus makes the proposal to follow him every day and also reminds us that to be his disciples it is necessary to appropriate the power of the cross, the highest of our goods and the crown of our hope.

St. Maximus the Confessor observes that "the distinct sign of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cross that he carried on his back" ("Ambiguum" 32, PG91, 1284 C). In fact, "[the Lord] said to everyone: 'If someone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross means committing oneself to defeating sin, which blocks the way to God, accepting the Lord's will every day, making faith grow above all in the face of problems, difficulties, suffering. The holy Carmelite Edith Stein testified to this in a time of persecution. Thus she wrote at the Carmel of Cologne in 1938: "Today I understand ... what it means to be the bride of Christ in the sign of the cross, even though I will never completely comprehend it since it is a mystery ... The more that gloom surrounds us, the more we must open our heart to the light that comes from on high" ("La scelta di Dio. Lettere (1917-1942)," Roma 1973, 132-133). Even today there are many Christians in the world who, animated by God, assume the cross every day, whether it be daily trials, whether it be that procured by human barbarity, which sometimes requires the courage of the supreme sacrifice. May the Lord grant everyone of us always to place our firm hope in him, certain that, following him carrying our cross, we will reach the light of the Resurrection with him.

Let us entrust to the maternal care of the Virgin Mary the new priests ordained today, who join the ranks of those the Lord has called by name: May they always be faithful disciples, courageous proclaimers of the Word of God and administrators of the gifts of salvation.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I would like to make an urgent appeal that peace and security soon be reestablished in southern Kyrgyzstan after the grave clashes that have taken place in recent days. To the families of the victims and those who suffer because of this tragedy I express my heartfelt nearness and assurance of my prayers. I invite, furthermore, all the ethnic groups of the country to renounce all violence or provocation and I ask the international community to see that humanitarian aid may quickly reach the stricken populations.

Today the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day, to recall attention to the problems of those who have been forced out of their own land and familiar customs, traveling to environments that, often, are profoundly different. Refugees desire to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights; at the same time they intend to offer their contribution to the society that welcomes them. Let us pray that, in a just reciprocity, there be a response adequate to such expectations and they show the respect that they have for the identity of the community that receives them.

[The Holy Father said in English:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus calls us to carry our cross in union with him. May we always give ourselves to him and thus discover anew the joy that he promises to those who follow him. Upon you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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"The Priest Is Formed by Christ’s Charity Itself"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The Year for Priests concluded a few days ago. Here in Rome we experienced some unforgettable days with the presence of more than 15,000 priests from every part of the world. So, today I would like to give thanks to God for all the good things that have come to the universal Church this year. No one could ever measure them but certainly they see them and still more they will see their fruits.

The Year for Priests concluded on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is traditionally the “day of priestly sanctification”; this time it was so in a very special way. In fact, dear friends, the priest is a gift from the Heart of Christ: a gift for the Church and for the world. From the Heart of the Son of God, overflowing with charity, there stream all the goods of the Church and in a special way it is the origin of the vocations of those men who, conquered by the Lord Jesus, leave everything to dedicate themselves entirely to the service of the people, following the example of the Good Shepherd. The priest is formed by Christ’s charity itself, that love that moved him to give his life for his friends and also to pardon his enemies. Because of this priests are the first builders of the civilization of love. And here I think of many priests, known and unknown, some elevated to the honors of the altar, others whose memory remains indelibly in the faithful, perhaps in a small parish community -- as happened in Ars, that village of France where St. John Marie Vianney undertook his ministry. There is no need to add words to what has been said of him in recent months. But his intercession must accompany us from now on. May his prayer, his “Act of Love,” that we have recited so many times during the Year for Priests, continue to nourish your colloquy with God.

There is another figure whom I would like to recall: Father Jerzy Popie?uszko, priest and martyr, who was proclaimed “Blessed” just last Sunday in Warsaw. He exercised his generous and courageous ministry alongside those who worked for freedom, for the defense of life and its dignity. His work in the service of goodness and truth was a sign of contradiction for the regime that governed Poland at that time. The love of the Heart of Christ led him to give his life, and his witness was the seed of a new springtime in the Church and society. If we look at history we can observe that so many pages of authentic spiritual and social renewal have been written by the contribution of Catholic priests, animated only by the passion for the Gospel and for man, for his true religious and civil liberty. How many initiatives of integral human promotion have begun in the intuition of a priestly heart!

Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust all the priests of the world to Mary’s Immaculate Heart -- whose liturgical memorial we celebrated yesterday -- so that by the power of the Gospel they may continue to build in every place the civilization of love.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the group of faithful from Seychelles. Last Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I had the joy of concluding the Year for Priests, marked by moving moments of community prayer and adoration. Let us continue to remember all priests in our prayers, thanking Christ for this great gift of his love and asking him to keep them in his grace as faithful friends and ministers. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Spanish, he said:]

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking groups that have participated in this Marian prayer, particularly the faithful from Colombia and Mexico, as well as the members of the Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus of Nazareth and Holy Mary of Sorrows, of Jaen.

Precisely in this Andalusian diocese, and specifically in the city of Linares, the beatification of Manuel Lozano Garrido took place yesterday. [He] was a faithful layman who knew how to irradiate the love of God with his example and his writings, even among the sufferings that confined him to a wheelchair for nearly 28 years. At the end of his life, he also lost his sight, but he continued to win hearts for Christ with his serene joy and his unwavering faith.

Journalists can find in him an eloquent testimony of the good that can be done when one's pen reflects the greatness of the soul and is put at the service of truth and noble causes. Happy Sunday.

[Translation by Kathleen Naab]

[In Italian, the Pope said:]

I would like first of all to recall with joy the proclamation of two new blesseds, both of whom lived in the last century. Yesterday in Spain, Manuel Lozano Garrido was beatified. He was a layman and journalist who, despite sickness and handicap, worked with Christian spirit and fecundity in the field of social communications. This morning in Slovenia, Cardinal Bertone, as my legate, presided at the final celebration of the National Eucharistic Congress, in which he proclaimed blessed the young martyr Lojze Grozde. Grozde was particularly devoted to the Eucharist, which nourished his indestructible faith, his capacity for sacrifice for the salvation of souls and his apostolate in Catholic Action to bring other young people to Christ.

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On the Trinity
"We Are Called Daily to Be Open to the Action of Grace"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2010 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

After the Easter season, which concluded last Sunday with Pentecost, the liturgy returned to Ordinary Time. That does not mean that the commitment of Christians must diminish, rather, having entered into the divine life through the sacraments, we are called daily to be open to the action of grace, to progress in the love of God and our neighbor. This Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, recapitulates, in a sense, God's revelation in the paschal mysteries: Christ's death and resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of the Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The human mind and language are inadequate for explaining the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and nevertheless the Fathers of the Church tried to illustrate the mystery of the One and Triune God, living it in their existence with profound faith.

The divine Trinity, in fact, comes to dwell in us on the day of baptism: "I baptize you," the minister says, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We recall the name of God in which we were baptized every time that we make the sign of the cross. In regard to the sign of the cross the theologian Romano Guardini observes: "We do it before prayer so that … we put ourselves spiritually in order; it focuses our thoughts, heart and will on God. We do it after prayer, so that what God has granted us remains in us … It embraces all our being, body and soul, … and every becomes consecrated in the name of the one and triune God" ("Lo spirito della liturgia. I santi segni," Brescia 2000, 125-126).

Thus in the sign of the cross and in the name of the living God the proclamation that generates faith and inspires prayer is contained. And, as in the Gospel Jesus promises the apostles that "the Spirit of truth, when he comes, will guide you in all truth" (John 16:13), the same happens in the Sunday liturgy, when the priests dispense, week after week, the bread of the Word and the Eucharist. The holy Curé d'Ars reminded his faithful of this: "Who welcomed your soul," he said, "at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").

Dear friends, let us make the prayer of St. Hilary of Poitiers our own: "Preserve undefiled in me this right faith and, to my last breath, grant me also this voice of my conscience, so that I remain faithful to that which I professed in my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit" ("De Trinitate," XII, 57, CCL 62/A, 627). Invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first creature in whom the Most Holy Trinity dwelled fully, let us ask her protection to journey well on our earthly pilgrimage.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pontiff then greeted those present in various languages. In English, he said:]

On this Trinity Sunday, I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. This week I am making an Apostolic Journey to Cyprus, to meet and pray with the Catholic and Orthodox faithful there and to consign the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East. I ask for your prayers for the peace and prosperity of all the people of Cyprus, as well as for the preparations for the Special Assembly. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of the most holy Trinity.

©Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

This morning in Rome in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the beatification of Maria Pierina De Micheli was celebrated. She was a religious of the Institute of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires. Giuseppina -- this was he baptismal name -- was born in Milan in 1890, in a deeply religious family, where different vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life blossomed. At 23 she also set out on this road, dedicating herself with passion to service in education in Argentina and in Italy. The Lord granted her an extraordinary devotion to his Holy Face, which always sustained her in trials and sickness. She died in 1945 and her remains are at the Institute of the Holy Spirit in Rome.

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On Many Pentecosts
The Church "Lives Constantly From the Effusion of the Holy Spirit"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Fifty days after Easter we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, in which we recall the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit, who – as wind and as fire – descended upon the Apostles gathered together in the Cenacle, and made them able to preach the Gospel to all nations with courage (cf. Acts 2:1-13).

The mystery of Pentecost, which we rightly identify with the event of the Church’s true “baptism,” is not, however, exhausted by this. The Church in fact lives constantly from the effusion of the Holy Spirit, without which she would exhaust her own powers, like a ship with sails and no wind. Pentecost is renewed in a special way in certain powerful moments, whether this be at the local or the universal level, whether it be in small assemblies or in great convocations.

The councils, for example, had sessions gratified by special outpourings of the Holy Spirit, and among these is certainly the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. We might also recall that celebrated meeting of the ecclesial movements with Venerable John Paul II, here in St. Peter’s Square, precisely on Pentecost in 1998. But the Church knows countless “pentecosts” that vivify the local communities: We think of the liturgies, particularly those experienced in special moments of the community’s life, in which the power of God is perceived in an evident way, infusing joy and enthusiasm in souls. We think of many other gatherings of prayer in which young people clearly feel the call of God to root their lives in his love, even consecrating themselves entirely to him.

Thus, there is no Church without Pentecost. And I would like to add: There is no Pentecost without the Virgin Mary. This is how it was at the beginning, in the Cenacle, where the disciples “were perseverant and united in prayer, together with certain women and with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brothers” -- as the Acts of the Apostles says (1:14). And this is how it always is, in every place and in every time. I witnessed it a short time ago at Fatima. What did that great multitude on the green of the shrine experience, where we were all one heart and one soul, if not a renewed Pentecost? In our midst was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. This is the typical experience at the great Marian sanctuaries -- Lourdes, Guadalupe, Pompeii, Loreto -- or even in the smaller ones: Wherever Christians gather in prayer with Mary, the Lord grants his Spirit.

Dear friends, on this feast of Pentecost, we too would like to be spiritually united with the Mother of Christ and of the Church, invoking a renewed effusion of the Paraclete with faith. We invoke this for the whole Church, in particular, in this Year for Priests, for all the ministers of the Gospel, that the message of salvation be announced to all the nations.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday, in Benevento, Teresa Manganiello was proclaimed “blessed.” She was a faithful laywoman who was a Third Order Franciscan. Born at Montefusco, the 11th child of a peasant family, she lived a simple and humble life between house work and spiritual work in the church of the Capuchins. Like St. Francis of Assisi, she tried to imitate Jesus Christ, offering up sufferings and penances in reparation for sins, and she was filled with love for her neighbor: She spent herself for all, especially for the poor and the sick. Always smiling and sweet, she departed for heaven, where her heart was already living, when she was only 27. Let us thank God for this luminous witness to the Gospel!

Tomorrow, May 24, the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, offers us the possibility of celebrating the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. While the faithful in China pray that the unity between them and with the universal Church continues to deepen, Catholics throughout the world -- particularly those of Chinese origin -- unite with them in prayer and in charity, that the Holy Spirit may fill our hearts especially on today’s solemnity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered here today. On this Pentecost Sunday let us pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. May the Spirit’s gifts of life and holiness confirm our witness to the Risen Lord and fill our hearts with fervent hope in his promises! Upon all of you I cordially invoke Spirit’s abundant gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Feast of the Ascension
"The Lord, Taking the Road to Heaven, Gives Us a Foretaste of Divine Life"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today in Italy and other countries, the Ascension of Jesus into heaven is celebrated, which occurred 40 days after Easter. This Sunday is also the World Day for Social Communications, which has as its theme: "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word." In the liturgy Jesus' final departure from his disciples is narrated (cf. Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:2, 9); but this is not an abandonment because he remains with them, with us, forever, in a new form. St. Bernard of Clairvaux explains that Jesus' ascension into heaven is accomplished in three stages: "The first is the glory of the Resurrection; the second is the power to judge; and the third is sitting at the Father's right hand" ("Sermo de Ascensione Domini," 60, 2: Sancti Bernardi Opera, t. VI, 1, 291, 20-21). This event is preceded by the blessing of the disciples, whom he prepares to receive the Holy Spirit, so that salvation be preached everywhere. Jesus himself says to them: "You are witnesses to this. And behold, I send upon you him whom my Father has promised" (cf. Luke 24:47-49).

The Lord draws the gaze of the Apostles, our gaze, to show how we should travel the good road during life on earth. Nevertheless, he remains in the plot of human history, he is near to each of us and guides our Christian path: He is the companion of those who are persecuted because of their faith, he is in the heart of those who are marginalized, he is present in those to whom the right to life is denied. We can hear, see and touch the Lord Jesus in the Church, especially through the Word and the sacraments. In this regard I exhort children and young people, who are receiving the sacrament of Confirmation in this Easter season, to remain faithful to the Word of God and the teaching that comes from it, and to assiduously approach Confession and the Eucharist as well, conscious of being chosen and constituted to witness the Truth. I renew my special invitation to my brothers in the priesthood, that "in their life and actions they distinguish themselves by a powerful evangelical witness" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests") and know also how to use the means of communication wisely, to make the life of the Church known and help the men of today to find the face of Christ (cf. "Message for the 46th World Day of Social Communications," January 24, 2010).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, the Lord, taking the road to heaven, gives us a foretaste of divine life already on earth. A 19th century Russian author wrote in his spiritual testament: "Observe the stars more. When you have a burden in your soul, look at the stars or the azure of heaven. When you feel sad, when they offend you, ... think about ... heaven. Then your soul will find rest" (N. Valentini - L. ák [a cura], Pavel A. Florenskij. "Non dimenticatemi. Le lettere dal gulag del grande matematico, filosofo e sacerdote russo," Milano 2000, p. 418).

I thank the Virgin Mary, whom I was able to venerate at the shrine in Fatima a short time ago, for her maternal protection during the intense pilgrimage in Portugal. With confidence we address our prayer to her who watches over the witnesses of her beloved Son.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet with joy the English-speaking visitors who have come here today, and I pray that your pilgrimage to Rome will strengthen your faith and your love for the Risen Lord. In the course of this week we will pray with the whole Church for the coming of the Holy Spirit, asking him to pour out his gifts upon our families, our parishes, and all whom we love. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Month Dedicated to Mary
"Humble and Discreet Protagonist of the 1st Steps of the Christian Community"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

May is a month that is loved and its arrival is welcome for several reasons. In our hemisphere spring advances with so many and colorful blossoms; the climate is favorable for walks and excursions. For the liturgy, May always belongs to the Easter Season, the season of the "alleluia," of the revelation of the mystery of Christ in the light of the Resurrection and of the Easter faith; and it is the time of expectation of the Holy Spirit, who descends with power on the nascent Church at Pentecost. With both these contexts, the "natural" and the liturgical, the tradition of the Church is well in tune in dedicating the month of May to the Virgin Mary. She is, in fact, the most beautiful flower to blossom in creation, the "rose" that appeared in the fullness of time, when God, sending his Son, gave the world a new spring. And she is at the same time humble and discreet protagonist of the first steps of the Christian community: Mary is its spiritual heart, because her very presence in the midst of the disciples is a living memory of the Lord Jesus and pledge of the gift of his Spirit.

This Sunday's Gospel, taken from Chapter 14 of St. John, offers us an implicit spiritual portrait of the Virgin Mary, where Jesus says: "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him" (John 14:23). These expressions are addressed to the disciples, but they can be applied precisely to her who is the first and perfect disciple of Jesus. Mary in fact observed first and fully the word of her Son, thus demonstrating that she loved him not only as his mother, but first still as humble and obedient handmaid; because of this God the Father loved her and the Most Holy Trinity made its dwelling in her. Moreover, when Jesus promises his friends that the Holy Spirit will assist them, helping them to remember and understand profoundly every word of his (cf. John 14:26), how can we not think of Mary, who in her heart, temple of the Spirit, meditated and interpreted faithfully everything that her Son said and did? In this way, already before and above all after Easter, the Mother of Jesus became also the Mother and model of the Church.

Dear friends, in the heart of this Marian month, I will have the joy of going in the forthcoming days to Portugal. I will visit the capital, Lisbon, and Porto, the country's second city. The principal objective of my trip will be Fatima, on the occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the Beatification of the two little shepherds, Jacinta and Francisco. For the first time as Successor of Peter I will go to that Marian Shrine, so dear to the Venerable John Paul II. I invite everyone to accompany me on this pilgrimage, participating actively with prayer: with only one heart and one soul we invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary for the Church, in particular for priests, and for peace in the world.

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On Our Lady of Consolation
"From Her We Can Always Learn How to Look Upon Jesus"

TURIN, Italy, MAY 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli. The Pope is on a one-day trip to Turin.

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As we come to the conclusion of this solemn celebration, we offer a prayer to Mary Most Holy, who in Turin is venerated as the principal patroness with the title Blessed Virgin of Consolation. To her I entrust this city and all those who live here. O Mary, watch over the families and the workers; watch over those who have lost faith and hope; comfort the sick, those in prison and all who suffer. O Help of Christians, sustain the young people, the elderly and persons in difficulty. O Mother of the Church, watch over her pastors and the whole community of believers, that they may be “salt and light” in the midst of the world.

The Virgin Mary is she who more than any other contemplated God in the human face of Jesus. She saw him as a newborn when, wrapped in swaddling clothes, he was placed in a manger; she saw him when, just after his death, they took him down from the cross, wrapped him in linen and placed him in the sepulcher. Inside her was impressed the image of her martyred Son; but this image was then transfigured in the light of the Resurrection. Thus in Mary’s heart was carried the mystery of the face of Christ, a mystery of death and of glory. From her we can always learn how to look upon Jesus with a gaze of love and of faith, to recognize in that human countenance, the Countenance of God.

To Mary Most Holy I entrust with gratitude those who worked to make my visit possible as well as the display of the Shroud. I pray for them and that these events might bring about a profound spiritual renewal.

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On the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations
"The First Form of Witness That Awakens Vocations Is Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, which is called "Good Shepherd Sunday," the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is celebrated, which has as its theme this year "Witness Awakens Vocations," a theme that is "closely linked to the life and mission of priests and consecrated persons" ("Message for the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 25, 2010"). The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer (cf. ibid.), as is shown to us by the example of St. Monica, who, supplicating God with humility and persistence, obtained the grace of seeing her son Augustine become Christian. St. Augustine wrote: "Without a doubt I believe and affirm that through her prayers, God granted me the intention not to propose, not to want, not to think, not to love anything else but the attainment of truth" ("De Ordine," II 20, 52; CCL 29, 136).

Therefore, I invite parents to pray that the heart of their children open to listening to the Good Shepherd, and "each tiny seed of a vocation ... grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity" ("Message"). How can we hear the voice of the Lord and recognize it? In the preaching of the Apostles and their successors: In it there resounds the voice of Christ, who calls us to communion with God and to the fullness of life, as we read today in St. John's Gospel: "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never be lost and no one will take them out of my hand" (John 10:27-28). Only the Good Shepherd leads his flock with immense tenderness and defends them from evil, and only in him can the faithful place absolute confidence.

On this special day of prayer for vocations I especially exhort the ordained ministers, so that, inspired by the Year for Priests, they are moved to "a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests"). May they remember that the priest "continues the work of the Redemption on earth;" may they know how to "stop frequently before the tabernacle;" may they remain "completely faithful to [their] own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism;" may they be available to listen and forgive; may they form the people entrusted to them in a Christian way; may they cultivate with care "priestly fraternity" (cf. ibid.). May they take wise and zealous pastors as an example, as St. Gregory Nazianzus, who wrote to his dear friend and bishop, St. Basil: "Teach us your love for your sheep, your solicitude and your capacity for understanding, your vigilance ... the austerity in sweetness, the serenity and meekness in activity ... the combats in defense of the flock, the victories ... achieved in Christ" (Oratio IX, 5, PG 35, 825ab).

I thank everyone who is present and those who with prayer and affection support my ministry as the Successor of Peter, and upon everyone I invoke the heavenly protection of the Virgin Mary, to whom we now turn in prayer.

[After the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

This morning, in Rome and in Barcelona respectively, two priests were beatified: Angelo Paoli, a Carmelite, and José Tous y Soler, a Capuchin. I will speak about the latter shortly. In regard to Blessed Angelo Paoli, who was from Lunigiana and lived between the 17th and 18th centuries, I would like to recall that he was an apostle of charity in Rome and was called "Father of the Poor." He dedicated himself especially to the sick of the Hospital of St. John, also caring for the convalescents. His apostolate drew strength from the Eucharist and from devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and from an intense life of penance as well. In the Year for Priests I gladly propose his example to all priests, in a special way to those who belong to religious institutes of the active life.

[In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for today's Regina Caeli prayer. This Sunday the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Lord has won for us, let us ask him to inspire many young people to center their hearts on the things of Heaven (cf. Col 3:1-2) and to offer themselves joyfully in the service of Christ our Good Shepherd in the priesthood and religious life. Confidently entrusting this petition to Mary, Queen of Heaven, I invoke upon you God's abundant blessings of peace and joy!

[The Pontiff concluded in Italian:]

I direct a special greeting to the Meter Association, which, for the past 14 years, has promoted the national day for children who are victims of violence, exploitation and indifference. On this occasion I would like above all to thank and encourage those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education, especially parents, teachers, many priests, sisters, catechists and leaders who work with the young people in the parishes, schools and associations. I greet the faithful from Brescia, Cassana near Ferrara, from parishes in Umbria and Toronto, Canada; the young people of the parishes in Valposchiavo, in Switzerland, and those from Francavilla al Mare; and the group of engaged couples from Altamura. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu
"Pray to Her Under the Title Queen of the Family"

FLORIANA, Malta, APRIL 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in Floriana's Granaries Square, on the second day of his apostolic trip to Malta.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

When you give thanks, when you have particular prayer intentions, and when you seek heavenly protection for your loved ones, it is your custom to turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother. I am aware of the particular devotion of the Maltese people to the Mother of God, expressed with great fervour to Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu and so I am pleased to have the opportunity to pray before her image, brought here specially from Gozo for this occasion.

I am also delighted to present a Golden Rose to her, as a sign of our shared filial affection for the Mother of God. I ask you in particular to pray to her under the title Queen of the Family, a title added to the Litany of Loreto by my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, himself on more than one occasion a visitor to these shores. In offering you this tangible memento of my own visit, I thank you for all that I have received from you in return, especially for the warmth of your devotion and the support of your prayers for my ministry as the Successor of Peter.

We turn now in prayer to Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Heaven, as we rejoice in the Resurrection of the One whom she bore in her womb.

[The Pope then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English he said:]

We join in prayer those gathered in Valladolid Cathedral, in Spain, where Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, a priest of the Society of Jesus, was beatified this morning. Let us give thanks to God for all the holy men and women he has given to his Church.

[In Italian, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the Italian speaking pilgrims present today on this joyful occasion, especially those that have come from Lampedusa and Linosa! Thank you for having come to share this moment of celebration and prayer with the Maltese brothers and sisters. May the Apostle Paul, whose anniversary of his presence on this island we commemorate, be an example of solid and courageous faith to you in all adversities.

Upon all of you and your families at home, I wholeheartedly invoke the abundant blessings of the Lord for a joyous and holy Paschal time.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Easter Monday
"We Are Messengers of His Resurrection"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Easter Monday, April 5, before praying the Regina Caeli in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

In the light of Easter, which we celebrate during this whole week, I renew my most cordial wish for peace and joy. As you know, the Monday following the Sunday of the Resurrection is called traditionally "the Angel's Monday." It is very interesting to reflect more deeply on this reference to the "angel." Of course, our thought goes immediately to the evangelical accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, in which the figure of the Lord's messenger appears. St. Matthew writes: "And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matthew 28:2-3).

All the evangelists specify later that, when the women went to the sepulcher and found it open and empty, it was an angel who announced to them that Jesus had resurrected. In St. Matthew this messenger of the Lord says to them: "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said" (Matthew 28:5-6); then he showed them the empty tomb and told them to take the announcement to the disciples. St. Mark describes the angel as "a young man, dressed in a white robe," who gives the women the same message (cf. Mark 16:5-6). St. Luke speaks of "two men in dazzling apparel," who remind the women that Jesus had announced to them much earlier his death and resurrection (cf. Luke 24:4-7). St. John also speaks of "two angels in white"; it is Mary Magdalene who sees them while weeping near the sepulcher, and they say to her: "Woman, why are you weeping?" (John 20:11-13).

However, the angel of the resurrection also has another meaning. It is appropriate to recall that the term "angel," in addition to describing the angels, spiritual creatures gifted with intelligence and will, servants and messengers of God, is also one of the oldest titles attributed to Jesus himself. For example, in Tertullian, in the 3rd century, we read: "He -- Christ -- has also been called 'angel of counsel,' that is, herald, term that denotes an office, not his nature. In fact, he had to proclaim to the world the great plan of the Father for man's restoration" ("De carne Christi," 14). Thus writes Tertullian. Consequently, Jesus Christ, Son of God, is also called the angel of God the Father: He is the Messenger par excellence of his love.

Dear friends, let us think now of what the resurrected Jesus said to the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21); and he communicated his Holy Spirit to them. This means that, as Jesus was the herald of the love of God the Father, we must also be so of the charity of Christ: We are messengers of his resurrection, of his victory over evil and death, bearers of his divine love. Of course we continue to be by nature men and women, but we receive the mission of "angels," messengers of Christ: We are all given it in baptism and in confirmation. Priests, ministers of Christ, receive it in a special way, through the sacrament of Holy Orders; I am pleased to stress it in this Year for Priests.

Dear brothers and sisters, we now turn to the Virgin Mary, invoking her as Regina Caeli, Queen of Heaven. May she help us to accept fully the grace of the Easter mystery and to be courageous and joyful messengers of the resurrection of Christ.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On God’s Mercy
“Everyone Can Receive the Gift of Peace and Life”

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 11, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo and, via television, with those gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
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Dear brothers and sisters!
This Sunday is the conclusion of the Octave of Easter. It is a unique day "made by the Lord," marked by the resurrection and the joy of the disciples in seeing Jesus. From antiquity this Sunday has been called Sunday "in albis," from the Latin word "alba" (white), because of the white vestments the neophytes put on at their baptism on Easter night and set aside eight days later. On April 30, 2000, Venerable John Paul II named this same Sunday for Divine Mercy on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska.
The Gospel passage from St. John (20:19-31) for this Sunday is rich with divine mercy and goodness. There it is told that Jesus, after the resurrection, visited his disciples, passing through the closed doors of the cenacle. St. Augustine explains that "the closed doors did not impede the entrance of that body in which divinity lived. He who in his birth left the virginity of his mother intact could enter the cenacle despite the doors being closed" (In Ioh. 121, 4: CCL 36/7, 667); and St. Gregory the Great added that the Redeemer, after his resurrection, appeared with a body of an incorruptible and palpable nature but in the state of glory (cf. Hom. in Evag., 21,1: CCL 141, 219). Jesus showed the signs of the passion to the point of permitting the incredulous Thomas to touch him.
How is it possible, however, for a disciple to doubt? In reality the divine condescension allows us to draw profit even from the incredulous Thomas, together with the believing disciples. In fact, touching the Lord's wounds, the hesitant disciple not only heals his own diffidence but ours too.
The visit of the Risen One is not limited to the space of the cenacle but it goes beyond so that everyone can receive the gift of peace and life with the "creative breath." Indeed, twice Jesus says to the disciples: "Peace be with you!" and he adds: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Having said this, he breathes upon them, saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit. Those whose sins you forgive shall be forgiven and those whose sins you do not forgive shall not be forgiven." This is the mission of the Church perennially assisted by the Paraclete: to bring to all the glad tidings, the joyous reality of the merciful Love of God, "so that," as St. John says, "you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and so that, believing, you may have life in his name" (20:31).
In light of this word, I encourage especially all pastors to follow the example of the saintly Curéé d'Ars, who, "in his time was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").
In this way we will render ever more familiar and close him who our eyes have not seen but whose infinite mercy we are absolutely certain of. We ask Mary, the Queen of the Apostles, to sustain the mission of the Church, and we invoke her exultant with joy.

[In English, the Pope said:]
I greet all the English-speaking visitors who join us for the Regina Cææli prayer on this Octave of Easter. The Church's liturgy today invites us, with the Apostle Thomas, to acknowledge the Risen Christ as our Lord and our God, and to welcome into our hearts his gifts of peace, mercy, forgiveness and new life. Upon you and your families I invoke a continued outpouring of the joy and hope born of Christ's glorious resurrection from the dead. Happy Easter!


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On Casting Stones
"Let Us Learn ... Not to Judge and Not to Condemn Our Neighbor"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have arrived at the 5th Sunday of Lent in which this year the liturgy proposes to us the Gospel episode of Jesus saving the adulterous woman condemned to death (John 8:1-11). While he is teaching in the Temple area the scribes and the Pharisees bring to Jesus a woman caught in adultery, for whom the Mosaic Law prescribes stoning.

These men ask Jesus to judge the woman with the purpose of "putting him to the test" and trip him up. The scene is full of drama: The woman's life and Jesus' own life depend on his words. The hypocritical accusers, in fact, pretend to entrust him with the judgment while in reality they want to accuse and judge him. But Jesus is "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14): He knows what is in every man's heart, he wants to condemn sin but save the sinner, and unmask hypocrisy.

There is a detail that is highlighted by the evangelist St. John: While the accusers question him insistently, Jesus bends down and starts writing with his finger on the ground. St. Augustine observes that this gesture displays Jesus as the divine lawgiver: Indeed, God wrote the law with his finger on the tables of stone (cf. Commentary on the Gospel of John 33:5). Thus, Jesus is the lawgiver, justice incarnate. And what is his judgment? "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her."

These words are full of the disarming power of the truth, which makes the wall of hypocrisy crumble and opens consciences to a greater justice, that of love, in which consists the perfect fulfillment of every precept (cf. Romans 13:8-10). It is justice that also saved Saul of Tarsus, transforming him into St. Paul (cf. Philippians 3:8-14). When the accusers "departed, one by one, beginning with the elders," Jesus, absolving the woman of her sin, introduces her into a new life, oriented toward the good: "Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on do not sin any more." It is the same grace that will make the Apostle say: "I only know this: forgetting what is behind and looking to that which is ahead, I race toward the goal, to the prize that God is calling me to receive above in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).

God only wants goodness and life for us; he provides for the salvation of our soul through his ministers, freeing us from evil by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that no one is lost but all have a way to be converted. In this Year for Priests, I would like to exhort pastors to imitate the holy Curé d'Ars in the ministry of sacramental Penance, so that the faithful rediscover its meaning and beauty, and are again healed by the merciful love of God, who even "forces himself willingly to forget sin," so that he can grant us his forgiveness!" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").

Dear friends, let us learn from the Lord Jesus not to judge and not to condemn our neighbor. Let us learn to be intransigent with sin -- beginning with our own! -- and indulgent with people. May we be helped in this by the Holy Mother of God, who, free of every fault, is the mediatrix of grace for every contrite sinner.

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On the Prodigal Son and Spiritual Maturity
"Now We Know God: He Is Our Father"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Fourth Sunday of Lent the Gospel about the father and the two sons is proclaimed; this parable is better known as that of the "prodigal son" (Luke 15:11-32). This passage from St. Luke constitutes a meeting point of the spirituality and the literature of all time.

In fact, what would our culture, art, and more generally, our civilization be without this revelation of a God who is a Father full of mercy? It does not cease to move us and every time that we hear it or read it is always able to suggest new meanings to us. Above all, this evangelical text has the power to speak to us of God, to make us know his face, better yet, his heart. After Jesus has told us about the merciful Father, things are not as they were before. Now we know God: he is our Father, who out of love created us free and endowed with conscience, who suffers when we are lost and celebrates when we return. Because of this, the relationship with him is built through a story that is analogous to what happens to every child with their parents: At the beginning the child depends on them; then he asserts his own autonomy; and in the end -- if there is a positive development -- he arrives at a mature relationship based on reconciliation and authentic love.

In these stages we can also read moments of man's journey in his relationship with God. There can be a phase that is like childhood: a religion moved by need, by dependency. Little by little as man grows and emancipates himself, he wants to liberate himself from this submission and become free, adult, able to rule himself and make his own decisions in an autonomous way, thinking he can do without God. Fortunately, God does not dispense with his fidelity and, even if we distance ourselves from him and are lost, he continues to follow us with his love, forgiving our mistakes and speaking within us to our conscience to recall us to himself. In the parable, the two sons behave in opposite ways: The younger one leaves and falls further and further, while the other one remains at home, but he too has an immature relationship with the Father; in fact, when the younger brother returns, the older one is not happy like the Father, but becomes angry and does not want to enter the house. The two sons represent two immature ways to relate to God: rebellion and infantile obedience.

Both of these [immature ways of relating to God] are overcome by the experience of mercy. Only through experiencing forgiveness, recognizing ourselves as loved by a gratuitous love -- that is greater than our misery, but also greater than our justice -- we finally enter into a truly filial and free relationship with God.

Dear Friends, let us meditate on this parable. Let us see ourselves in the two sons, and above all let us contemplate the heart of the Father. Let us throw ourselves into his arms and let ourselves be regenerated by his merciful love. May we aided in this by the Virgin Mary, "Mater misericordiae."

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English he said:]

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today's Gospel presents the touching parable of the prodigal son. Jesus invites us to trust in the Father's infinite mercy and to return to him with hearts purified by repentance. Through our Lenten observance and reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, may we grow in sorrow for our sins and discover anew the Father's loving embrace. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Suffering the Lord Allows
God "Is Good and Cannot Will Evil"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

The liturgy of this Third Sunday of Lent presents us with the theme of conversion. In the first reading, taken from the Book of Exodus, Moses, while he is feeding his flock, sees a burning bush, which is not consumed by the fire that burns it. He comes closer to observe this prodigy when a voice calls him by name and, inviting him to be aware of his unworthiness, commands him to take off his shoes, because the place is a holy one. [The voice says to him] “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob”; and adds: “I am he who is!” (Exodus 3:6a, 14).

God manifests himself in different ways also in each of our lives. To recognize his presence however we must draw near to him aware of our misery and with profound respect. In any other way we would make ourselves incapable of meeting him and of entering into communion with him. As the Apostle Paul writes, this event too is told about for our edification: It reminds us that God does not reveal himself to those who are pervaded by sufficiency and frivolity, but to him who is poor and humble before him.

In the passage from today’s Gospel Jesus is questioned about some sorrowful events: the killing in the Temple of some Galileans on the order of Pontius Pilate and the collapse of a tower on some passers-by (cf. Luke 13:1-5). In the face of the facile conclusion that the evil is the effect of divine punishment, Jesus restores the true image of God, who is good and cannot will evil, and warning people not to think that these misfortunes are the immediate effect of the personal guilt of those who suffered them, says: “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Luke 13:2-3).

Jesus invites us to interpret these facts differently, connecting them with conversion: misfortunes, sorrowful events, should not arouse curiosity in us or a seeking of people presumed to be guilty, but they must be occasions for reflecting, for overcoming the illusion of pretending to live without God, and for reinforcing, with the Lord’s help, the commitment to change our life. In the face of sin, God shows himself to be full of mercy and he does not fail to call sinners to avoid evil, to grow in his love and to concretely help our neighbor in need, to live the joy of grace and not risk eternal death. But the possibility of conversion entails that we learn to read the events of life in the light of faith, animated by the holy fear of God. In the presence of suffering and grief, true wisdom is to let oneself be called from the precariousness of existence and to read human history with God’s eyes, who, always and only wanting the good of his children, by an inscrutable plan of his love, sometimes allows them to be tried through suffering to lead them to a greater good.

Dear friends, let us pray to Mary Most Holy, who accompanies us on the Lenten journey, to help every Christian to return to the Lord with his whole heart. May she sustain our firm decision to renounce evil and to accept God’s will in our life with faith.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus, especially a group of visitors from Boston, in the United States. The readings of today’s liturgy invite all of us to embrace conversion, and to be humble in allowing the Lord to prepare us to bear more fruit. Our cooperation with the Lord often demands great sacrifice, but the fruit which that conversion bears always leads to freedom and joy. May we experience these great gifts of God! Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Transfiguration
"The Joys Sown by God in Our Life Are Not the Destination"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Here in the Apostolic Palace yesterday we concluded the customary retreat that is held in the Vatican at the beginning of Lent. My coworkers in the Roman Curia and I have spent the days in recollection and intense prayer, reflecting on the priestly vocation in sync with the Year for Priests that the Church is celebrating. I thank those who were near to us spiritually.

On this second Sunday of Lent the liturgy is dominated by the event of the Transfiguration, which in St. Luke's Gospel immediately follows the Master's invitation: "If anyone wants to follow me, he must renounce himself, take up his cross every day and follow me!" (Luke 9:23). This extraordinary event is an encouragement in following Jesus.

Luke does not speak of transfiguration but describes what happened through two elements: the countenance of Jesus that changes and his vestments, which become dazzling white in the presence of Moses and Elijah, symbol of the Law and the Prophets. The three disciples who witness the scene are heavy with sleep: It is the attitude of those who, although spectators of divine prodigies, do not understand them. Only the struggle against the torpor that assails them allows Peter, James and John to "see" Jesus' glory. The pace is driving: as Moses and Elijah depart from Jesus, Peter speaks, and while he is speaking, a cloud covers him and the other disciples with its shadow; it is a cloud that, although it conceals also reveals God's glory, as happened for the people of Israel on pilgrimage through the desert. The eyes can no longer see, but the ears can hear the voice that comes from the cloud: "This is my Son, my chosen one; listen to him!" (Luke 9:35).

The disciples are no longer before a transfigured face, nor before a dazzling garment, nor a cloud that reveals the divine presence. Before their eyes there is "only Jesus" (9:36). Jesus is alone before his Father as he prays, but at the same time, Jesus is everything that is given to the disciples of all times: It is what must suffice on the journey. He is the only voice to listen to, the only one to follow, he who, going up to Jerusalem, will give his life and one day "will transfigure our miserable body to conform it to his glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).

"Master, it is good for us to be here" (John 9:33): These are Peter's ecstatic words, which often resemble our desire before the Lord's consolations. But the Transfiguration reminds us that the joys sown by God in our life are not the destination, but they are lights that he gives us on the earthly pilgrimage, so that "only Jesus" is our Law and his Word the criterion that guides our existence.

During this time of Lent I invite everyone to meditate assiduously on the Gospel. Furthermore, I hope in this Year of the Priest that pastors "are truly filled by the Word of God, that they know it in truth, that they love it to the point that it really gives them life and forms their thought" (Homily for the Chrism Mass, April 9, 2009). May the Virgin Mary help us to live with intensity our moments of encounter with the Lord so that we can follow him every day with joy. To her we turn our gaze, invoking upon her with the prayer of the Angelus.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

I heard with deep sadness the tragic news of the recent killings of some Christians in the city of Mosul and I followed with much concern the other episodes of violence, perpetrated in the martyred land of Iraq, which have harmed defenseless persons of various religious affiliations. In these days of intense recollection I often prayed for all the victims of those attacks and today I would like to join myself spiritually in prayer for peace and the restoration of security promoted by the council of bishops at Nineveh. I am affectionately near to the Christians communities of the whole country. Do not weary of being a ferment for good for the homeland to which, for centuries, you have rightfully belonged!

In the delicate political phase that Iraq is passing through I call upon the civil authorities that they do everything possible to restore security to the population and, especially to the most vulnerable religious minorities. It is my wish that they do not given in to the temptation to allow the temporary and special interests prevail over the safety and the fundamental rights of every citizen. Finally, as I greet the Iraqis present here in the piazza, I exhort the international community to do its best to give the Iraqis a future of reconciliation and justice, while I ask with confidence from God almighty the precious gift of peace.

My thought goes out also to Chile and the populations affected by the earthquake, which caused numerous losses of human life and much damage. I pray for the victims and am spiritually near to the persons tried by so grave a calamity; for them I implore from God relief from suffering and courage in these adversities. I am certain that they will not lack the solidarity of many, especially of ecclesial organizations.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus prayer, especially the group of priests from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, accompanied by His Eminence Cardinal Daniel DiNardo. On this Second Sunday of Lent the voice of our Heavenly Father instructs us to listen to Jesus, the beloved Son of God. May our Lenten journey continue to dispose our hearts to Christ and to his saving truth. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God's abundant blessings of strength and peace!

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the New Adam's Obedience
"The World Improves Beginning With Ourselves"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Last Wednesday, with the penitential rite of the ashes, we began Lent, a time of spiritual renewal in preparation for the annual celebration of Easter. But what does it mean to enter into the Lenten journey?

The Gospel of this First Sunday of Lent illustrates it, with the account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert. The evangelist St. Luke tells us that Jesus, after having received baptism from John, “full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2). It is evident that there is an insistence on the fact that the temptations were no accident but the consequence of Jesus’ choice to carry out the mission entrusted to him by the Father, to embrace completely his reality as beloved Son, who hands himself over entirely to the Father. Christ came into the world to free us from sin and the dangerous fascination of planning our lives without God. He did it not with high-sounding proclamations, but by personally struggling against the Tempter, right to the cross. This is an example for all: The world improves beginning with ourselves, changing what is not right in our lives with the grace of God.

Of the three temptations that Satan proposes to Jesus, the first has to do with hunger, that is, material need: “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” But Jesus answers with sacred Scripture: “One does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:3-4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).

Then the devil shows all the kingdoms of the earth to Jesus and says: All this will be yours, if you will fall down and worship me. It is the deception of power, and Jesus unmasks this temptation and rejects it: “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve” (Luke 4:5-8; Deuteronomy 6:13). Power is not to be worshiped but God alone, truth and love.

Finally, the Tempter proposes that Jesus perform a spectacular miracle: He should throw himself from the high walls of the Temple and make the angels save him so that everyone would believe in him. But Jesus answers that God must never be put to the test (cf. Deuteronomy 6:16). We must never try an experiment in which God is supposed to respond and show himself to be God: we must believe in him! We must not make God “material” for our “experiment”! Referring again to sacred Scripture, Jesus opposes to human criterion the only authentic criterion: obedience, conformity with God’s will, which is the foundation of our being. This too is a basic teaching for us: If we carry the Word of God in our heart and in our mind, if it enters into our lives, if we have confidence in God, we can reject any sort of deception of the Tempter. Moreover, from the whole story there clearly emerges the image of Christ as the new Adam, Son of God, humble and obedient to the Father, unlike Adam and Eve, who in the Garden of Eden gave in to the seductions of the spirit of evil to become immortal without God.

Lent is a long “retreat,” during which we return to ourselves and listen to God’s voice to overcome the temptations of the Evil One and find the truth of our being. It is a time, we could say, of spiritual “contest” to live together with Jesus, not with pride and presumption, but using the weapons of faith, that is, prayer, listening to God’s Word and penance. In this way we will be able to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our baptism. May the Virgin Mary help us so that, guided by the Holy Spirit, we live this time of grace with joy and fruit. May she especially intercede for me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia since this evening we will begin our retreat.


[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the boys and girls of the London Oratory Junior Choir. In today’s Gospel the Church invites us to contemplate Christ’s victory over temptation and to imitate his complete obedience to the Father’s will. May the Lenten season which we have now begun draw us closer to the Lord in prayer and prepare us to celebrate worthily his victory over sin and death at Easter. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Angelus: On the Beatitudes and Divine Justice
"This Is the Task That the Lord's Disciples Are Called to Undertake"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The liturgical year is a great journey of faith, which the Church undertakes, always proceeded by the Virgin Mother Mary. In the Sundays of Ordinary Time this year the readings from the Gospel of Luke trace out this itinerary. Today's reading from this Gospel accompanies us "in a level stretch of land" (Luke 6:17), where Jesus pauses with the 12 and where a crowd of the other disciples and people from every part gather to listen to him. It is in this context that the proclamation of the "beatitudes" takes place (Luke 6:20-26; cf. Matthew 5:1-12). Jesus, looking upon his disciples, says: "Blessed are you poor... Blessed are you who hunger now... Blessed are you who weep now... Blessed shall you be when men hate you ... and reject your name" for my sake. Why does he call them blessed? Why will the justice of God see to it that they will be satisfied, joyous, compensated for every false accusation, in a word, why will it welcome them into his kingdom? The beatitudes are based on the existence of a divine justice, which raises up those who have been wrongly humiliated and casts down those who have been exalted (cf. Luke 14:11). In fact, the evangelist Luke, after the four blessings adds four admonishments: "Woe to you rich... Woe to you who are filled... Woe to you who laugh now..." and "Woe to you when all men speak well of you...," because, as Jesus states, things will be reversed, the last will be first, and the first last (cf. 13:30).

This justice and this beatitude are realized in the "Kingdom of Heaven," or the "Kingdom of God," which will be fulfilled at the end of time but is already present in history. Where the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life, there God's justice is manifested. This is the task that the Lord's disciples are called to undertake even now in the present society. I think of the hostel of "Caritas" of Rome at the Termini Station that I visited this morning: From my heart I encourage those who work in such worthy institutions and those, in every part of the world, who freely engage in similar works of justice and love.

Justice is the theme that I have chosen for this year's Message for Lent, which will begin on Wednesday -- the day that we call Ash Wednesday. Today I would like to offer it to everyone, inviting all to read it and meditate on it. The Gospel of Christ responds positively to the thirst for justice in man, but in an unexpected and surprising way. Jesus does not propose a revolution of a social or political type, but one of love, which he has already realized with his cross and his resurrection. On these are founded the beatitudes, which propose a new horizon of justice, initiated by Easter, by which we can become just and build a better world.

Dear friends, let us turn to the Virgin Mary. All generations proclaim her "blessed," because she believed in the good news that the Lord announced (cf. Luke 1:45, 48). Let us allow ourselves to be led by her through the journey of Lent, to be liberated from the illusion of self-sufficiency, recognize that we need God, his mercy, and in this way enter into his Kingdom of justice, of love and of peace.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Today in various countries in Asia -- I think of China and Vietnam, for example -- and in many communities scattered throughout the world, the Lunar New Year is celebrated. These are festive days that these people celebrate as privileged occasions to re-solidify family and generational bonds. I hope that all will maintain and foster growth of the rich heredity of the spiritual and moral values that are solidly rooted in the culture of these peoples.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, the Pontiff said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus heals the sick, proclaims the Beatitudes and invites us to open our hearts to God's Kingdom. May you and your families be truly "blessed" with the spiritual freedom and peace which the Lord promises to all who imitate his poverty and trust in his promises!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Divine Call
"Encounter With God Brings Man to Recognize His Own Poverty"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

The liturgy of this Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time presents us with the theme of the divine call. In a majestic vision, Isaiah finds himself in the presence of the Thrice-Holy Lord and is seized by a great fear and by the profound feeling of his own unworthiness. But a seraph purifies his lips with a hot coal and takes away his sin, and he, making himself ready to answer the call, exclaims: "Here I am, Lord, send me!" (cf. Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8).

The same succession of sentiments is present in the episode of the miraculous catch of fish, about which today's Gospel passage speaks. Invited by Jesus to lower their nets, despite a night of fruitless effort, Simon Peter and the other disciples, trusting in his word, make a huge catch. Faced with such a prodigy, Simon Peter does not throw his arms around Jesus to express his joy over the unexpected catch but, as the Evangelist St. Luke recounts, falls to his knees, saying: "Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Jesus then answers him: "Do not be afraid; from now on I will make you a fisher of men" (cf. Luke 5:10); and Peter, leaving everything, follows him.

Paul too, noting that he was a persecutor of the Church, confesses that he is unworthy of being called an apostle, but he recognizes that the grace of God has accomplished marvels in him and, despite his own limitations, has entrusted to him the task and the honor of preaching the Gospel (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:8-10). In these three experiences we see how the authentic encounter with God brings man to recognize his own poverty and inadequacy, his limitations and his sin. But this fragility notwithstanding, the Lord, rich in mercy and forgiveness, transforms man's life and calls man to follow him.

The humility that Isaiah, Peter and Paul bear witness to, invites those who have received the gift of a divine calling not to focus on their own limits, but to keep their gaze fixed on the Lord and on his surprising mercy, to convert the heart and continue, with joy, to "leave everything" for him. He, in fact does not look at what man considers important: "Man sees the appearance but the Lord sees the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7), and renders men who are poor and weak, but who have faith in him, intrepid apostles and proclaimers of salvation.

In this Year for Priests, let us pray that the Lord of the harvest send workers into fields. Let's pray that those who hear the Lord's invitation to follow him, after the necessary discernment, know how to respond to him with generosity, not trusting in their own power, but opening themselves to the action of his grace. In particular, I invite all priests to revive their generous availability to respond to the Lord's call every day with the same humility and faith that Isaiah, Peter and Paul had.

We entrust to the Holy Virgin all vocations, especially those to the religious and priestly life. May Mary awaken in everyone the desire to say his own "yes" to the Lord with joy and total dedication.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

We celebrate the Day for Life in Italy today. I gladly join with the Italian bishops and in their message on the theme: "The Power of Life: A Challenge in Poverty." In the current economic difficulty, those mechanisms become more harmful that, causing poverty and creating major social inequality, wound and offend life, striking above all the weakest and most defenseless.

Such a situation consequently calls for the promotion of an integral human development to overcome poverty and need, and above all reminds us that man's destiny is not well-being but God himself, and that human existence must be defended and favored in all of its stages. No one, in fact, is the owner of his life, but we are all called to care for it and respect it, from the moment of conception until natural death.

As we express appreciation for those who more directly work in the service of children, the sick and the elderly, I affectionately greet the many faithful of Rome who are present here led by the Cardinal Vicar and some of the auxiliary bishops.

The Diocese of Rome gives special attention to the Day for Life and extends it into the Week of Life and the Family. I wish the success of this initiative and encourage the activity of the consultors, the associations and movements, as well as that of university professors, engaged in supporting life and the family.

In this context I would like to note that Feb. 11, the memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick, I will celebrate Holy Mass with the sick in St. Peter's Basilica.

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Baby Jesus, the Refugee
"The Child ... Must First of All and Always Be Considered a Person"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday we celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. The presence of the Church at the side of these persons has been constant through time, reaching singular heights at the beginning of the last century: We need only think of Blessed Bishop Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and St. Frances Cabrini. In my message for this occasion I called attention to young migrants and refugees. Jesus Christ, who as a newborn lived through the dramatic experience of being a refugee because of Herod’s threats, taught his disciples to welcome children with great respect and love. The child too, in fact, whatever his nationality or the color of his skin, must first of all and always be considered a person, the image of God, to promote and protect against every marginalization and exploitation. In particular, it is necessary to take every care that minors who live in a foreign country are protected by legislation and above all watched over in the countless problems that they must face. While I strongly encourage the Christian communities and organizations that are engaged in assisting young migrants and refugees, I exhort everyone to keep alive an educative and cultural sensitivity toward them, according to the authentic Gospel spirit.

This afternoon, almost 24 years after the historic visit of Venerable John Paul II, I will go to the Synagogue of Rome, which is called the “Great Temple” (Tempio Maggiore), to meet the city’s Jewish community and take another step on the journey of concord and friendship between Catholics and Jews. In fact, despite the problems and difficulties between the believers of the two religions, we breathe an air of great respect and dialogue, which testifies to how much the relationships have matured and the common commitment to value what unites us: faith in the one God, first of all, but also the protection of the life of the family, the aspiration to social justice and peace.

Finally, I would like to note that tomorrow the traditional Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins. Every year it constitutes, for believers in Christ, a propitious time to revive the ecumenical spirit, to meet each other, to get to know each other, to pray and reflect together. The biblical theme, taken from the Gospel of St. Luke, echoes the words of the risen Jesus to the apostles: “You are witnesses of these things” (Luke 24:48). Our proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus will be much more credible and effective the more that we are united in his love, as true brothers. Thus, I invite parishes, religious communities, ecclesial movements and associations to pray unceasingly, in a special way during Eucharistic Celebrations, for the complete unity of Christians.

We entrust these three intentions -- our migrant and refugee brothers, religious dialogue with the Jews and the unity of Christians -- to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Our thoughts, in these days, turn to the dear people of Haiti, and [we] raise up sorrowful prayer. The apostolic nuncio, who, thanks be to God, is unhurt, keeps me continually informed, and thus I heard of the sad passing of the archbishop, as well as of many priests, religious and seminarians. I am following and encourage the numerous charitable organizations, who are taking charge of the immense necessities of the country. I pray for the injured, the homeless, and for those who tragically lost their lives.

On this World Day of Migrants and Refugees I am happy to greet the representatives of different ethnic groups who are present. I hope all will participate fully in the life of society and the Church, maintaining the values of their cultures of origin. I also greet the Brazilians who have come today and who are descendants of immigrants from Trentino. Thank you for coming!

Finally I offer a special greeting to the participants in the second edition of the International Festival of the Journeys of the Spirit, taking place at the Nuova Fiera di Roma, where Holy Mass was just celebrated by the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

To the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend heartfelt greetings. In particular I welcome the students from the "Catholic Studies Program" at Loras College, Dubuque in the United States. In today’s Gospel we hear how Jesus let his glory be seen by turning water into wine. May all of you discover the transforming power of his love in your lives, so that his glory may be manifested today to those around you. Upon all who are present, and upon your families and loved ones, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Beginning a New Year
"Thank You, Holy Mother, Who Gave Birth to the Saviour"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *
Dear brothers and sisters:

Today the Lord gives us the gift of beginning a new year in his name and under the gaze of the Most Holy Virgin, whom we celebrate with the solemnity of the Mother of God. I am happy to be with you for this first Angelus of 2010. I address you who are gathered in a great number in St. Peter's Square and also those who are united with our prayer through radio and television: To all of you I express my wish that the year just begun will be a time in which, with the help of the Lord, we can find Christ and the will of God and thus as well improve our common home, which is the world.

An objective shared by everyone, an indispensable condition for peace, is that of administering with justice and wisdom the natural resources of the earth. "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation" is the very relevant theme to which I have dedicated my message for the 43rd World Day of Peace, [celebrated] today.

As the message was being published, the leaders of states and governments were gathered in Copenhagen for the summit on climate [change], where once again the urgency of common accords at the global level was discussed. Nevertheless, in this moment, I would like to highlight the importance that each one's decisions have in defending the environment -- the decisions of families and local administrations. "We can no longer do without a real change of outlook which will result in new lifestyles" (cf. Message, No. 11). In reality, all of us are responsible for the protection and care of the created world. Therefore, in this field too, education is fundamental: to learn to respect nature, to direct oneself ever more to build peace "begin[ning] with far-reaching decisions on the part of individuals, families, communities and states" (ibid.).

If we should care for the creatures that surround us, what consideration we should have for people, our brothers and sisters! What respect for human life! On the first day of the year, I would like to call out to the consciences of those who form part of armed groups of any kind.

To each and every one, I say: Stop, reflect and abandon the path of violence! At first, this step could seem impossible to you, but if you have the courage to do it, God will help you, and you will feel return to your hearts joy and peace, which perhaps you've forgotten for a long time now. I entrust this call to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary.

Today, the liturgy reminds us that eight days after the birth of the Child, she and her husband Joseph brought him to be circumcised, according to the Law of Moses, and gave him the name Jesus, which had been given him by the angel (Luke 2:21). This name, which means "God saves," is the fulfillment of the revelation of God. Jesus is the face of God. He is the blessing for each person and for all populations. He is the peace of the world.

Thank you, Holy Mother, who gave birth to the Saviour, the Prince of Peace!

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On Mary as Mother
"We Can Turn to Her, and Our Heart Receives Light and Comfort"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 8, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered at midday before and after praying the Angelus on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, together with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The 8th of December we celebrate one of the most beautiful feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception. But what does it mean that Mary is the "Immaculate"? And what does this title tell to us?

First of all we refer to the biblical texts of today's liturgy, especially the great "fresco" of the third chapter of the Book of Genesis and the account of the Annunciation of the Gospel of Luke. After original sin, God turned to the serpent, which represents Satan, he curses him and adds a promise: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Genesis 3:15).

It is the proclamation of revenge: Satan at the beginning of creation seems to have the upper hand, but the son of a woman will come who will crush his head. Thus, through the woman's offspring, God himself will triumph. That woman is the Virgin Mary, from whom was born Jesus Christ who, with his sacrifice, has defeated once and for all the ancient tempter. Because of this, in so many painting and statues of the Immaculate, she is represented in the act of crushing a serpent under her foot.

The evangelist Luke, instead, shows us the Virgin Mary who receives the annunciation of the heavenly messenger (cf. Luke 1:26-38). She appears as the humble and authentic daughter of Israel, true Zion in whom God wishes to make his dwelling. She is the young plant from which the Messiah must be born, the just and merciful King.

In the simplicity of the home of Nazareth lives Israel's pure remnant from which God wishes to have his people be born again, as a new tree that will extend its branches in the whole world, offering all men good fruits of salvation. As opposed to Adam and Eve, Mary remains obedient to the Lord's will, with her whole self she pronounces her "yes" and places herself fully at the disposition of the divine plan. She is the new Eve, true "mother of all the living" -- that is, of all those who by faith in Christ receive eternal life.

Dear friends, what immense joy to have Mary Immaculate as Mother! Every time we experience our frailty and the suggestion of evil, we can turn to her, and our heart receives light and comfort.

Also in life's trials, in the storms that make faith and hope vacillate, we think that we are her children and that the roots of our existence sink in the infinite grace of God. The Church herself, even if exposed to the negative influences of the world, always finds in her the star to direct and follow the route indicated by Christ.

Mary is in fact the Mother of the Church, as Pope Paul VI and Vatican Council II solemnly proclaimed. While, therefore, we render thanks to God for this wonderful sign of his goodness, we entrust to the Immaculate Virgin each one of us, our families and the community, the whole Church and the entire world.

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ANGELUS  On the End Times and God's Kingdom

"Behold the Power of the Word of Christ"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We have reached the last two weeks of the liturgical year. We thank the Lord who has enabled us to carry out, yet again, this journey of faith -- old and always new -- in the great spiritual family of the Church! It is an inestimable gift, which allows us to live in history the mystery of Christ, receiving in the furrows of our personal and community existence the seed of the Word of God, seed of eternity that transforms this world from within and opens it to the Heavenly Kingdom. Accompanying us in the itinerary of Sunday biblical readings was St. Mark's Gospel, which today presents a part of Jesus' discourse on the end times. In this discourse, there is a phrase that is striking for its synthetic clarity: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away" (Mark 13:31). Let us reflect, for a moment, on this prophecy of Christ.

The expression "heaven and earth" is frequent in the Bible to indicate the whole universe, the entire cosmos. Jesus says that all this is destined to "pass." Not only the earth, but also heaven, understood, in fact, in the cosmic sense, not as a synonym of God. Sacred Scripture knows no ambiguity: The whole of creation is marked by finiteness, including the elements divinized by ancient mythologies: There is no confusion between creation and the Creator, but rather a clear difference. With such a clear distinction, Jesus affirms that his words "will not pass," that is, they come from the part of God and because of this are eternal.

However, pronounced in the concreteness of his earthly existence, they are prophetic words par excellence, as Jesus affirms in another place, addressing the celestial Father: "for I have given them the words which thou gave me, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from thee and they have believed that thou didst send me" (John 17:8). In a well-known parable, Christ compares himself to the sower and explains that the seed is the Word (cfr Mark 4:14): Those who hear it, receive it and bear fruit (cfr Mark 4:20) are part of the Kingdom of God, that is, they live under his lordship; they remain in the world , but are no longer of the world; therefore, in them is a seed of eternity, a principle of transformation that already now is manifested in a good life, animated by charity, and in the end will produce the resurrection of the flesh. Behold the power of the Word of Christ.

Dear friends, the Virgin Mary is the living sign of this truth. Her heart was "good earth" that received with full disposition the Word of God, so that all her existence, transformed according to the image of the Son, was introduced into eternity, soul and body, anticipating the eternal vocation of every human being. Now, in prayer, let us make our own her response to the Angel: "let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38), so that, following Christ on the way of the Cross, we might also be able to come to the glory of the Resurrection.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks in Italian:]

I address first of all a cordial greeting to the participants of the plenary assembly of the Commission for the Media of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, who carried out their work these days in the Vatican. Beloved, you had to address the Internet culture and communication in the Church. I thank you for your skilled contribution on this topic of great present importance.

In addition, I wish to remind you that the national celebration of Thanksgiving Day is taking place in Ivrea, in Piedmont. I willingly join spiritually all those who are grateful to the Lord for the fruits of the earth and of man's work, renewing the urgent invitation to respect the natural environment, a precious resource entrusted to our responsibility.

 

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Paul VI's Marian Devotion

"He Placed his Priesthood Under the Protection of the Mother of Jesus"

BRESCIA, Italy, NOV. 8, 2009 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus after he had celebrated Mass in the birthplace of Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to offer cordial thanks to those who were responsible for the liturgical animation and those who in various ways helped with the preparation and realization of my pastoral visit here in Brescia. Thanks to all! I also greet those who are following us on radio and television, along with those in St. Peter’s Square, and in a special way the numerous volunteers of the L’Unione Nazionale Pro Loco of Italy.

In this Angelus I would like to recall the profound devotion that the Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini had for the Virgin Mary. He celebrated his first Mass in the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the marian heart of your city, not far from this piazza. In this way he placed his priesthood under the protection of the Mother of Jesus, and this connection accompanied him his whole life.

As his ecclesial responsibilities grew, he developed a broader and more organic vision of the relationship between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the mystery of the Church. In this perspective, his Nov. 21, 1964, address at the closing of the third session of the Second Vatican Council is memorable. During that session of the Council the Constitution on the Church, "Lumen Gentium," was promulgated. The document had, as Paul VI noted, "an entire chapter dedicated to the Madonna as its apex and crown." The Pope noted that it contained the largest synthesis of marian doctrine ever elaborated by an ecumenical council, with the purpose of "manifesting the countenance of the Church to which Mary is intimately joined" ("Enchiridion Vaticanum," Bologna 1979, p. [185], nos. 300-302). In that context he proclaimed Mary Most Holy "Mother of the Church" (cf. ibid., no. 306), underscoring with lively ecumenical sensitivity that "devotion to Mary … is a means essentially ordained to orient souls to Christ and thus join them to the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit" (ibid., no. 315).

Echoing the words of Paul VI, we too today pray: O Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to you we commend this Church of Brescia and all the people of this region. Remember all your children; bring their prayers before God; keep their faith firm; strengthen their hope; make their charity grow. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary (cf. ibid., nos. 317, 320, 325).

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On the Communion of Saints
"We Are Never Alone! We Form Part of a Spiritual Company"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday coincides with the solemnity of All Saints, which invites the pilgrim Church on earth to anticipate the endless celebration of the heavenly community, and to revive the hope in eternal life. It is 14 centuries ago this year since the Pantheon -- one of the most ancient and famous Roman monuments -- was destined to Christian worship and dedicated to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs: Sancta Maria ad Martyres. The temple of all the pagan divinities thus became a memorial of all those who, as the Book of Revelation states, "are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14).

Subsequently, the celebration of all the martyrs was extended to all the saints, "a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues" (Revelation 7:9) -- as is expressed by St. John. In this Year of Priests, I like to remember with special veneration all holy priests, both those whom the Church has canonized, proposing them as examples of spiritual and pastoral virtues, as well as those -- much more numerous -- whom the Lord knows. Each one of us cherishes the memory of some one of them, who has helped us to grow in the faith and has made us feel the goodness and closeness of God.

Tomorrow we will observe the annual commemoration of all the deceased faithful. I would like to invite you to live this annual celebration in keeping with a genuine Christian spirit, that is, in the light that proceeds from the Paschal Mystery. Christ has died and risen and has opened to us the way to the house of the Father, Kingdom of life and peace. He who follows Jesus in this life is received where he has preceded us.

Therefore, while we visit cemeteries, let us remember that there, in the tombs, only the mortal remains of our loved ones rest, while awaiting the final resurrection. Their souls -- as Scripture says -- already "are in the hand of God" (Wisdom 3:1). Hence, the most appropriate and effective way to honor them is to pray for them, offering acts of faith, hope and charity. In union with the Eucharistic sacrifice, we can intercede for their eternal salvation, and experience the most profound communion while awaiting to be reunited again, to enjoy forever the love that created us and redeemed us.

Dear friends, how beautiful and consoling is the communion of saints! It is a reality that infuses a different dimension to our whole life. We are never alone! We form part of a spiritual "company" in which profound solidarity reigns: the good of each one is for the benefit of all and, vice versa, the common happiness is radiated in each one. It is a mystery that, in a certain measure, we can already experience in this world, in the family, in friendship, especially in the spiritual community of the Church. May Mary Most Holy help us to walk swiftly on the way of sanctity and show herself a Mother of mercy for the souls of the deceased.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

Exactly ten years have passed since leading representatives of the World Lutheran Federation and the Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, in Augsburg, on Oct. 31, 1999. Subsequently, in 2006, the World Methodist Council also adhered to it. This document certified a consensus between Lutherans and Catholics on fundamental truths of the doctrine of justification, truths that take us to the very heart of the Gospel and to essential questions of our life.

We are received and redeemed by God; our existence is inscribed on the horizon of grace, it is guided by a merciful God, who forgives our sin and calls us to a new life following his Son; we live from the grace of God and we are called to respond to his gift; all this liberates us from fear and infuses hope and courage in us in a world full of uncertainty, anxiety and suffering.

The Servant of God John Paul II described the day of the signing of the Joint Declaration as "a milestone in the difficult path to reconstitute full unity among Christians" (Angelus, October 31, 1999). This anniversary, therefore, is an occasion to recall the truth about man's justification, testified together, to come together in ecumenical celebrations and to reflect further on this and other topics that are the object of the ecumenical dialogue.

It is my heartfelt hope that this important anniversary will contribute to make us progress on the path toward the full and visible unity of all the disciples of Christ.

[In English, the Pope said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today we celebrate the great solemnity of All Saints. In honoring all of the holy men and women gone before us marked with the sign of faith, and who are now united with the Lord in Heaven, we are encouraged to pray and work with pure hearts as we anticipate with joy seeing the Lord as he really is. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

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On the Africa Synod

"Be Salt and Light in the Beloved African Land"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

A little while ago, with the Eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops concluded. Three weeks of prayer and reciprocal listening to discern what the Holy Spirit is saying today to the Church that lives on the African continent, but also to the Universal Church.

The synodal fathers, who have come from every country in Africa, have presented the rich reality of the local Churches. We have shared their joys for the dynamism of the Christian communities that continue to grow in quantity and quality. We are grateful to God for the missionary élan that has found fertile ground in numerous dioceses and that is expressed in the sending of missionaries to other African countries and different continents.

Special importance has been given to the family, that in Africa too is the primary cell of society, but which today is threatened by foreign ideological currents. What to say, then, to young people exposed to this type of pressure, influenced by models of thought and conduct that are contrary to the human and Christian values of the peoples of Africa?

Naturally the current problems of Africa emerged in the assembly and its great need of reconciliation, of justice and of peace. Precisely to this the Church responds re-proposing, with renewed impetus, the proclamation of the Gospel and the action of human promotion. Animated by the Word of God and the Eucharist, she strives make it so that no one is deprived of the necessaries for living and that all may lead an existence worthy of the human being.

Remembering the apostolic trip that I took to Cameroon and Angola last March, and which also had the purpose of advancing the immediate preparation of the Second Synod for Africa, today I would like to turn to all the people of Africa, in particular to those who share the Christian faith, to consign to them in spirit the "Final Message" of this synodal Assembly. It is a message that comes from Rome, the see of the Successor of Peter, who presides over the universal communion, but one can say, in a sense that is no less true, that it has its origin in Africa, whose experiences, expectations, plans, it gathers and now returns to Africa, bearing wealth of an event of profound communion in the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters who listen to me from Africa! I entrust to your prayers in a special way the fruits of the labors of the Synod fathers, and I encourage you with the words of the Lord Jesus: be salt and light in the beloved African land!

As this Synod concludes, I would like now to recall that next year a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. On the occasion of my visit to Cyprus I will have the pleasure to consign the "Instrumentum laboris" of this meeting. I thank the Lord, who never tires in building up his Church in communion, and I invoke with confidence the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I offer a special greeting first of all to the thousands of faithful gathered in Milan, in the Piazza del Duomo, where this morning the liturgy of the beatification of the priest Don Carlo Gnocchi was celebrated. He began as a sound educator of boys and young men. In the 2nd World War he became the chaplain of the Alpini (The mountain infantry of the Italian army), with whom he participated in the tragic retreat in Russia. It was then that he dedicated himself completely to a work of charity. Thus, in Milan during reconstruction, Don Gnocchi worked to "restore the human person," gathering orphaned and mutilated boys and offering them help and formation. He gave all of himself to the very end, and dying gave his corneas to two blind boys. His work continued to develop and today the Don Gnocchi Foundation is on the cutting edge in the care of persons of every age who need rehabilitative therapy. As I greet Cardinal Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, and I rejoice with the Ambrosian Church, I make the motto of this beatification my own: "Alongside of life, always."

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present today in Saint Peter’s Square. We have just concluded the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops which has been a period of grace. I invite all of you to pray for our brothers and sisters of Africa. May the Lord, who granted sight to the blind man of the Gospel, renew their faith that they may always see and follow clearly the path of reconciliation, justice and peace which leads to salvation. Upon all of you and upon all the people of Africa I invoke God’s abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On World Mission Sunday

"The Church Exists to Proclaim This Message of Hope"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, the third Sunday of October, we celebrate World Mission Day, which is a powerful reminder for every ecclesial community and for each Christian of the duty to proclaim and bear witness before all people to the Gospel, especially to those who do not yet know it. In the message that I wrote for this occasion, I was inspired by an expression in the Book of Revelation, which echoes the words of Isaiah’s prophecy: "The nations will walk in his light" (Revelation 21:24). The light that is spoken about is God’s light, revealed in the Messiah and reflected on the countenance of the Church, represented as the New Jerusalem, wondrous city in which the fullness of the glory of God shines forth. It is the light of the Gospel, which orients the path of the nations and guides them toward the realization of a great family, in justice and peace, under the paternity of the one God, who is good and merciful.

The Church exists to proclaim this message of hope to all of humanity, which in our time has "experienced marvelous achievements but which seems to have lost its sense of ultimate realities and of existence itself" (John Paul II, "Redemptoris Missio," 2).

In the month of October, especially this Sunday, the universal Church highlights her missionary vocation. Led by the Holy Spirit, she knows that she is called to continue the work of Jesus himself, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which "is justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17). This Kingdom is already present in the world as the power of love, of freedom, of solidarity, of respect for the dignity of every man, and the ecclesial community feels the force in its heart of the urgency to work so that Christ’s sovereignty be fully realized. All its members and articulations cooperate in such a project, according to the different states of life and charisms.

On this World Mission Day I would like to recall the missionaries -- priests, men and women religious and lay volunteers -- who consecrate their existence to bringing the Gospel into the world, even facing hardships and difficulties and sometimes real persecutions.

I think, among others, of Father Ruggero Ruvoletto, a priest of the Donum Fidei missionaries, recently killed in Brazil; of Father Michael Sinnot, a religious, taken hostage a few days ago in the Philippines.

And how can I not think of what is emerging from the synod of bishops of Africa in terms of extreme sacrifice and love for Christ and his Church? I thank the Pontifical Missionary Societies for the precious service that they give to missionary animation and formation. Furthermore, I invite all Christians to make a gesture of material and spiritual sharing to help the young Churches of the poorest countries.

Dear friends, today, Oct. 18, is also the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, who, along with the Gospel, wrote the Acts of the Apostle to narrate the expansion of the Christian message to the ends of the then known world. We invoke his intercession together with that of St. Francis Xavier and St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patrons of the missions, and of the Virgin Mary, that the Church may continue to spread the light of Christ among all the nations. I ask you, moreover, to pray for the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which is taking place this week here in the Vatican.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I address a cordial greeting to the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, who have come for the closing of the 4th centenary of the death of their founder, St. Giovanni Leonardi. Dear brothers, together with you are also the students of all the Colleges of the Propaganda Fidei, accompanied by Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, as well as representatives of pharmacists, whose patron is St. Giovanni Leonardi.

I exhort all of you to follow him on the path of holiness and to imitate his missionary zeal. I welcome Italian-speaking pilgrims with affection, in particular the members of Comunità Cenacolo, who for many years have helped young people, especially those who have become addicted to drugs, to find the path of life again meeting Jesus Christ. I also greet the participants in the conference on the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," being held in Rome at the moment, the National Association of Small Communities of Italy, the musical band "Valletiberina" and the Pontedera section of the National Association of Carabinieri. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

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On the Canonization of 5 Saints

"The Virgin Mary Is the Star That Guides Every Journey of Sanctity"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 11, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today after presiding at the canonization of five new saints, and before praying the Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, we are invited to pray the Angelus. Before reciting it, I would like to address a cordial greeting to all of you, who wanted, by your devout participation, to pay homage to the new saints. A special thought goes to the authorities with the official delegations who have come from various countries: I thank you for your presence.

[In French:]

I greet with joy the French-speaking pilgrims who have come for the occasion of the canonizations. Following the example of St. Jeanne Jugan, I invite you to concern yourselves with the poorest and the least, those who have been wounded by life and the marginalized of our society, above all on the occasion of the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, which will be celebrated in a few days. Remembering the holy Father Damian, I ask you to commit yourselves at the same time to support with your prayer and your works those who generously dedicate themselves to the struggle against leprosy and against other forms of leprosy that are due to lack of love because of ignorance and cowardice. May your prayer accompany the work sessions of the 2nd African Synod. May God bless all of you!

[In English:]

I extend cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims here this Sunday, especially those who have come to Rome in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I also greet the group of survivors of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and I pray that the world may never again witness such mass destruction of innocent human life. May God bless all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I cordially greet the German-speaking pilgrims and especially the recently ordained priests of the German College with their guests. May the Lord give you courage and strength in your ministry! Let us take the new saints as models for our life. Among them there is a saint who is dearly loved in Germany, Father Damian, who lived among the lepers of on the Hawaiian island of Molokai and died of having contracted the disease in the end. Let us invoke the intercession of the holy Bishop Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'sk, of the holy religious Francisco Coll y Guitart, Rafael Arnáiz Barón and Marie de la Croix Jugan, that God may give us today as well many religious vocations. May the Lord accompany all of you with his grace.

[In Spanish:]

I greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims with affection, in particular those who participated in this joyous ceremony of canonization, especially the lord cardinals, the archbishops and bishops who have arrived with them from Spain, a land so bountiful with the fruits of sanctity. The Dominican, St. Francisco Coll, with his priestly and missionary dedicaton, and the Trappist, St. Rafael Arnáiz Barón, with his entirely contemplative soul, both fervently devoted to the Virgin Mary, honor to the best religious tradition and the deeply Christian roots of your people. May the example and the intercession of these new saints reinvigorate in everyone, and especially in the Dominican Sisters of the of the Annunciation, in the Order of Preachers and in the Trappist monks, the commitment to follow Christ in a generous and disinterested way, according to their particular vocation, witnessing to his Gospel in modern society. I also greet the groups from Colombia and from the other Latin American countries.

[In Flemish:]

I greet the Flemish-speaking pilgrims, who have come to Rome to join in the thanksgiving of the Church for the canonization of Father Damian. Consecrated to the Heart of Jesus and Mary, this holy priest was led by God to let a total "yes" bloom in his vocation. May the intercession of Our Lady and the Apostle of the Lepers free the world from leprosy, make us open to the love of God and grant us enthusiasm and joy in the service of our brothers and sisters. With my apostolic benediction.

[In Polish:]

I cordially greet the faithful who have come from Poland, with the cardinals, archbishops and bishops. I greet all the Polish who, celebrating the traditional Day of the Pope, can rejoice in the gift of a new saint: Zygmunt Szcze;sny Felin'ski. I entrust the Church in Poland and the whole nation to his protection. May God bless you!

[In Italian:]

Dear brothers and sisters, the Virgin Mary is the star that guides every journey of sanctity. Her "fiat" is the perfect model of adhesion to the divine will and her "magnificat" expresses the Church’s song of exultation. Already on this earth the Church rejoices in God’s mighty deeds and in heaven praises his glory eternally. We turn to the Mother of Christ with filial confidence, asking, through her intercession and that of the newly canonized saints, for peace and salvation.

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On the Opening of the Synod of Bishops for Africa
"It Is the Lord, His Holy Spirit, Who Guides the Church"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning the Eucharistic Celebration for the opening of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops took place in St. Peter's Basilica, during which prayers were also said in different African languages. My venerable predecessor, John Paul II, convoked the first "African Synod" in 1994, in view of the year 2000 and the third Christian millennium. He, who with his missionary zeal was so many times a pilgrim on African soil, gathered together the contents that emerged from that meeting in the apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Africa," re-launching the evangelization of the continent. 15 years later this new assembly places itself in continuity with the first one, to verify the path taken, to consider certain aspects and to examine the most recent challenges. The theme that was chosen is: "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace," accompanied by the words Christ addressed to his disciples: "You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13, 14).

Synods always constitute an intense ecclesial experience, an experience of pastoral collegial responsibility in regard to a specific aspect of the life of the Church, or rather, as in this case, of a part of the Christian people determined on the basis of a geographic area. The Pope and his closest coworkers join together with the designated members of the assembly, with the experts and auditors, to reflect on the chosen theme. It is important to emphasize that it is not a matter of a study group, nor a programmatic assembly. Communications and speeches are heard in the hall, there is discussion in groups, but we all know that we are not the protagonists: it is the Lord, his Holy Spirit, who guides the Church. The most important thing, for everyone, is listening: listening to each other and, everyone, listening to what the Lord wants to tell us. Thus the Synod takes place in a climate of faith and prayer, in religious obedience to the Word of God. It is the place of the Successor of Peter to convoke and guide the synodal assembly, gather together what emerges from the work and then offer the opportune pastoral instructions.

Dear Friends, Africa is a continent that has an extraordinary human wealth. Currently, its population amounts to nearly 1 billion inhabitants and its total birth rate is the highest in the world. Africa is a land fruitful with human life, but this life is unfortunately marked by such poverty and at times is tormented by terrible injustices. The Church is dedicated to overcome them with the power of the Gospel and the concrete solidarity of many charitable institutions and initiatives. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that she bless the Second Special Assembly for Africa and obtain peace and development for that great and beloved continent.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks in Italian:]

My thought turns, in this moment, to the populations of the Pacific and southeast Asia, stricken in recent days by violent natural calamities: the tsunami in the islands of Samoa and Tonga; the typhoon in the Philippines, that then hit Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia; the devastating earthquake in Indonesia. These catastrophes have caused grave losses of human life, numerous missing and homeless persons and enormous material damage. I think, furthermore, of those who are suffering from the floods in Sicily, especially around Messina. I invite everyone to join me in prayer for the victims and their loved ones. I am spiritually near to those who have been displaced and to all those persons who have been tried, imploring from God the relief of their pain. I ask that these brothers and sisters do not lack our solidarity and the support of the international community.

At the conclusion of the Angelus of this particular Sunday in which I have opened the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, I cannot forget the conflicts that currently threaten the peace and security of the peoples of the African continent. I recent days I have followed with apprehension the grave episodes of violence that have shaken the population of Guinea. I express my condolences to the families of the victims, I invite the parties to dialogue, to reconciliation and I am certain that no efforts will be spared to arrive at an equitable and just solution.

Next Saturday afternoon, October 10, together with the synod fathers, I will lead a special recitation of the Rosary "with Africa and for Africa" in the Hall of Paul VI, with the special participation of young university students of Rome. The students of certain African countries will join in via satellite link. Dear Young University Students, I am expecting many of you, to entrust to Mary, "Sedes Sapientiae" (Seat of Wisdom), the path of the Church and the society of the African continent.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. I invite all of you to join me in praying for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, which opened this morning in Saint Peter's Basilica. May this great ecclesial event strengthen the Church in Africa in her witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in her efforts to promote reconciliation, justice and peace among its peoples. May the Synod also help turn the eyes of the world to that great continent and inspire renewed solidarity with our African brothers and sisters. As we entrust these prayers to the intercession of Our Lady, I invoke upon you and your families God's blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On True Wisdom
"To 'Do' Works of Peace We Need to 'Be' Men of Peace"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 20, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, for the customary Sunday reflection, I will take as my point of departure the passage from the Letter of James that is proposed to us by today’s liturgy (3:16-4:3), and I will pause, in particular, on an expression that is striking for its beauty and contemporary relevance. It has to do with the description of true wisdom that the Apostle contrasts with false wisdom. While the latter is "worldly, material and diabolical, and is recognized by the fact that it provokes jealousies, arguments, disorder and every kind of evil deed" (cf. 3:16), on the contrary "[true] wisdom, which comes from above is first of all pure, then peaceful, meek, docile, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere" (3:17). A list of seven qualities, according to the biblical custom, from which perfection of authentic wisdom comes along with the positive effects that it produces. As first and principal quality, almost the premise for the others, St. James sets down "purity," that is, sanctity, the transparent reflection -- so to say -- of God in the human soul. And, like God, from whom it comes, wisdom does not need to impose itself by force, because it has the invincible vigor of truth and love, that affirms itself. That is why it is peaceful, meek and docile; it does not need to be partial, nor does it need to lie; it is indulgent and generous, it is recognized by the good fruits that it bears in abundance.

Why not stop every once in a while to contemplate the beauty of this wisdom? Why not draw from this unpolluted source of God’s love the wisdom of the heart, which cleanses us from the filth of lies and egoism? This holds true for everyone, but, in the first place, for those who are called to be promoters and "weavers" of peace in religious and civil communities, in social and political relations and in international relations. In our day -- perhaps also because of certain dynamics proper to mass society -- one often sees a lack of respect for truth and the word together with a widespread tendency to aggressiveness, hatred and vendettas. "The fruit of justice is sown in peace by those who make peace," St. James writes (3:18). But to "do" works of peace we need to "be" men of peace, entering the school of "the wisdom that comes from above," to assimilate its qualities and produce its effects. If everyone, in his own circle, succeeds in rejecting the lie and violence in intentions, in words and in actions, carefully cultivating sentiments of respect, understanding and esteem for others, perhaps it would not resolve every daily problem, but we could face them more serenely and effectively.

Dear friends, once more Sacred Scripture leads us to reflect on moral aspects of human existence, but starting from a reality that precedes the same morality, that is, from true wisdom. Let us ask God with confidence for wisdom of heart, through the intercession of her who welcomed Wisdom Incarnate, Jesus Christ, into her womb and gave him birth. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us!

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said in Italian:]

From the numerous conflicts going on in the world, almost daily tragic news reaches us of both military and civilian victims. These facts that we must never get used to and that arouse a profound outcry and perplex societies that have the good of peace and civil coexistence at heart.

In these days, news of the deadly attack in Afghanistan on Italian soldiers gave me great sorrow. In prayer I share in the sufferings of relatives and the civil and military communities and, at the same time, with the same sentiments of participation, I think about the other international contingents, which have also recently had victims and that work to promote peace and the development of the institutions so necessary for human coexistence; I assure all of a remembrance before the Lord, with a special thought for the dear civilian populations, and I invite all to lift up our prayer to God. I would also like here to renew my encouragement for the promotion of solidarity among the nations to fight the logic of violence and death, favor justice, reconciliation, peace and sustain the development of peoples beginning with love and mutual understanding, as I recently wrote in my encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (np. 72).

From next Saturday, September 26, to Monday, September 28, if it pleases God, I will undertake an apostolic visit to the Czech Republic. I will stay in Prague, the capital, but I will also travel to Brno, in Moravia, and to Stará Boleslav, the place where the nation’s principal patron, of St. Wenceslas’, was martyred. The Czech Republic is geographically and historically located in the heart of Europe, and after having passed through the dramas of the last century, she needs, like the rest of the European continent, the reasons for faith and hope. Following in the footsteps of my beloved predecessor John Paul II, who visited that country 3 times, I too will pay homage to the ancient and recent heroic witnesses to the Gospel, and I will encourage everyone to move forward in charity and in truth. I thank all those who will accompany me with prayer on this trip. May the Lord bless it and make it fruitful.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome! Dear friends, this Saturday I begin my Apostolic Visit to the Czech Republic. I ask all of you to join me in praying for the spiritual success of this journey. Today’s Gospel reminds us that the one who wishes to be greatest must become a servant of all. May God grant us to be humble servants of others and witnesses to his goodness. Upon all of you and your loved ones, I gladly invoke the strength and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Expression of Faith Through Works
"The Word of God Puts Two Crucial Questions to Us"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 13, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday, the 24th in Ordinary Time, the Word of God puts two crucial questions to us that I would summarize as: "Who is Jesus of Nazareth for you?" and "Does your faith translate into works or not?" The first question we find in today's Gospel, there where Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29). Peter's answer is clear and immediate: "You are the Christ," that is, the Messiah, the consecrated one of God, sent to save his people.

Peter and the other disciples, then, unlike the majority of the people, believe that Jesus is not only a great teacher, or a prophet, but much more. They have faith: they believe that God is present in him and works in him. Immediately after this profession of faith, however, when Jesus for the first time openly announces that he must suffer and be killed, the same Peter opposes himself to the perspective of suffering and death. So Jesus must strongly reproach him, to make him understand that it is not enough to believe that he is God, but that, moved by charity, he must follow him along the same road, that of the cross (cf. Mark 8:31-33). Jesus did not come to teach us a philosophy, but to show us a way, indeed, "the" way that leads to life.

This way is love, which is the expression of true faith. If a person loves his neighbor with a pure and generous heart, it means that he truly knows God. If instead a person says that he has faith, but does not love his brothers, he is not a true believer. God does not live in him. St. James clearly affirms this in the second reading of this Sunday's Mass: "If [faith] is not followed by works, it is dead" (James 2:17). In this regard I would like to quote from the writings of St. John Chrysostom, one of the great Fathers of the Church, which the liturgical calendar invites us to remember today. Commenting on the exact passage from St. James' Letter, he writes: "One may have a right faith in the Father and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit as well, but if he does not live in the right way, his faith will be useless for salvation. So, when you read in the Gospel: 'This is eternal life: that they know you, the one true God' (John 17:3), do not think that this verse is enough to save us: a most pure life and a most pure conduct" (Cited in J.A. Cramer, "Catenae graecorum Patrum in N.T., vol. VIII: In Epist. Cath. et Apoc.," Oxford 1844).

Dear Friends, tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and the following day Our Lady of Sorrows. The Virgin Mary, who believed in the Lord's Word, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, offended and put on a cross. Rather she stayed with Jesus, suffering and praying, to the end. And she saw the radiant sunrise of his resurrection. Let us learn from her to bear witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to suffer personally to remain faithful to the Gospel of charity and truth, certain that nothing of what we do will be lost.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I extend heartfelt greetings to the English-speaking visitors here today. In the Gospel this Sunday, Jesus puts a question to his disciples: Who do you say I am? On behalf of the others, it is Peter who answers: You are the Christ. Throughout history, it has been the task of Peter's successors to continue to make that proclamation of faith in Jesus Christ. And all of us are called to join Peter as we resolve to place the Lord at the centre of our lives. I pray that all of you may grow in your faith and love for the Lord and I invoke his blessings upon you and upon your loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Viterbo, the "City of Popes"

"Confirm Your Brothers"

VITERBO, Italy, SEPT. 6, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus in Viterbo, where he spent the day in a pastoral visit.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the end of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, I once again thank the Lord for having giving me the joy to pay this pastoral visit to your diocesan community. I have come among you to encourage you and confirm you in fidelity to Christ, as the theme that you have chosen indicates: "Confirm your brothers" (Luke 22:31). These words of Jesus were directed to the Apostle Peter during the Last Supper, entrusting to him the task of being the pastor of his entire Church here on earth.

For many centuries your diocese has distinguished itself by a singular bond of affection and communion with the Successor of Peter. I was able to experience this visiting the Palazzo dei Papi (Palace of Popes) and, in particular, the hall of the "Conclave." St. Leo the Great, who performed a great service to truth in charity through an assiduous exercise of the word, as his sermons and letters bear witness, was born in the vast territory of ancient Tuscia. Pope Sabinian, successor of Gregory the Great, was born in Blera; Paul III was born in Canino. Viterbo was chosen for the whole second half of the 12th century as the residence of the Roman Pontiffs: Five of my predecessors were elected here, and four of them are interred here; more than 50 have visited -- the last was the Servant of God John Paul II, 25 years ago. These figures have a historical significance, but I would like to stress their spiritual value above all at this moment. Viterbo has been justly named "City of Popes," and for you this constitutes a further stimulus to live and witness to the Christian faith, the same faith that the holy martyrs Valentino and Ilario -- who rest in the cathedral -- gave their lives for. They are the first of a long line of saints, martyrs and blesseds from your land.

"Confirm your brothers:" Today I felt this invitation of the Lord addressed to me with a singular intensity. Pray, dear Brothers and Sisters, that I might be able to carry out the mission of the pastors of the entire flock of Christ with ever greater fidelity and love (cf. John 21:15 ff.). For my part I assure you of a constant remembrance in the Lord for your diocesan community, so that its different articulations -- whose symbolic representation I was able to admire in the cathedral's new bronze doors -- will tend more and more to a complete unity and fraternal communion, indispensable conditions for offering the world an efficacious evangelical testimony. I will entrust these intentions this afternoon to the Virgin Mary in my visit to the shrine of the Madonna della Quercia (the Madonna of the Oak). Now, with the prayer that recalls her "yes" to the angel's announcement, let us ask her always to keep our faith strong and joyful.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said in Italian:]

I would now like to address a cordial greeting to the participants in the International Congress "Men and Religions," which is convening in Krakow on the theme: "Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue." Numerous figures and representatives of the various religions -- invited by the Archdiocese of Krakow and the Community of Sant'Egidio -- are gathered to reflect and pray for peace, 70 years after the outbreak of World War II. We cannot fail to recall the dramatic events that brought on one of the most terrible conflicts in history, that caused tens of millions of deaths and provoked so much suffering among the beloved Polish people; a conflict that saw the tragedy of the Holocaust and the extermination of many other innocent people. May the memory of these events move us to pray for the victims and for those who still carry wounds in their bodies and hearts; may it also be an admonishment to all not to repeat such barbarities and to intensify the efforts to create in our time, marked by conflicts and oppositions, an enduring peace, transmitting above all to the new generations, a culture and a lifestyle shaped by love, solidarity and esteem for the other. In this perspective, what is especially important is the contributions that religions can and must make in promoting forgiveness and reconciliation against violence, racism, totalitarianism and the extremism that disfigure the image of the Creator in man, erase God from the horizon and, consequently, lead to the scorn of man himself. May the Lord help you to build peace beginning from love and from mutual understanding (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," no. 72).

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On Marriage and Virginity

"Intimately Connected and Mutually Illuminate Each Other"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 30, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo for the praying of the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

3 days ago, Aug. 27, we celebrated the liturgical memorial of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. She is considered the model and patroness of Christian mothers. Her son furnishes us with information about her in his autobiographical book, "The Confessions," a masterpiece and among the most read books of all time. Here we see that Augustine drinks in the name of Jesus with his mother's milk, and was educated by her in the Christian religion, whose principles would remain with him even in the years when he had hit bottom spiritually and morally.

Monica never ceases to pray for him and for his conversion, and had the consolation of seeing him return to the faith and receive baptism. God heard the prayers of this saintly mother, to whom the Bishop of Tagaste had said: "It is impossible that the son of so many tears will be lost." In fact, Augustine not only converted, but decided to embrace the monastic life and, returning to Africa, found a community of monks. The last conversations between him and his mother at a house in Ostia, while he was waiting to embark for Africa, are moving and edifying.

By this time St. Monica had become for this son of hers "more than a mother, the source of his Christianity." For years her only desire had been Augustine's conversion, whom she now indeed saw oriented toward a life of consecration to the service of God. She could thus die content, and in fact she passed away on Aug. 27, 387, at 56, after having asked her children not to be too concerned about where to bury her, but to remember her at the altar of the Lord wherever they found themselves. St. Augustine repeated that his mother "gave birth to him twice."

The history of Christianity is spangled with the countless examples of saints and authentic Christian families, who accompanied the life of generous priests and pastors of the Church. One thinks of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen, both from families of saints. We think -- much closer to us -- of Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, a married couple, who lived between the end of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th, and who were beatified by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in October of 2001, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris Consortio." This document, besides illustrating the value of matrimony and the tasks of the family, calls the spouses to a special commitment on the path to sanctity that, drawing grace and strength from the sacrament of marriage, accompanies them their whole life (cf. No. 56).

When the husband and wife generously dedicate themselves to the education of their children, guiding and orienting them in the discovery of God's design of life, they are preparing that fertile spiritual soil from which vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life grow and mature. In this way one sees how matrimony and virginity are intimately connected and mutually illuminate each other, beginning with their common rootedness in Christ's spousal love.

Dear brothers and sisters, in this Year for Priests, we pray that, "through the intercession of the holy Curé d'Ars, Christian families become little churches, in which all the Christian vocations and all charisms, given by the Holy Spirit, can be welcomed and valued" (from the Prayer for the Year for Priests). May the Holy Virgin, whom we now invoke together, obtain this grace for us.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

On Tuesday, September 1, the Day for the Protection of Creation will be celebrated in Italy. It is a significant event, even of ecumenical importance, that has as its theme this year "air," an indispensable element for life. As I did in last Wednesday’s general audience, I call everyone to a greater commitment to the safeguarding of creation, gift of God. In particular, I encourage the industrialized countries to cooperate responsibly for the future of the planet, and that the poorest populations not pay the greatest price for climactic changes.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, the Holy Father said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors at this Angelus including the first year seminarians from the Pontifical North American College. May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your integral understanding of our faith and strengthen in you the desire to be consistent in word and deed, following the heart and mind of our Lord. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God’s blessing of peace and joy!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Scandal of the Christian Faith

"Jesus’ Teaching Seems Hard"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 23, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo for the praying of the midday Angelus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

These past few Sundays, the liturgy has proposed for our reflection Chapter 6 of John's Gospel in which Jesus presents himself as the "bread of life come down from heaven," adding: "If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

To the Jews who heatedly dispute among themselves, asking: "How can he give us his flesh to eat?" (6:52), Jesus stresses: "If you do not eat of the flesh of the Son of man or drink of his blood, you shall not have life within you" (6:53). Today, the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, we meditate on the concluding part of this chapter, in which the Fourth Evangelist relates the reaction of the people and of the disciples themselves, scandalized by the words of the Lord, to the point that many, after having followed him up till that time, exclaim: "This is a hard saying! Who can listen to it?" (6:60). And from that moment "many of his disciples left and no longer traveled with him" (6:66). Jesus, however, does not soften his statements, indeed, he turns to the Twelve directly and asks: "Do you also wish to leave?" (6:67).

This provocative question is not addressed only to the people of that time, but to the believers and men of every age. Today too, not a few are scandalized by the paradox of the Christian faith. Jesus' teaching seems "hard," too difficult to put into practice. There are thus those who reject it and abandon Christ; there are those who try to "adapt" the word to the fashions of the times, distorting its meaning and value.

"Do you also wish to leave?" This disturbing provocation resounds in our hearts and awaits a personal response from each person. Jesus in fact is not satisfied with a superficial and formal following, a first and enthusiastic adhesion is not sufficient for him; on the contrary, we must take part "in his thinking and in his willing" all of our lives. Following him fills the heart with joy and gives complete meaning to our existence, but it brings difficulties and renunciations because very often we must go against the current.

"Do you also wish to leave?" To Jesus' question Peter responds in the name of the Apostles: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (6:68-69).

Dear brothers and sisters, we too can repeat Peter's answer, aware of course of our human fragility, but confident in the power of the Holy Spirit, who expresses himself and manifests himself in communion with Jesus. Faith is a gift of God to man and it is, at the same time, man's free and total entrusting of himself to God; faith is the docile listening to the word of the Lord, that is the "lamp" for our steps and the "light" on our way (cf. Psalm 119:105).

If we open our hearts to Christ with confidence, if we let ourselves be conquered by him, we too can experience, together with the Curé d'Ars, "that our only happiness on this earth is to love God and to know that he loves us." Let us ask the Virgin Mary always to keep alive in us this faith impregnated by love, which made her, the humble girl of Nazareth, Mother of God and model for all believers.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

Today the 30th edition of the "Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples" has opened in Rimini, [Italy], taking as its title "Knowledge Is Always an Event." In addressing a cordial greeting to those who are taking part in this significant gathering, I hope that it will be a propitious occasion for understanding that "[k]nowing is not simply a material act, since ... [i]n all knowledge and in every act of love the human soul experiences something ‘over and above,' which seems very much like a gift that we receive, or a height to which we are raised" ("Caritas in Veritate," No. 77).

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, the Holy Father said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Angelus. May your visit to Castel Gandolfo and Rome strengthen your faith in our Lord, the Holy One of God, and renew your desire to share the peace of his kingdom with others. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke God's blessings of true happiness and joy!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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More Saints of August
"Love Triumphs Over Death"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 9 before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Like last Sunday, today too in the context of the Year for Priests that we are celebrating, we shall pause to meditate on some of the men and women Saints that the liturgy commemorates in these days.

Except for the Virgin Clare of Assisi, who was consumed with divine love in her daily sacrifice of prayer and community life, the others are martyrs, two of whom were killed in the concentration camp at Auschwitz: St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, who, born into the Jewish faith and won over by Christ as an adult, became a Carmelite nun and sealed her existence with martyrdom; and St Maximilian Kolbe, a son of Poland and of St Francis of Assisi, a great apostle of Mary Immaculate.

We shall then encounter other splendid figures, martyrs of the Church of Rome, such as Pope St. Pontianus, St. Hippolytus, a priest, and St. Lawrence the Deacon. What marvellous models of holiness the Church presents to us! These saints are witnesses of that charity which loves "to the end", which does not take into account a wrong suffered but instead combats it with good (cf. 1 Cor 13: 4-8).

From them we can learn especially we priests the evangelical heroism that impels us to give our life fearlessly for the salvation of souls. Love triumphs over death!

All the saints, but especially martyrs, are witnesses of God, who is Love: Deus Caritas est. The Nazi concentration camps, like all extermination camps, can be considered extreme symbols of evil, of hell that opens on earth when man forgets God and supplants him, usurping his right to decide what is good and what is evil, to give life and death.

However, this sad phenomenon is unfortunately not limited to concentration camps. Rather, they are the culmination of an extensive and widespread reality, often with shifting boundaries.

The Saints whom I have briefly recalled lead us to reflect on the profound divergences that exist between atheistic humanism and Christian humanism. This antithesis permeates the whole of history but with the contemporary nihilism, at the end of the second millennium, it has reached a crucial point, as great literary figures and thinkers have perceived and as events have amply demonstrated.

On the one hand, there are philosophies and ideologies, but there are also always more ways of thinking and acting that exalt freedom as the unique principle of the human being, as an alternative to God, and which in this way transform the human being into a god, but an erroneous god who makes arbitrariness his own system of behaviour.

On the other hand, we have the Saints who, in practising the Gospel of charity, account for their hope. They show the true Face of God who is Love and, at the same time, the authentic face of man, created in the divine image and likeness.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray the Virgin Mary to help all of us and in the first place priests to be holy like these heroic witnesses of faith and of self-dedication to the point of martyrdom. And charity in truth is the only credible and exhaustive response one can offer to the profound human and spiritual crisis of the contemporary world.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. The readings from today's Mass invite us to put our faith in Jesus, the "bread of life" who offers himself to us in the Eucharist and promises us eternal joy in the house of the Father. During these summer holidays, may you and your families respond to the Lord's invitation by actively participating in the Eucharistic sacrifice and through generous acts of charity. Upon all of you I invoke his blessings of joy and peace!

A good Sunday to you all!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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ANGELUS

Mary's "Yes" and Our "Yes"
She "Has Been 'Elevated' to the Place From Which the Son Had 'Come Down'"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 17, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

Yesterday we celebrated the great feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven and today we read in the Gospel these words from Jesus: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven" (John 6:51). We cannot remain indifferent to this parallel, which revolves around the symbol of "heaven." Mary has been "elevated" to the place from which the Son had "come down."

Naturally this biblical language expresses with figurative terminology something that does not entirely enter into the world of our concepts and images. But, let us pause for a moment to reflect. Jesus presents himself as the "living bread," that is, the nourishment that contains the very life of God and is capable of giving [this life] to one who eats of him, the true nourishment that gives life, that deeply nourishes. Jesus says: "Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world" (John 6:51).

But then, from whom has the Son of God taken his "flesh," his concrete and earthly humanity? He took it from the Virgin Mary. God took from her a human body to enter into our mortal human condition. In turn, at the end of an earthly existence, the body of the Virgin was taken to heaven by God and brought to enter into the celestial condition. This is an interchange in which God always takes the initiative, but in which in a certain sense, as we have seen on other occasions, he also has need of Mary, of the "yes" of a creature, of her flesh, of her concrete existence, to prepare the matter of his sacrifice: the body and blood to be offered on the cross as an instrument of eternal life, and, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as spiritual food and drink.

Dear brothers and sisters: What happened to Mary is also valid, though in a different but real way, for every man and woman, because God asks each of us to welcome him, to place at his disposal our hearts and our bodies, the whole of our existence, our flesh -- as the Bible says -- so that he can dwell in the world.

He calls us to unite ourselves with him in the sacrament of the Eucharist, Bread broken for the life of the world, to together form the Church, his Body in history. And if we say "yes," like Mary, in the same measure of this our "yes," this mysterious interchange will also happen for us and in us: We will be assumed into the dignity of the One who has assumed our humanity.

The Eucharist is the means, the instrument of this reciprocal transformation, which always has God as the goal and the principal protagonist: He is the Head and we are the members. He is the Vine and we the branches. Whoever eats of this Bread and lives in communion with Jesus, allowing himself to be transformed by him and in him, is saved from eternal death: Certainly this person will die as everyone does, participating as well in the mystery of the passion and the cross of Christ, but he is no longer a slave of death and he will be raised up on the last day to enjoy the eternal feast with Mary and all the saints.

This mystery, this feast of God begins here below: It is a mystery of faith, hope and love, which is celebrated in the liturgy, especially the Eucharistic [liturgy], and is expressed in fraternal communion and service to our neighbor. Let us ask the holy Virgin to help us to always with faith nourish ourselves on the Bread of eternal life to experience already on earth the joy of heaven.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed the crowd in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. May your time here at Castel Gandolfo and in Rome deepen your faith in our Lord, the living bread, who brings us the gift of eternal life. Upon you and your families I invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Saints of August
"Real Models of Spirituality and Priestly Devotion"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 17, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in the courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo, on Aug. 2.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I returned a few days ago from the Val d'Aosta and it is with great pleasure that I am with you once again, dear friends of Castel Gandolfo. To the Bishop, the parish priest and the parish community, to the civil Authorities and the entire population of Castel Gandolfo, along with the pilgrims as well as the holiday-makers, I renew my affectionate greeting together with a heartfelt "thank you" for your ever cordial welcome. I also thank you for the spiritual closeness that many people expressed to me in Les Combes at the time of the small accident to my right wrist.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Year for Priests that we are celebrating is a precious opportunity to deepen our knowledge of the value of the mission of priests in the Church and in the world. In this regard, useful ideas for reflection can be found in remembering the saints whom the Church holds up to us daily.

In these first days of the month of August, for example, we commemorate some who are real models of spirituality and priestly devotion. Yesterday was the liturgical Memorial of St Alphonsus Mary de' Liguori, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, a great teacher of moral theology and a model of Christian and pastoral virtues who was ever attentive to the religious needs of the people. Today we are contemplating St Francis of Assisi's ardent love for the salvation of souls which every priest must always foster. In fact today is the feast of the "Pardon of Assisi", which St Francis obtained from Pope Honorious III in the year 1216, after having a vision while he was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula.

Jesus appeared to him in his glory, with the Virgin Mary on his right and surrounded by many Angels. They asked him to express a wish and Francis implored a "full and generous pardon" for all those who would visit that church who "repented and confessed their sins". Having received papal approval, the Saint did not wait for any written document but hastened to Assisi and when he reached the Portiuncula announced the good news: "Friends, the Lord wants to have us all in Heaven!". Since then, from noon on 1 August to midnight on the second, it has been possible to obtain, on the usual conditions, a Plenary Indulgence, also for the dead, on visiting a parish church or a Franciscan one.

What can be said of St John Mary Vianney whom we shall commemorate on 4 August? It was precisely to commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death that I announced the Year for Priests. I promise to speak again of this humble parish priest who constitutes a model of priestly life not only for parish priests but for all priests at the Catechesis of the General Audience next Wednesday. Then on 7 August it will be the Memorial of St Cajetan da Thiene, who used to like to say: "it is not with sentimental love but rather with loving actions that souls are purified".

And the following day, 8 August, the Church will point out as a model St Dominic, of whom it has been written that he only "opened his mouth either to speak to God in prayer or to speak of God". Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the great figure of Pope Montini, Paul VI, the 31st anniversary of whose death, here in Castel Gandolfo, occurs on 6 August. His life, so profoundly priestly and so rich in humanity, continues to be a gift to the Church for which we thank God. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, help priests to be totally in love with Christ, after the example of these models of priestly holiness.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, including the international pilgrimage group of Sisters of St Felix of Cantalice. In today's Gospel, Jesus tells us to work for the food that remains unto life eternal. During these quiet days of summer, may all of us find spiritual nourishment in "the bread come down from heaven", offered to us daily in God's holy word and in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!

[In Italian, he said:]

Lastly, I address my cordial greetings to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, and first of all to the citizens of Castel Gandolfo to which I always return joyfully and where today the traditional Peach Festival is being held. I greet in particular the young people from the parishes of San Giovanni Battista and Santa Maria Assunta in Monterosso Almo and all the parish groups and families, including those who are watching us at this moment on the screens set up in St Peter's Square, Rome. I wish you all a good Sunday and a peaceful month of August.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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On Helping Jesus in His Mission

"Priests Become Instruments of Salvation"

INTROD, Italy, JULY 26, 2009 - Here is a translation of the text of the address Benedict XVI gave before reciting the Angelus at midday today with the faithful gathered at Les Combes in northern Italy's Aosta Valley where the Pope is vacationing.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

A good Sunday to you! We meet here in Les Combes, near the welcoming house that the Salesians have placed at the Pope's disposition, where I am ending the period of rest among the beautiful mountains of the Aosta Valley. I am grateful to God that he has conceded me the joy of these days marked by true relaxation -- despite the little accident about which you know well. I would like to take this occasion to affectionately thank those who eagerly accompanied me with discretion and with great dedication. I greet Cardinal Poletto and the bishops present here, especially the Bishop of Aosta, Monsignor Giuseppe Anfossi, whom I thank for the words that he spoke to me. I cordially greet the curate of Les Combes, the civil and military authorities, the police, and all of you, dear friends, as also those who are joined to us by radio and television.

Today, on this splendid Sunday on which the Lord shows us all the beauty of his creation, the liturgy provides the beginning of Chapter 6 of the Gospel of John as the Gospel passage. Here we have the miracle of the loaves -- when Jesus feeds thousands of persons with only five loaves and two fish; then the other prodigy of the Lord walking on the waters of the stormy lake; and finally the sermon in which he reveals himself as "the bread of life."

Narrating the "sign" of the loaves, the evangelist emphasizes that Christ, before distributing them, blessed them with a prayer of thanksgiving (cf. 6:11). The [Greek] verb is "eucharistein" and points directly to the account of the Last Supper, in which, in effect, John does not treat the institution of the Eucharist but rather the washing of the feet. Here the Eucharist is anticipated as the great sign of the bread of life.

In this Year for Priests, how can we not recall that we priests can be especially reflected in this Johannine text, identifying ourselves with the Apostles, where it says: Where can we find bread for all these people? And reading about that anonymous boy who has five loaves and two fish, we too spontaneously say: But what is this for such a multitude? In other words: What am I? How can I, with my limitations, help Jesus in his mission? And the Lord gives the answer: Precisely by putting into his "holy and venerable" hands the little that they are, priests become instruments of salvation for many, for all!

Another point for reflection comes to us from today's Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary and, therefore, grandparents of Jesus. This feast makes us think about the topic of education, which has such an important place in the pastoral work of the Church. In particular, it invites us to pray for grandparents, who, in the family, are the depositaries and the witnesses of the fundamental values of life. The educational task of grandparents is always very important, and it becomes even more so when, for different reasons, the parents are not able to ensure an adequate presence to their children, while they are growing up.

I entrust to the protection of Anne and Joachim all the grandparents of the world, giving them a special blessing. May the Virgin Mary, who, according to certain beautiful artistic renderings, learned to read sacred Scriptures at the knee of her mother, Anne, help grandparents to always nourish their faith and hope at the font of the Word of God.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present today. Thank you for joining me here in Les Combes to pray the Angelus. I hope that your holidays may be a time of great joy, spent together as families, and of deep spiritual renewal, as you rest in the marvel of God's gift of creation. May the Almighty abundantly bless each of you and your loved ones.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Economic Crisis and Cultural Values

"Providence Always Helps Those Who Do Good"

ROMANO CANAVESE, Italy, JULY 19, 2009 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus in Romano Canavese, close to Les Combes in the Aosta Valley of northern Italy where he is spending some vacation days.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I have come with great joy to your beautiful city, to your beautiful church, the native city of my chief colleague, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, with whom I had already worked for many years in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

As you see, because of my accident, I am a bit limited in my movements, but my heart is fully present, and I am here with you with great joy!

At this moment I would like to say thank you with my whole heart to everyone: many have shown me, at this time, their closeness, their warmth, their affection and have prayed for me, and in this way they have reinforced the network of prayer that unites us in every part of the world.

First of all, I would like to say thank you to the doctors and the medical personnel of Aosta who have treated me with such diligence, with such competence and friendship and -- as you see -- with success -- we hope!

I would also like to say thank you to all the government and Church officials and to all the simple people who wrote me or showed me their affection and their closeness.

I would then like above all to greet your bishop, Bishop Arrigo Miglio, and thank him for the kind words, full of friendship, that also taught me a little about the historical and present situation of this city of yours. And I would also like to thank his Excellency Luigi Betazzi for his presence. I greet the mayor, who gave me a beautiful gift, [and] the civil and military authorities; I greet the pastor and the other priests, the men and women religious, the heads of the ecclesiastical associations and movements and all of the citizenry, with a special thought for the children, the young people, the families, the sick, the persons in need. To all and to each my most lively gratitude goes out for the welcome that you have reserved for me in this brief sojourn with you.

This morning you celebrated the Eucharist and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has certainly already explained the Word of God to you, which the liturgy offers for our meditation on this 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time. As the Lord invites the disciples to come away to listen to him in a more intimate setting, I also would like to be engaged with you, recalling that precisely listening to and welcoming the Gospel is what brought your local community about, whose name recalls the relationship of two millennia that the Canavese have with Rome. As his Excellency said, your land was bathed in the blood of martyrs at an early date. Among them was St. Solutore -- I must confess that until now I did not know his name but I am always grateful to discover new saint intercessors! -- and together with St. Peter the Apostle, he is the patron of your church.

Your imposing parish church is an eloquent witness to a long history of faith. This church dominates a large part of the Canavese landscape, whose inhabitants are known for their love and attachment to work. Presently, however, I know that here too, in Ivrea, many families are experiencing a difficult economic situation because of the scarcity of jobs. In regard to this problem -- as his Excellency also recalled -- I have spoken many times and I wanted to treat it more deeply in my recent encyclical "Caritas in Veritate." I hope that it will be able to mobilize forces to renew the world!

Dear friends, do not be discouraged! Providence always helps those who do good and dedicate themselves to justice; it helps those who do not think only of themselves but of those who are worse off. And you know this well, because your grandparents had to emigrate because there was a lack of work, but then economic development brought well-being and others immigrated here from [other parts of] Italy and from foreign countries. The fundamental values of the family and respect for human life, sensibility for social justice, the capacity to endure toil and sacrifice, the strong link to Christian faith through parish life and especially through participation at Holy Mass, have been your strength over the centuries. These same values will permit today's generations to build their future with hope, giving life to a true solidarity and a fraternal society, in which all the various spheres, institutions and economy are permeated by an evangelical spirit.

I address the young people in a special way, who must think about education. Here, as everywhere, you must ask what sort of culture is emerging around you; what examples and models are proposed to you, and you must determine whether they are such as to encourage you to follow the ways of the Gospel and authentic freedom. Youth is full of resources, but it must be helped to overcome the temptation of easy and illusory ways, to find the road of true and abundant life.

Dear brothers and sisters! In this land of yours, rich in Christian traditions and human values, numerous vocations have flourished among men and women, especially for the Salesian family, like that of Cardinal Bertone, who was born in this very parish of yours, was baptized in this church, and grew up in a family where he assimilated a genuine faith. Your diocese owes much to the sons and daughters of Don Bosco, to their widespread and fruitful presence in this whole area from the time when the holy founder was still alive. May this be a further encouragement to your diocesan community to commit itself more and more to the field of education and vocational accompaniment. For this let us invoke the protection of Mary, the Virgin Assumed, Patroness of the Diocese, Help of Christians, a mother loved and venerated in a special way in numerous shrines dedicated to her among the mountains of the Gran Paradiso and on the plain of the Po. May her maternal presence show the way of hope to all and lead them along it as the star led the Magi. May the Madonna of the Star watch over all you from the hill that dominates Ivrea, Monte Stella, which is dedicated to her and to the Magi Kings. Let us now entrust ourselves to the Madonna with filial confidence, invoking her with the prayer of the Angelus.

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On the G-8 Summit
"The Proclamation of Christ Is the First and Principal Factor of Development"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In recent days everyone's attention has been on the G-8 summit in L'Aquila, a city that has suffered so much from the earthquake. Some of the topics on the agenda were dramatically urgent. In the world there are social inequalities and structural injustices that are no longer tolerable, that demand, besides the right and proper immediate interventions, a coordinated strategy to find long lasting general solutions. During the summit the heads of state and of governments of the G-8 again stressed the necessity of arriving at common accords with the purpose of assuring humanity a better future.

The Church does not have technical solutions to present, but, as an expert in humanity, she offers to everyone the teaching of the sacred Scripture on the truth about man and proclaims the Gospel of Love and justice. Last Wednesday, commenting on the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" during the general audience -- the encyclical was published on the eve of the G-8 summit -- I said that "[a] new economic plan is needed that will reshape development in a global way, basing itself on the fundamental ethics of responsibility before God and before man as a creature of God." This is because -- as I wrote in the encyclical -- "[i]n an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family" (No. 7).

Already the great Pontiff, Paul VI, in the encyclical "Populorum Progressio," recognized and pointed to the global horizon of the social question. Following the same route, I too indicated the need to dedicate "Caritas in Veritate" to such a question, that, in our time, has become a "radically anthropological question," in the sense, that is, that the way itself of conceiving man is more and more placed in the hands of man himself by modern biotechnology (cf. ibid. No. 75). The solutions to the current problems of humanity cannot be merely technical, but must take account of all the needs of the person, who is endowed with soul and body, and must thus take the Creator, God, into consideration. The "absolutism of technology," which finds its highest expression in certain practices that are contrary to life, could design gloomy scenarios for the future of humanity. The deeds that do not respect the true dignity of the person, even when they seem to be based on a "loving decision," are in reality the fruit of a "materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life" that reduces love without truth to "an empty shell, filled in an arbitrary way" (cf. No. 6) and could in this way lead to negative effects for integral human development.

Despite the complexity of the current situation of the world, the Church looks to the future with hope and reminds Christians that "the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal factor of development." Precisely today in the collect of the Mass, the Church invites us to pray: "Grant us, Father, not to hold anything more dear than your Son, who reveals to the world the mystery of your love and the true dignity of man." May the Virgin Mary obtain for us [the grace] to walk the path of development with our whole heart and intelligence, "that is to say, with the ardor of charity and the wisdom of truth" (cf. No. 8).

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. Here is a translation of the some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

In these days I am following the events in Honduras with lively concern. Today I would like to invite you to pray for that dear country so that, through the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Suyapa, the authorities of the nation and all its inhabitants can patiently follow the way of dialogue, of reciprocal understanding, and reconciliation. That is possible if, overcoming particularist tendencies, everyone makes an effort to seek the truth and pursue the common good with tenacity: This is the condition for assuring peaceful coexistence and authentic democratic life! I assure the beloved Honduran people of my prayer and impart a special apostolic benediction.

Tomorrow, if it pleases God, I will depart for a brief period of rest in the mountains. I will travel to Valle d'Aosta, to Les Combes, an area that is celebrated for the sojourns of my beloved predecessor John Paul II and also much loved by me. In saying "goodbye" to St. Peter's Square and to the city of Rome, I invite all to accompany me with prayer. Prayer does not know distances and separations: wherever we are, it makes us one heart and one soul.

In regard to departures, I will take this occasion once again to stress the duty of all to be prudent in driving and to respect highway laws. A good vacation truly begins with this!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here today. I know that some of you have come from as far away as Sydney, Australia, and I extend a particular welcome to you, remembering the joyful celebration of World Youth Day in your city almost exactly a year ago. To all who are on pilgrimage or on holiday at this time, I offer the assurance of my prayers that you will find refreshment in body and spirit and an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving. May God bestow his blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Shedding of Blood

"When Will Men Learn That Life Is Sacred?"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the past, the first Sunday of July was characterized by devotion to the most precious Blood of Christ. In the last century some of my venerable predecessors confirmed this [tradition] and Blessed John XXIII, with his apostolic letter "Inde a Primis" (June 30, 1960), explained its meaning and approved its litanies.

The theme of blood linked to that of the Paschal Lamb is of primary importance in sacred Scripture. In the Old Testament the sprinkling of the blood of sacrificed animals represented and established the covenant between God and the people, as one reads in the Book of Exodus: "Then Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you on the basis of all these words of his'" (Exodus 24:8).

Jesus explicitly repeats this formula at the Last Supper, when, offering the chalice to his disciples, he says: "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28). And, from the scourging, to the piercing of his side after his death on the cross, Christ has really shed all of his blood as the true Lamb immolated for universal redemption. The salvific value of his blood is expressively affirmed in many passages of the New Testament.

In this Year for Priests, one need only cite the beautiful lines of the Letter to the Hebrews: "Christ ... entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer's ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God?" (9:11-14).

Dear brothers, it is written in Genesis that the blood of Abel, killed by his brother Cain, cried out to God from the earth (cf. 4:10). And, unfortunately, today as yesterday, this cry does not cease, since human blood continues to run because of violence, injustice and hatred. When will men learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will men understand that we are all brothers? To the cry of the blood that goes up from many parts of the earth, God answers with the blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not answer evil with evil, but with good, with his infinite love. The blood of Christ is the pledge of the faithful love of God for humanity. Looking upon the wounds of the Crucified, every man, even in conditions of extreme moral misery, can say: God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he gave his life for me -- and in this way rediscover hope. May the Virgin Mary, who beneath the cross, together with the apostle John, witnessed the testament of Jesus' blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable riches of this grace, and to feel profound and perennial gratitude for it.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. Here is a translation of the some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

In recent days we have been touched by the tragedy in Viareggio. I join in the sorrow of all those who lost persons dear to them, those who were injured, and those whose property was damaged, even severely. As I lift up my sorrowful prayer to God for all the persons involved in the tragedy, I hope tha t similar accidents no more occur and that everyone be guaranteed security in work and in the living of daily life. May God receive the dead into his peace, bring quick healing to the injured and instill comfort in the hearts of those whose loved ones have been affected.

I express, further, my profound deploration of the attack in Cotabato in the Philippines, where the explosion of a bomb in front of the cathedral during the celebration of Sunday Mass killed and injured many people, including women and children. As I pray to God for the victims of this ignoble act, I raise up my voice to condemn once again recourse to violence, which never constitutes a worthy way to solve problems.

The bishop of Bolzano-Bressanone has informed me that July 8-12 the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] World Youth Championships will take place in Bressanone. I am glad to address my greetings to the organizers and to all the young athletes and to wish for serene and healthy competition, in a genuine sportive spirit.

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On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
"Resist Being Conformed to the Mentality of This World"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we solemnly celebrate the holy apostles, Peter and Paul, special patrons of the Church of Rome: Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, "the first to confess the faith … [who] gathered the earliest Church from among the flock of Israel"; Paul, the former persecutor of Christians who "proclaimed [the faith's] deepest mysteries […] the teacher and doctor who announced salvation to all people" (cf. Preface of the Mass for today).

In one of his homilies to the community of Rome, Pope St. Leo the Great affirmed, "These are your fathers and true pastors, who have established you so that you would thus be inserted into the heavenly kingdom" (Sermo I in Nat. App Petri et Pauli, c I, PL 54,422). On the occasion of this feast, I would like to direct a particularly warm greeting, joined to my fervent wishes of congratulations, to the diocesan community of Rome, which Divine Providence has entrusted to my care as the Successor of the Apostle Peter. It is a greeting that I happily extend to all the inhabitants of our city and the pilgrims and tourists who are visiting us during this time, which also coincides with the closing of the Pauline year.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless you and protect you through the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul! As your pastor, I exhort you to remain faithful to your Christian vocation, to resist being conformed to the mentality of this world -- as the Apos tle to the Gentiles wrote precisely to the Christians of Rome -- and always to allow yourselves to be transformed and renewed by the Gospel, to follow what is truly good and pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:2).

I pray constantly for this, so that Rome will keep alive its Christian vocation, not only conserving unaltered its immense spiritual and cultural patrimony, but also so that its residents can turn the beauty of the faith they have received into concrete ways of thinking and acting, and thereby offer to those who arrive to this city for various reasons, an atmosphere full of humanity and Gospel values. Therefore -- in the words of St. Peter -- I invite you, dear brothers and sisters, disciples of Christ, to be "living stones," packed together around him who is the "living stone, rejected by men, but chosen and precious in the sight of God" (cf. 1 Peter 2:4).

Today's solemnity also has a universal character: It expresses the unity and catholicity of the Church. That's why every year on this date, the new metropolitan archbishops come to Rome to receive the pallium, the symbol of communion with the Successor of Peter. I renew my greeting to these brothers in the episcopate for whom this morning in the basilica I have performed this gesture, and the faithful who accompany them.

I also warmly greet the delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has come to Rome, like every year, for the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul. May the common veneration of these martyrs be a pledge for a communion among Christians from every part of the world that is ever more complete and heartfelt. For this, let us invoke the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of the one Church of Christ, with the customary recitation of the Angelus.

[After the prayer, the Holy Father continued in Italian:]

The publication of my third encyclical is near. [It] is called "Caritas in Veritate." Taking up again the social themes in "Populorum Progressio," written by the Servant of God Paul VI in 1967, this document -- dated in fact today, June 29, feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul -- aims to go deeper in certain aspects of the integral development of our age, in the light of charity in truth. I entrust to your prayer this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in its commitment to sustainable progress, in full respect of human dignity and the real needs everyone has.

[Then the Pope greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus, including the new Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the pallium, accompanied by their relatives and friends. I also extend a warm welcome to the Delegation of the Patriarch of Constantinople, present for this joyous celebration. Ma y the Apostles Peter and Paul inspire all Christians, and especially our new Archbishops, to continue to bear clear and generous witnesses to the Gospel. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On St. Paul, Model of Love for Christ

"A Priest Who Was Completely Identified With His Ministry"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With the celebration of First Vespers for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, over which I will preside this evening at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Pauline Year -- proclaimed for the bimillennium of the Apostle of the Gentiles' birth -- comes to a close. It has truly been a time of grace in which, through many pilgrimages, catecheses, numerous publications and other initiatives, the figure of St. Paul was put forward again in the whole Church, and his vibrant message has revived everywhere, in Christian communities, a passion for Christ and the Gospel. For this we give thanks to God for the Pauline Year and for all the spiritual gifts that it has brought to us.

Divine Providence has arranged that a few days ago another special year -- the Year for Priests -- was inaugurated on June 19, the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, marking the 150th anniversary of the death -- "dies natalis" [heavenly day of birth] -- of John Mary Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars. It is a further spiritual and pastoral impulse that -- I am certain -- will not fail to bring many benefits to the Christian people, and especially to the clergy.

What is the purpose of The Year of Priests? As I wrote in the related letter that I sent to priests, it is meant to contribute to the promotion of an interior commitment on the part of all priests to a more powerful and incisive evangelical witness in the world today. In this regard, the Apostle Paul constitutes a splendid model to imitate, not so much in the specifics of his life -- his life was, in fact, truly unique -- but in his love of Christ, in his zeal for the proclamation of the Gospel, in his dedication to the communities, in his elaboration of an effective synthesis of pastoral theology.

St. Paul is an example of a priest who was completely identified with his ministry -- just as the holy Curé d'Ars would also be -- conscious of possessing a priceless treasure, that is, the message of salvation, but in an "earthen vessel" (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7); thus he is at the same time strong and humble, intimately persuaded that everything is God’s doing, everything is grace.

"The love of Christ possesses us," the Apostle writes. This could well be the motto of every priest -- that the Spirit compels (cf. Acts 20:22) him to be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:1-2 ). The priest must belong totally to Christ and totally to the Church; to the latter he is called to dedicate himself with an undivided love, like a faithful husband to his bride.

Dear friends, together with that of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, we call upon the intercession of the Virgin Mary, that she obtain from the Lord abundant blessings for priests during this Year for Priests, which has just begun.

May the Madonna, whom St. John Mary Vianney loved and made his parishioners love, help every priest to revive the gift of God that is in him by virtue of his holy Ordination, so that he grow in sanctity and be ready to bear witness, even to the point of martyrdom, to the beauty of his total and definitive consecration to Christ and the Church.

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On Corpus Christi

"Yes, Love Exists, and Since It Exists, Things Can Change"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, in different countries, Italy among them, we celebrate "Corpus Domini," the feast of the Eucharist, in which the sacrament of the Lord's Body is carried solemnly in procession.

What does this feast mean for us? It does not make us think only of the liturgical aspect; in reality, "Corpus Domini" is a day that involves the cosmic dimension, heaven and earth. It evokes, first of all -- at least in our hemisphere -- this beautiful and fragrant season in which spring finally begins the turn toward summer, the sun shines brilliantly in the heavens and the wheat matures in the fields. The seasons of the Church -- like the Jewish ones -- have to do with the rhythm of the solar year, of planting and harvesting. This dimension comes to the foreground especially in today's solemnity, in which the sign of bread, fruit of earth and of heaven, is at the center. This is why the Eucharistic bread is the sign of him in whom heaven and earth, God and man, become one. And this shows that the relationship with the seasons is not something that is merely external to the liturgical year.

The solemnity of "Corpus Domini" is intimately linked to Easter and Pentecost: The death and resurrection of Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit are its presuppositions. It is, furthermore, linked to the feast of the Trinity, which we celebrated last Sunday. Only because God himself is relation can there be relation with him; and only because he is love can he love and be loved. In this way "Corpus Domini" is a manifestation of God, an attestation that God is love. In a unique and peculiar way, this feast speaks to us of divine love, of what it is and what it does. It tells us, for example, that it regenerates itself in giving itself, it receives itself in giving itself, it does not run out and is not used up; thus we hear in a hymn of St. Thomas Aquinas: "nec sumptus consumitur" (it is not used up in being consumed).

Love transforms every thing, and so we understand that the mystery of transubstantiation, the sign of Jesus-Charity, which transforms the world, is at the center of today's feast of "Corpus Domini." Looking upon him and worshiping him, we say: Yes, love exists, and since it exists, things can change for the better and we can hope. It is the hope that comes from Christ's love that gives us the strength to live and to face every difficulty. This is why we sing while we carry the most Blessed Sacrament in procession; we sing and praise God, who reveals himself hidden in the sign of broken bread. We all have need of this bread, because the road to freedom, justice and peace is long and wearisome.

We can imagine with what faith and love the Madonna would have received and worshiped the Holy Eucharist in her heart! Each time it was for her like receiving the whole mystery of her Son Jesus: from the conception to the resurrection. My venerable and beloved predecessor, John Paul II, called her the "Eucharistic Woman." Let us learn from her to continually renew our communion with the Body of Christ, to love each other as he loved us.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. Here is a translation of the some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

At the United Nations in New York June 24-26 there will be a conference on the economic and financial crisis and its impact on development. I pray for the spirit of wisdom and human solidarity for the participants in this conference and for those who are responsible for the "res publica" and the fate of the planet so that the current crisis is transformed into an opportunity to focus greater attention on the dignity of every human person and to promote an equal distribution of decisional power and resources, with particular attention to the number of those living in poverty, which, unfortunately, is always growing.

On this day in which we celebrate, in Italy and many other nations, the feast of "Corpus Domini," the bread of life, as I just mentioned, I would like to especially remember the hundreds of millions of persons who suffer from hunger. It is an absolutely unacceptable reality that is hard to control despite the efforts of recent decades. I hope, therefore, that at the upcoming U.N. conference and in the headquarters of international institutions the joint measures are taken by the entire international community and the strategic decisions are made -- which are sometimes difficult to accept -- that are necessary to ensure that everyone, in the present and the future, will have basic nourishment and a dignified life.

Next Friday, the solemnity of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Day of Priestly Sanctification, will begin the Year for Priests, which I wanted to have observed together with the 150th anniversary of the death of the holy Curé of Ars. I entrust to your prayers this new spiritual initiative that follows the Pauline Year, which is now concluding. May this new jubilee year be a propitious occasion to reflect on the value and importance of the priestly mission and to ask the Lord to make a gift of many priests to his Church.

I wish everyone a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, the Holy Father said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today's Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ invites us to acknowledge the Lord's saving presence in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. At the Last Supper, on the night before his death on the Cross, Jesus instituted the sacrament of the new and eternal covenant between God and man. May this sacrifice of reconciliation, in which the Risen Lord is truly and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, confirm the Church in faith, unity and holiness as she awaits his future coming in glory. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Holy Trinity

"Inexhaustible Font of Life That Unceasingly Gives Itself"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2009 Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Following Eastertide, which culminates with the feast of Pentecost, the liturgy foresees these three solemnities of the Lord: today, the Most Holy Trinity; on Thursday, that of Corpus Domini, which, in many countries, Italy among them, is celebrated next Sunday; finally, on Friday in two weeks, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each one of these liturgical observances manifests a perspective from which the whole mystery of the Christian faith is embraced: respectively, the reality of God one and three, the sacrament of the Eucharist and the divine-human center of the Person of Christ. They are in truth aspects of the one mystery of salvation, which, in a certain sense, summarize the whole path of the revelation of Jesus, from the incarnation to the death and resurrection to the ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Today we contemplate the Most Holy Trinity as it was made know to us by Jesus. He revealed to us that God is love "not in the unity of a single person, but in the Trinity of a single substance" (Preface): the Trinity is Creator and merciful Father; Only Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, dead and risen for us; it is finally the Holy Spirit, who moves everything, cosmos and history, toward the final recapitulation. Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is love and only love, most pure, infinite and eternal love. The Trinity does not live in a splendid solitude, but is rather inexhaustible font of life that unceasingly gives itself and communicates itself.

We can in some way intuit this, whether we observe the macro-universe: our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; or the micro-universe: cells, atoms, elementary particles. The "name" of the Most Holy Trinity is in a certain way impressed upon everything that exists, because everything that exists, down to the least particle, is a being in relation, and thus God-relation shines forth, ultimately creative Love shines forth. All comes from love, tends toward love, and is moved by love, naturally, according to different grades of consciousness and freedom. "O Lord, our Lord, / how wondrous is your name over all the earth!" (Psalm 8:2) -- the Psalmist exclaims. In speaking of the "name" the Bible indicates God himself, his truest identity; an identity that shines forth in the whole of creation, where every being, by the very fact of existing and by the "fabric" of which it is made, refers to a transcendent Principle, to eternal and infinite Life that gives itself, in a word: to Love. "In him," St. Paul says, on the Areopagus in Athens, "we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: only love makes us happy, because we live in relation, and we live to love and be loved. Using an analogy suggested by biology, we could say the human "genome" is profoundly imprinted with the Trinity, of God-Love.

The Virgin Mary, in her docile humility, made herself the handmaid of divine Love: she accepted the will of the Father and conceived the Son by the work of the Holy Spirit. In her omnipotence made a temple worthy of himself, and made her the model and image of the Church, mystery and house of communion for all men. May Mary, mirror of the Most Holy Trinity, help us to grow in the faith of the Trinitarian mystery.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English he said:]

I extend cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims here today on this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, especially the members of the Holy Trinity Prayer Group from Texas. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, and with your families and loved ones at home. And may your stay in Rome strengthen your faith, fill you with hope in God’s promises and inflame your hearts with his love. God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Holy Spirit and the Church

"The Church Is Unceasingly Formed and Guided by the Spirit of the Lord"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Church throughout the world relives to today the Solemnity of Pentecost, the mystery of her own birth, of her own "baptism" in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5), which took place in Jerusalem, 50 days after Easter, precisely on the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The risen Jesus told his disciples: "Remain in the city until you are given power from on high" (Luke 24:49). This happened in a perceptible way in the Cenacle, while they were gathered together with Mary, the Virgin Mother, in prayer. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, suddenly that place was invaded by a strong driving wind, and tongues like fire came to rest on the heads of all those present. The Apostles went out then and began to proclaim in different languages that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, dead and risen (cf. Acts 2:1-4). The Holy Spirit, who with the Father and the Son created the universe, guided the history of the people of Israel and spoke through the prophets, who in the fullness of time cooperated in our redemption, who at Pentecost descended upon the nascent Church and made it missionary, sending it to proclaim to all peoples the victory of divine love over sin and death.

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. Without him to what would it be reduced? It would certainly be a great historical movement, a complex and solid social institution, perhaps a kind of humanitarian agency. And in truth this is how it is considered by those who look upon it from outside the perspective of faith. In reality, however, in its true nature and also in its most authentic historical presence, the Church is unceasingly formed and guided by the Spirit of the Lord. It is a living body, whose vitality is precisely the invisible divine Spirit.

Dear friends, this year Pentecost falls on the last day of the month of May on which the beautiful Marian Feast of the Visitation is usually celebrated. This fact invites us to let ourselves be inspired and taught by the Virgin Mary, who was a protagonist in both events. In Nazareth she received the annunciation of her singular maternity and, immediately after she conceived Jesus by the working of the Holy Spirit, was moved by the same Spirit of love to go to help her elderly relative Elizabeth, who was in the sixth month of a similarly miraculous pregnancy. The young Mary, who carried Jesus in her womb and, forgetting herself, goes to help her neighbor, is a stupendous icon of the Church in the perennial youth of the Spirit, of the missionary Church of the Incarnate Word, called to bring [this Word] to the world and to testify to him especially in the service of charity. We invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that the Church in our time may be powerfully strengthened by the Holy Spirit. The comforting presence of the Holy Spirit is felt in a special way by the ecclesial communities that suffer persecution for Christ's name, because, participating in his sufferings, they receive the Holy Spirit in the abundance of glory (cf. 1 Peter 4:13-14).

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father said:]

In these days the youth of Abruzzo are gathering many people around the World Youth Day Cross. It was carried to their region by a group of volunteers sent by the San Lorenzo International Youth Center in Rome. In communion with that region, hard hit by the earthquake, we ask Christ dead and risen to pour put his Spirit of consolation and hope upon them. I extend my greeting to the young Italians who today, in the various dioceses, have come together to conclude, with their bishops, the third and final year of the "Agora dei Giovani." I recall with joy the unforgettable events that marked this three year project: the meeting at Loreto, in September 2007 and the World Youth Day in Sydney last July. Dear young people of Italy, with the power of the Holy Spirit, be witnesses of the risen Lord!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to today's Regina Caeli. On this Pentecost Sunday, we rejoice in the Lord's gift of the Holy Spirit. Saint Paul reminds us that if we live in the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit by putting aside all conceit, anger, envy and everything that divides us (cfr Gal5,26). My dear friends, having received God's precious gift, may you abound in his fruits of love, peace, patience, kindness and all that bears witness to the Kingdom of God in our midst! Praised be Jesus Christ!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On St. John Damascene
"God Wants to Rest in Us"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square. He continued his series on great writers of the Church in the Middle Ages, focusing today on St. John Damascene.

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Dear brothers and sisters:

I would like to speak today about John Damascene, a prominent personality in the history of Byzantine theology, a great doctor in the history of the universal Church. He is above all an eye witness of the passage from the Greek and Syriac culture, shared in the eastern part of the Byzantine Empire, to the culture of Islam, which took over space with its military conquests in the territory ordinarily recognized as the Middle or Near East.

John, born to a rich Christian family, took on while still young the post -- perhaps also held by his father -- as the economic head of the kingdom. Quite soon, however, unsatisfied with life at court, he fully developed a choice for the monastic life, entering the monastery of San Sabas, close to Jerusalem. It was around the year 700. Never leaving the monastery, he dedicated himself with all his strength to ascesis and literary activity, without spurning a certain pastoral activity, of which his numerous homilies give witness. His liturgical memorial is celebrated Dec. 4. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him a doctor of the universal Church in 1890.

In the East, he is remembered above all for his three discourses against those who calumniate holy images, [discourses] which were condemned after his death by the iconoclast Council of Hieria (754). These discourses, however, were the principal motive for his reinstatement and canonization by the orthodox fathers gathered in the Second Council of Nicaea (787), the Seventh Ecumenical Council. In these texts it is possible to find the first important theological attempts to legitimize the veneration of sacred images, uniting to them the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary.

John Damascene was also one of the first to distinguish between the public and private worship of Christians, and between adoration (latreia) and veneration (proskynesis): The first can only be directed to God, highly spiritual; the second on the other hand can use an image to direct oneself to he who is represented by it.

Obviously, a saint cannot in any way be identified with the material of which an icon is made. This distinction quickly resulted very important to respond in a Christian way to those who claimed as universal and perennial the observance of the severe prohibition in the Old Testament about the use of images in worship. This was a great discussion also in the Islamic world, which accepts this Jewish tradition of the total exclusion of images for worship. Christians on the other hand, in this context, considered the problem and found a justification for the veneration of images.

Damascene wrote: "In other times, God had never been represented in an image, being incorporeal and without a face. But given that now God has been seen in the flesh and has lived among man, I represent what is visible in God. I do not venerate matter, but the Creator of matter, who has made himself matter for me and has deigned to dwell in matter and carry out my salvation through matter. I will never cease because of this to venerate the matter through with salvation has come to me.

"But I do not venerate it absolutely like [I do] God! How could God be that which has received existence from non being? ... Rather I venerate and respect also all the rest of the matter that has procured salvation, inasmuch as it is full of holy energies and graces. Is not perhaps matter the wood of the cross thrice blessed? ... And the ink and the holy book of the Gospels are not matter? The salvific altar that dispenses us the bread of life is not matter? ... And before all, is not matter the flesh and the blood of my Lord? Should the sacred character of all of this be suppressed? Or should it be conceded to the tradition of the Church the veneration of the images of God and that of the friends of God that are sanctified by the name they carry, and because of this reason are dwelt in by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Do not be offended therefore by matter: It is not despicable because nothing that God has made is despicable" (Contra imaginum calumniatores, I, 16, ed. Kotter, pp. 89-90).

We see that, because of the Incarnation, matter appears as divinized, is seen as the dwelling place of God. This is a new vision of the world and material realities. God has become flesh and flesh has become truly the dwelling place of God, whose glory shines forth in the human face of Christ. Therefore the invitations of the doctor of the East are even today extremely current, considering the great dignity that matter has received in the Incarnation, able to come to be, in faith, efficient sign and sacrament of man's encounter with God.

John Damascene is, therefore, a privileged witness of the veneration of icons, which would come to be one of the most distinctive aspects of Eastern theology and spirituality up to today. And nevertheless it is a form of worship that simply belongs to the Christian faith, to the faith in this God that has become flesh and made himself visible. The teaching of St. John Damascene thus is inserted in the tradition of the universal Church, whose doctrine on the sacraments takes into account that material elements taken from nature can change through grace in virtue of the invocation (epiclesis) of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by the confession of the true faith.

United to these underlying ideas, John Damascene also places the veneration of the relics of the saints, on the base of the conviction that holy Christians, having been made participants in the resurrection of Christ, cannot be considered simply as "the dead." Enumerating, for example, those whose relics or images are worthy of veneration, John specifies in his third discourse in defense of images: "Before all (we venerate) those among whom God has rested, the only holy one who dwells among the saints (cf. Isaiah 57:15), such as the holy Mother of God and all the saints. These are those who, inasmuch as possible, have made themselves similar to God with their will and by the indwelling and help of God, [and] are really called gods (cf. Psalm 82:6), not by nature, but rather by contingence, as red-hot iron is called fire, not by nature, but by contingence and through participation in the fire. It is said, in fact: "You will be holy because I am holy" (Leviticus 19:2)" (III, 33, col. 1352 A).

After a series of references of this type, Damascene could serenely deduce, therefore:"God, who is good and superior to all goodness, did not content himself with the contemplation of himself, but rather wanted there to be beings benefited by him who could come to be participants in his goodness: For this he created out of nothing all things, visible and invisible, including man, a visible and invisible reality. And he created him thinking of him and making him a being capable of thinking (ennoema ergon) enriched by the word (logo[i] sympleroumenon) and oriented toward the spirit (pneumati teleioumenon)" (II, 2, PG 94, col. 865A).

And to clarify later this thought, he adds: "It is necessary to leave oneself full of awe (thaumazein) at all the works of providence (tes pronoias erga), praise them all and accept them all, overcoming the temptation to point out in them aspects that to many seem unjust or iniquitous (adika), and admitting instead that God's project (pronoia) goes beyond the cognitive and understanding capacity (agnoston kai akatalepton) of man, meanwhile on the other hand only he knows our thoughts, our actions and even our future" (II, 29, PG 94, col. 964C).

Already Plato, on the other hand, said that all philosophy begins with awe: Also our faith begins with awe at creation, at the beauty of God who becomes visible.

This optimism of natural contemplation (physikè theoria), of this seeing in visible creation the good, the beautiful and the true, this Christian optimism is not a naïve optimism: It takes into account the wound inflicted on human nature by free choice desired by God and used inappropriately by man, with all the consequences of widespread disharmony that have come from it. From here stems the need, clearly perceived by the theology of Damascene, that the nature in which the goodness and beauty of God is reflected, wounded by our fault, "would be strengthened and renewed" by the descent of the Son of God in the flesh, after in many ways and on many occasions God himself had tried to show that he had created man so that he would be not only in "being," but in "being good" (cf. La fede ortodossa, II, 1, PG 94, col. 981).

With a passionate exclamation, John explains: "It was necessary for nature to be strengthened and renewed and that the path of virtue would be indicated and concretely taught (didachthenai aretes hodòn), [the path] that banishes corruption and leads to eternal life ... Thus appeared on the horizon of history the great sea of the love of God for man (philanthropias pelagos) ..."

It is a beautiful expression. We see, on one hand, the beauty of creation and on the other, the destruction caused by human fault. But we see in the Son of God, who descends to renew nature, the sea of the love of God for man.

John Damascene continues: "He himself, the Creator and Lord, fought for his creature, transmitting his teaching to him with his example ... And thus the Son of God, while subsisting in the form of God, descended from the heavens and lowered himself ... toward his servants ... carrying out the newest thing of all, the only thing truly new under the son, through which he manifested in fact the infinite power of God" (III, 1. PG 94, col. 981C-984B).

We can imagine the consolation and the joy that filled the hearts of the faithful with these words so full of fascinating images. We too hear them today, sharing the same sentiments of the Christians of that time: God wants to rest in us, he wants to renew nature also through our conversion, he wants to make us participants in his divinity. May the Lord help us to make these words the essence of our lives.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the faithful in various languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Saint John Damascene was a towering figure in the history of Eastern theology. He was born into a wealthy Christian family at a time when his native Syria was already under Arab rule. He left a promising career in government in order to enter monastic life. His best-known works are his Discourses against the Iconoclasts, which offer an important contribution to the proper theological understanding of the veneration of sacred images. Saint John Damascene was among the first to distinguish between adoration, which is due to God alone, and veneration, which can rightly be given to an image in order to assist the Christian to contemplate him whom the image represents. It is true that in the Old Testament, divine images were strictly forbidden. But now that God has become incarnate and has assumed visible, material form in Jesus, matter has received a new dignity. The wood of the Cross, the book of the Gospels, the altar of sacrifice: all have been used by God to bring about our salvation. Matter now serves as a sign and sacrament of our encounter with God. When we participate in the sacraments, when we venerate icons, if we do so in faith and in the power of the Holy Spirit, they truly become a means of grace. Despite human sinfulness, God has chosen to dwell within men and women, making them holy, making them sharers in his infinite goodness and holiness. Let us welcome him with joy into our hearts.

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including a group of Felician Sisters serving in health care administration. Upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.

[And at the end of the audience, he addressed a special message in English to the peoples of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories:]

My dear friends, this Friday I leave Rome for my Apostolic Visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. I wish this morning to take the opportunity through this radio and television broadcast to greet all the peoples of those lands. I am eagerly looking forward to being with you and to sharing with you your aspirations and hopes as well as your pains and struggles. I will be coming among you as a pilgrim of peace. My primary intention is to visit the places made holy by the life of Jesus, and, to pray at them for the gift of peace and unity for your families, and all those for whom the Holy Land and the Middle East is home. Among the many religious and civic gatherings which will take place over the course of the week, will be meetings with representatives from the Muslim and Jewish communities with whom great strides have been made in dialogue and cultural exchange. In a special way I warmly greet the Catholics of the region and ask you to join me in praying that the visit will bear much fruit for the spiritual and civic life of all who dwell in the Holy Land. May we all praise God for his goodness. May we all be people of hope. May we all be steadfast in our desire and efforts for peace.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Vocations and the Holy Land Trip

VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the praying of the midday Regina Caeli. The Holy Father had just celebrated a Mass in which he ordained 19 new priests for the Diocese of Rome.

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Dear brothers and sisters:

I have just concluded, in St. Peter's Basilica, the Eucharistic celebration in which I consecrated 19 new priests of the Diocese of Rome. Once again, I have chosen this Sunday, the fourth of Easter, for this joyous event, because it is marked by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd (cf. John 10:1-18) and offers a particularly suitable context.

Because of this, today is celebrated the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In my annual message for this occasion, I have invited reflection on the theme: "Faith in the Divine Initiative -- the Human Response." In fact, trust in the Lord, which continuously calls to sanctity and, for some in particular, to a special consecration, is expressed precisely in prayer. As much personally as in community, we have to pray a lot for vocations, so that the greatness and the beauty of the love of God attracts many to follow Christ on the path of the priesthood and the consecrated life.

It is also necessary to pray as well so that there are holy spouses, capable of indicating to their children, above all by example, the horizons to which they should tend toward with their liberty.

The men and women saints that the Church proposes for the veneration of all the faithful give witness to the mature fruit of this union between the divine call and the human response. Let us entrust to their heavenly intercession our prayer for vocations.

There is another intention for which I invite you to pray today: the trip to the Holy Land that I will make, God willing, next Friday, May 8 through Friday, May 15. Following the footsteps of my venerable predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, I will go on pilgrimage to the principle holy places of our faith.

With my visit, I propose to confirm and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land, who must daily confront many difficulties. As a successor of the Apostle Peter, I will show the closeness and support of the whole body of the Church. Moreover, I will be a pilgrim of peace, in the name of the one God, Father of all. I will give witness to the Catholic Church's commitment in favor of those who work to practice dialogue and reconciliation, to arrive to a stable and lasting peace in justice and mutual respect.

Finally, this trip will necessarily have notable ecumenical and interreligious significance. Jerusalem is, from this point of view, the symbolic city par excellence: There Christ died so as to reunite all of the dispersed children of God (cf. John 11:52).

Addressing now the Virgin Mary, let us invoke her as Mother of the Good Shepherd so that she watches over the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, and so that in the whole world, numerous and holy vocations of special consecration to the Kingdom of God may flourish.

[The Holy Father then addressed the faithful in various languages. In English, he said:]

To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today's Regina Caeli, I extend a warm welcome. I pray that as you follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, you will grow ever closer to the Risen Lord and share his Gospel with all those you encounter. This Friday I leave for my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where men and women first heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. I ask you all to join me in praying for the afflicted peoples of that region. In a special way I ask that you remember the Palestinian people who have endured great hardship and suffering. May the Lord bless them and all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace. Upon all of you visiting Rome during this Easter Season, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Goal of Sanctity

"May All of You … Bear Witness to Him Courageously"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the praying of the midday Regina Caeli. The Holy Father had just finished a Mass in which five new saints were proclaimed.

* * *

In concluding this solemn celebration, I wish to offer cordial greetings to all of you who have wanted to come personally to offer homage to the new saints. I express, before all, my recognition of the delegation from the Italian government and the other civil authorities, in particular, the mayors and prefects of the cities of the four compatriots elevated today to the honor of the altars.

I greet the delegation from the Order of Malta. With great affection, I give thanks to the numerous pilgrims coming from many parts of Italy. I hope that this pilgrimage, lived in the mark of sanctity and supported by the grace of the Pauline year, can help each one [of you] to "run" with more joy and energy toward the final "goal," toward "the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus," (cf. Philippians 3:13-14).

In this context, I'd like to mention as well the gathering of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which is celebrated today. Fifty years after the death of the founder, Father Agostino Gemelli, I hope that the Catholic University be always faithful to its inspiring principles so as to continue offering a valid formation to the young generations.

[The Pope then greeted people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims who are here with us today, especially those who have travelled to Rome to be present at the canonization of today’s new saints. Through their intercession, may all of you be filled with joy in the Risen Lord, and bear witness to him courageously in your daily lives. I invoke God’s abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[Prior to praying the Regina Caeli, he concluded the address, saying in Italian:]

We lift up now our filial prayer to the Virgin Mary, who fully followed the Word of God, such that his love in her was truly perfect (cf. 1 John 2:5a).

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REGINA CAELI

On Divine Mercy and the Catholic Family

"It Is the Merciful Love of God that Solidly Unites the Church"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 19, 2009 - Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Regina Caeli with the people gathered in the courtyard of the pontifical residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday that concludes the Easter Octave I renew from my heart fervent Easter wishes to you who are present and to those who are joining us through radio and television broadcasts. In the climate of joy that comes from the faith in the risen Christ, I would like to express a most cordial "thank you" to all of those -- and there are truly many -- who wanted to send me a sign of affection and spiritual nearness whether for the Easter festivities or for my birthday -- April 16 -- or for the anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter which recurs today. I thank the Lord for this symphony of so much affection. As I was able to affirm recently, I never feel alone.

Even more in this singular week, which, for the liturgy, constitutes a single day, I experienced the communion that surrounds and sustains me: a spiritual solidarity, essentially nourished by prayer, which is manifested in thousands of ways. From my colleagues in the Roman Curia to the parishes that are geographically most distant, we Catholics form -- and we must feel that we are -- one family, animated by the same sentiments of the first Christian community, of which the text of the Acts of the Apostles, which we read this Sunday, says: "The community of believers were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32).

The communion of the first Christians had the risen Christ as true center and foundation. The Gospel says that, in the moment of the Passion, when the Divine Master was arrested and condemned to death, the disciples were dispersed. Only Mary and the women, with the apostle John, remain together and follow him to Calvary.

Resurrected, Jesus grants a new unity to his followers, stronger than before, invincible, because it is based not on human resources, but on divine mercy, which makes them all feel loved and forgiven by him. Therefore it is the merciful love of God that solidly unites the Church, today as yesterday, and that makes humanity a single family, divine love, which through Jesus crucified and risen forgives our sins and renews us interiorly. Animated by such a deep conviction, my beloved predecessor, John Paul II, desired that this Sunday, the second Sunday of Easter, be named Divine Mercy Sunday, and pointed to the risen Christ as the font of confidence and hope, welcoming the spiritual message given by the Lord to St. Faustina Kowalska, synthesized in the invocation: "Jesus, I trust in you."

As for the first community, it is Mary who accompanies us in life every day. We invoke her as "Queen of Heaven," knowing that her royalty is like that of her Son: all love, and merciful love. I ask you again to entrust to her my service to the Church, while with confidence we say to her: "Mater misericordiae, ora pro nobis [Mother of mercy, pray for us.]"

[After the Regina Caeli the Pope said:]

First of all I address a cordial greeting and fervent wishes to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches that, following the Julian calendar, celebrate Holy Easter today. May the risen Lord renew the light of faith in all and give abundance of joy and peace.

A conference organized by the United Nations on the 2001 Durban Declaration against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance will begin tomorrow in Geneva. This is an important initiative because still today, despite the lessons of history, these deplorable phenomena continue. The Durban Declaration recognizes that "all peoples and individuals constitute one human family, rich in diversity. They have contributed to the progress of civilizations and cultures that form the common heritage of humanity. Preservation and promotion of tolerance, pluralism and respect for diversity can produce more inclusive societies."

These affirmations lead to the demand for firm and concrete action, at the national and international levels, to prevent and eliminate every form of discrimination and intolerance. There must be a vast educational undertaking that exalts the dignity of the person and teaches fundamental rights. The Church, for her part, repeats that only the recognition of the dignity of man, created in the image and likeness of God, can constitute a secure reference for such a task. From this common origin, in fact, there flows a common human destiny that must awaken in everyone and all a strong sense of solidarity and responsibility. I pray that the delegates present at the conference in Geneva will be able to work together, in the spirit of dialogue and reciprocal acceptance, to put an end to every form of racism, discrimination and intolerance, marking in this way a fundamental step toward the affirmation of the universal value of the dignity of man and his rights, in a horizon of respect and justice for every person and people.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for today's Regina Caeli prayer, including the group from Dulwich Preparatory School, Cranbrook in Kent. As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Christ has won for us, let us renew our resolve to be faithful to our baptismal promises by rejecting Satan and living according to the example of the Lord. In our prayer we commend our perseverance to the intercession of Mary, Queen of Heaven. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings of peace and joy!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Resurrection and the Eucharist

"He Nourishes Us Spiritually and Infuses Us with Strength"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave Easter Monday, April 13, before praying the Regina Caeli with the people gathered in the courtyard of the pontifical residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days of Easter we shall often hear Jesus' words resound: "I am risen and I am with you always." Echoing this good news, the Church proclaims exultantly: "Yes, we are certain! The Lord is truly risen, alleluia! The power and the glory are his, now and forever." The whole Church rejoices, expressing her sentiments by singing: "This is the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ". In fact, in rising from the dead, Jesus inaugurated his eternal day and has opened the door to our joy, too. "I will not die," he says, "but will have everlasting life."

The crucified Son of man, the stone rejected by the builders, has now become the solid foundation of the new spiritual edifice which is the Church, his mystical Body. The People of God, which has Christ as its invisible Head, is destined to grow in the course of the centuries until the complete fulfillment of the plan of salvation.

Then the whole of humanity will be incorporated into him and every existing reality will be penetrated with his total victory. Then, as St. Paul writes, he will be "the fullness of him who fills all in all" (cf. Eph 1: 23), and "God may be everything to everyone" (1 Cor 15: 28).

Thus it is right for the Christian community to rejoice all of us because the Resurrection of the Lord assures us that the divine plan of salvation, despite all the obscurity of history, will certainly be brought about. This is why his Passover truly is our hope. And we, risen with Christ through Baptism, must now follow him faithfully in holiness of life, advancing towards the eternal Passover, sustained by the knowledge that the difficulties, struggles and trials of human life, including death, henceforth can no longer separate us from him and his love.

His Resurrection has formed a bridge between the world and eternal life over which every man and every woman can cross to reach the true goal of our earthly pilgrimage.

"I am risen and I am with you always." This assurance of Jesus is realized above all in the Eucharist; it is in every Eucharistic Celebration that the Church and every one of her members experience his living presence and benefit from the full richness of his love. In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the risen Lord is present and mercifully purifies us from our sins; he nourishes us spiritually and infuses us with strength to withstand the harsh trials of life and the fight against sin and evil.

He is the sturdy support in our pilgrimage towards the eternal dwelling place in Heaven. May the Virgin Mary, who experienced beside her divine Son every phase of his mission on earth, help us to welcome with faith the gift of Easter and make us faithful and joyful witnesses of the risen Lord.

[After the Regina Caeli, the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to this Regina Caeli. My dear friends, our song of joy on the night of Jesus' Resurrection "Rejoice heavenly powers! Exult all creation!" continues to resound throughout these eight days of solemn celebration. The Lord of heaven and earth has arisen in glory! His splendor continues to shine upon the human race, giving strength to the weak, relief to the suffering and comfort to the dying. I pray that Christ's gift of new life will grow in your hearts and lead you along the way of eternal salvation. God bless you all! To all of you once again, Happy Easter!

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On Preparation for World Youth Day in Madrid
"The Pilgrim Cross Brings the Message of Christ to All Youth"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 5, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today after Palm Sunday Mass, before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. During his address, a delegation from Sydney handed over the World Youth Day Cross to a group of young people from Madrid.

* * *

Yesterday, April 4, the U.N.'s 4th international day for increasing anti-personnel mine awareness was observed. At the present moment, ten years after the treaty banning the use of these devices came into effect, and after the treaty banning cluster bombs was recently presented for signatures, I would like to encourage the countries who have still not yet done so to sign without delay these important instruments of international humanitarian law, which the Holy See has always supported. Moreover, I express my support for any measure intended to guarantee necessary assistance for the victims of these devastating weapons.

Furthermore, I would like to remember, with deep sorrow, our African brothers and sisters, who met their deaths a few days ago in the Mediterranean Sea, while they were trying to find refuge in Europe. We cannot resign ourselves to such tragedies that, unfortunately, repeat themselves time and time again! The phenomenon's dimensions make coordinated strategies between the European Union and African countries more and more urgent, as well as the adoption of adequate humanitarian measures to impede migrants having recourse to lawless traffickers. As I pray for the victims, that the Lord welcome them into his peace, I would like to observe that this problem, subsequently aggravated by the global crisis, will be solved only when African populations can relieve themselves from suffering and wars with the help of the international community.

I now address a special greeting to the 150 delegates -- bishops, priests and lay people -- who in recent days participated in the international meeting on the World Youth Days, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Thus, there begins the journey of preparation toward the next international gathering of youth, which will take place in August 2011 in Madrid. I have already indicated its theme: "Rooted and Built Up in Christ, Solid in Faith," which is taken from Colossians 2:7. As is tradition, the young people from Australia will give to the young people from Spain the World Youth Day cross, the "pilgrim cross," which brings the message of Christ to all the youth of the world. This "passing on of witness" takes on a highly symbolic value, with which we express immense gratitude to God for the gifts received at the great meeting in Sydney and for those that we will receive at the meeting in Madrid. Tomorrow the cross, accompanied by the icon of the Virgin Mary, will depart for the Spanish capital, and will be present there for the great Good Friday procession. After this a long pilgrimage through the dioceses of Spain will begin, and will end again in Madrid in the summer of 2011. May this cross and this icon of Mary be for all a sign of Christ's invincible love and that of his and our Mother!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here this Palm Sunday, when we recall the humble entry into Jerusalem of Jesus, our King and Messiah. With vivid memories of my visit to Sydney for World Youth Day, I greet Cardinal George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, and Bishops Anthony Fisher and Julian Porteous, Auxiliary Bishops of Sydney, who are here together with a large group of young Australians in order to consign to their counterparts from Madrid the World Youth Day Cross and Icon of Our Lady. May the great events of Holy Week strengthen your faith and inspire you to be humble witnesses of charity. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God's blessings of peace and wisdom.

And now let us accompany with prayer the handing over of the Cross.

[After the ceremony of the handing over of the World Youth Day Cross and Icon, he said:]

And now we turn with faith to the Virgin Mary, so that she will always watch over the path of the young and that she will help us to live Holy Week well.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Challenges Facing Africa
"It Is No Longer Time for Words and Speeches"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

First I would like to thank God, and those who helped in various ways, for the success of the apostolic trip that I was able to make to Africa recently, and I invoke the abundance of the blessings of heaven on the seeds that were sown in the African soil. I plan to speak at greater length about this significant pastoral experience at the general audience on Wednesday, but I cannot pass up welcoming the present occasion to manifest the deep emotion that I experienced meeting the Catholic communities and the people of Cameroon and Angola. There were two aspects -- both very important -- that above all made an impression on me.

The first is the visible joy in the faces of the people, the joy of feeling part of the family of God, and I thank the Lord for having been able to share moments of simple choral and faith-filled celebration with great numbers of our brothers and sisters. The second aspect is precisely the strong sense of the sacred that one breathes in the liturgical celebrations, a characteristic common to all the peoples of Africa, which I could say emerged in every moment of my stay among those dear people. The visit permitted me better to see and understand the reality of the Church in Africa in the variety of the experiences and challenges that she finds before her at this time.

Thinking of the challenges that mark the path of the Church on the African continent, and in every other part of the world, we recognize how relevant the words of the Gospel of this Fifth Sunday of Lent are. Jesus, with his passion drawing near, declares: “If the grain of wheat that falls to the earth does not die, it remains alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24). It is no longer time for words and speeches; the decisive hour has arrived, the hour for which the Son of God has come into the world, and despite his troubled soul, he makes himself available to accomplish the Father’s will to the end. And this is God’s will: To give eternal life to us who have lost it. But that this be realized Jesus must die, like a grain of wheat that God the Father has sown in the world. Only in this way can a new humanity sprout and grow, free from the domination of sin and able to live in fraternity, as the sons and daughters of the one Father who is in heaven.

In the great feast of faith that was experienced together in Africa, we saw that this new humanity is alive, even with its human limitations. There where, like Jesus, missionaries gave, and continue to spend, their lives for the Gospel, abundant fruit is harvested. I would like to express my gratitude for the good that they do. These missionaries are men and women, religious and lay. It was beautiful to see the fruit of their love for Christ and observe the deep thankfulness that the Christians have for them. Let us give thanks to God and pray to Mary Most Holy that Christ’s message of hope and love be spread through whole world.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

I greet with affection the numerous Africans who live in Rome, among whom there are many students, who are here today with Monsignor Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Dear friends, you wanted to come to manifest your joy for my apostolic trip to Africa. I thank you from my heart. I pray for you, for your families and your homelands. Thank you!

On Thursday at 6:00 in the evening in St. Peter’s I will preside at the Mass for the 4th anniversary of the death of my beloved predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II. I especially invite the young people of Rome to participate, to prepare together for World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at a diocesan level on Palm Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims to this Angelus, especially students and teachers from Holy Trinity Catholic High School in Edmonton, Canada. In today's liturgy, Jesus teaches that "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit". In these final weeks of Lent, let us intensify our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In this way, we will prepare ourselves to meditate on Christ's passion and death, so as to rejoice fully in the glory of his Resurrection. God bless you all!

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On the Pope's Trip to Cameroon and Angola

"I Intend to Embrace the Whole African Continent"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I will be making my first apostolic visit to Africa from Tuesday, March 17, to Monday, March 23. I will travel to Cameroon and to its capital, Yaoundé, to deliver the "instrumentum laboris" for the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in October here in the Vatican. From there I will travel to Luanda, the capital of Angola, a country that, after a long civil war, has found peace again and is now called to rebuild itself in justice.

With this visit I intend to embrace the whole African continent: its thousands of differences and profound religious soul; its ancient cultures and its toilsome road to development and reconciliation; its grave problems, its painful wounds and its enormous possibilities and hopes. I intend to confirm the African Catholics in faith, to encourage the Christians in their ecumenical commitment, and bring to all the announcement of peace that the Lord has entrusted to his Church.

As I prepare myself for this missionary journey, in my soul resounds the words of the Apostle Paul that the liturgy proposes for our meditation on this third Sunday of Lent: "We proclaim Christ crucified," the Apostle writes to the Christians of Corinth, "a scandal to the Jews and foolishness to the pagans; but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

Yes, dear brothers and sisters! I depart for African with the awareness of having nothing else to propose and give to those whom I will meet if not Christ and the Good News of his cross, mystery of supreme love, of divine love that defeats all human resistance and in the end makes forgiveness and love of enemies possible. This is the grace of the Gospel that is capable of transforming the world; this is the grace that can renew Africa, because it generates an irresistible power of peace and of deep and radical reconciliation. The Church does not pursue economic, social and political objectives; the Church proclaims Christ, certain that the Gospel can touch the hearts of all and transform them, renewing persons and society from within.

On March 19, during the pastoral visit to Africa, we will celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, and my personal patron. St. Joseph, warned in a dream by an angel, had to flee with Mary to Egypt, in Africa, to take the newly born Jesus to a safe place, far from King Herod who wanted to kill him. The Scriptures were thus fulfilled: Jesus followed in the footsteps of the patriarchs of old and, like the people of Israel, reentered the Promised Land after having been in exile in Egypt. To the heavenly intercession of this great saint I entrust this upcoming pilgrimage and the peoples of all of Africa, with the challenges that face them and the hopes that animate them. I think especially of the victims of hunger, disease, injustices, of the fratricidal conflicts and of every form of violence that, unfortunately, continues to strike adults and children, without sparing missionaries, priests, religious, and volunteers. Brothers and sisters, accompany me on this trip with your prayers, invoking Mary, Mother and Queen of Africa.

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

This morning the Pauline Jubilee of University Students and Professors, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Culture, and organized by the Vicariate of Rome, concludes in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Jubilee’s theme was "What You Unknowingly Worship, I Proclaim to You: Gospel and Culture Toward a New Humanism."

I am very glad for the presence of illustrious professors and delegates from university chaplaincies from every continent here in Rome. I would like for pastoral ministries at universities to develop in all the local Churches, for the formation of young people and the elaboration of a culture inspired by the Gospel. Dear university students and professors, I encourage you and I accompany you in prayer.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. As we continue our Lenten journey may our resolve to follow Jesus be strengthened through prayer, forgiveness, fasting and assistance to those in need. This Tuesday I leave Rome for my visit to Cameroon and Angola. My presence in the great Continent of Africa forms part of the preparation for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the theme: "The Church in Africa in Service to Reconciliation, Justice and Peace". I ask each of you to join me in praying that my visit will be a time of spiritual renewal for all Africans and an occasion in which civic and religious leaders will strengthen their resolve to walk the path of justice, integrity and compassion. May the lives of African men, women and children be transformed in hope! Upon all of you gathered and your loved ones, I gladly invoke the strength and peace of Christ the Lord.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Prayer and Christ's Transfiguration
"Find in This Time of Lent Moments of Prolonged Silence"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

As you know, this past week I was on retreat together with my colleagues in the Roman curia. It was a week of silence and prayer: the mind and heart were able to dedicate themselves entirely to God, to listening to his Word, to meditation on the mysteries of Christ. In a certain way, it was little like what happened to the apostles Peter, James and John when Jesus took them away with him up the mountain alone, and while he prayed was "transfigured": his face and his person appeared luminous, shining. The liturgy re-proposes this celebrated episode today in fact, the second Sunday of Lent (cf. Mark 9:2-10). Jesus wanted his disciples, especially those who would have the responsibility of leading the newborn Church, to directly experience his divine glory, to be able to face the scandal of the cross. Indeed, when the hour of betrayal comes and Jesus retires to Gethsemane to pray, he will keep the same Peter, James and John close by, asking them to keep watch with him (cf. Matthew 26:38). They cannot do it, the grace of Christ will sustain them and help them to believe in the Resurrection.

I would like to stress that Jesus' transfiguration was essentially an experience of prayer (cf. Luke 9:28-29). Prayer, in fact, reaches its culmination -- and thus becomes the source of interior light -- when the spirit of man adheres to that of God and their wills join almost to form a single will. When Jesus ascends the mountain he immerses himself in the contemplation of the Father's plan of love, who sent him into the world to save humanity. Elijah and Moses appear alongside Jesus, signifying that the Sacred Scriptures were in agreement in announcing the paschal mystery: that Jesus had to suffer and die to enter into his glory (cf. Luke 24:26, 46). In that moment Jesus sees the cross outlined before him, the extreme sacrifice necessary to liberate us from the reign of sin and death. And in his heart he once again repeats his "Amen." He says yes, here I am, let your will of love be done, Father. And, as happened after the baptism in the Jordan, the signs of God's pleasure came from heaven: the light that transfigured Christ and the voice that proclaimed him "my beloved Son" (Mark 9:7).

Together with fasting and works of mercy, prayer forms the essential structure of our spiritual life. Dear brothers and sisters, I exhort you to find in this time of Lent moments of prolonged silence, perhaps a retreat, to reflect again on your life in the light of heavenly Father's plan of love. Let the Virgin Mary, teacher and model of prayer, be your guide in this more intense listening to God. Even in the deepest darkness of Christ's passion she did not lose but safeguarded the light of the Divine Son in her soul. For this reason let us call upon Mary with confidence and hope!

[After the Angelus the Pope said:]

Today's date, March 8, [International Women's Day] invites us to reflect on the condition of women and to renew our commitment, that always and everywhere every woman can live and fully manifest her particular abilities, obtaining complete respect for her dignity. This is the sense in which the Second Vatican Council and the pontifical magisterium -- especially in the servant of God John Paul II's apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem" (August 15, 1988) -- have expressed themselves. Of more worth than the documents themselves is the testimony of the saints. And in our time there was that of Mother Teresa of Calcutta: humble daughter of Albania, who became, by God's grace, an example of charity in the service of human promotion to all the world. How many other women work in a hidden way every day for the good of humanity and for the Kingdom of God! Today I pledge my prayer for all women, that they be evermore respected in their dignity and valued in their positive possibilities.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the climate of intense prayer that marks Lent, I entrust to your remembrance the two apostolic journeys upon which, if it pleases God, I will soon embark. The week after next, on March 17-23, I will travel to Africa, first to Cameroon and then to Angola, to show my concrete nearness and that of the Church to the Christians and peoples of that continent, which is particularly dear to me. Then, on May 8-15, I will be on pilgrimage in the Holy Land to ask the Lord, while visiting the places sanctified by his life on earth, for the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and for all of humanity. From this point forward I will count on the spiritual support of all of you, that God will accompany me and fill those whom I meet along the way with his graces.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]


I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. On this, the Second Sunday of Lent, the Gospel invites us to ponder the mystery of Christ's Transfiguration, to acknowledge him as the incarnate Son of God, and to follow him along the way that leads to the saving mystery of his Cross and Resurrection. During this Lenten season, may you grow closer to the Lord in prayer, and may he shed the light of his face upon you and your families!


© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Role of Angels

"Let Us Call Upon Them Often"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, and the Gospel, with the sober and concise style of St. Mark, introduces us to the climate of this liturgical season: "The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan" (Mark 1:12). In the Holy Land, west of the Jordan and the oasis of Jericho, there is the desert of Judah, which ascends to a height of over 1,000 meters through rocky valleys, stretching all the way to Jerusalem.

After having received baptism from John, Jesus enters that empty place, led by the Holy Spirit himself, which had descended upon him, consecrating him and revealing him as the Son of God. In the desert, the place of trial -- as the experience of the people of Israel shows -- there appears the dramatic reality of the "kenosis," the emptying of Christ, who is stripped of the form of God (cf. Philippians 2:6-7). He, who did not sin and cannot sin, submits himself to trial and thus can have compassion for our infirmities (cf. Hebrews 4:15). He lets himself be tempted by Satan, the adversary, who had opposed himself to God's salvific plan for men from the very beginning.

In the brevity of the account, in the face of this obscure and darksome figure who dares to tempt the Lord, the angels, luminous and mysterious figures, fleetingly appear. The Gospel says that the angels "serve" Jesus (Mark 1:13); they are the counterpoint to Satan. "Angel" means "one who is sent." We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God. Just consider the Book of Tobit, in which the figure of the angel Raphael appears to assist the protagonist through many vicissitudes. The reassuring presence of the angel of the Lord accompanies the people of Israel through every event, good and bad. On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty. A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return (cf. Matthew 25:31).

The angels serve Jesus, who is certainly superior to them, and this dignity of his is proclaimed in a clear though discreet way here in the Gospel. Indeed, even in the situation of extreme poverty and humility, when he is tempted by Satan, he remains the Son of God, the Messiah, the Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, we would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence. Let us call upon them often, that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him. Let us ask them, especially today, to watch over me and my co-workers in the Roman Curia as we begin our retreat this week, as we do every year. Mary, Queen of Angels, pray for us!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Angelus prayer. On this First Sunday of Lent, the Gospel of Saint Mark speaks of Jesus being lead into the desert by the Holy Spirit, tempted by Satan and assisted by the angels. Let us pray that our Lenten journey will strengthen us in the struggle against all forms of temptation. Upon all of you I invoke God's abundant blessings, and I wish you a pleasant Sunday and a happy stay in Rome!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Primacy of the Chair of Peter

"Called to Perform a Special Service"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Gospel passage that today's Sunday liturgy offers for our meditation is the one in which the paralytic is forgiven and healed (Mark 2:1-12). While Jesus was preaching, among the many sick people who were brought to him, a paralytic was brought to him on a mat. Seeing him, the Lord said: "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark 2:5). And because some of those present were scandalized on hearing these words, he added: "'So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth' -- he said to the paralytic, 'I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home'" (Mark 2:10-11). And the paralytic went away healed. This Gospel episode shows that Jesus has the power not only to heal the sick body but also to forgive sins; and indeed, the physical healing is a sign of the spiritual healing that his forgiveness produces. In effect, sin is a kind of paralysis of the spirit, from which only the power of the merciful love of God can liberate us, allowing us to pick ourselves up and set out again along the path of goodness.

This Sunday is also the feast of the Chair of Peter, an important liturgical feast that highlights the office of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles. The chair of Peter symbolizes the authority of the Bishop of Rome, who is called to perform a special service for the whole People of God. Immediately after the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul, the primacy of the Church of Rome in the Catholic community was recognized. This role was already attested to in the 2nd century by St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to the Romans, Pref.: Funk, I, 252) and by St. Irenaeus of Lyons (Contra Haereses, III, 3, 2-3). This singular and specific ministry of the Bishop of Rome was stressed again by the Second Vatican Council. "Moreover, within the Church," we read in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, "particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Romans, Pref.) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it" (Lumen Gentium, 13).

Dear brothers and sister, this feast provides me with the occasion to ask you to accompany me with your prayers, so that I may faithfully carry out this great task, entrusted to me by Providence, as successor to the Apostle Peter. We invoke the Virgin Mary, whom we celebrated yesterday, here in Rome, under the title of Our Lady of Confidence. We ask her to help us to enter into the Lenten season -- which will begin on Wednesday with the evocative Rite of Ashes -- with devout dispositions of soul. May Mary open our hearts to conversion and to a docile listening to the Word of God.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus. In today's liturgy, we witness Jesus healing the paralytic lowered to him through the roof because of a large crowd. This passage reminds us that the Lord has power to forgive sins, and that nothing stands in the way of his mercy when we seek him with pure and contrite hearts! Let us never hesitate to ask his pardon - especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation - so that we may become better instruments of his love for others. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Transgressions and Forgiveness
"The Sins We Commit Distance Us From God"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On these Sundays the Evangelist Mark offers a sequence of various miraculous healings for our reflection. Today he presents a very special one -- that of a healed leper (cf. Mark 1:40-45) -- who, coming to Jesus, gets on his knees and says: “If you wish, you can make me clean!” Jesus, moved, stretches out his hand, touches him and says: “I do wish it. Be made clean!”

The man is healed instantly and Jesus asks him not to tell anyone and present himself to the priests to offer the sacrifice prescribed by the Mosaic law. The healed leper is unable to be quiet and proclaims to everyone what happened to him so that, the evangelist reports, still more sick people ran to Jesus from every part to the point of forcing him to stay out of the cities so as not to be besieged by the crowds.

Jesus says to the leper: “Be made clean!” According to the ancient Jewish law (Leviticus 13-14), leprosy was not only considered a sickness but the gravest form of “impurity.” It was the duty of the priests to diagnose it and declare the person afflicted with leprosy unclean. This person then had to keep his distance from the community and stay away from towns until he was certified to be healed.

Leprosy thus constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its healing was a kind of resurrection. We might see in leprosy a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart, distancing us from God. It is not, in effect, physical malady that distances us from him, as the ancient norms supposed, but sin, the spiritual and moral evil.

This is way the Psalmist exclaims: “Blessed is he whose fault is taken away / and whose sin is covered.” And then, turning to God: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you, / my guilt I covered not. / I said: ‘I shall confess my faults to the Lord,’ / and you took away my guilt and my sin” (Psalm 31:1, 5 [32:1, 5]).

The sins we commit distance us from God, and, if they are not humbly confessed, trusting in the divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has powerful symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah prophesied, is the servant of the Lord who “bore our infirmities, / endured our sufferings” (Isaiah 53:4). In his passion he will become like a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God: He will do all this for love, with the aim of obtaining reconciliation, forgiveness and salvation for us.

In the Sacrament of Penance Christ crucified and risen, through his ministers, purifies us with his infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and our brothers, and makes a gift of his love, joy and peace to us.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the Sacrament of Forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today for the Angelus, especially the members of the joint Catholic-Orthodox pilgrimage from Finland. I pray that the time you spend in Rome may deepen your love for Jesus Christ our Lord, and for his Church. In this Sunday's Gospel, we hear how Jesus healed a leper who came to him and pleaded to be cured. To those who turn to him today, Jesus continues to offer healing and strength. I encourage all of you to place your trust in him, and to bring before him your hopes and your needs, for yourselves and for your loved ones. May the Lord grant your prayers and pour out upon all of you his abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Sickness and God's Healing Love

"We Are Made for Life"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the Gospel (cf. Mark 1:29-39) -- in direct continuation with last Sunday -- presents us with Jesus, who after having preached on the Sabbath in the synagogue of Capernaum, cured many ill people, beginning with Simon's mother-in-law. Entering his house, he found her in bed with a fever and immediately, taking her by the hand, he healed her and had her get up. After sunset, he healed a multitude of people afflicted with all sorts of ills.

The experience of the healing of the sick occupies a good portion of the public mission of Christ and it invites us once again to reflect on the meaning and value of illness in every situation in which the human being can find himself. This opportunity comes also because of the World Day of the Sick, which we will celebrate next Wednesday, Feb. 11, liturgical memorial of the Virgin Mary of Lourdes.

Despite the fact that illness is part of human existence, we never manage to get used to it, not only because sometimes it comes to be burdensome and grave, but essentially because we are made for life, for complete life. Precisely our "internal instinct" makes us think of God as plenitude of life, and even more, as eternal and perfect Life. When we are tested by sickness and our prayers seem in vain, doubt wells up in us and, filled with anguish, we ask ourselves: What is God's will?

It is precisely to this question that we find an answer in the Gospel. For example, in the passage of today we read: "He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him" (Mark 1:34). In another passage from St. Matthew, it says: "He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people" (Matthew 4:23).

Jesus does not leave room for doubt: God -- whose face he himself has revealed -- is the God of life, who frees us from all evil. The signs of this, his power of love are the healings that he carries out: He thus shows that the Kingdom of God is near, restoring men and women to their full integrity in spirit and body. I refer to these healings as signs: They guide toward the message of Christ, they guide us toward God and make us understand that man's truest and deepest illness is the absence of God, who is the fount of truth and love. And only reconciliation with God can give us true healing, true life, because a life without love and without truth would not be a true life. The Kingdom of God is precisely the presence of truth and love, and thus it is healing in the depths of our being.

Thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, the work of Jesus is prolonged in the mission of the Church. Through the sacraments, it is Christ who communicates his life to the multitude of brothers and sisters, as he cures and comforts innumerable sick people through so many activities of health care service that Christian communities promote with fraternal charity, thereby showing the face of God, his love. It is true: How many Christians all over the world -- priests, religious and laypeople -- have given and continue giving their hands, eyes and hearts to Christ, true physician of bodies and souls!

Let us pray for all the ill, especially for those who are most grave, and who can in no way take care of themselves, but depend entirely on the care of others; may every one of them be able to experience, in the solicitude of those who are near to them, the power of the love of God and the richness of his grace that saves us. Mary, health of the sick, pray for us.

[After praying the Angelus, he said:]

In these weeks, strong political tensions are taking place in Madagascar, which have also provoked popular disturbances. Because of this, the bishops of the island have convoked for today a day of prayer for national reconciliation and social justice. Intensely concerned by the particularly critical moment that the country is going through, I invite you to unite yourselves to the Catholics of Madagascar to entrust to the Lord those who have died in the manifestations and to invoke from him, through the intercession of Most Holy Mary, the return of harmony of thought, social tranquility and civil co-existence.

As I said just a moment ago, next Feb. 11, memorial of the Virgin Mary of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick is celebrated. In the afternoon, I will meet with the sick and other pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, after the holy Mass that the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, Cardinal Lozano Barragán, will preside over. From now, I assure my special blessing to all the sick, the health care workers and the volunteers of every part of the world.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today including those from the Saint Patrick's Evangelization school in London. Today's Gospel reminds us of the duty to bring Christ's Good News to all the world. May your time in Rome be filled with joy and deepen your resolve to draw others to our Lord and his love. God bless you all!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Messiah

"Suffering Is an Integral Part of His Mission"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This year, at Sunday Mass, the liturgy proposes the Gospel of St. Mark for our meditation. A special characteristic of this Gospel is the so-called "messianic secret," the fact that, for the moment, Jesus does not want anyone outside the restricted group of his disciples to know that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is why he often admonishes the apostles and the sick people whom he heals to not reveal his identity to anyone.

For example, the Gospel passage this Sunday (Mark 1:21-28) tells of a man possessed by a demon, who suddenly cries out: "What do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the holy one of God!" Jesus answers him: "Be quiet! Come out of him!" And immediately, the evangelist notes, the evil spirit came out of the man with a loud cry. Not only does Jesus chase demons out of people, freeing them from the worst slavery, but he prohibits the demons themselves from revealing his identity. And he insists on this "secret" because the fulfillment of his mission is at stake, on which our salvation depends.

He knows in fact that to liberate humanity from the dominion of sin he must be sacrificed on the cross as the true paschal lamb. The devil, for his part, tries to divert his attention and direct it instead toward a human logic of a powerful and successful messiah. The cross of Christ will be the demon’s ruin, and this is why Jesus does not cease to teach his disciples that in order to enter into his glory he must suffer much, be rejected, condemned and crucified (cf. Luke 24:26). Suffering is an integral part of his mission.

Jesus suffers and dies on the cross for love. When we consider this, we see that it is in this way that he gave meaning to our suffering, a meaning that many men and women of every age understood and made their own, experiencing profound serenity even in the bitterness of difficult physical and moral trials.

Indeed, "the strength of life in suffering" is the theme that the Italian bishops have chosen for their customary message for today’s Day for Life. I wholeheartedly join in their message in which we see the love of pastors for their people, and the courage to proclaim the truth, the courage to state with clarity, for example, that euthanasia is a false solution to the drama of suffering, a solution unworthy of man. The true answer cannot be putting someone to death, however "kindly," but to bear witness to the love that helps us to face pain and agony in a human way. We are certain: No tear, whether it be of those who suffer or those who stand by them, goes unnoticed before God.

The Virgin Mary carried in her mother’s heart the Son’s secret, she shared in the painful moments of the passion and crucifixion, sustained by the hope of the resurrection. To her we entrust those who suffer and those who dedicate themselves to supporting them each day, serving life in all its phases: parents, health care workers, priests, religious, researchers, volunteers, and many others. We pray for all of them.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Tomorrow we celebrate the liturgical feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph brought him to Jerusalem, following the prescriptions of the Law of Moses. Every first born, in fact, according to the Scriptures, belonged to the Lord, and so had to be ransomed by a sacrifice. In this event Jesus’ consecration to God the Father is manifested and, linked to it, that of the Virgin Mary. For this reason my beloved predecessor, John Paul II, desired that this feast, in which many consecrated persons take or renew their vows, be the Day of Consecrated Life. So, tomorrow afternoon, at the end of Holy Mass, at which the prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will preside, I will meet with the consecrated men and women who are present in Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica. I invite everyone to thank the Lord for the precious gift of these brothers and sisters, and to ask him, through the intercession of the Madonna, for many new vocations, in the variety of charisms with which the Church is rich.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus reveals his divine authority in his teaching and his work of healing. Let us ask the Lord to open our minds ever more fully to his saving truth, and our hearts to his merciful and gracious love. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

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On Conversion
"I Can Get Out of the Quicksand of Pride and Sin"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this Sunday's Gospel resound the words of Jesus' first preaching in Galilee: "This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15).

Precisely today, Jan. 25, we remember the conversion of St. Paul. It is a happy coincidence -- especially in this Pauline year -- which allows us, as we contemplate the experience of the Apostle, to understand the true meaning of evangelical conversion -- "metanoia." In Paul's case some prefer not to use the term "conversion" because, they say, he was already a believer, indeed he was a fervent Jew, and so he did not go from non-belief to belief, from idols to God, nor did he have to abandon the Jewish faith to adhere to Christ. In reality, the Apostle's experience can be a model of every authentic Christian conversion.

Paul's conversion matured in the encounter with the Risen Christ; it was this encounter that radically changed his existence. That which Jesus asks in the Gospel today happened to him on the road to Damascus: Saul converted because, thanks to the divine light, "he believed in the Gospel." His conversion and ours consists in this: in believing in Jesus dead and risen and in opening up to the illumination of his divine grace. In that moment Saul understood that his salvation did not depend on good works done according to the law, but on the fact that Jesus died even for him -- the persecutor - and he was, and is, risen. This truth, which through baptism illuminates the existence of every Christian, turns our way of life completely upside down.

Converting means, for each one of us also, believing that Jesus "gave himself up for me," dying on the cross (cf. Galatians 2:20) and, risen, lives with me and in me. Entrusting myself to the power of his forgiveness, letting myself be led by the hand by him, I can get out of the quicksand of pride and sin, of lies and sadness, of selfishness and every false certainty, to know and live the richness of his love.

Dear friends, the invitation to conversion, confirmed by the witness of St. Paul, is particularly urgent today, at the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, even at the ecumenical level. The Apostle shows us the right spiritual attitude for progress toward communion. "It is not that I have already taken hold of it," he writes to the Philippians, "or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been conquered by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12).

Of course we Christians have not yet achieved the goal of full unity, but if we let ourselves be continually converted by the Lord Jesus, we will certainly arrive there. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the one, holy Church, obtain for us the gift of a true conversion, so that the desire of Christ, "ut unum sint," be realized. To her we entrust the prayer meeting at which I will preside this afternoon in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in which, as every year, the representatives of the Churches and ecclesial Communities present in Rome will participate.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Today is World Leprosy Day, which was started 55 years ago by Raoul Follereau. The Church, following Jesus, has always had special concern for those persons stricken with this disease, as the message circulated by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry also testifies. I am happy that the United Nations, with a recent declaration of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has asked countries to protect those suffering from leprosy and their families. For my part, I assure them of my prayers and I renew my encouragement of those who struggle with them for complete healing and good social integration.

The peoples of various East Asian countries are preparing to celebrate the lunar new year. I wish them joy in their celebrations. Joy is an expression of being in harmony with oneself: and that can only come from being in harmony with God and with his creation. May joy always live in the hearts of the citizens of those nations, which are so dear to me, and spread throughout the world!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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On World Day of Migrants
"Work in Every Part of the World for Peaceful Coexistence"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today is the World Day of Migrants and Refugees. Because this year we are celebrating the Pauline Year, and thinking of St. Paul as the great itinerant missionary of the Gospel, I chose the theme: "St. Paul Migrant, Apostle of the Gentiles." Saul, his Jewish name, was born into a family of immigrants in Tarsus, an important city of Cilicia, and grew up in three cultures -- Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman -- and with a cosmopolitan mentality. When he converted from being a persecutor of Christians to being an apostle of the Gospel, Paul became the "ambassador" of the risen Christ to make him known to all, in the conviction that in him all peoples are called to form the great family of the children of God.

This is also the Church's mission, more than ever in this time of globalization. As Christians it is impossible for us not to feel the need to transmit Jesus' message of love, especially to those who do not know him, or who find themselves in difficult and painful situations. Today I have immigrants particularly in mind. Their reality is indeed diverse: In some cases, thanks be to God, it is peaceful and they are well integrated; in other cases, unfortunately, it is painful, difficult and sometimes even dramatic.

I want to insure that the Christian community looks on every person and every family with attention and asks St. Paul for the strength of a renewed dedication to work in every part of the world for peaceful coexistence of men and women of different ethnicities, cultures and religions.

The Apostle tells us what was the secret of his new life: "I too," he writes, "have been conquered by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12); and he adds: "Be my imitators" (Philippians 3:17). Indeed, each one of us, according to his own vocation and in the place where he lives and works, is called to bear witness to the Gospel, with a greater concern for those brothers and sisters who have come from different countries for various reasons to live among us, giving value to the phenomenon of migration as an occasion of the meeting of civilizations. Let us pray and act so that this always takes place in a peaceful and constructive way, in respect and dialogue, preventing every temptation to conflict and abuse.

I would like to add a special word for sailors and fisherman, who for some time have been experiencing great uneasiness. Besides the usual difficulties, they are also suffering from the restrictions of bringing chaplains on board, as well as from the dangers of pirates and the damage of illegal fishing. I express my nearness to them and the wish that their generosity in being of assistance at sea be compensated by greater consideration.

Finally, my thoughts to turn to the World Meeting of Families, which is concluding in Mexico City, and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today. Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to pray for all these intentions, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I continue to follow the conflict in the Gaza Strip with deep trepidation. Let us also bring before the Lord today the hundreds of children, old people, women who are innocent victims of the inconceivable violence, the wounded, those who are grieving for their loved ones and those who have lost their possessions.

I also invite you to accompany with your prayers the efforts of numerous persons of good will who are trying to stop the tragedy. I sincerely hope that it is seen how to profit, with wisdom, from the space opened up to reinstate the truce and move toward peaceful and durable solutions.

In this regard, I renew my encouragement of those who, on the one side and on the other, believe that in the Holy Land there is room for all, that they help their people to rise up from the rubble and terror and courageously take up again the thread of dialogue in justice and truth. This is the only way that they can effectively unlock a future of peace for the children of that dear land!

Today begins the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which will conclude next Sunday, Jan. 25. In the southern hemisphere, following the suggestion made by Leo XIII at the end of the 19th century, the time between Ascension and Pentecost will be set aside for prayer for Christian unity.

The Biblical theme is common to all. This year it was suggested by an ecumenical group from Korea and is taken from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel: "One in your hand" (Ezekiel 37:17). Let us too welcome this invitation and pray with greater intensity that Christians walk in a resolute way toward full communion with each other. I especially address Catholics throughout the world that, united in prayer, they do not tire to work to overcome obstacles that still impede full communion among Christ's disciples. The ecumenical task is even more urgent today, to give to our society, which is marked by tragic conflicts and lacerating divisions, a sign and an impulse toward reconciliation and peace. We will conclude this Week of Prayer in the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls with the celebration of vespers, next Sunday, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, who made the unity of the body of Christ an essential nucleus of his preaching.

Today the Diocese of Rome celebrates the Diocesan Day of Catholic Schools. I greet the leaders, directors, teachers, parents and students who are gathered here. Dear friends, the educational service of the Catholic school is more precious today than ever, because children, adolescents and young people need to receive valid instruction in the framework of a coherent vision of man and life. I am near in my prayer to those who teach and study in the Catholic schools of Rome, and I encourage them to always dedicate themselves to the forming of an educational community rich in human and Christian values.

I cordially greet the representatives of Catholic migrant communities present in Rome. Dear friends, I repeat the words of the Apostle Paul: In the Church you are not foreigners or guests, but you are part of the family of God. Know how to insert yourselves well in the ecclesial and civil community, with the wealth of your faith and your traditions.

[In English, he said]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today's Angelus. As we celebrate the week of prayer for Christian unity, let us continue to ask the Lord that all who invoke his name may be one, so that the world may believe.

On this World Day of Migrants and Refugees, I encourage individuals, communities and institutions to be generous to all who have left their homeland. May the Father of mercies open our eyes and our hearts to the sufferings and needs of those who have entrusted themselves to our hospitality. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Baptism and the World Family Meeting
"You Are My Sons and Daughters, My Beloved"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 11, 2009 .- Angelus Address with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On this Sunday, which follows the solemnity of the Epiphany, we celebrate the baptism of the Lord. This was the first act of his public life and all four Gospels give an account of it. At the age of 30, Jesus left Nazareth and traveled to the Jordan River and, along with many other people, had himself baptized by John. The evangelist Mark writes: "On coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him" (Mark 1:10-11). In these words: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased," the nature of eternal life is revealed: It is the filial relationship with God, as Jesus lived, revealed, and gave it to us.

This morning, following tradition, in the Sistine Chapel, I administered the sacrament of baptism to three newborn children. To the parents, the godfather and the godmother, the celebrant customarily asks: "What do you ask of the Church of God for your children?" They answer "baptism," and the celebrant replies: "And what does Baptism give us?" They answer: "Eternal life." This is a stupendous thing: Through Baptism the human person is brought into Jesus' unique and singular relationship with the Father, in such a way that the words that are spoken from heaven about the only-begotten Son become true for every man and woman who is reborn from the water of the Holy Spirit: You are my sons and daughters, my beloved.

Dear friends, how great is the gift of baptism! If we make ourselves fully aware of it, our life will become a continual "grace." What a joy for Christian parents, who have seen a new creature blossom from their love, who have brought this child to the baptismal font and seen the child be reborn in the womb of the Church, for a life that will never end! Gift, joy, but also responsibility! The parents, in fact, together with the godparents, must bring up their children according to the Gospel.

This brings to mind the theme of the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, which will take place next week, "The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values." This great meeting of families, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, will unfold in three parts: first the theological and pastoral congress, in which the theme will be explored and in which there will also be a sharing of significant experiences; then there will be a moment of celebration and testimony, which will bring to light the beauty of the meeting of families from every part of the world, united by the same faith and by the same commitment; and finally the solemn Eucharistic celebration, as a thanksgiving to the Lord for the gifts of marriage, the family and life.

I have asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to represent me, but I myself will also follow the extraordinary event with lively participation, accompanying it with prayer and through a televised talk.

Until then, dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to implore an abundance of divine grace for this important international meeting of families. Let us do so invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Family.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend affectionate greetings. On this feast of the Lord's Baptism, Jesus descends into the waters of the Jordan, taking on himself the weight of our sins. When he rises from the water, the Spirit comes down upon him and the Father's voice declares: "This is my beloved Son". Let us rejoice that the Son of God came to share our human condition, so that we might rise with him to everlasting life. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Epiphany
"Jesus Came to the World With Great Humility and in Secret"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today, the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Epiphany, the "manifestation" of the Lord. The Gospel recounts how Jesus came to the world with great humility and in secret. St. Matthew, nonetheless, refers to the arrival of the Magi, who came from the East, guided by a star, to render homage to the recently born king of the Jews. Each time I listen to this narrative, I am impressed by the clear contrast between the attitude of the Magi, on one hand, and that of Herod and the Jews.

The Gospel says that, upon listening to the worlds of the Magi, "King Herod [...] was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (Matthwe 2:3). This reaction can be understood in various ways: Herod became alarmed because he saw in the one the Magi searched for a competitor for him and his sons. The authorities and inhabitants of Jerusalem, however, seemed astonished more than anything else, as if they woke up from a certain lethargy and needed time to think. Isaiah, in reality, had announced: "For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:5).

So then, why did Jerusalem become worried? It seems that the Evangelist wanted to anticipate the position that the high priests and the Sanhedrin would take, as well as that of the populous, with regard to Jesus during his public life. Certainly, it highlights the fact that knowledge of Scripture and the messianic prophecies don't lead all to open themselves to him and his word. Christ recalls this, before the passion, when he cries over Jerusalem because it had not recognized the time of its visitation (cf. Luke 19:44).

He we touch upon one of the crucial points of the theology of history: the drama of the faithful love of God in the person of Jesus, who "came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him" (John 1:11). In light of the entire Bible, this attitude of hostility, ambiguity or superficiality represents that of every man and of the "world" -- in the spiritual sense -- when it closes itself to the mystery of the true God, who comes to meet us with the disarming meekness of love. Jesus, the "King of the Jews" (cf. John 18:37), is the God of mercy and fidelity; he wants to reign with in love and truth, and asks us to convert, to abandon evil works and that we take up with decision the path of the good.

"Jerusalem," as such, in this sense, is all of us. May the Virgin Mary, who welcomed Jesus with faith, help us to not close our heart to his Gospel of salvation. Let us allow ourselves to be conquered and transformed by him -- the "Emmanuel" (God with us) -- to give us peace and love.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope said:]

I direct my heartfelt congratulation to the brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches who follow the Julian calendar and will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May the memory of the birth of the Savior spark in your hearts more and more the joy of being loved by God. Recalling our brothers and sisters in faith takes me spiritually to the Holy Land and to the Middle East. I am deeply worried about the violent armed confrontations that are taking place on the Gaza border. While I confirm that hate and the rejection of dialogue doesn't bring anything but war, I would like to encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who, loving peace, are trying to help the Israelis and Palestinians to sit down at a table and talk. May God support the commitment of these builders of peace!

In many countries, the feast of the Epiphany is also a celebration of children. I am thinking especially of all children, who are the treasure and blessing of the world, and above all of those who are denied a serene childhood. I wish to call attention, in particular, to the situation of hundreds of children and adolescents who, in these past months, which included Christmas, have been kidnapped by armed gangs that have attacked small towns in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have resulted in numerous victims and wounded.

I call out to the authors of these inhuman brutalities to return these young people to their families and to a future of security and development, which is their right, together with these beloved populations. I wish to express at the same time my spiritual closeness to the local Churches, whose members and works have been hurt, while I exhort the pastors and faithful to remain strong and firm in hope.

Episodes of violence against children, which unfortunately also occurs in other parts of the world, are even more deplorable give that in 2009 the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child will be celebrated: a commitment that the international community is called to renew so that it can defend and promote childhood throughout the world.

May the Lord help those who work on a daily basis to serve the new generations -- and they are innumerable! -- helping them to be protagonists of the future. Furthermore, the Day of the Child Missionary, which is celebrated on the feast of the Epiphany, is an opportune occasion to highlight that children and adolescents have an important role to play in the diffusion of the Gospel and in the works of solidarity with those of their same age who are in need. May the Lord reward them!

[The Pope then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors who join us for this Angelus prayer. On this feast of the Epiphany, the Church celebrates the revelation of Christ, the Eternal Son of the Father, as the light of the nations and the Saviour of all mankind. May the radiance of the Lord's glory fill you and your families with deep spiritual joy, and draw men and women everywhere to faith and new life in him!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Feast of Mary, Mother of God
"We Can Always Hope Anew That the Future Will Be Better"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Angelus on Jan. 1 together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

On this first day of the year, I am happy to offer all of you here present in St. Peter's Square and those who are tuned in by radio and television my most fervent best wishes for peace and every good thing. They are wishes that, we could say, the Christian faith makes "reliable," anchoring them in the events that we are celebrating during these days: the incarnation of the Word of God, born of the Virgin Mary. Indeed, with the grace of the Lord -- and only with it -- we can always hope anew that the future will be better than the past.
   
This is not about, in fact, trusting in better luck or in the modern secrets of the market and finances, but rather in we ourselves making the effort to be a little better and more responsible, so as to be able to count on the Lord's benevolence. And this is always possible because "God has spoken to us through a son" (Hebrews 1:2) and he continually speaks to us, through the preaching of the Gospel and through the voice of our conscience. In Jesus Christ, he has shown to all people the path of salvation, which is above all a spiritual redemption, but which takes in everything human, also including the social and historical dimension.

That's why, as the Church celebrates the divine maternity of most holy Mary, on this date that for more than 40 years has been World Peace Day, it indicates to everyone that Jesus Christ is the prince of peace. According to the tradition begun by Servant of God Pope Paul VI, I have written for this occasion a special message, choosing the theme: "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace."

In this way, I wish to once again enter into dialogue with the leaders of nations and international groups, offering the contribution of the Catholic Church for the promotion of a world order worthy of man. At the beginning of a new year, my first objective is precisely that of inviting everyone -- political leaders and simple citizens -- to not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and failures, but to renew their commitments.

The second part of 2008 has brought an economic crisis of vast proportions. This crisis should be interpreted in its depths, as a grave symptom that requires intervention at the level of the causes. It is not enough -- as Jesus would say -- to put a new patch on an old cloak (cf. Mark 2:21). To put the poor in first place means to decidedly move to this global solidarity that John Paul II had already indicated as a necessity, harmonizing the potential of the market with that of civil society (cf. Message, 12), in constant respect for legality and always taking into account the common good.

Jesus Christ did not organize campaigns against poverty, but he announced to the poor the Gospel, for a complete rescue from moral and material misery. The Church does the same, with its endless work of evangelization and human promotion. Let us invoke the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, so that she helps all men to walk together along the path of peace.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then addressed the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am very pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus, and I wish you all a happy New Year! I pray that Christians everywhere, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, will be filled with spiritual joy. During this year, may all who believe in Christ promote justice and charity, and bear constant witness to forgiveness, reconciliation and peace! May the Lord bless you and keep you!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On John's Synthesis of Christian Faith
"The Fulfilment of the Whole of the Old Covenant"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Angelus last Sunday together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

The liturgy proposes to us to return to the meditation of the same Gospel proclaimed on Christmas day, that is, St. John's Prologue. After the hustle and bustle of recent days to buy gifts, the Church invites us to contemplate again the mystery of the birth of Christ to understand better its profound meaning and importance for our lives. This is an admirable text that offers a staggering synthesis of the entire Christian faith.

It begins on high: "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" (John 1:1); [and] here is the unprecedented and humanly inconceivable novelty: "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us" (John 1:14a).

This is not a rhetorical image, but a lived experience! John, an eyewitness, relates it: "and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14b). It is not the erudite word of a rabbi or a doctor of the law, but the passionate testimony of a humble fisherman who, attracted when he was young by Jesus of Nazareth, in the three years of common life with him and the other apostles, experienced love -- to the point of defining himself as "the disciple whom Jesus loved." He saw him die on the cross and appear resurrected, and he received together with the others his Spirit. From this whole experience, meditated upon in his heart, John arrived to a certainty: Jesus is the Wisdom of God incarnated, in his eternal Word, who became a mortal man.

For a true Israelite, who knows sacred Scripture, this is not a contradiction; on the contrary, it is the fulfillment of the whole of the Old Covenant. In Jesus Christ, the mystery of a God who speaks to man as friends, who reveals himself to Moses in the Law, to the wise and the prophets, arrives to its fullness. In knowing Jesus, being with him, hearing his preaching and seeing the signs he performed, the disciples recognized that in him, all the Scriptures were fulfilled. As a Christian author would later affirm: "All of divine Scripture constitutes just one book, and this book is Christ; it speaks of Christ and finds in Christ its fulfillment" (Hugo of St. Victor, De Arca Noe, 2, 8).

Every man and every woman needs to find a deep meaning for their own existence. And for this, books are not enough, not even sacred Scripture. The Child of Bethlehem reveals and communicates to us the true "face" of the good and faithful God, who loves us and who does not abandon us even in death: "No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him" (John 1:18).

The first one who opened her heart and contemplated "the Word made flesh" was Mary, the Mother of Jesus. A humble girl from Galilee thus became the "seat of wisdom." Like the Apostle John, each one of us is invited to "take her into our homes" (cf. John 19:27), to deeply know Jesus and experience faithful and unfailing love. This is my hope for each of you, dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of this new year.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father added:]

Today, in all the churches of the Holy Land, the patriarchs and leaders of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem are inviting the faithful to pray for the end of the conflict in the Gaza Strip and implore justice and peace for their land. I unite myself to them and I also ask you to do the same, remembering, as they say, "the victims, the wounded who have their hearts broken, those who live in anguish and fear, so that God blesses them with the consolation, patience and peace that come from him."

The dramatic news that comes from Gaza shows how the rejection of dialogue leads to situations that weigh indescribably on the population, who once again become victims of hate and war.

Hate and war are not the solution to problems. Recent history confirms it as well. Let us pray, therefore, so that "the Child of the manger … inspires in the authorities and leaders of both fronts, Israeli and Palestinian, an immediate action to finish with the current tragic situation."

With joy, I greet the participants in the international conference on the "Preventive System of Don Bosco and Human Rights," organized by the Salesians. This is a very important theme, since also in the field of human rights the educational aspect is decisive. I wish you, therefore, fruitful work, and I assure you of my prayers. I also welcome with joy the numerous seminarians who have come from various countries to participate in the formation encounter of the Focolare Movement. Dear young people: From my heart I bless your journey. May the Virgin always watch over you.

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I cordially greet all the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer! In these first days of the New Year, as the Church celebrates the birth of the Saviour, let us pray that the peace proclaimed by the angels at Bethlehem will take ever deeper root in human hearts, banish all discord and violence, and inspire the human family to live in harmony and solidarity. Upon you and your loved ones I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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(On the feast of
The Holy Family, after
the Angelus, the Pope continued:]

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Holy Land, which in these days of Christmas is in the center of the thoughts and the affections of the faithful of every part of the world, finds itself again jolted by an explosion of unparalleled violence. I am deeply bereaved for those who have died and the wounded, by the material damages, the suffering and the tears of the populations that are victims of this tragic chain of attacks and retaliation.

Jesus' homeland cannot continue to be witness of so much bloodshed, which continues endlessly! I implore an end to the violence, which must be condemned in every one of its manifestations, and the re-establishment of the truce in the Gaza Strip. I ask for a show of humanity and wisdom from all those who have responsibility in the situation. I implore the international community to do everything possible to help Israelis and Palestinians to get out of this dead-end street and to not resign themselves -- as I said a few days ago in the "urbi et orbi" message -- to the perverse logic of confrontation and violence, but rather to give priority to the path of dialogue and negotiation.

Let us entrust to Jesus, Prince of Peace, our fervent prayer for these intentions, and to him, to Mary and Joseph, let us implore: "Family of Nazareth, expert in suffering, give peace to the world." Give peace today above all to the Holy Land!

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims at this Angelus. Today we recall how Mary and Joseph, after presenting Jesus in the temple, took the child to Nazareth and began their life as a family. May all families strive to imitate their faith, hope and charity, so as to bear greater witness to the singular importance of the "domestic church" for the life of the universal Church and for society. God bless you all!

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On the Angelus
"Allows Us to Relive the Decisive Moment When God Knocked at Mary's Heart"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This Sunday's Gospel presents to us once again the account of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38), the mystery to which we return every day in reciting the Angelus. This prayer allows us to relive the decisive moment when God knocked at Mary's heart and, having received her "yes," began to take flesh in her and from her. The collect prayer of today's Mass is the same prayer that is recited at the end of the Angelus: "Lord, fill our hearts with your love, and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man, so lead through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection." With the feast of Christmas just a few days away, we are invited to fix our gaze upon the ineffable mystery that Mary carried for nine months in her virginal womb: the mystery of God who becomes man. This is the first hinge of Redemption. The second is Jesus' death and resurrection, and these two inseparable hinges manifest a single divine plan: to save humanity and its history, assuming it to the very end by completely taking on all the evil that oppresses it.

Beyond the historical dimension of this mystery of salvation, there is a cosmic dimension: Christ is the sun of grace who, with his light, "transfigures and inflames the universe with expectation" (Liturgy). The time of the Christmas feast is linked with the winter solstice, when the days of the northern hemisphere begin to get longer again. In this connection, perhaps not many people know that St. Peter's Square is a meridian: the great obelisk, in fact, casts its shadow upon a line that runs along the pavement toward the fountain below this window, and in these days the shadow is the longest of the year. This reminds us of the function of astronomy in marking the times of prayer. The Angelus, for example, is recited in the morning, at noon and in the evening. The meridian, which in the past served for helping one to know " true noon," was the standard for clocks.

The fact that the winter solstice occurs precisely today, Dec. 21, at this exact hour, gives me the opportunity to greet all those who are participating in various ways in the events of the International Year of Astronomy, 2009, marking the 4th centenary of Galileo Galilee's first observations with his telescope. There have been practitioners of this science among my predecessors of venerable memory, such as Sylvester II, who taught it, Gregory XIII, to whom we owe our calendar, and St. Pius X, who knew how to build solar clocks. If the heavens, according to the beautiful words of the psalmist, " narrate the glory of God" (Psalm 19 [18], 2), even the laws of nature, which in the course of centuries many men and women of science have helped us to understand better, are a great stimulus to contemplating the works of the Lord with gratitude.

Let us return now to contemplating of Mary and Jesus, who await the birth of Jesus, and learn from them the secret of recollection for tasting the joy of Christmas. Let us prepare to welcome with faith the Redeemer who comes to be with us, the Word of God's love for humanity of every age.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the crowds in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

I am happy to greet the [49] new priests of the Legionaries of Christ, who received ordination at the hands of Cardinal Angelo Sodano yesterday at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Dear friends, may the love of Christ that moved St. Paul in his mission always animate your ministry. I bless you and your loved ones from my heart!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In Italian, he said:]

I am pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus. In today's liturgy, we recall how the Virgin Mary was invited by the Angel to conceive the one in whom the fullness of divinity would dwell: Jesus, the " Son of the Most High". As we prepare to celebrate his birth, let us not be afraid to say " Yes" to the Lord, so that we may join Our Lady in singing his goodness forever. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Lord's Return
"The 'Nearness' of God Is a Question of Love"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This third Sunday of Advent is called "Gaudete Sunday" -- "Rejoice," following the entrance antiphon of the Holy Mass that takes up St. Paul's expression in his Letter to the Philippians, which says: "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I tell you: Rejoice."

Immediately afterward St. Paul explains why: "The Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). This is the reason for joy. But what is meant by "The Lord is near"? How are we to understand this "nearness" of God? The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Philippi, is obviously thinking about Christ's return, and he invites them to rejoice because this return is certain. Nevertheless, the same St. Paul, in his first Letter to the Thessalonians, warns that no one can know the moment of the Lord's return (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2) and puts them on guard against all alarmism, as if the Lord's return were imminent (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

Thus, already at that time, the Church, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, understood more and more that the "nearness" of God is not a question of space and time, but rather a question of love: Love is near! Christmas will come to remind us of this fundamental truth of our faith and, before the crèche, taste Christian joy, contemplating in the face of the newborn Jesus the God who drew near to us for love.

In light of this, it is a true pleasure for me to renew the tradition of the blessing of the "Bambinelli," the statues of baby Jesus that will be placed in the manger. I especially turn to you, dear boys and girls of Rome, who have come with your "Bambinelli" this morning, which I will now bless. I invite you to join with me and attentively follow this prayer:

God, our Father,
you so loved men
to send us your only Son, Jesus,
born of the Virgin Mary,
to save us and to bring us back to you.

We pray to you, that with your blessing
these images of Jesus, who is about to come among us,
be, in our houses,
a sign of your presence and your love.

Good Father,
grant us also, our parents, our families and our friends,
your blessing.

Open our heart,
so that we know how to receive Jesus with joy,
do always what he asks
and see him in all those
who need our love.

We ask this in the name of Jesus,
your beloved Son, who came to bring peace to the world.
He who lives and reigns forever and ever.
Amen.

And now let us recite together the "Angelus Domini," calling upon the intercession of Mary, so that Jesus, who in his birth brings God's benediction to men, be welcomed with love in all the homes of Rome and the world.

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On the Immaculate Conception
"The Reflection of the Beauty That Saves the World"

ROME, DEC. 9, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday, the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The mystery of Mary's Immaculate Conception, which we celebrated solemnly today, reminds us of two fundamental truths of our faith: in the first place original sin, and then the victory of Christ's grace over it, a victory that shines sublimely in Mary Most Holy. The existence of what the Church calls "original sin" is, sadly, a crushing truth, suffice it to look around us and above all in our interior. The experience of evil is, in fact, so consistent, that it imposes itself and makes us ask the question: from whence does it come? For a believer especially, the question is even more profound: If God, who is absolute goodness, has created everything, where does evil come from?

The first pages of the Bible (Genesis 1-3) respond precisely to the fundamental question -- posed by every human generation -- with the account of creation and our parents' fall: God created everything so that it would exist, in particular he created man in his own image; he did not create death, rather, the latter entered the world because of the envy of the devil (cf. Wisdom 1:13-14; 2:23-24), who, rebelling against God, also attracted men with deceit, inducing them to rebellion. It is the drama of freedom, which God accepts totally out of love, but promising that there would be the son of a woman that would crush the head of the ancient serpent (Genesis 3:15).

Hence, from the beginning, the "eternal counsel" -- as Dante would say -- has a "fixed term" (Paradise, XXXIII, 3): The Woman predestined to be mother of the Redeemer, mother of him who humbled himself to the extreme to lead us back to our original dignity. In God's eyes, this Woman has always had a face and name: "full of grace" (Luke 1:28), as the Angel called her when visiting her in Nazareth. She is the new Eve, spouse of the new Adam, destined to be the mother of all the redeemed. Thus wrote St. Andrew of Crete: "The Theotokos Mary, the common refuge of all Christians, was the first to be delivered from the primitive fall of our parents" (Homily IV, on Christmas, PG 97, 880 A). And today's liturgy states that God has "prepared a worthy dwelling for his Son and, in anticipation of his death, preserved her from all stain of sin" (Collect Prayer).

Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines. This afternoon, in keeping with tradition, I will also render her homage before the monument dedicated to her in the Piazza di Spagna. Let us now invoke the Immaculate Virgin with confidence, recalling with the Angelus the words of the Gospel, which today's liturgy proposes for our meditation.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are present today. The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is an occasion for us all to rejoice in the radiant purity of the Mother of our Redeemer. She was chosen from among all women to be our pattern of holiness, a sign of favor to the Church at its beginning and the promise of its perfection as the spotless bride of Christ. May God bless you, your families and all those you love.

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On the Definitive Exodus
"From the Kingdom of Evil to the Kingdom of God"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

For a week now we have been experiencing the liturgical season of Advent: a time of openness to God's future, a time of preparation for Christmas, when he, the Lord, who is the absolute novelty, came to dwell in the midst of this fallen humanity to renew it from within. In the Advent liturgy there resounds a message full of hope, which invites us to lift up our gaze to the ultimate horizon, but at the same time to recognize the signs of God-with-us in the present. On this second Sunday of Advent, the Word of God assumes the emotional aspects of the so-called Deutero-Isaiah, which finally announces liberation to the Israelites, who have suffered decades of bitter exile in Babylon: "Comfort, give comfort to my people," the prophet says in God's name. "Speak to Jerusalem's heart and tell her that her tribulation is over" (Isaiah 40:1-2). This is what the Lord wants to do in Advent: to speak to the heart of his people and, through them, to the whole of humanity, to proclaim salvation.

Today as well the Church's voice is lifted up: "Prepare a way for the Lord in the desert" (Isaiah 40:3). For populations worn out by misery and hunger, for throngs of refugees, for those who suffer grave and systematic violations of their rights, the Church is as a sentinel on the mountain of faith and she announces to them: "Behold your God! The Lord your God comes in power" (Isaiah 40:11).

This prophetic announcement is realized in Jesus Christ. He, with his preaching and then with his death and resurrection, fulfilled the ancient promises, revealing a deeper and more universal perspective. He inaugurated an exodus that was no longer a merely earthly, historical, and as such provisional, exodus, but one that was radical and definitive: the passage from the kingdom of evil to the Kingdom of God, from the dominion of sin and death to that of love and life. Because of this, Christian hope transcends the legitimate desire for a social and political liberation, because that what Jesus began is a new humanity that comes "from God," but that at the same time germinates on our earth, to the extent that it lets itself be impregnated by the Spirit of the Lord. It is thus a matter of entering fully into the logic of faith: believing in God, in his plan of salvation, and also working for the building up of his Kingdom. Justice and peace, in fact, are God's gift, but they require men and women who are "good soil," ready to receive the good seed of his Word.

Jesus is the first fruit of this new humanity, the Son of God and the Son of Mary. She, the Virgin Mother, is the "way" that God himself prepared for his coming into the world. With all her humility, Mary walks at the head of the new Israel in the exodus from every exile, from all oppression, from every moral and material slavery, toward "the new heavens and the new earth, in which justice lives" (2 Peter 3:13). Let us entrust the desire for peace and salvation of the men of our time to her maternal intercession.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, His Holiness Alexy II, died on Friday. We join our Orthodox brethren in prayer to recommend his soul to the goodness of the Lord, that he might welcome him into this kingdom of light and peace.

On Thursday, Dec. 11, in the afternoon, following the Holy Mass at which Cardinal Agostino Vallini will preside, I will meet with the students of the Roman universities in the Basilica of St. Peter. In observance of the Pauline Year, I will give the young students the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans. I will be happy to greet the students, along with the rectors, the professors and the technical and administrative staffs at this traditional gathering in preparation for Christmas.

I am happy to address a special greeting to the Chierici Mariani dell’Immacolata Concezione, who are beginning the jubilee of the rebirth and reform of their congregation. Dear brothers, may the Virgin Mary obtain abundant graces for you and help you always to remain faithful to your charism.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I greet the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims who are gathered here today. The Church puts before us, on this second Sunday of Advent, the figure of John the Baptist, the voice crying in the wilderness: "Prepare a way for the Lord". During this Advent season, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of Christ, let us prepare a place for him in our hearts. I invoke God's abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

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On God's Gift of His Time
"A Gift That Man Can Appreciate or Squander"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. This fact invites us to reflect on the dimension of time, which has always greatly fascinated us. Following the example of what Jesus liked to do, I would like to start from a very concrete experience: We all say "I don't have time" because the rhythm of daily life has become too frenetic for everyone. The Church has "good news" to announce about this too: God gives us his time. We always have little time. Especially in regard to the Lord, we do not know how to find him, or, sometimes, we do not want to find him. And yet God has time for us!

This is the first thing that the beginning of a liturgical year makes us rediscover with an ever new wonder. Yes: God gives us his time, because he has entered into history, with his Word and his works of salvation, to open it to eternity, to make it into a covenant history. From this perspective time is already, in itself, a basic sign of God's love. It is a gift that man can, like everything else, appreciate or, on the contrary, squander; he can grasp its meaning, or neglect it with obtuse superficiality.

There are three great "hinges" of time that span salvation history: At the beginning is creation, at the center the Incarnation-redemption and at the end the "parousia," the final coming that also includes the universal judgment. These three moments, however, are not to be understood simply in chronological succession. In fact, while it is true that creation is at the beginning of everything, it also continues and is realized along the whole arc of cosmic becoming to the very end of time. So also with the Incarnation-redemption, if it occurred at a determinate historical moment -- Jesus' sojourn on the earth -- nevertheless, its effect extends over the time that preceded it and all of the time that follows it. And the Final Coming and the Last Judgment, which precisely on Christ's cross were decisively anticipated, exercise their influence on the conduct of men of every age.

The liturgical season of Advent celebrates God's coming in its two moments: First it invites us to awaken the expectation of Christ's glorious return; then, nearing Christmas, it calls us to welcome the Word made man for our salvation. But the Lord comes constantly into our lives. How opportune, then, is Jesus' call, which is more powerfully proposed than ever this Sunday: "Be vigilant!" (Mark 13:33, 35, 37). It is addressed to the disciples, but also to "everyone," because everyone, at the hour that God alone knows, will be called to give an account of his own life. This entails a proper detachment from worldly goods, a sincere repentance for one's errors, an active charity toward one's neighbor and above all a humble and confident placing of oneself into God's hands, our tender and merciful Father.

The Virgin Mary is the icon of Advent. Let us call upon her to help us to become an extension of humanity for the Lord who comes.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father said in Italian:]

November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, brother of Simon Peter. Both had been followers of John the Baptist and, after Jesus' baptism in the Jordan, they became his disciples, recognizing him as the Messiah. St. Andrew is the patron of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and so the Church of Rome feels linked to the Church of Constantinople by a special fraternal bond. For this reason, following the tradition, on this felicitous occasion a delegation from the Holy See, led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has embarked on a visit to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. With all my heart, I offer my greeting and my best wishes to him and to the faithful of the patriarchate, invoking the abundance of heavenly blessings upon all.

I would like to invite you to join in prayer for the numerous people killed, wounded or in any way harmed in the brutal terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and the fighting that has broken out in Jos, Nigeria. The causes and the circumstances of these tragic events are different but the horror and the disapproval of the explosion of such cruel and senseless violence must be the same. Let us ask the Lord to touch the hearts of those who falsely believe that this is the way to resolve local or international problems and let us all feel encouraged to offer an example of meekness and love to build a society worthy of God and man.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[Then, the Pope greeted the crowds in several languages. In English, the Holy Father said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. I offer a special welcome to the participants in the Youth Meeting at the European University of Rome. Today, the First Sunday of Advent, the Church begins a new liturgical year. The Gospel invites to be prepared as faithful servants for the coming of Christ. May Advent be a time of preparation that leads us to a life centred on our Christian hope. May God bless you all!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Final Judgment
"Not a Question of Honors and Appearances"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today we celebrate, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King. We know that in the Gospels Jesus rejected the title of king when it was understood in a political sense, along the lines of “the rulers of nations” (cf. Matthew 20:24). Instead, during his passion, before Pilate he claimed a different sort of kingship. Pilate asked Jesus plainly, “Are you a king?” Jesus answered, “You have said it; I am a king” (John 18:37). A little before this, however, he had declared, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

The kingship of Christ is, indeed, the revelation and the implementation of the kingship of God the Father, who governs all things with love and with justice. The Father entrusted the Son with the mission of giving men eternal life, loving them to the point of the supreme sacrifice, and at the same time he has given him the power to judge them, from the moment that he was made Son of Man, like us in all things (cf. John 5:21-22, 26-27).

Today’s Gospel insists precisely on this universal kingship of Christ the judge, with the impressive parable of the final judgment, that St. Matthew presents right before his account of the Passion (25:31-46). The images are simple, the language is popular, but the message is extremely important: it is the truth about our ultimate destiny and lays down the criteria by which we will be judged. “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” and so on (Matthew 25:35).

Who does not know this passage? It has become a part of our civilization. It has marked the history of peoples of Christian culture, their hierarchy of values, their institutions, and their many benevolent and social organizations. In effect, the Kingdom of God is not of this world, but it brings to fulfillment all the good that, thanks to God, exists in man and history. If we put love of our neighbor into practice, according to the Gospel message, then we are making room for the lordship of God, and his kingdom will realize itself in our midst. If instead each of us thinks only of his own interests, the world cannot but be destroyed.

Dear friends, the Kingdom of God is not a question of honors and appearances, but, like St. Paul writes, it is “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). The Lord has our own good at heart, that is, that every man have life, and that especially the “least” of his children be admitted to his feast, which he has prepared for all. Because of this he has no use for the hypocritical ones who say “Lord, Lord,” but have neglected his commandments (cf. Matthew 7:21).

God will accept into his eternal kingdom those who have made the effort every day to put his word into practice. This is why the Virgin Mary, the most humble of his creatures, is the greatest in his eyes and sits as Queen at the right of Christ the King. We desire to entrust ourselves with filial confidence once again to her heavenly intercession, so that we might realize our Christian mission in the world.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the crowds in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

Tomorrow in the city of Nagasaki in Japan, the beatification of 188 martyrs -- all of them Japanese, killed in the early part of the 17th century -- will take place. I pledge my spiritual nearness on this occasion, which is so significant for the Catholic community, and for the whole country of the Rising Sun. Also, in Cuba next Saturday, Fray José Olallo Valdés, of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, will be beatified. I entrust the Cuban people to his heavenly protection, especially the sick and health workers.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus. In today’s Solemnity of Christ the King we pray that the Lord may reign in our hearts. Sustained by his grace in faith and love, we trust that by bearing witness to him on earth we may be found worthy of his promises in heaven. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome and a blessed Sunday! Let us also rejoice in anticipation with our brothers and sisters in Japan, who celebrate tomorrow in Nagasaki the beatification of the Venerable Servants of God Peter Kibe Kasui and his 187 companion martyrs. May their victory in Christ over sin and death fill us all with hope and courage!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On Investing Our Talents
"The Mistaken Attitude Is That of Fear"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Word of God this Sunday -- the penultimate of the liturgical year -- invites us to be vigilant and active, in awaiting the return of the Lord Jesus at the end of time. The Gospel passage tells the parable of the talents, reported by St. Matthew (25:14-30). The "talent" was an ancient Roman coin of great value and precisely on account of the popularity of this parable it has become synonymous with personal gifts, which everyone is called to develop.

In reality, the text speaks of "a man who, going abroad, called his servants and handed over his goods to them" (Matthew 25:14). The man in the parable represents Christ himself, the servants are his disciples and the talents are the gifts that Jesus gives them. For this reason such gifts, apart from natural qualities, represent the riches that the Lord Jesus has left us as a legacy, so that we bear fruit with them: his Word, deposited in the holy Gospel; baptism, which renews us in the Holy Spirit; prayer -- the "Our Father" -- that we address to God as sons united in the Son; his forgiveness, which he commanded to be brought to all; the sacrament of his immolated Body and his Blood that he poured out. In a word: the Kingdom of God, which is Christ himself, present and living among us.

This is the treasure that Jesus has entrusted to his friends, at the end of his brief life on earth. Today's parable considers the interior attitude with which this gift is accepted and valued. The mistaken attitude is that of fear: The servant who fears his master and fears his return, hides the coin in the ground and it does not produce any fruit. This happens, for example, to those who, having received baptism, Communion, and confirmation bury such gifts beneath prejudices, a false image of God that paralyzes faith and works, so as to betray the Lord's expectations.

But the parable puts greater emphasis on the good fruits born by the disciples who, happy at the gift received, did not hide it with fear and jealously, but made it fruitful, sharing it, participating in it. Indeed, what Christ gives us is multiplied when we give it away! It is a treasure that is made to be spent, invested, shared with all, as the Apostle Paul, that great administrator of Jesus' talents, has taught us.

The Gospel teaching, which the liturgy offers us today, has even entered into the historical and social sphere, promoting an active mentality among Christian populations. But the central message regards the spirit of responsibility with which the Kingdom of God is to be accepted: responsibility toward God and toward humanity. This attitude is perfectly incarnated in the heart of the Virgin Mary who, receiving the most precious of gifts, Jesus himself, offered him to the world with great love. Let us ask her to help us to be "good and faithful servants," so that one day we can take part "in the joy of our Lord."

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On the Lateran Basilica
"The Temple of Stones Is a Symbol of the Living Church"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the Angelus together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the liturgy celebrates the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, called “mother and head of all the churches of the city and the world.” In fact, this basilica was the first to be built after Emperor Constantine’s edict, in 313, granted Christians freedom to practice their religion.

The emperor himself gave Pope Miltiades the ancient palace of the Laterani family, and the basilica, the baptistery, and the patriarchate, that is, the Bishop of Rome’s residence -- where the Popes lived until the Avignon period -- were all built there. The basilica’s dedication was celebrated by Pope Sylvester around 324 and was named Most Holy Savior; only after the 6th century were the names of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist added, and now is typically denominated by these latter.

Initially the observance of this feast was confined to the city of Rome; then, beginning in 1565, it was extended to all the Churches of the Roman rite. The honoring of this sacred edifice was a way of expressing love and veneration for the Roman Church, which, as St. Ignatius of Antioch says, “presides in charity” over the whole Catholic communion (Letter to the Romans, 1:1).

On this solemnity the Word of God recalls an essential truth: the temple of stones is a symbol of the living Church, the Christian community, which in their letters the Apostles Peter and Paul already understood as a “spiritual edifice,” built by God with “living stones,” namely, Christians themselves, upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ, who is called the “cornerstone” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Ephesians 2:20-22). “Brothers, you are God’s building,” St. Paul wrote, and added: “holy is God’s temple, which you are” (1 Corinthians 3:9c, 17).

The beauty and harmony of the churches, destined to give praise to God, also draws us human being, limited and sinful, to convert to form a “cosmos,” a well-ordered structure, in intimate communion with Jesus, who is the true Saint of saints. This happens in a culminating way in the Eucharistic liturgy, in which the “ecclesia,” that is, the community of the baptized, come together in a unified way to listen to the Word of God and nourish themselves with the Body and Blood of Christ. From these two tables the Church of living stones is built up in truth and charity and is internally formed by the Holy Spirit transforming herself into what she receives, conforming herself more and more to the Lord Jesus Christ. She herself, if she lives in sincere and fraternal unity, in this way becomes the spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God.

Dear friends, today’s feast celebrates a mystery that is always relevant: God’s desire to build a spiritual temple in the world, a community that worships him in spirit and truth (cf. John 4:23-24). But this observance also reminds us of the importance of the material buildings in which the community gathers to celebrate the praises of God. Every community therefore has the duty to take special care of its own sacred buildings, which are a precious religious and historical patrimony. For this we call upon the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that she help us to become, like her, the “house of God,” living temple of his love.

[After the Angelus the Pope greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Today is the 70th anniversary of that sad event, which occurred during the nights of Nov. 9-10, 1938, when Nazi fury was unleashed against the Jews in Germany. Shops, offices, dwellings and synagogues were attacked and many people were also killed, initiating the systematic and violent persecution of German Jews, which ended with the Shoah. Today I still feel pain over what happened in those tragic circumstances. The memory of these things must serve to prevent similar horrors from ever happening again and must lead us to dedicate ourselves, at every level, to fight against every form of anti-Semitism and discrimination, educating the younger generations in respect and reciprocal acceptance. I invite you to pray for the victims of that time and to join with me in manifesting a deep solidarity with the Jewish world.

Troubling news continues to come from the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Bloody armed skirmishes and systematic atrocities have caused and continue to cause many casualties among innocent civilians; destruction, looting and violence of every type have forced tens of thousands of persons to abandon even what little they had to survive. The number of refugees is estimated at more than 1 and a half million. To all and to each one I desire to express my special nearness, as I encourage and bless those who are working to alleviate their sufferings, among whom are the pastoral workers of the Church of that region. To families and their loved ones I offer my condolences and assure my prayers. Finally, fervently call upon all to work together to restore peace, respect for law and the dignity of every person to that land, for too long martyred.

In Italy today the Day of Thanksgiving is celebrated. This year’s theme is: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat.” I join my voice to that of the Italian bishops who, guided by these words of Jesus, draw attention to the grave and complex problem of hunger, which has become more dramatic due to price increases on staple foods. The Church, re-proposing the basic ethical principle of the universal destination of goods, following the example of the Lord Jesus, puts this principle into practice with multiple initiatives. I pray for farmers, especially for small farmers in developing countries. I encourage and bless those who work to make sure that no one lacks healthy and adequate food: whoever gives succor to the poor gives succor to Christ himself.

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On All Saints' Day
"We Feel the Attraction for Heaven Rekindle in Us"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday, All Saints' Day, before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

Today we celebrate with great joy the feast of All Saints.

When one visits a botanical garden, he is impressed by the variety of plants and flowers, and spontaneously thinks of the fancy of a Creator who has made on earth a marvelous garden. An analogous sentiment washes over us when we consider the spectacle of sanctity: The world seems to be a "garden" where the Spirit of God has called forth with admirable imagination a multitude of men and women saints, of every age and social condition, of every language, people and culture. Each one is distinct from the others, with the uniqueness proper of the human person and of a particular spiritual charism. All of them have, though, the "seal" of Jesus (cf. Revelation 7:3), that is, the imprint of his love, witnessed by way of the cross. All are in a state of joy, in endless celebration, but, like Jesus, they have reached this goal by passing through fatigue and testing (cf. Revelation 7:14), each one confronting his own part in sacrifice so as to participate in the glory of the Resurrection.

The solemnity of All Saints was gradually affirmed over the course of the first Christian millennium as a collective celebration of the martyrs. Already in 609, in Rome, Pope Boniface IV had consecrated the Pantheon, dedicating it to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. This martyrdom, on the other hand, can be understood in a broad sense, that is, as love for Christ without reserves, love that is expressed in the total gift of oneself to God and to neighbor.

This spiritual goal, to which all the baptized are called, is reached by following the path of the Gospel beatitudes, which the liturgy proposes for us in the feast of today (cf. Matthew 5:1-12a). It is the same path traveled by Jesus, and which the saints have made an effort to travel, though aware of their human limitations. During their earthly lives, in fact, they have been poor of spirit, sorrowful for sin, humble, hungry and thirsty for justice, merciful, pure of heart, peacemakers, persecuted for justice. And God has made them participants in his own happiness: They have foretasted it in this world, and in the world beyond, they enjoy it in plenitude. Now they are consoled, inheritors of the earth, satisfied, forgiven, they see God of whom they are children. In a word, "theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" (cf. Matthew 5:3-10).

On this day we feel the attraction for heaven rekindle in us. [It] moves us to quicken our step on this earthly pilgrimage. We feel burst into flame in our hearts the desire to unite ourselves forever with the family of the saints, of which already now we have the grace to form a part. As a popular spiritual hymn says: "When the saints come marching in, oh how I want to be in their number."

May this beautiful aspiration burn in all Christians and help them to overcome every difficulty, every fear, every tribulation. Let us place, dear friends, our hand in the maternal hand of Mary, Queen of the saints, and allow ourselves to be guided by her toward the heavenly homeland, in the company of the blessed spirits "of every nation, people and tongue" (Revelation 7:9). And let us unite ourselves already in prayer, remembering our dearly departed, who tomorrow we commemorate.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints invites us to rejoice in our communion with the Saints in heaven, to implore their intercession for the Church on earth, and to follow their footsteps in the way of holiness. May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints strengthen us in faith and fervent hope in the fulfillment of Christ’s promises. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s richest blessings!

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On World Mission Sunday
"Prayer Is the First Missionary Duty of Each One of Us"

POMPEII, Italy, OCT. 19, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today before praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered at the shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii. The Pope's one-day visit to the Marian shrine takes place on World Mission Sunday, and in the middle of the world Synod of Bishops, which is under way in the Vatican through Oct. 26.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the solemn Eucharistic celebration and the traditional Supplication of the Madonna of Pompeii, following our customary Sunday practice, we once again turn our gaze to Mary with recitation of the Angelus, and we entrust to her the great petitions of the Church and of humanity.

We especially pray for the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops that is taking place in Rome and that has “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” as its theme, that it might bear the fruit of authentic renewal in every Christian community.

Another special prayer intention is offered to us by World Mission Day, which in this Pauline Year proposes for our meditation these celebrated words of the Apostle of the Gentiles: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

In this month of October, the month of missions and of the rosary, how many faithful and how many communities offer the holy rosary for missionaries and for evangelization! For this reason I am very glad to find myself today here in Pompeii, in the most important shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary. This gives me the opportunity to emphasize with greater insistence that prayer is the first missionary duty of each one of us. It is first of all through prayer that the way for the Gospel is prepared; it is through prayer that hearts are opened to the mystery of God and that souls are disposed to receive his Word of salvation.

On this day there is yet another happy coincidence to mention. Today in Lisieux, France, Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin are being beatified, the parents of Thérèse of the Child Jesus, whom Pius XI declared patroness of the missions. Through their prayer and their evangelical witness St. Thérèse’s parents accompanied and shared the journey of their daughter, who was called by the Lord to unconditionally consecrate herself to him within the walls of Carmel. It was there, in the obscurity of the cloister, that St. Thérèse realized her vocation “to be love in the heart of the Church” ("Manuscrits autobiographiques," Lisieux 1957, 229).

With the beatification of the Martins in mind, I would like to recall another intention that is close to my heart: the family, whose role is fundamental in nurturing in their children a universal spirit, open and responsive to the world and its problems, and in forming vocations to missionary life. And so, following in our heart the pilgrimage that so many families made a month ago to this shrine, we call upon the maternal protection of the Madonna of Pompeii for all the families of the world, already looking forward to the 4th World Family Meeting that is being planned for Mexico City in January 2009.

[The Pope continued in French]

On this World Mission Day, we especially join with the pilgrims gathered in Lisieux for the beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, patroness of the missions.

They proclaimed the Gospel of Christ through their exemplary married life. They lived their faith ardently and transmitted it to their family and all around them. May their prayers be a source of joy and hope for all parents and all families.

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On Peace in India
"I Urge the Perpetrators of Violence to Renounce These Acts"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the greeting Benedict XVI gave to English-speaking pilgrims in St. Peter's Square today following the recitation of the Angelus.

The Pope prayed the Angelus after he celebrated Mass, canonizing four saints: Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Butler, Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception and Narcisa de Jesús Martillo Morán.

* * *

I cordially greet the English-speaking pilgrims, in particular the Official Delegation from India and all those who have come to celebrate the canonization of Saint Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception. Her heroic virtues of patience, fortitude and perseverance in the midst of deep suffering remind us that God always provides the strength we need to overcome every trial. As the Christian faithful of India give thanks to God for their first native daughter to be presented for public veneration, I wish to assure them of my prayers during this difficult time. Commending to the providential care of Almighty God those who strive for peace and reconciliation, I urge the perpetrators of violence to renounce these acts and join with their brothers and sisters to work together in building a civilization of love. God bless you all!

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On the Role of Synods
"They Are a Coming Together"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2008 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the midday Angelus today together with the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square. In the morning the Pope opened the world Synod of Bishops on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning, with the celebration of Holy Mass in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the 12th General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was opened. The synod will be held at the Vatican and will take as its theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

You know the value and function of this particular assembly of bishops, chosen in such a way as to represent the whole episcopate and convoked to offer efficacious assistance to the Successor of Peter, manifesting and consolidating ecclesial communion at the same time. This is an important organism, instituted by my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, in his apostolic letter "Apostolica Sollicitudo," during the last phase of the Second Vatican Council, to realize a directive contained in the Council’s decree on the office of bishops, “Christus Dominus” (cf. No. 5).

The Synod of Bishops aims to foster close union and collaboration between the Pope and the bishops of the whole world, to furnish direct and exact information about the situation and problems of the Church, to foster an agreement on doctrine and pastoral action and to consider topics of great importance and contemporary relevance. These different tasks are coordinated by a permanent secretariat, which works in direct and immediate dependence on the authority of the Bishop of Rome.

Synods are constitutive of the Church: They are a coming together from every people and culture to be one in Christ; they are a walking together behind him who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). In fact the Greek word “sýnodos,” composed of the preposition “syn,” that is, “with,” and “odòs,” which means “way, road,” suggests the idea of “taking the road together,” and this is precisely the experience of the people of God in salvation history.

I have chosen for the present ordinary synodal assembly -- having sought and received authoritative opinions on the matter -- to study in depth and from a pastoral perspective the word of God in the life and mission of the Church. There has been ample participation in the preparatory phase on the part of particular Churches throughout the world, who have sent their contributions to the Synod's secretariate, who drafted the “instrumentum laboris,” the document that will be considered by the 253 synod fathers: 51 from Africa, 62 from the Americas, 41 from Asia, 90 from Europe and 9 from Oceania. Numerous experts and auditors, men and women, “brother delegates” from the other Churches and ecclesial communities, and other special invitees will join them.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite all of you to support the work of the synod with your prayer, especially invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, perfect disciple of the divine Word.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

This evening a television program entitled "Bibbia Giorno e Notte" [Bible Day and Night] will begin on Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI). This unique initiative will consist in the continuous reading of the Bible, for seven days and seven nights, from today until Saturday, Oct. 11. The site of the reading will be the Basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusaleme in Rome, and there will be nearly 1,200 readers, from 50 countries, some chosen in part with ecumenical criteria and many who signed up on their own.

This event is a fitting accompaniment to the Synod of Bishops on the word of God, and I myself will start the reading of the first chapter of the Book of Genesis. This will be broadcast by RAI 1. The word of God can thus enter into homes to accompany the lives of families and single persons: a seed that, if properly welcomed, will not fail to bear abundant fruit.

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On John Paul I
"Humility Can Be Considered His Spiritual Legacy"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 28, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before praying the Angelus with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the liturgy proposes to us the Gospel parable of the two sons whom the father sent out to work in his vineyard. One of them immediately says yes, but then does not go; the other at first refuses, but then, repenting, follows his father’s wishes.

With this parable Jesus emphasizes his predilection for sinners who convert, and he teaches us that humility is essential for welcoming the gift of salvation. St. Paul, too, in the passage from the Letter to the Philippians that we meditate on today, calls for humility. “Do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory,” he writes, “but humbly regard others as superior to you” (Philippians 2:3). These are Christ’s own sentiments, he who laid aside divine glory for love of us, became man and lowered himself even to dying on the cross (cf. Philippians 2:5-8). The Greek verb that is used here, “ekenôsen,” literally means that he “emptied himself” and places the profound humility and infinite love of Jesus, the humble Servant par excellence, in a clear light.

Reflecting on these biblical texts, I immediately thought of Pope John Paul I, the 30th anniversary of whose death is today. He chose Charles Borromeo’s motto as his own episcopal motto: “Humilitas”: a single word that synthesizes what is essential in Christian life and indicates the indispensable virtue of those who are called to the service of authority in the Church.

In one of the four general audiences of his very brief pontificate he said, among other things, in that tone that distinguished him: “I will just recommend one virtue so dear to the Lord. He said, ‘Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart.’ … Even if you have done great things, say: ‘We are useless servants.’ Alternatively, the tendency in all of us is rather the contrary: to show off” (General Audience of Sept. 6, 1978). Humility can be considered his spiritual legacy.

Because of this virtue of his, 33 days were enough for Pope Luciani to enter into the hearts of the people. In his speeches he used examples taken from concrete life, from his memories of family life and from popular wisdom. His simplicity was a vehicle of a solid and rich teaching that, thanks to the gift of an exceptional memory and great culture, he adorned with numerous references to ecclesiastical and secular writers.

He was thus an incomparable catechist, in the line of Pius X, his fellow countryman and predecessor in the See of St. Mark and then in the see of St. Peter. “We must feel small before God,” he said in the same audience. And added: “I am not ashamed to feel like a child before his mother; one believes in one's mother; I believe in the Lord, in what he has revealed to me.”

These words display the whole breadth of his faith. As we thank God for having given him to the Church and to the world, let us treasure his example, exerting ourselves to cultivate his humility, which made him capable of talking to everyone, especially the little and so-called distant. For these intentions let us call upon Mary Most Holy, humble handmaiden of the Lord.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

Summer has come to an end and I will return to the Vatican the day after tomorrow. I thank the Lord for all the gifts he has bestowed upon me during this time. I think especially of World Youth Day in Sydney, the period of rest in Bressanone, the visit to Sardinia and the apostolic trip to Paris and Lourdes; and I think of the possibility of sojourning here in this house, where I am better able to rest and work during the hottest months.

An affectionate greeting to the community of Castel Gandolfo, with a heartfelt thank you to the bishop, the mayor and the various police departments. Thanks to everyone and goodbye!

[In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. My special greeting goes to the students from Aquinas College in Australia and to the members of the Fatima pilgrimage from the Philippines. In today’s Gospel, the Lord asks us to reflect whether we are obedient to the Father in word alone, or truly committed to following his will in our daily lives. May his words inspire in us a spirit of genuine conversion and an ever more generous commitment to the spread of the Gospel. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace!

[Speaking again in Italian, he said:]

As I offer best wishes to the students who have just begun the academic year, I express appreciation for the “Making Me Study is Good for Everyone” campaign of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. In the spirit of St. Vincent, whom we celebrated in yesterday’s liturgy, this initiative is proposed to prevent the poverty of illiteracy.

I wish everyone a good month of October, month of the Holy Rosary, during which, if it pleases God, I will go on pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady at Pompei on Sunday, Oct. 19. Have a good Sunday!

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On the Last Who Are First
"Being Called Itself Is Already the First Recompense"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Perhaps you remember when, on the day of my election to the pontificate, I addressed the crowd in St. Peter's Square and I presented myself, in an off the cuff way, as a worker in the Lord's vineyard. Well, in today's Gospel (cf. Matthew 20:1-16a), Jesus recounts the parable of the owner of the vineyard, who at different hours of the day calls laborers to come work in his vineyard. And in the evening he gives to all of them the same wage -- one denarius -- provoking the protest of the laborers who had been there from the first hour.

It is clear that that denarius represents eternal life, a gift that God reserves for everyone. Indeed, precisely those who are considered "last," if they will accept it, become "first," while the "first" can run the risk of becoming "last." The first message of this parable is in the fact itself that the owner does not tolerate, so to speak, unemployment: He wants everyone to work in his vineyard. And in reality, being called itself is already the first recompense: Being able to work in the Lord's vineyard, putting yourself at his service, cooperating in his project, constitutes in itself an inestimable reward, which repays all toil.

But this is understood only by those who love the Lord and his Kingdom. Those who, instead, work solely for the pay will never recognize the value of this priceless treasure.

St. Matthew, apostle and evangelist, is the one who reports this parable that is read in today's liturgical feast. I would like to emphasize that Matthew experienced this story firsthand (cf. Matthew 9:9). In fact, before Jesus called him, Matthew was employed as a publican and for this reason was considered a public sinner by the Jews and was excluded from "the Lord's vineyard."

But everything changes when Jesus, walking by the customs house, looks at him and says "Follow me." Matthew got up and followed him. From publican he immediately became a disciple of Christ. From being "last" he finds himself as "first," thanks to the logic of God, which -- for our good fortune! -- is different from the world's logic.

"My thoughts are not your thoughts," the Lord says through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah, "your ways are not my ways" (Isaiah 55:8).

St. Paul too, whose special jubilee year we are celebrating, experienced the joy of feeling himself called by the Lord and working in his vineyard. And how much work he did! But, as he himself confessed, it was God's grace that worked through him, that grace that transformed him from a persecutor of the Church into an apostle of the Gentiles. "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain," St. Paul says. But he immediately adds: "But if living in the body means doing work that is fruitful, I do not know which to choose" (Philippians 1:21-22). Paul understood well that working for the Lord is already recompense on this earth.

The Virgin Mary, who a week ago I had the joy of venerating at Lourdes, is the perfect vine in the Lord's vineyard. From her there grew the blessed fruit of divine love: Jesus, Our Savior. May she help us to respond always and with joy to the Lord's call, and to find our happiness in the possibility of toiling for the Kingdom of Heaven.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said:]

In recent weeks Caribbean countries -- Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic in particular -- and the southern United States, especially Texas, have been hit hard by hurricanes. I would again like to assure all of those dear people that I am remembering them in my prayers. I hope that help will soon arrive in the areas that have suffered the most damage. The Lord desires that, at least in these circumstances, solidarity and fraternity prevail above all else.

This Thursday, Sept. 25, there will be a high level meeting, in the context of the 63rd General Assembly of the United Nations, to verify the accomplishment of the objectives established by the "Millennium Declaration" of Sept. 8, 2000. On the occasion of this important gathering, in which the leaders of all the countries of the world will be together, I would like to renew the invitation to take up and apply with courage the necessary measures to eliminate extreme poverty, hunger and lack of education and the scourge of the pandemics that harm the most vulnerable above all.

Such a commitment, while demanding sacrifices in these moments of worldwide economic difficulties, will not be without important benefits for the development of nations who are in need of help and for the peace and well-being of the entire planet.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel, Jesus teaches that God is always generous in his dealings with us. The Kingdom of Heaven will come to us not as a reward for our good deeds, based on strict justice, but as a grace, a gift of God's mercy and abounding love. Let us ask the Lord to keep us always in his love! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

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  On the Nearness of Our Lady
"Mary's Purity Makes Her Infinitely Close to Our Hearts"

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 14, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Lourdes before praying the Angelus and after having celebrated a Mass to mark the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's apparitions.

* * *

Dear Pilgrims, dear brothers and sisters!

Every day, praying the Angelus gives us the opportunity to meditate for a few moments, in the midst of all our activities, on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. At noon, when the first hours of the day are already beginning to weigh us down with fatigue, our availability and our generosity are renewed by the contemplation of Mary's "yes". This clear and unreserved "yes" is rooted in the mystery of Mary's freedom, a total and entire freedom before God, completely separated from any complicity with sin, thanks to the privilege of her Immaculate Conception.

This privilege given to Mary, which sets her apart from our common condition, does not distance her from us, but on the contrary, it brings her closer. While sin divides, separating us from one another, Mary's purity makes her infinitely close to our hearts, attentive to each of us and desirous of our true good. You see it here in Lourdes, as in all Marian shrines; immense crowds come thronging to Mary's feet to entrust to her their most intimate thoughts, their most heartfelt wishes. That which many, either because of embarrassment or modesty, do not confide to their nearest and dearest, they confide to her who is all pure, to her Immaculate Heart: with simplicity, without frills, in truth. Before Mary, by virtue of her very purity, man does not hesitate to reveal his weakness, to express his questions and his doubts, to formulate his most secret hopes and desires. The Virgin Mary's maternal love disarms all pride; it renders man capable of seeing himself as he is, and it inspires in him the desire to be converted so as to give glory to God.

Thus, Mary shows us the right way to come to the Lord. She teaches us to approach him in truth and simplicity. Thanks to her, we discover that the Christian faith is not a burden: it is like a wing which enables us to fly higher, so as to take refuge in God's embrace.

The life and faith of believers make it clear that the grace of the Immaculate Conception given to Mary is not merely a personal grace, but a grace for all, a grace given to the entire people of God. In Mary, the Church can already contemplate what she is called to become. Every believer can contemplate, here and now, the perfect fulfilment of his or her own vocation. May each of you always remain full of thanksgiving for what the Lord has chosen to reveal of his plan of salvation through the mystery of Mary: a mystery in which we are involved most intimately since, from the height of the Cross which we celebrate and exalt today, it is revealed to us through the words of Jesus himself that his Mother is our Mother. Inasmuch as we are sons and daughters of Mary, we can profit from all the graces given to her; the incomparable dignity that came to her through her Immaculate Conception shines brightly over us, her children.

Here, close to the grotto, and in intimate communion with all the pilgrims present in Marian shrines and with all the sick in body and soul who are seeking relief, we bless the Lord for Mary's presence among her people, and to her we address our prayer in faith:

"Holy Mary, you showed yourself here one hundred and fifty years ago to the young Bernadette, you 'are the true fount of hope' (Dante, Paradiso, XXXIII:12).

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Faithful pilgrims who have gathered here from every part of the world, we come once more to draw faith and comfort, joy and love, security and peace, from the source of your Immaculate Heart. Monstra Te esse Matrem. Show yourself a Mother for us all, O Mary! And give us Christ, the hope of the world! Amen."

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On the Reality of Evil
"It Is Not 'Optional' for Christians to Take Up the Cross"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today, too, the apostle Peter is in the foreground of the Gospel reading. But while last Sunday we admired his straightforward faith in Jesus, whom he proclaimed Messiah and Son of God, this time, in the episode that immediately follows, he displays a faith that is still immature and too much influenced by the ““mentality of this world”” (cf. Romans 12:2).

When, in fact, Jesus begins to speak openly about the fate that awaits him in Jerusalem, when he says that he must suffer much, be killed and rise again, Peter protests, saying: ““God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you”” (Matthew 16:22).

It is evident that the Master and the disciple follow two opposed ways of thinking. Peter, according to a human logic, is convinced that God would never allow his Son to end his mission dying on the cross. Jesus, on the contrary, knows that the Father, in his great love for men, sent him to give his life for them, and if this means the passion and the cross, it is right that such should happen.

On the other hand, he knows that the resurrection will be the last word. Peter’’s protest, though spoken in good faith and out of sincere love of the Master, sounds to Jesus like temptation, an invitation to save himself, while it is only in losing his life that his life will be returned to him eternally for all of us.

If to save us the Son of God had to suffer and die crucified, it certainly was not because of a cruel design of the heavenly Father. The cause of it is the gravity of the sickness of which he must cure us: an evil so serious and deadly that it will require all of his blood. In fact, it is with his death and resurrection that Jesus defeated sin and death, reestablishing the lordship of God.

But the battle is not over: Evil exists and resists in every generation, even in our own. What are the horrors of war, violence visited on the innocent, the misery and injustice that persecutes the weak, if not the opposition of evil to the Kingdom of God? And how does one respond to such evil if not with the unarmed love that defeats hatred, life that does not fear death? This is the mysterious power that Jesus used at the cost of not being understood and of being abandoned by many of his followers.

Dear brothers and sisters, to complete the work of salvation, the Redeemer continues to draw to himself and his mission men and women who are ready to take up the cross and follow him. Just as with Christ, it is not ““optional”” for Christians to take up the cross; it is rather a mission to be embraced out of love.
In our present world, where the forces that divide and destroy seem to prevail, Christ does not cease to propose his clear invitation to all: Whosoever wants to be my disciple, he must renounce his selfishness and carry the cross with me.

Let us invoke of the Holy Virgin, who was the first to follow Jesus and followed him to the way of the cross. May she help us to follow the Lord with decisiveness so as to experience from this point on, and in trial too, the glory of the resurrection.

[Following the Angelus the Pope said the following:]

In recent weeks the news has reported the growth in the episodes of irregular immigration in Africa. It is not rare that crossing the Mediterranean toward the European continent -- which is seen as a place of hope to escape adverse and often unbearable conditions -- ends in tragedy; what happened a few days ago seemed to surpass previous incidents in terms of the number of victims.

Migration is a phenomenon that has been present from the dawn of human history, and it has always, for this reason, characterized the relations between peoples and nations. The emergency that migration has become in our times, nevertheless, calls out to us and, while it solicits our solidarity, demands, at the same time, effective political answers.

I know that many regional, national, and international institutions are occupying themselves with the question of irregular migration: I applaud them and encourage them to continue this meritorious work with a sense of responsibility and humanitarian spirit. The countries of origin must also show a sense of responsibility not only because it is a matter of their own citizens, but also to remove the causes of irregular migration and cut off at the root all of the forms of criminality that are linked to these causes.

For their part, European countries, and all other countries that are the destination of immigration, are called to, among other things, develop through consensus initiatives and structures that continue to adapt themselves to the needs of irregular migrants. The latter must be made aware, on the one hand, of the value of their own lives, which are a singular good, always precious, that should be safeguarded in the face of the grave risks that the pursuit of better situations exposes them to and, on the other hand, the duty of legality that is imposed on all.

As the [Pope], I feel a profound obligation to recall everyone’’s attention to this problem and to ask for the generous cooperation of individuals and institutions to deal with it and to find solutions. May the Lord accompany us and make our efforts fruitful!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[Then the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’’s Gospel, Jesus reveals to his disciples his coming passion, death and resurrection. He also teaches us that, to follow him, we too must enter into the mystery of the cross. Faithful obedience to God and loving service of our neighbour do not always come easily. But to embrace the cross of Christ is to share in his victory. May the Lord keep us in his love! I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
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On the Pope's Mission
"To Make Present Among Men the Peace of God"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 24, 2008 -

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday's liturgy addresses the twofold question that Jesus one day posed to his disciples, to us Christians, and to every man and woman. First he asks them: "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They told him that for some he was John the Baptist come back to life, for others, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then the Lord directly asked the disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter speaks decisively and with enthusiasm on behalf of all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." A solemn proclamation of faith that the Church has continued to repeat ever since.

We too today desire to proclaim with deep conviction: Yes, Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God! We do this knowing that Christ is the true "treasure" for which it is worth sacrificing everything; he is the friend who never abandons us, because he knows the most intimate longings of our heart. Jesus is the "Son of the living God," the promised Messiah, who has come to earth to offer salvation and to satisfy the thirst for life and love that inhabits every human being. How much humanity would gain by welcoming this proclamation that brings joy and peace with it!

"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." In response to this inspired profession of faith from Peter, Jesus says: "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven."

This is the first time that Jesus speaks of the Church, whose mission is the actuation of the great design of God to gather the whole of humanity into one family in Christ. The mission of Peter, and of his successors, is precisely to serve this unity of the one Church of God made up of pagans and Jews; his indispensable ministry is to make sure that the Church never identifies herself with any particular nation or culture, but that she be the Church of all peoples, to make present among men -- who are marked by countless divisions and contrasts -- the peace of God, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters in Christ: This is the unique mission of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter.

Before the enormous responsibility of this task, I feel more and more the obligation and importance of the service to the Church and the world that has been entrusted to me. Because of this I ask you dear brothers and sisters to support me with your prayer, so that, faithful to Christ, together we can announce and bear witness to his presence in our time. May Mary, whom we confidently invoke as Mother of the Church and Star of Evangelization, obtain this grace for us.

[Following the Angelus, the Pope said the following:]

The growing tensions around the world in recent weeks is cause for lively concern. We must note, with bitterness, the threat of a progressive deterioration in the climate of confidence and cooperation that should characterize relations between nations. In the present circumstances, how can we not measure the difficulty with which humanity strives to form that common awareness of being the "family of nations" that John Paul II indicated as the ideal to the general assembly of the United Nations? We must deepen the awareness of being united by a common destiny, that, in the final analysis, is a transcendent destiny (Cf. "Message for the World Day of Peace," Jan. 1, 2006, No. 6), to avert the return to nationalistic conflicts that in other historical periods have had such tragic consequences.

The recent events have weakened the confidence in many that such experiences had been consigned to the past. But we must not give in to pessimism! We must instead actively commit ourselves to reject the temptation to confront new situations with old systems. Violence must be repudiated! The moral force of law, equitable and transparent negotiations to settle controversies, beginning with those linked to the territorial integrity and self-determination of peoples, fidelity to the word given, pursuit of the common good: These are some of the principal routes to take, with tenacity and creativity, to build fruitful and sincere relations and to guarantee to present and future generations times of concord and moral and civil progress!

Let us transform these thoughts and these desires into prayer, so that all the members of the international community and those, in particular, who have been given great responsibility, will work with generosity to re-establish the superior motivations of justice and peace. Mary, Queen of peace, intercede for us!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[Then the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today's Liturgy reminds us that as Christians we profess with Simon Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. As members of the Church may we always find the courage to live faithfully and bear witness in word and deed to Christ our Lord and Saviour. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

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Aug. 3 Angelus Address
"Seek to Make the Earth More Human"

BRESSANONE, Italy, AUG. 20, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 3 before reciting the midday Angelus with those gathered in the Cathedral Square at Bressanone.

The Holy Father was on vacation in the Dolomites, where he stayed at the major seminary of Bressanone.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A cordial welcome to you all! I would first like to say a word of profound thanks to you, dear Bishop Egger: You have made possible here this celebration of faith. You have ensured that once again I could, as it were, return to my past and at the same time advance into my future; and once again spend my vacation in beautiful Bressanone, this land where art and culture and the goodness of the people are interconnected: A heartfelt "thank you" for all of this!

And of course, I thank all who, together with you, have contributed to ensuring that I could spend peaceful and serene days here: my thanks to all those who shared in the organization of this celebration! I cordially thank all the Authorities of the City, of the Region and of the State, for all they have done by way of organization, the volunteers who are offering their help, the doctors, so many people who have been necessary, especially the Police Force; I am grateful for everyone's collaboration. I am sure I have left out many people! May the Lord reward you all for it: you are all in my prayers. This is the only way in which I can thank you. And, naturally, above all let us thank the good Lord who has given us this earth and has also given us this Sunday bathed in sunshine.

Thus we arrive at the Liturgy of the day. The first Reading reminds us that the greatest things in this life of ours can neither be purchased nor paid for because the most important and elementary things in our life can only be given: the sun and its light, the air that we breathe, water, the earth's beauty, love, friendship, life itself. We cannot buy any of these essential and central goods but they are given to us. The Second Reading then adds that this means they are also things that no one can take from us, of which no dictatorship, no destructive force can rob us. Being loved by God who knows and loves each one of us in Christ; no one can take this away and, while we have this, we are not poor but rich. The Gospel adds a third consideration. If we receive such great gifts from God, we in turn must give them: in a spiritual context giving kindness, friendship and love, but also in a material context -- the Gospel speaks of the multiplication of the loaves. These two things must penetrate our souls today: we must be people who give, because we are people who receive; we must pass on to others the gifts of goodness and love and friendship, but at the same time we must also give material gifts to all who have need of us, whom we can help, and thus seek to make the earth more human, that is, closer to God.

Now, dear friends, I ask you to join me in a devout and filial commemoration of the Servant of God, Pope Paul VI, the 30th anniversary of whose death we shall be celebrating in a few days. Indeed, he gave up his spirit to God on the evening of 6 August 1978, the evening of the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, a mystery of divine light that always exercised a remarkable fascination upon his soul. As Supreme Pastor of the Church, Paul VI guided the People of God to contemplation of the Face of Christ, the Redeemer of man and Lord of history. And it was precisely this loving orientation of his mind and heart toward Christ that served as a cornerstone of the Second Vatican Council, a fundamental attitude that my venerable Predecessor John Paul II inherited and relaunched during the great Jubilee of the Year 2000.

At the centre of everything, always and only Christ: at the centre of the Sacred Scriptures and of Tradition, in the heart of the Church, of the world and of the entire universe. Divine Providence summoned Giovanni Battista Montini from the See of Milan to that of Rome during the most sensitive moment of the Council -- when there was a risk that Blessed John XXIII's intuition might not materialize. How can we fail to thank the Lord for his fruitful and courageous pastoral action? As our gaze on the past grows gradually broader and more aware, Paul VI's merit in presiding over the Council Sessions, in bringing it successfully to conclusion and in governing the eventful post-conciliar period appears ever greater, I should say almost superhuman. We can truly say, with the Apostle Paul, that the grace of God in him "was not in vain" (cf. 1 Cor 15: 10): it made the most of his outstanding gifts of intelligence and passionate love for the Church and for humankind. As we thank God for the gift of this great Pope, let us commit ourselves to treasure his teachings.

In the last period of the Council, Paul VI wanted to pay a special tribute to the Mother of God and solemnly proclaimed her "Mother of the Church". Let us now address the prayer of the Angelus to her, the Mother of Christ, the Mother of the Church, our Mother.

[After the Angelus the Pope said:]

Dear Friends,

Next Friday, 8 August, the 29th Olympic Games will begin in Beijing. I am pleased to address to the host Country, to the organizers and to the participants, and first of all to the athletes, my cordial greeting and the hope that each one may give of his or her best in the genuine Olympic spirit. I am following with deep interest this great sports event -- the most important and anticipated in the world -- and I warmly hope that it will offer the international community an effective example of coexistence among people of the most different provenances, with respect for their common dignity. May sports once again be a pledge of brotherhood and peace among peoples!

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors united with us here in Bressanone for this Angelus prayer. Wednesday, the feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration, marks the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI. As we recall this great Pontiff who concluded the Second Vatican Council and guided the first phase of the post-conciliar renewal, let us give thanks for his wise teaching, his passionate love of the Church, and his desire to draw all people to the contemplation of Christ’s glory. Dear friends, during these summer holidays, may you grow closer to the Lord in prayer, and may he shed the light of his face upon you and your families!

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week and good holidays -- please God! My thanks again to you all!

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Aug. 10 Angelus Address
"The Lord Is Continuously Holding Out His Hand to Us"

BRESSANONE, Italy, AUG. 20, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 10 before reciting the midday Angelus with those gathered in the Cathedral Square at Bressanone.

The Holy Father was on vacation in the Dolomites, where he stayed at the major seminary of Bressanone.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There is a point in Mark's Gospel where he recounts that after days of stress the Lord said to the disciples: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while" (6: 31). And since the Word of Christ is never connected solely to the moment in which it was spoken I have applied this invitation to the disciples also to myself, and I came to this beautiful, tranquil place to rest for a while.

I must thank Bishop Egger and all his collaborators, the whole City and Region of Bressanone, for preparing this beautiful quiet place for me in which, during the past two weeks I have been able to relax, to think of God and of humanity, and thus to recover fresh energy. May God reward you!

I ought to thank many individuals but I shall do something simpler: I commend you all to God's Blessing. He knows each one of you by name and his Blessing will touch each of you personally. I ask this with all my heart, and may it be my "thank you" to you all!

This Sunday's Gospel brings us back from this place of rest to daily life. It tells how, after the multiplication of the loaves, the Lord withdraws to the mountain to be alone with the Father. In the meantime, the disciples are on the lake and with their poor little boat are endeavoring in vain to stand up to a contrary wind.

To the Evangelist this episode may have seemed an image of the Church of his time: like the small barque which was the Church of that period, he found himself buffeted by the contrary wind of history and it may have seemed that the Lord had forgotten him.

We too can see this as an image of the Church of our time which in many parts of the earth finds herself struggling to make headway in spite of the contrary wind, and it seems the Lord is very remote.

But the Gospel gives us an answer, consolation and encouragement and at the same time points out a path to us. It tells us, in fact: yes, it is true, the Lord is with the Father but for this very reason he is not distant but sees everyone, for whoever is with God does not go away but is close to his neighbour.

And, in fact, the Lord sees them and at the proper time comes towards them. And when Peter, who was going to meet him, risks drowning, the Lord takes him by the hand and brings him to safety on the boat.

The Lord is continuously holding out his hand to us too. He does so through the beauty of a Sunday; he does so through the solemn liturgy; he does so in the prayer with which we address him; he does so in the encounter with the Word of God; he does so in many situations of daily life - he holds his hand out to us. And only if we take the Lord's hand, if we let ourselves be guided by him, will the path we take be right and good.

For this reason let us pray to him that we may succeed ever anew in finding his hand. And at the same time, this implies an exhortation: that, in his Name we hold our own hand out to others, to those in need of it, to lead them through the waters of our history.

In these days, dear friends, I have also been thinking over my experience in Sydney, where I encountered the joyful faces of so many young men and women from every part of the world. So it was that a reflection on this event developed in me which I would like to share with you.

In the great metropolis of the young Australian nation, those youth were a sign of authentic joy, at times boisterous but always peaceful and positive. Although they were so numerous, they caused neither disorder nor damage of any kind. In order to be happy they did not need to have recourse to vulgar or violent ways, to alcohol or narcotics.

In them was the joy of meeting one another and of discovering a new world together. How is it possible not to compare them to their peers who, in search of false escapes, have degrading experiences that all too often result in overwhelming tragedies? This is a typical product of today's so-called "society of well-being", which, to fill inner emptiness and the boredom that goes with it induces people to try new experiences, more exciting, more "extreme".

Even holidays risk evaporating into a vain pursuit of mirages of pleasure. Yet in this way the spirit does not rest, the heart does not find joy or peace; on the contrary, it ends even wearier and sadder than it was at the start.

I have referred to young people because it is they who thirst most after life and new experiences and are therefore the most at risk.

The reflection, however, applies to us all: the human person is truly regenerated only in the relationship with God and God is encountered by learning to listen to his voice in inner stillness and silence (cf. 1 Kgs 19: 12).

Let us pray that in a society where everyone is always in a rush, holidays may be days of true relaxation during which it is possible to carve out times for recollection and prayer that are indispensable in order to rediscover in depth both oneself and others. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Virgin of silence and listening.

[After the Angelus the Pope said:]

A cause of deep anguish is the ever more dramatic news of the tragic events in Georgia that, starting in the region of South Ossetia, have already taken many innocent victims and forced a large number of civilians to abandon their homes.

I earnestly hope that military operations will immediately cease and that, also in the name of the common Christian heritage, people will abstain from further confrontations and violent reprisals that could degenerate into a conflict on a far larger scale.

May the way of negotiation and respectful and constructive dialogue be taken instead and thereby spare those beloved peoples further suffering that tears them apart.

I likewise ask the International Community and the countries that are most influential in the current situation to make every effort to sustain and promote initiatives that aim to achieve a permanent peaceful solution, in favour of open and respectful coexistence.

Together with our Orthodox brethren, let us pray intensely for these intentions which we confidently entrust to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of Jesus and of all Christians.

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Assumption
"The Lord Humbles the Proud and Raises the Humble"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 19, 2008 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 15, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In the heart of what the Latins called "feriae Augusti," August holiday, from which stems the Italian word "ferragosto" -- the Church celebrates today the Assumption of the Virgin into heaven in soul and body. In the Bible, the last reference to her earthly life is found at the beginning of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, which presents the Virgin Mary gathered in prayer with the disciples in the Cenacle in anticipation of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14).

Subsequently, a twofold tradition -- in Jerusalem and Ephesus -- attests to her "dormition," as the East says, that is, her "falling asleep" in God. That was the event that preceded her passage from earth to heaven, confessed by the uninterrupted faith of the Church. In the eighth century, for example, John Damascene, great doctor of the Eastern Church, established a direct relation between Mary's "dormition" and Jesus' death, affirming explicitly the truth of her corporal assumption. In a famous homily he wrote: "It was necessary that she who bore the Creator in her womb when he was a baby, should live with him in the tabernacles of heaven" (Second Homily on the Dormition, 14, PG 96, 741 B). As mentioned, this firm conviction of the Church found its crowning in the dogmatic definition of the Assumption, pronounced by my venerated predecessor Pius XII in the year 1950.

As the Second Vatican Council teaches, Mary Most Holy is always situated in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. In this perspective, "the Mother of Jesus, being in heaven, now glorified in body and soul, is the image and first fruits of the Church which will have its fulfillment in the age to come, now shines on the earth as a sign of sure hope and consolation for the people of God, pilgrims until the day when the Lord will return (cf. 2 Peter 3:10)" (Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 68). From paradise Our Lady always continues to watch over her children -- whom Jesus entrusted to her before dying on the cross -- especially in the difficult hours of trial. How many testimonies of her maternal solicitude one sees when visiting shrines dedicated to her! I am thinking especially at this moment of the singular world fortress of life and hope that is Lourdes, where, God willing, I will go in a month to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions that took place there.

Mary assumed into heaven shows us the ultimate end of our earthly pilgrimage. She reminds us that the whole of our being -- spirit, soul and body -- is destined to the fullness of life; that he who lives and dies in the love of God and of his neighbor will be transfigured in the image of the glorious body of the Risen Christ; that the Lord humbles the proud and raises the humble (cf. Luke 1:51-52). Our Lady proclaims this in eternity with the mystery of her Assumption. May you always be praised, O Virgin Mary!

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Aug. 17 Angelus Address
"Overcome Every Possible Temptation to Racism, Intolerance and Exclusion"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

On this 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the liturgy proposes a reflection on the words of the prophet Isaiah: "And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him ... I will bring to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer ... for my house shall be called a house of prayer" (Isaiah 56:6-7). The Apostle Paul also makes reference to the universality of salvation in the second reading, as does the Gospel page that narrates the episode of the woman of Cana, a foreigner for the Jews, that Jesus listened to because of her great faith. The word of God thus offers us the opportunity to reflect on the universality of the mission of the Church, made up of peoples of all races and cultures. Indeed, herein lies the great responsibility of the ecclesial community, called to be a hospitable house for all, sign and instrument of communion for the whole human family.

How important it is, especially in our time, that every Christian community be ever more conscious of this, in order to help civil society to overcome every possible temptation to racism, intolerance and exclusion, and to organize itself with options that are respectful of the dignity of every human being! One of humanity's great victories is precisely the overcoming of racism. Unfortunately, however, there are new worrying manifestations of the latter, often linked to social and economic problems, which, however, can never justify contempt and racial discrimination. Let us pray that respect for every person will grow everywhere, together with the responsible awareness that only by the reciprocal acceptance of all is it possible to build a world marked by real justice and true peace.

Today I would like to propose another prayer intention, given the news we receive, especially during this period, of numerous road accidents. We must not get used to this sad reality! Human life is too precious and it is too unworthy of man to meet death or become an invalid due to causes that could mostly be avoided. There is certainly a need for a greater sense of responsibility, above all by drivers, as accidents are often caused by excessive speed and imprudent conduct. Driving on public roads calls for moral and civic sense. Indispensable to fostering this is authorities' constant endeavor to prevent, keep watch and restrict. Moreover, as the Church, we feel directly involved at the ethical level: Christians must above all make a personal examination of conscience on their own conduct as drivers; moreover, communities should educate everyone to consider traffic as a field in which life must be protected and love of neighbor concretely exercised.

Let us commend the social problems I have mentioned to the maternal intercession of Mary, whom we now invoke by praying the Angelus.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In Italian, he said:]

I am following with close attention and concern the situation in Georgia, and feel particularly close to the victims of the conflict. While I offer a special prayer for the repose of the souls of the deceased and express my sincere sympathy for all those in mourning, I appeal for generous relief of the serious harm that the refugees are suffering, especially the women and children, who are even lacking what is necessary to survive. I appeal for the opening, without delay, of humanitarian corridors between the region of South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia, so that the dead who are still abandoned, can received a worthy burial, that the wounded may be adequately attended and that those who so wish it be allowed to be reunited with their loved ones. Moreover, the ethnic minorities involved in the conflict must be guaranteed safety and the inviolability of their fundamental rights. I hope, finally, that the present cease-fire, agreed thanks to the contribution of the European Union, might be consolidated and be transformed into a stable peace. At the same time, I call upon the international community to continue offering its support to achieve a lasting solution, through dialogue and the good will of all.

[He continued in German and Italian:]

I received with profound sorrow the news of the unexpected death of Bishop Wilhelm Emil Egger of Bolzano-Bressanone. A few days ago I bade him farewell and I thought he was enjoying good health. Nothing led one to think of such a quick demise. I add my sympathy to that of his relatives and of the whole diocese, in which he was greatly appreciated and loved for his commitment and dedication. I raise a fervent prayer to the Lord for the eternal rest of this good and faithful servant, I send a special apostolic blessing of consolation to his brother -- a Capuchin religious -- to his other relatives, and to all the priests, men and women religious and faithful of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone.

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On God's Marriage Proposal
"In Our Name, Mary Said Yes"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave before and after praying the midday Angelus, at the end of the World Youth Day closing Mass.

* * *

Dear Young Friends,

In the beautiful prayer that we are about to recite, we reflect on Mary as a young woman, receiving the Lord's summons to dedicate her life to him in a very particular way, a way that would involve the generous gift of herself, her womanhood, her motherhood. Imagine how she must have felt. She was filled with apprehension, utterly overwhelmed at the prospect that lay before her.

The angel understood her anxiety and immediately sought to reassure her. "Do not be afraid, Mary .... The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you" (Lk 1:30, 35). It was the Spirit who gave her the strength and courage to respond to the Lord's call. It was the Spirit who helped her to understand the great mystery that was to be accomplished through her. It was the Spirit who enfolded her with his love and enabled her to conceive the Son of God in her womb.

This scene is perhaps the pivotal moment in the history of God's relationship with his people. During the Old Testament, God revealed himself partially, gradually, as we all do in our personal relationships. It took time for the chosen people to develop their relationship with God. The Covenant with Israel was like a period of courtship, a long engagement. Then came the definitive moment, the moment of marriage, the establishment of a new and everlasting covenant. As Mary stood before the Lord, she represented the whole of humanity. In the angel's message, it was as if God made a marriage proposal to the human race. And in our name, Mary said yes.

In fairy tales, the story ends there, and all "live happily ever after". In real life it is not so simple. For Mary there were many struggles ahead, as she lived out the consequences of the "yes" that she had given to the Lord. Simeon prophesied that a sword would pierce her heart. When Jesus was twelve years old, she experienced every parent's worst nightmare when, for three days, the child went missing. And after his public ministry, she suffered the agony of witnessing his crucifixion and death. Throughout her trials she remained faithful to her promise, sustained by the Spirit of fortitude. And she was gloriously rewarded.

Dear young people, we too must remain faithful to the "yes" that we have given to the Lord's offer of friendship. We know that he will never abandon us. We know that he will always sustain us through the gifts of the Spirit. Mary accepted the Lord's "proposal" in our name. So let us turn to her and ask her to guide us as we struggle to remain faithful to the life-giving relationship that God has established with each one of us. She is our example and our inspiration, she intercedes for us with her Son, and with a mother's love she shields us from harm.

[After leading the Angelus, prayed in Latin, there were farewell addresses from Cardinals George Pell of Sydney and Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. Then, the Holy Father greeted the youth in five languages. Finally, the Pontiff said:]

The time has come for me to say good-bye - or rather, to say arrivederci! I thank you all for your participation in World Youth Day 2008, here in Sydney, and I look forward to seeing you again in three years' time. World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain. Until then, let us continue to pray for one another, and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world. May God bless you all.

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On the Pauline Year
"Invites All Christians to Be Missionaries of the Gospel"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2008 - Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave Sunday after celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and before praying the Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul occurs on a Sunday, thus, the whole Church, and not only the Church of Rome, celebrates it in a solemn way.

This coincidence is also propitious insofar as it further highlights an extraordinary event: the Pauline Year, which I officially opened last night at the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and which will last until June 29, 2009.

Historians in fact situate the birth of Saul -- who later became Paul -- about 7 to 10 years after Christ’’s. Thus, after the passage of about 2,000 years, I wanted to call this special jubilee, which will naturally have Rome as its center, especially the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls and the place of martyrdom at Tre Fontane.

But it will involve the whole Church, beginning with Tarsus, Paul’’s city of birth, and the other Pauline places in present day Turkey and the Holy Land, which are pilgrimage destinations, as well as the island of Malta, where the apostle came after a shipwreck and sowed the fruitful seed of the Gospel.

In reality, the horizon of the Pauline Year cannot but be universal because St. Paul was, par excellence, the apostle of those who, in regard to the Jews, were ““distant,”” and who, ““thanks to the blood of Christ,”” were drawn ““near”” (Ephesians 2:13). For this reason, today too, in a world that has become ““small,”” but where many have not yet met the Lord Jesus, the jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to be missionaries of the Gospel.

This missionary dimension must always be accompanied by that of unity, represented by St. Peter, the ““rock”” on which Jesus Christ built his Church. As is underscored by the liturgy, the charisms of the two great apostles are complementary in building up the one people of God and Christians cannot offer a valid witness to Christ if they are not united.

The theme of unity is highlighted today by the traditional rite of the pallium, which I bestowed upon the metropolitan archbishops who were named this past year. There are 40, and 2 others will receive the pallium in their Sees. Again I greet them too.

Today’’s solemnity is further a special cause of joy for the Bishop of Rome inasmuch as he welcomes the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in the dear person of His Holiness Bartholomew I, to whom I renew my fraternal greeting, extending it to the entire delegation of the Orthodox Church that he leads.
The Pauline Year, evangelization, communion in the Church and full unity among Christians: Let us now pray for these great intentions, entrusting them to the celestial intercession of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.

[The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. In a special way I greet the Metropolitan Archbishops who have received the pallium, accompanied by their relatives and friends on this Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. May the courageous example of these Holy Patrons inspire the Archbishops as they preach the saving word of God. I am also pleased to extend warm greetings to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomew I, and to the members of his delegation. Through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, may all Christians bear clear witness to the truth and the love that sets us free. God bless you all!

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On Being Unafraid
"He Who Fears God Feels Interiorly the Security of a Child"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 22, 2008.- 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.

* * *

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.

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On the Way of Peace
"The Place Where We Find Ourselves Is Permeated With Symbolism"

BRINDISI, Italy, JUNE 15, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Brindisi before praying the midday Angelus. The Pope was on a two-day pastoral visit to the coastal cities of Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi in the southwestern Italian region of Apulia.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before concluding the celebration, I would like to express my gratitude to those who prepared it with such care and animated it with music and song. I thank those who organized my trip and continue to be of assistance so that it goes well: I think of the different local officials, the security, the volunteers and of you, dear citizens of Brindisi. I invite all of you, as I do every Sunday to join with me in praying the Angelus.

The place where we find ourselves -- the port -- is permeated with symbolism. Every port speaks of welcome, of rest, of security; it speaks of the shore that was longed for after the sea voyage that was perhaps long and difficult. But it also speaks of departure, of projects and aspirations, of the future. The port of Brindisi especially plays an important role for communication with the Mediterranean Sea and the East; because of this, there is a base of the United Nations here that has a vital humanitarian purpose.
From this suggestive place, not far from Calimera -- the city known as Italy's "hello" -- I want therefore to renew the Christian message of cooperation and of peace between all peoples, especially between those nations who crown this sea, ancient cradle of civilization, and those of the Near and Middle East. I would like to renew this message in the words that I used two months ago at the United Nations in New York: "The action of the international community and its institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. "On the contrary, it is indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage. What is needed is a deeper search for ways of pre-empting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation." From this limb of Europe that stretches out into the Mediterranean, between East and West, we turn once again to Mary, Mother who "shows us the way" -- "Odegitria" -- giving us Jesus, the way of peace. We invoke her with all the titles with which she is venerated in the shrines of Puglia, and especially here, in this ancient port, we pray to her as "port of salvation" for every man and for all of humanity. May her maternal protection always defend your city and region, Italy, Europe and the whole world against the tempests that threaten the faith and true values; may she permit the young generations to take to the sea without fear, to face the voyage of life with Christian hope. Mary, port of salvation, pray for us!

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On the Call of Matthew (June 8, '08)
"True Religion Consists in the Love of God and Neighbour"

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the center of the Liturgy of the Word this Sunday there is an expression of the prophet Hosea that Jesus takes up again in the Gospel: “I want love and not sacrifice, knowledge of God more than holocausts” (Hosea 6:6).

We have a key word here, one that opens for us the door to the heart of sacred Scripture. The context in which Jesus makes it his own, is the call of Matthew, a “publican” by profession, a tax collector for the imperial Roman authorities: Because of this he was considered a public sinner by the Jews.

Called while he was sitting on the tax collector’s bench -- this scene is beautifully depicted in a celebrated painting of Caravaggio -- Jesus goes to Matthew’s house with his disciples and sits down to dinner with other publicans. To the scandalized Pharisees Jesus replies: “The healthy do not need the doctor but the sick do … I have not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).

The Evangelist Matthew, who is always attentive to the link between the Old and the New Testament, puts the words of Hosea’s prophecy on Jesus’ lips: “Go, therefore, and learn the meaning of the words: ‘It is mercy that I want and not sacrifice.’”

The importance of this expression of the prophet is such that the Lord repeats it again in another context, in regard to the observance of the Sabbath (cf. Matthew 12:1-8). Even in this context he assumes the responsibility for the interpretation of this precept, revealing himself as the “Lord” of the legal institutions themselves.

Turning to the Pharisees he adds: “If you would have understood the meaning of the words ‘It is mercy that I want and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned those who were without fault” (Matthew 12:7). So, in this pronouncement of Hosea Jesus, the Word made man, is fully rediscovered, so to speak.

He made these words his own with all of his heart and he realized them in his conduct even at the cost of vexing the leaders of his people. This word of God has reached us, through the Gospels, as one of the syntheses of the entire Christian message: True religion consists in the love of God and neighbor. This is what gives liturgical worship and the observance of the precepts their value.

Turning now to the Virgin Mary, let us ask through her intercession always to live in the joy of the Christian experience. May the Mother of Mercy, the Madonna, awaken in us the sentiments of filial abandonment to God, who is infinite mercy; may she help us to make our own the prayer that St. Augustine formulates in a famous passage of the “Confessions”: “Have mercy on me, Lord! See, I do not hide my wounds: You are my doctor, I am the sick one; you are merciful, I am miserable. All of my hope is placed in your great mercy” (X, 28, 39; 29, 40).

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On the Sacred Heart
"Every Person Needs a 'Center' in His Life"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2008

- 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.

* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this Sunday, the first day of June, I would like to note that this month is traditionally dedicated to the Heart of Christ, a symbol of the Christian faith that is dear to the faithful, to the mystics and to theologians because it expresses in a simple and authentic way the ““glad tidings”” of love, summarizing the mystery of the Incarnation and the Redemption in itself.

Friday we celebrated the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the third and final of the feasts that follow Easter, after the Most Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi. This succession of feasts brings to mind a movement toward the center: a movement of the Spirit that is guided by God himself.

From the infinite horizon of his love, in fact, God desired to enter into the limits of history and the human condition, he took on a body and a heart; thus we can contemplate and meet the infinite in the finite, the mystery of the invisible and ineffable human heart of Jesus, the Nazarene.

In my first encyclical on the theme of love, the point of departure was the gaze turned toward Christ’’s pierced side, of which John speaks in his Gospel (cf. John 19:37; ““Deus Caritas Est,”” 12). And this center of the faith is also the font of the hope in which we have been saved, the hope that I made the object of my second encyclical.
Every person needs a ““center”” in his life, a source of truth and goodness to draw from in the flux of the different situations of everyday life and its toil. Everyone of us, when he pauses for a moment of silence, needs to feel not only the beating of his own heart, but more deeply, the beating of a trustworthy presence, perceptible to the senses of faith and yet more real: the presence of Christ, heart of the world.

And so I invite everyone to renew his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ in the month of June, making use of the traditional prayer of the offering of the day and keeping in mind the intentions that I have proposed to the whole Church.
Along with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the liturgy invites us to venerate the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Let us always entrust ourselves to her with great confidence.

Once again I would like to invoke the Virgin’’s maternal intercession for the people of China and Myanmar, stricken by natural disasters, and for those who are dealing with the many situations of suffering, of sickness and material and spiritual misery that mark the journey of humanity.

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On Daily Bread
"He Became Our Food to Give Us Life"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2008 - 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.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
The solemnity of Corpus Domini is celebrated in Italy and in various countries today. It was observed in the Vatican and in other countries Thursday. It is the feast of the Eucharist, the wondrous gift of Christ, who in the Last Supper wanted to leave us a memorial of his Passover, the sacrament of his Body and his Blood, pledge of his immense love for us.

Last week our gaze was attracted by the mystery of the most holy Trinity; today we are invited to look upon the consecrated Host: It is the same God! The same Love! This is the beauty of Christian truth: The Creator and Lord of all things became "a grain of wheat" to be sown in our earth, in the furrow of our history; he became bread to be broken, shared, eaten; he became our food to give us life, his own divine life. He was born in Bethlehem, which in Hebrew means "House of Bread," and when he began to preach to the crowds he revealed that the Father sent him into the world as "living bread come down from heaven," as "bread of life."

The Eucharist is the school of charity and solidarity. Those who eat the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before those who, even in our days, lack daily bread. Many parents are barely able to provide for themselves and their children. It is a grave and growing problem that the international community finds hard to solve. The Church does not only pray "give us this day our daily bread," but, following the Lord's example, works in every way "to multiply the five loaves and two fish" with countless humanitarian efforts and sharing so that no one remains without the necessities of life.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the feast of Corpus Domini be an occasion to grow in this concrete attention to our brothers, especially the poor. May the Virgin Mary obtain this grace for us. From her, the Son of God took his flesh and blood, as we say in a celebrated Eucharistic hymn, set to music by great composers: "Ave verum corpus natum de Maria Virgine," and which concludes with the invocation: "O Jesu dulcis, o Jesu pie, o Jesu fili Mariae!"

May Mary, who, carrying Jesus in her womb, was the living "tabernacle" of the Eucharist, communicate to us her faith in the holy mystery of the Body and Blood of her divine Son, that he may truly be the center of our life. We will be gathered around her next Saturday, May 31, at 8 in the evening in St. Peter's Square for a special celebration and conclusion of the month of Mary.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father made the following remarks:]
I greet the Chinese-speaking pilgrims who have come to Rome from all over Italy on the occasion of the World Day of Prayer for the Church in China. I entrust to God's mercy all of your countrymen who died in the earthquake that recently struck a vast area of your homeland. I renew my personal nearness to those who are experiencing hours of anxiety and tribulation. Thanks to the fraternal solidarity of all, the populations of these zones can soon return to the normality of daily life.

Together with you I ask Mary, Help of Christians, Our Lady of Sheshan, to support "the efforts of those who, among their daily toil, continue to believe, to hope, to love so that they never fear to speak of Jesus to the world and of the world to Jesus," ever remaining "credible witnesses" of his love and "keeping themselves united with the rock of Peter on which the Church is built."

[The Holy Father then greeted the people 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 Church celebrates in different places the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. On Thursday with many of the faithful, I had the joy of taking part in the Corpus Christi procession and venerating this Holy Sacrament in prayer and adoration. Our faith invites us to receive the Body and Blood of Christ with pure hearts so as to enter into communion with him. May his presence always renew our Christian love as we journey with him to Eternal Life. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!

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On Mary's Intercession
"'Trust in me!' Mary Repeats This Again to Us Today"

GENOA, Italy, MAY 18, 2008- Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Angelus in Piazza Matteotti during his pastoral visit to Genoa.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the heart of my pastoral visit to Genoa, we have arrived at the customary moment for the Sunday Angelus and my thoughts naturally return to the Sanctuary of Nostra Signora della Guardia, where I stopped to pray this morning. Many times Pope Benedict XV, your illustrious fellow citizen, went as a pilgrim to that mountain oasis, and in the Vatican Gardens he had a reproduction made of that dear image of the Madonna della Guardia. And just as my venerable predecessor, John Paul II did, in his first apostolic pilgrimage to Genoa, I too wanted to begin my pastoral visit by offering homage to the heavenly Mother of God, who from the height of Mount Figogna watches over the city and all its inhabitants.

Tradition tells of how the Madonna, in her first appearance to Benedetto Pareto -- who was worried about how he would go about building a church in that place so far from the city -- said: ““Trust in me! You will not lack the means. With my help everything will be easy. Only be firm in your will.”” ““Trust in me!”” Mary repeats this again to us today. An ancient prayer, very dear to popular tradition, has us address these words to her, that today we make our own: ““Remember, O, most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided.””

It is with this certainty that we invoke the maternal assistance of the Madonna della Guardia for your diocesan community, your pastors, consecrated persons, faithful laypeople, young people, families, old people. We ask her especially to watch over the sick and the suffering, and to make fruitful the missionary initiatives that are under way to bring the proclamation of the Gospel to all. Together we entrust to Mary the whole city, with its diverse population, its cultural, social and economic activities, the problems and the challenges of our times, and the commitment of those who work together for the common good.

My gaze now turns to all of Liguria, spangled with churches and Marian shrines, placed like a crown between the sea and the mountains. With you I thank God for the robust and tenacious faith of past generations that, in the course of centuries, authored memorable passages of sanctity and human civilization. Liguria, and Genoa in particular, has always been a land open to the Mediterranean and the whole world: How many missionaries have set out from this port for the Americas and other distant lands! How many people have immigrated from here to other countries, poor perhaps in material resources, but rich in faith and human and spiritual values, which they transplanted in the places where they settled! Mary, Star of the Sea, continue to shine on Genoa! Mary, Star of Hope, continue to guide the journey of the Genovese, especially the new generations, that they find the right way in the often tempestuous sea of life!

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On Pentecost
"The Baptism of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2008 - Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Regina Caeli with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father had just finished celebrating Mass for the feast of Pentecost.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, an ancient Hebrew feast in which the covenant made between God and his people on Mount Sinai (cf. Exodus 19) was celebrated. It became a Christian feast on account of what happened during this celebration 50 days after Jesus' resurrection.

We read in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples were gathered together in prayer in the Cenacle when the Holy Spirit descended upon them with power like wind and fire. They then began to proclaim the glad tidings of Christ's resurrection in many languages (cf. Acts 2:1-4). That was the "baptism in the Holy Spirit," which had already been announced by John the Baptist: "I have baptized you with water," he said to the crowds, "but he who comes after me is more powerful than me. (...) He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 3:11).

In effect, Jesus' whole mission was aimed at giving the Spirit of God to men and baptizing them in the "bath" of regeneration. This was realized through his glorification (cf. John 7:39), that is, through his death and resurrection: Then the Spirit of God was poured out in a superabundant way, like a waterfall able to purify every heart, to extinguish the flames of evil and ignite the fire of divine love in the world.

The Acts of the Apostles present Pentecost as a fulfillment of such a promise and therefore as the crowning moment of Jesus' whole mission. After his resurrection, he himself ordered his disciples to stay in Jerusalem, because, he said, "In a short time you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit" (Acts 1:8); and he added: "You will have the power of the Holy Spirit, who will descend upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all of Galilee and Samaria unto the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Pentecost is, thus, in a special way, the baptism of the Church who undertakes her universal mission beginning from the streets of Jerusalem with prodigious preaching in the different languages of humanity. In this baptism of the Holy Spirit the personal and communal dimensions -- the "I" of the disciple and the "we" of the Church -- are inseparable. The Spirit consecrates the person and at the same time makes him a living member of the mystical body of Christ, a participant in the mission to witness to his love.

And this is actualized through the sacraments of Christian initiation: baptism and confirmation. In my message for World Youth Day 2008, I invited young people to rediscover the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives and, therefore, the importance of these sacraments. Today I would like to extend this invitation to everyone: Let us rediscover, dear brothers and sisters, the beauty of being baptized in the Holy Spirit; let us be aware again of our baptism and of our confirmation, sources of grace that are always present.

Let us ask the Virgin Mary to obtain a renewed Pentecost for the Church again today, a Pentecost that will spread in everyone the joy of living and witnessing to the Gospel.

[After the Regina Caeli, the Pope continued:]

With great concern in recent days I have followed the situation in Lebanon, where, political initiatives having stalled, verbal violence and then armed confrontations followed, with many dead and wounded. Even if in these last hours the tensions have slackened, I believe that it is a duty today to exhort the Lebanese to abandon every argument for aggressive opposition that would cause their country irreparable damage.

Dialogue, mutual understanding and the search for reasonable compromise are the only way to restore to Lebanon its institutions, and to the people, the necessary security for a daily life that is dignified and rich with hope for tomorrow.

May Lebanon, through the intercession of Our Lady of Lebanon, know how to respond with courage to its vocation of being, for the Middle East and for the whole world, a sign of the real possibility of constructive and peaceful coexistence among men. The different communities that make up Lebanon, as the postsynodal exhortation "A New Hope for Lebanon" observed (cf. No. 1), are at the same time "a richness, an originality and a difficulty. But bringing Lebanon to life is a common task for all of its inhabitants."

With Mary, the Virgin in prayer at Pentecost, we ask the Almighty for an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and concord, who inspires inspirations of peace and reconciliation in all.

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On Jesus' Return to the Father
"St. Peter’s Square Is Like a 'Cenacle' Open to Heaven"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2008 - Here is a translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today before praying the Regina Caeli with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the solemnity of the Ascension of Christ into heaven is celebrated in Italy and in various other countries. The book of the Acts of the Apostles places this mystery of the faith 40 days after the Resurrection (cf. Acts 1:3-11) and it is for this reason that the Vatican and some countries already celebrated the Ascension on Thursday.

After the Ascension the first disciples remain together in the cenacle around the Mother of Jesus in fervent expectation of the gift of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus (cf. Acts 1:14). On this first Sunday of May, the month of Mary, we too relive this experience, more intensely feeling Mary's spiritual presence. And today, St. Peter's Square is like a "cenacle" open to heaven, filled with the faithful, many of whom are members of Italian Catholic Action, whom I will address after the Marian prayer of the Regina Caeli.

In his farewell discourses to the disciples, Jesus greatly insisted on the importance of his "return to the Father," the crowning of his entire mission: Indeed he came into the world to bring man back to God, not at the level of ideas -- like a philosopher or a master of wisdom -- but in reality, like the shepherd who wants to bring his sheep back into the sheepfold.

This "exodus" to the heavenly homeland that Jesus experienced in the first person, he went through completely for us. It was for us that he came down from heaven and for us that he ascended into heaven, after having been made like us in all things, humiliated unto death on a cross, and after having touched the abyss of the maximal distance from God. It was precisely because of this that the Father was pleased with him and exalted him (Philippians 2:9), returning to him the fullness of his glory, but now with our humanity.

God in man -- man in God: Now this is not a theoretical truth but a real truth. For this reason, Christian hope, founded in Christ, is not an illusion but, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, "in him we have an anchor of our life" (Hebrews 6:19), an anchor that penetrates heaven, where Christ has gone before us.

And in every age, what does man need more than a firm anchoring of his existence? Here again is the stupendous meaning of Mary's presence among us. Turning our gaze to her, like the first disciples did, we are immediately directed to the reality of Jesus: The Mother points to the Son, who is no longer among us physically but awaits us in the Father's house.

Jesus invites us not to stand there staring into the sky, but to be joined together in prayer, to invoke the gift of the Holy Spirit. Only to those who are "reborn from above," that is, by the Spirit of God, is the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven opened (cf. John 3:3-5), and the first one "reborn from above" is precisely the Virgin Mary. Because of this we turn to her in the fullness of Easter joy.

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