Benedict XVI visit to Milan June 2012

 

Pope Arrives in Milan for World Meeting of Families
Urges Faithful to Continue Being Witnesses of the Gospel

Pope Benedict XVI arrived to Milan today, starting a three day visit for the VII World Meeting of Families. Upon landing, The Holy Father was greeted at the airport by several dignitaries and prelates, including Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

The pope was met by thousands of people hoping to catch a glimpse of him at Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, where he thanked everyone for their warm welcome and greeted those that came to participate in the meeting of families. Speaking to the faithful of Milan, the pope said that the international event gives him “ the welcome occasion to visit your city and to renew the close and constant bonds that unite the Ambrosian community to the Church of Rome and Successor of Peter.”

The Holy Father also recounted the history of saintly men and women from Milan, from St. Ambrose to St. Gianna Molla, while inviting those gathered to continue being witnesses of the Gospel. “It is up to you now, heirs of a glorious past and a spiritual heritage of inestimable value, to commit yourselves to transmitting the torch of such a brilliant tradition to future generations. You are well aware how urgent it is to imbue the current cultural context with the Gospel leaven,” he said.

The 85 year old pontiff concluded his address by highlighting the importance of faith and the family in today’s society. “Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, who is living among us, must enliven the entire fabric of life, personal and collective, private and public, so as to enable a stable and authentic "well being," beginning with the family, rediscovered as humanity’s principal asset, coefficient and sign of a true and stable culture in favor of man,” he said.

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Pope Benedict XVIs Address in Piazza del Duomo, Milan
"Faith in Jesus Christ Must Enliven the Entire Fabric of Life"

MILAN, JUNE 1, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address given at Piazza del Duomo on Friday evening by Pope Benedict XVI to the citizens of Milan and participants of the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Mr. Mayor,

Distinguished Authorities,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear brothers and sisters of the Archdiocese of Milan.

I cordially greet all of you gathered here in such numbers, as well as those following this event on radio or television. Thank you for your warm welcome! I thank the mayor for his kind words of welcome to me on behalf of the local community. I respectfully greet the representative of the government, the president of the region, the president of the province, as well as other representatives of civil and military institutions, and I express my gratitude for the help they have offered for the different moments of this visit.

I am very pleased to be here with you today and thank God for this occasion to visit your renowned city. My first meeting with the Milanese takes place in this ‘Piazza del Duomo,’ the heart of Milan, where the magnificent monument that is the symbol of this city rises. With its forest of spires, it invites us to look upwards, to God. This very impetus towards the heavens has always characterized Milan and allowed the city, over the years, to successfully respond to its mission: to be a crossroads -- Mediolanum -- of peoples and cultures. The city has wisely managed to balance local pride with an ability to accept every positive influence it has received throughout its history. Even today, Milan is called to rediscover its positive role as a herald of development and peace for all of Italy.

My cordial "thank you" goes to the pastor of this archdiocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, for the welcome and words he addressed to me on behalf of the entire diocesan community; I also greet the auxiliary bishops and those who preceded him on this glorious and ancient cathedra, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi and Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini.

I send a special greeting to the representatives of the families -- from all over the world -- taking part in the VII World Meeting. A loving thought then goes to those in need of aid and comfort, and who are troubled by various concerns: to the lonely or needy, the unemployed, the sick, prisoners, the homeless, or those without even the most indispensable to live a worthy life. May none of these, our brothers and sisters, ever lack the united and ongoing attention of the community. In this regard, I welcome what the diocese of Milan has done and continues to do to effectively respond to the needs of families affected by the economic-financial crisis, and for having immediately organized, together with the whole Church and the rest of Italy, to send help to the earthquake victims in Emilia Romagna, who are in our hearts and prayers and for whom, once again, I encourage a generous solidarity.

The VII World Meeting of Families provides me the welcome occasion to visit your city and to renew the close and constant bonds that unite the Ambrosian community to the Church of Rome and Successor of Peter. As is known, Ambrose came from a roman family and always kept alive his ties with the Eternal City and the Church of Rome, indicating and praising the primacy of the bishop who presides over it. In Peter -- he affirms – “there is the foundation of the Church and the Magisterium of discipline" (De Virginitate, 16, 105); and again, the famous saying: "Where Peter is, there is the Church" (Explanatio Psalmi 40, 30, 5). The pastoral wisdom and teachings of Ambrose on the orthodoxy of faith and Christian life will leave an indelible mark on the universal Church and, in particular, will mark the Church of Milan, which has never ceased to sustain his memory and preserve his spirit. The Ambrosian Church, safeguarding the prerogatives of its rite and its own expressions of the one faith, is called to fully live the catholicity of the one Church, to witness to it and contribute to enriching it.

The profound ecclesial sense and sincere regard for communion with the Successor of Peter, have been part of the richness and identity of your Church throughout its history, and is brilliantly expressed in the figures of the great pastors who have led it.

Above all, St. Charles Borromeo: a native son. He was, as the Servant of God, Paul VI, said, "a shaper of the conscience and lifestyle of the people" (Address to Milanesi, March 18, 1968); especially by his extensive, tenacious and demanding application of the Tridentine reforms; the creation of institutions of renewal, beginning with seminaries, and his limitless charity rooted in a profound union with God, accompanied by an exemplary life of austerity.

But, along with Saints Ambrose and Charles, I would also like to call to mind other excellent, more recent, pastors, who have embellished the Church of Milan with holiness and doctrine: Blessed Cardinal Andrea Carlo Ferrari, apostle of catechesis and oratories and promoter of social renewal in the Christian sense; Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, the “Cardinal of Prayer," untiring pastor, until the total consumption of himself for his faithful. I also want to mention two Archbishops of Milan who became popes: Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI; he was responsible for the successful conclusion of the Roman Question and the creation of the Vatican City State; and the Servant of God, Giovanni Battista Montini, Paul VI, good and wise, who, with an expert hand, guided and lead the Second Vatican Council to a positive conclusion. Several spiritual fruits, which are especially noteworthy of our time, also developed in the Ambrosian Church.

Among others, precisely, thinking of families, I would like to recall today, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, wife and mother, a woman involved in the Church and her community, she irradiated the beauty and joy of faith, hope and charity.

Dear friends, your history is full of culture and faith. This wealth has imbued the art, music, literature, culture, industry, politics, sports, works of charity of Milan and the entire Archdiocese. It is up to you now, heirs of a glorious past and a spiritual heritage of inestimable value, to commit yourselves to transmitting the torch of such a brilliant tradition to future generations. You are well aware how urgent it is to imbue the current cultural context with the Gospel leaven. Faith in Jesus Christ, who died and rose for us, who is living among us, must enliven the entire fabric of life, personal and collective, private and public, so as to enable a stable and authentic "well being," beginning with the family, rediscovered as humanity’s principal asset, coefficient and sign of a true and stable culture in favor of man. The unique identity of Milan should not isolate or separate it, closing in on itself. On the contrary, preserving the sap of the roots and traits of its history, it is called to look to the future with hope, nurturing an intimate and active link with life throughout Italy and Europe. With a clear distinction of roles and purposes, the positively "secular" Milan and the Milan of faith are called to sustain the common good.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you, again, for your welcome! I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary, who from the highest spire of the cathedral maternally vigils day and night on this City. To all of you, whom I embrace as one, I impart my loving Blessing.

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Papal Address at La Scala Theater in Milan
"It is in the Family That the Light of Peace Begins to Shine to Illumine Our World"

MILAN, JUNE 1, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address given at “La Scala” Theater on Friday evening by Pope Benedict XVI to participantsof the VII World Meeting of Families

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Lord Cardinals,
Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Presbyterate,
Dear Delegations of the VII World Meeting of Families.

In this historic place I would like first of all to recall an event: it was May 11, 1946, and Arturo Toscanini raised the baton to direct a memorable concert in ‘La Scala’ rebuilt after the horrors of the war. It is said that the great maestro, no sooner he arrived here in Milan, came immediately to this theater and began to clap his hands in the center of the hall to see if the proverbial acoustics had been kept intact and, hearing that the acoustics were perfect, he exclaimed: “It’s La Scala, it’s always my Scala!” Enclosed in these words, “It’s La Scala, it’s always my Scala!,” is the meaning of this place, the temple of opera, the musical and cultural reference point not only for Milan and Italy, but for the whole world. And La Scala is connected to Milan in a profound way, it is one of its greatest glories and I wished to recall that May of 1946 because the reconstruction of La Scala was a sign of hope for the whole city to take up life again after the destructions of the War. Hence, for me it is an honor to be with all of you and to have experienced, with this splendid concert, a moment of elevation of the spirit. I thank the mayor, Giuliano Pisapia, the Superintendent, Stephane Lissner, also for having introduced this evening, but above all the Orchestra and Choir of La Scala Theater, the four soloists and maestro, Daniel Barenboim, for the intense and moving interpretation of one of the absolute masterpieces of the history of music. The gestation of the 9thSymphony of Ludwig van Beethoven was long and complex, but from the first famous sixteen notes of the first movement, a climate of expectation is created of something grandiose and the expectation is not disappointed.

Although following essentially the traditional forms and language of the classic symphony, Beethoven makes one perceive something new already from the breadth without precedents of all the movements of the work, which is confirmed with the final part introduced by a terrible dissonance, of which the recitative stands out with the famous words “O friends, not these tones, let us intone others that are more attractive and joyful,” words that, in a certain sense, “turn the page” and introduce the main theme of the Hymn to Joy. It is an ideal vision of humanity that Beethoven designs with his music: “the active joy in brotherhood and reciprocal love, under the paternal gaze of God” (Luigi Della Croce). It is not a properly Christian joy that Beethoven sings, however, it is the joy of the fraternal coexistence of peoples, of the victory over egoism, and it is the desire that humanity’s journey be marked by love, almost an invitation that he addresses to all beyond every barrier and conviction.

Over this concert, which should be a joyful celebration on the occasion of this meeting of persons from almost all the nations of the world, there is the shadow of the earthquake which brought great suffering to so many inhabitants of our country. The words taken from Schiller’s Hymn to Joy sound empty to us, in fact, they do not seem true. We do not completely experience the divine sparks of the Elysium. We are not inebriated by the fire, but rather paralyzed by the sorrow for so much incomprehensible destruction which cost human lives, which took away the homes and dwellings of so many. Also, the theory that above in the starry heavens a good father dwells seems debatable. Is the good father only above the starry heavens? Does his goodness not reach us? We seek a God that does not reign at a distance, but who enters our life and our suffering.

In this hour, Beethoven’s words, “Friends, not these tones …”, we want to refer, in fact, to Schiller. Not these tones. We do not need an unreal lesson on a distant God and on a brotherhood that is not challenging. We are looking for a close God. We are seeking a brotherhood that, in the midst of sufferings, sustains others and in this way helps to go forward. After this concert many will go to Eucharistic Adoration – to the God who entered into our sufferings and who continues to do so. To the God who suffers with us and for us and in this way has rendered men and women capable of sharing the suffering of others and of transforming it into love. It is precisely to this that we feel called by this concert.

Therefore, thank you once again to the Orchestra and Choir of La Scala Theater, to the soloists and to all those who made this event possible. Thank you to maestro Daniel Barenboim, also, because, with the choice of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, he enables us to send a message with the music which affirms the fundamental value of solidarity, of fraternity and of peace. And I think this message is also precious for the family, because it is in the family that one experiences for the first time how the human person is not created to live enclosed in himself, but in relationship with others; it is in the family that one understands how one’s fulfillment does not lie in putting oneself at the center, led by egoism, but in self-giving; it is in the family that the light of peace begins to shine to illumine our world. And thank you all for the moment we lived together. My most sincere thanks.

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Papal Address at Conclusion of the Marian Month of May
"Her Faith Invites Us to Look Beyond Appearances"

VATICAN CITY, June 1, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address given in the Vatican Gardens by Pope Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the procession commemorating the end of the Marian month of May.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am always very happy to take part in this Marian vigil in the Vatican, a moment that, even with the presence of so many people, always has an intimate and familiar character. The month that the devotion of the faithful dedicates in an altogether particular way, to devotion to the Mother of God, closes with the liturgical feast that recalls the “second Joyful Mystery”: Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. This event is characterized by the joy expressed by the words with which the Holy Virgin glorifies the Almighty for the great things that He has done looking on the humility of His handmaid: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46). The Magnificat is the canticle of praise that rises from redeemed humanity by divine mercy, it rises from the whole people of God; at the same time, it is the hymn that denounces the illusion of those who believe themselves to be lords of history and arbiters of their destiny.

Mary, on the contrary, has put God at the center of her life; she abandoned herself trustfully to His will, in an attitude of humble docility to his plan of love. Because of her poverty of spirit and humility of heart, she was chosen to be the temple that bears the Word in herself, God made man. Of her, therefore, is the figure of the “daughter of Sion” that the prophet Zephaniah invites to rejoice, to exult with joy (cf. Zp. 3:14).

Dear friends, this evening we wish to turn our gaze to Mary with renewed filial affection. We must always learn from our heavenly Mother; her faith invites us to look beyond appearances and firmly to believe that our daily difficulties are, in fact, part of a springtime which has already begun with the risen Christ. This evening we wish to draw from Mary's Immaculate Heart with renewed trust, allowing ourselves to be imbued with her joy which had its most profound source in the Lord. Joy, the fruit of the Holy Spirit, is a fundamental distinguishing characteristic of Christians. It is founded on hope in God, it draws strength from incessant prayer and it enables us to face trials and suffering with serenity. As St. Paul reminds us: 'Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer'. These words of the Apostle are like an echo of Mary's 'Magnificat' and exhort us to reproduce, in our own selves and in our everyday lives, the sentiments of joy in the faith expressed in that Marian canticle.

I would like to wish each and all of you, dear brothers and sisters, venerable Cardinals, bishops, priests, consecrated persons and all faithful, that this spiritual joy, overflowing from the heart full of gratitude of the Mother of Christ and our Mother, be at the end of this month of May more consolidated in our souls, in our personal and family life, in every environment, especially in the life of this family that, here in the Vatican, serves the universal Church. Thank you all!

[Original text: Italian]

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Papal Address Before the Angelus
"I Encourage You to Always be in Solidarity with the Families who are Experiencing Great Hardships"

MILAN, JUNE 4, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Regina Caeli with those gathered in Bresso Park for the conclusion of the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I cannot find the words to thank everyone for this Feast of God, for this communion of the Family of God that we are. At the conclusion of this Eucharistic celebration, I greatly thank God who granted us this great ecclesial experience. For my part I offer an affectionate thank you to all of those who worked for this event, beginning with Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family – thank you your Eminence! – and with Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan – thank you! Also for this beautiful temple of God that he gave us. I thank all of those in charge of organizing and all of the volunteers. And I am happy to announce that the next World Meeting of Families that will take place in 2015 in Philadelphia, in the United States. I greet the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Monsignor Charles Chaput, and I thank him for his offer.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages before leading the recitation of the Angelus. In English he said:]

As we conclude this celebration by turning in prayer to the Virgin Mary, I wish to extend my thanks to all who have contributed to the success of this World Meeting of Families, particularly to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to Cardinal Angelo Scola, to the Archdiocese and City of Milan, and to the many people from Italy and abroad who have prayed and worked so hard to make this meeting a time of grace for all. I now have the joy of announcing that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in 2015 in Philadelphia in the United States of America. I send my warm greetings to Archbishop Charles Chaput and to the Catholics of that great city, and look forward to meeting them there along with numerous families from all around the world. May God bless you all!

[His last remarks before the Angelus were in Italian:]

Dear families of Milan, of Lombardy, of Italy and of the whole world! I greet all of you with affection and I thank you for your participation. I encourage you to always be in solidarity with the families who are experiencing great hardships; I think of the economic and social crisis, I think of the recent earthquake in Emilia [in Italy]. May the Virgin Mary accompany you and sustain you always! Thank you!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]

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The More People Criticize Him, The More People Flock to Listen to Him
Benedict XVI Encourages Families to Renew and Nourish the Civilization of Love

By Antonio Gaspari

ROME, JUNE 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Many criticize him. Others have betrayed his trust by causing scandal. Some call for his resignation. But in the face of one of the most troubling times in his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI has shown the world the beauty and regenerating strength of Christianity.

Echoing the words of St. Paul, “When I am weak, I am strong,” Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated, at the VII World Meeting of Families in Milan, Christianity’s renewed strength in converting hearts and giving hope to the people of the world.

In a world where everything seems to be collapsing -- finance, ideologies, idols, political parties, public buildings and even religious ones, the Pope gathered 80,000 young candidates for Confirmation, and more than one million families from all over the world, to tell them that the future belongs to those who have faith in Jesus Christ.

To the young people who filled the “Giuseppe Meazza” Stadium in Milan, the Pope indicated sanctity as “the normal path for Christians,” and invited them to be “be available and generous to others, overcoming temptations to put yourselves at the center because egoism is the enemy of true joy.”

“Be open to what he suggests and if he calls you to follow him on the path of the priesthood or the consecrated life, do not say no to him! It would be misguided laziness. Jesus will fill your hear for the rest of your life!”, he stressed.

Benedict XVI confirmed to families that they are the primary resource of every society during his homily at the Closing Mass. “Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving,” he said.

The Pope explained that marriage between a man and a woman is “fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education.”

“It is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation.”

In the midst of huge crowds in Milan, Pope Benedict XVI showed his serene yet strong determination in guiding “St. Peter’s boat”, illuminating the hearts and mind of the whole world.

Upon his election in April 19, 2005, the Pope said that he would be “a humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord.” Up to now, he has kept his promises: he is trimming the vineyard, making it more open and stronger against attempts to condition and pollute it.

The Holy Father is elderly and seems frail in body, but the way in which he is cleaning “Peter’s house”, rendering it transparent and open, is something extraordinarily heroic.

No pontiff has succeeded in such a short time to cut off the dry parts, free vine shoots from impediments, and make the vine grow in the midst of a thousand difficulties.

For Catholics and for the world, the Pope has increasingly assumed the dimension of a “blessing of God.”

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Papal Address to Civil Leaders of Milan, Lombardy
"Freedom is Not a Privilege for Some, but a Right for All"

MILAN, June 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address that Benedict XVI gave to civil and military authorities, along with representatives in the field of education and culture from Milan and Lombardy during the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am sincerely grateful for this meeting, which reveals your sentiments of respect and esteem for the Apostolic See and, at the same time, permits me, as Pastor of the Universal Church, to express my appreciation for the zealous and valuable work that you do not cease to promote for an always improving civil, social and economic wellbeing among the hardworking people of Milan and Lombardy. I thank Cardinal Angelo Scola for the introduction. In offering my deferential and cordial greeting to you, my thoughts turn to your illustrious predecessor, St. Ambrose, governor – “consularis” – of the provinces of Liguria and Aemilia, with his headquarters in imperial Milan, a thoroughfare and point of reference for Europe. Before being elected bishop of Mediolanum – which was a complete surprise and against his will since he felt unprepared – he was in charge of public order and administered justice. I think that the words with which the prefect Probus invited him to Milan as “consularis” are significant; he said to him, in fact: “Go and rule not as a judge but as a bishop.” And he was indeed a balanced and enlightened governor who knew how to deal with issues with wisdom, good sense and authority, knowing how to overcome conflicts and break divisions. I would like to reflect briefly on some principles that he followed and that are still precious for those who are called to concern themselves with public affairs.

In his commentary on the Gospel of Luke, St. Ambrose recalls that “the institution of power comes so much from God that he who exercises it is himself a ‘minister of God’” (Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam, IV, 29). Some words might seem strange to men of the 3rd millennium, and yet they clearly indicate a central truth about the human person, which is the solid foundation of social coexistence: no power of man can be considered divine, so no man is the owner of another man. Ambrose courageously reminds the emperor of this, writing: “You too, O august emperor, are a man” (Epistula 51,11).

There is another element that we can find in St. Ambrose’s teaching. Justice is the first quality of those who rule. Justice is the public virtue par excellence, because it has to do with the good of the whole community. And yet it is not enough. Ambrose sets another quality alongside it: love of freedom, which he considers a criterion for discerning between good and bad rulers, since, as we read in another of this letters: “the good love freedom, the wicked love servitude” (Epistula 40, 2). Freedom is not a privilege for some, but a right for all, a precious right that civil authority must guarantee. Nevertheless, freedom does not mean the arbitrary choice of the individual, but implies rather responsibility of everyone. Here we find one of the principal elements of the secularity of the state: assure freedom so that everyone can propose their vision of common life, always, however, with respect for the other and in the context of laws that aim at the good of all.

On the other hand, the extent to which the conception of a confessional state is left behind, it appears clear that, in any case, the laws must find their justification and force in natural law, which is order adequate to the dignity of the human person, overcoming a merely positivist conception from which it is not possible to derive precepts that are, in some way, of an ethical character (cf. Speech to the German Parliament, Sept. 22, 2011). The state is at the service of and protects the person and his “well-being” in its multiple aspects, beginning with the right to life, the deliberate suppression of which is never permissible. Everyone can see then how legislation and the work of state institutions must be especially in the service of the family, founded on marriage and open to life, and how there must be a recognition of the primary right of the parents to freely educate and form their children, according to the educational plan that they judge valid and pertinent. The family is not treated justly if the state does not support the freedom of education for the common good of society as a whole.

In this existence of the state for the citizens, a constructive collaboration with the Church appears something precious, not, of course, with a confusion of the different and distinct purposes and roles of civil power and the Church herself, but for the contribution that the latter has made and continues to make to society with her experience, doctrine, tradition, institutions and works that are placed at the service of the people. Just think of the many saints of charity, education, culture, of the care of the sick and marginalized, who are served and loved as the Lord is served and loved. This tradition continues to bear fruit: the industriousness of Lombard Christians in such areas is quite alive and perhaps more significant than in the past. Christian communities propose these activities not so much as a supplement but out of the gratuitous superabundance of the charity of Christ and the total experience of their faith. The time of crisis that we are going through needs, besides courageous technical-political decisions, gratuity, as I have said before: “The ‘city of man’ is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion” (Caritas in veritate, 6).

We can take a last precious suggestion from St. Ambrose, whose solemn and admonishing figure is woven into the standard for the City of Milan. St. Ambrose asks that those who wish to collaborate in governing and public administration make themselves loved. In De Officis he states: “He who loves can never cause fear. Nothing is more useful than to make oneself loved” (II, 29). On the other hand, the reason for your industrious and hardworking presence in the various spheres of public life can only be the desire to dedicate yourselves to the good of the citizens, and so a clear expression and an evident sign of love. In this way politics is profoundly ennobled, becoming an elevated form of charity.

Illustrious ladies and gentlemen! Accept these simple reflections of mine as a sign of my profound esteem for the institutions that you serve and for your important work. May you be assisted in this work of yours by the continued protection of heaven of which the apostolic benediction that I impart to you and your collaborators and families is meant as a pledge and hope. Thank you!

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Papal Address during Midday Prayer
"Look to the Future with Confidence, Counting on Gods Fidelity"

MILAN, June 1, 2012 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during Midday Prayer with priests, seminarians and religious at the Cathedral of Milan during the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

We are recollected in prayer, responding to the invitation of the Ambrosian hymn for Tierce: “It is the 3rd hour. Reviled, Jesus the Lord ascends the cross.” It is a clear reference of the loving obedience of Jesus to the Father. The paschal mystery ushered in a new time: the death and resurrection of Christ recreates the innocence of humanity and makes joy flow. The hymn continues: “From here the epoch of Christ’s salvation begins – Hinc iam beata tempora coepere Christi gratia.” We are here together in the cathedral basilica, in this duomo, which is truly the heart of Milan. From here our thoughts extend to the vast Ambrosian archdiocese, which over the course of the centuries and in recent times has given to the Church men who radiated holiness in their life and in their ministry, such as St. Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo, and some pontiffs of uncommon stature, such as Pius XI and the Servant of God Paul VI, and cardinals who have been beatified, namely, Andrea Carlo Ferrari and Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster.

I am very happy to pause for a moment with you! I offer an affectionate greeting to each and everyone in particular, and in a special way to the sick and the elderly. I greet with lively cordiality your Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, and I thank him for his kind words; I greet the emeritus archbishops, Cardinals Carlo Maria Martini and Dionigi Tettamanzi, along with the other cardinals and archbishops who are present.

In this moment we experience the mystery of the Church in its highest expression, that of liturgical prayer. Our lips, our hearts and our minds, in prayer, are interpreters of the needs and desires of all of humanity. We have supplicated the Lord on behalf of all men in the words of Psalm 118: “Incline my heart toward your teachings ... May your grace be bestowed upon me, O Lord.” The daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours constitutes an essential task of the ordained ministry of the Church. Priests our united to the Lord Jesus, who is alive and working in history, in a special way also through the Divine Office, which prolongs the central mystery of the Eucharist through the day. The priesthood: what a precious gift! Dear seminarians, who are preparing for the priesthood, learn how to have a taste for it even now and live the precious time in the seminary with commitment! Archbishop Montini, during the ordinations of 1958, said in this cathedral: “The priestly life begins: a poem, a drama, a new mystery ... source of perpetual meditation ... always an object of discovery and wonder;” the priesthood, he said, “is always something new and beautiful for those who dedicate loving thought to it ... it is the recognition of the work of God in us” (Homily for the Ordination of 46 priests on June 21, 1958).

If Christ, to build the Church, places himself in the priest’s hands, the priest must for his part unconditionally entrust himself to Christ: love for the Lord Jesus is the soul and the reason of the ministerial priesthood, as was the premise upon which he assigned Peter the mission of feeding his flock: “Simon ... do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs” (John 21:15). Vatican Council II reminded us that Christ “remains always the source and wellspring of the unity of their lives. Priests, then, can achieve this coordination and unity of life by joining themselves with Christ to acknowledge the will of the Father. For them this means a complete gift of themselves to the flock committed to them. Hence, as they fulfill the role of the Good Shepherd, in the very exercise of their pastoral charity they will discover a bond of priestly perfection which draws their life and activity to unity and coordination” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 14). In this way the Council instructs the priest on how, in his various duties, from moment to moment, to find unity of life, the unity of being a priest precisely from this source of deep friendship with Jesus, of an interior being together with him. And there is no opposition between the good of the person of the priest and his mission; indeed, pastoral charity is the unifying element of life that begins from an increasingly intimate relationship with Christ in the prayer for living the total gift of himself for the flock, the way that the People of God grows in communion with God and is a manifestation of the communion of the Most Holy Trinity. Each one of our actions, in fact, has as its purpose the leading of the faithful to union with the Lord and making ecclesial communion grow in this way for the salvation of the world. These are the 3 things: personal union with God, the good of the Church, the good of humanity in its totality. They are not distinct or opposed, but a symphony of lived faith.

Priestly celibacy and consecrated virginity are a luminous sign of this pastoral charity and undivided heart. In the hymn of St. Ambrose we sang: “If the Son of God is born in you, keep your life faultless.” “Welcoming Christ – Christum suscipere,” is a motif that often returns in the preaching of, St. Ambrose, the holy bishop of Milan; here is a line from his commentary on St. Luke: “Whoever welcomes Christ in the intimacy of his home is satiated by the greatest joys” (Expos. Evangelii sec. Lucam, V, 16). The Lord Jesus was the lure, the principal theme of his reflection and preaching, and above all the goal of a living and confident love. Of course, all Christians are called to love Jesus, but it acquires a special meaning for the celibate priest and for those who have responded to the vocation to the consecrated life: the source and model of repeating the “yes” to God’s will is only and always in Christ. “By what bonds is Christ held fast?” asked St. Ambrose, who with surprising intensity preached and cultivated virginity in the Church, also promoting the dignity of women. To this question he answers: “Not with knots of ropes but with the chains of love and the affection of the soul” (De virginitate, 13, 77). And, indeed, in a celebrated sermon to virgins he said: “Christ is everything for us: if you wish to heal your wounds, he is the physician; if you are parched with the heat of a fever, he is drink; if you find yourself oppressed by guilt, he is justice; if you need help, he is power; if you are afraid of death, he is life; if you desire paradise, he is the way; if you flee from darkness, he is light; if you are in need of food, he is nourishment” (De virginitate, 16, 99).

Dear consecrated brothers and sisters, I thank you for your witness and I encourage you: look to the future with confidence, counting on God’s fidelity, which will never be lacking, and the power of his grace, always able to work new miracles, even in us and with us. The antiphons of the psalmody this Saturday led us to contemplate the mystery of the Virgin Mary. In her, we can in fact, recognize that “type of chaste and detached life, which Christ the Lord chose for Himself and which His Mother also embraced” (Lumen gentium, 46), a life in complete obedience to the will of God.

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Benedict XVIs Dialogue with Families
"We are Defending Mans Freedom When We Defend Sunday"

MILAN, June 4, 2012 - Here is a translation of the dialogue Benedict XVI had with several families in Milan during the VII World Meeting of Families.

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1. Cat Tien (a little girl from Vietnam):

Hi, Pope. I am Cat Tien, I come from Vietnam.

I am 7 years old and I would like to present my family to you. He is my dad, Dan, and my mom’s name is Tao, and he is my little brother Binh.

I would really like to know something about your family and when you were little like me…

Holy Father: Thank you, dear, and your parents. I thank you from my heart. Well, you asked about what my memories of my family are like: there would be a lot! I wanted to say only a few things. Sunday was always the important time for our family, but Sunday already began Saturday evening. Father read the readings to us from a book that was very popular in Germany at that time. The book also included an explanation of the readings. That is how Sunday began: we were already entering into the liturgy, in a joyful atmosphere. The next day we went to Mass. My home is very close to Salzburg, so we had a lot of music – Mozart, Schubert, Haydn – and when the Kyrie began it was as if heaven had opened up. And at home the big lunch together was naturally important. And we also sang a lot: my brother is a great musician, he composed music for all of us already as a young man, and the whole family sang. Dad played the zither and sang; they are unforgettable moments. Then, of course, we took trips together, walking; we were near a forest and so walking in the forests was very nice: adventures, games, etc. In a word, we were one heart and one soul, with many shared experiences, even in very hard times, because it was wartime – first there was the dictatorship, then poverty. But this love that we had for each other, this joy even in simple things was strong and so we were able to overcome and endure even these things. I think that it was very important that even little things gave us joy because the other person’s heart expressed itself in this way. And in this way we grew up in the certainty that it was good to be a human being, because we saw that God’s goodness was reflected in our parents and in us children. And, to tell the truth, if I try to imagine a little how paradise will be, I think always of the time of my youth, of my childhood. In this context of confidence, of joy and love we were happy and I think that paradise must be something like how it was in my youth. In this sense I hope to go “home,” going to the “other side of the world.”

2. Serge Razafinbony and Fara Andrianombonana (an engaged couple from Madagascar):

Serge: Our names are Fara and Serge, and we come from Madagascar. We met each other in Florence, where we were studying. I was studying engineering and she was studying economics. We have been engaged for 4 years and having just graduated we dream of returning to our country to help our people also through our professions.

Fara: The family models that dominate the West do not convince us, but we are also aware that certain customs of our Africa must be changed in some way. We feel made for each other; because of this we want to get married and build a future together. We also want every aspect of our life to be guided by the values of the Gospel. But talking about marriage, Your Holiness, there is one word that attracts and, at the same time, frightens us more than any other: “forever”…

Holy Father: Dear friends, thank you for your witness. My prayer is with you in this journey of engagement and I hope that you can create, with the values of the Gospel, a family that is “forever.” You spoke of different types of marriage: we know the “traditional marriage” (mariage coutumier) of Africa and western marriage. In Europe too, to tell the truth, until the 1800s, a different model of marriage that was dominant: often the marriage was in reality a contract between clans in which the aim was to preserve the clan, hoping to adapt the one to the other. This is also how it was in part where I come from. I remember that it was still very much like this in a small town where I went to school. But then, beginning in the 1800s, there was the emancipation of the individual, personal freedom, and marriage was no longer based on the will of others but on personal choice; first a couple fell in love, then they got engaged and then came marriage. At that time we were all convinced that this was the only correct model of marriage and that love alone guaranteed the “forever,” because love is absolute, it wants everything and therefore also the whole of time: it is “forever.” Unfortunately, the reality was not thus: we see that falling love is beautiful, but perhaps it is not always perpetual, just as sentiment is not: it does not remain forever. So, we see that the passage from falling in love to engagement and then to marriage requires different decisions, different interior experiences. As I said, this sentiment of love is beautiful, but it must be purified, it must follow a path of discernment, that is, it must enter into the reason and will; reason, sentiment and will must join together. In the Rite of Matrimony the Church does not say: “Are you in love?” but “Do you will?” (Vuoi?), “Are you decided?” (Sei deciso?) In other words, falling in love must become true love involving the will and reason on a journey, which is that of engagement, of purification, of greater depth, so that truly the whole person, with all of his capacities, with the discernment of reason, the power of the will, says: “Yes, this is my life.” I think often of the marriage at Cana. The first wine is delicious: this is falling in love. But it does not go all the way: a second wine must come, that is, it must ferment and grow, mature. A definitive love that really becomes a “second wine” is more beautiful, better than the first wine. And this is what we must seek. And here it is also important that the “I” is not isolated, I and you, but that they community of the parish, the Church, friends be involved too. These things – the proper personalization, communion of life with others, with families that support each other – are very important and only in this way, in this involvement of the community, of friends, of the Church, of faith, of God himself, can there grow a wine that lasts forever. Congratulations to you!

3. The Paleologos Family (from Greece)

Nikos: Kalispera! We are the Paleologos family. We come from Athens. My name is Nikos and this is my wife Pania. And these are our 2 children, Pavlos and Lydia.

A number of years ago, with 2 other partners, we invested everything we had and we started a small information technology company.

When the current economic crisis hit, the client pool drastically shrank and those who have remained defer their payments more and more. We are barely able to pay the salaries of the 2 employees, and very little remains for us partners: so with every day that passes little remains to support our families. Our situation is one among many, among millions of others. In the city people walk around with their heads down; no one trusts anyone anymore, hope is gone.

Pania: Although we continue to believe in providence, we also find it hard to think of a future for our children.

There are days and nights, Holy Father, in which we ask ourselves how not to lose hope. What can the Church say to all of these people, to these persons and families who no longer have futures?

Holy Father: Dear friends, thank you for this testimony which has moved my heart and the heart of everyone here. How can we respond? Words are insufficient. We must do something concrete and it is painful for all of us that we are unable to do anything concrete. Let us speak first of politics: it seems to me that in all of the political parties the sense of responsibility must develop, that they not promise what they cannot deliver, that they not only seek votes for themselves, but that they be responsible for everyone’s good and understand that politics is always also human and moral responsibility before God and men. Then, naturally, individuals suffer and must accept the situation as it is, often without the possibility of defending themselves. Nevertheless, we can also say here: let us make an effort that everyone do what is possible for him to do, that he think of himself, of the family, of others, with a great sense of responsibility, knowing that sacrifices are necessary to move forward. A third point: what can we ourselves do? This is my question at this moment. I think that perhaps twinning cities, families, parishes could help. We have in Europe right now a network of twinning, but they are culture exchanges, which are in a certain way good and useful, but maybe we need twinning in another sense: a family in the West, from Italy, from Germany, from France… might truly take on the responsibility of helping another family. Parishes, cities too could do this, really assuming responsibility, helping in a concrete manner. And be certain: I and many others are praying for you, and this praying is not only words, but opening up the heart to God and so also it creates creativity in finding solutions. We hope that the Lord will help us, that the Lord will always help you! Thank you.

4. The Rerrie Family (from the United States)

Jay: We live near New York.

My name is Jay. I am originally from Jamaica and I am an accountant. This is my wife Anna and she is a teacher’s aid.

And these are our 6 children, who are between 2 and 12. From this you can well imagine, Your Holiness, that our life is one of always racing against the clock, of complicated worries and attempt at coordination…

Even with us, in the United States, one of the absolute priorities is keeping a job, and to do it you cannot worry about the hours, and often it is our family that sets us back.

Anna: Of course, it is not always easy … The impression, Your Holiness, is that institutions and businesses do not facilitate the conciliation of working hours with the family schedule.

Your Holiness, we imagine that for you too it is not easy to conciliate your infinite commitments with rest.

Do you have some advice to help us rediscover this necessary harmony? In the vortex of the many stimuli imposed by contemporary society, how can families be helped to live celebrations according to God’s heart?

Holy Father: Great question, and I would like to reflect on this dilemma in connection to 2 priorities: the priority of work is fundamental, and the priority of the family. And how do we reconcile these 2 priorities? I can only try to offer a small bit of advice. The first point: there are businesses that permit extra time for the family – birthdays, etc. – and they see that allowing a little freedom is good even for the business, because it reinforces the love for work, for the workplace. So, here I would like to invite employers to think of the family, to think also of helping to conciliate the 2 priorities. Second point: it seems to me that you must try to be creative, and this is not always easy. But at least every day bring some element of joy to the family, of attention, some sacrifice of your own wishes, so that the family can be together; and accept and overcome the nights, the hard times of which we spoke earlier, and think of this great good that is the family and thus, even in the important attempt to do something good every day, find the reconciliation of the 2 priorities. And finally there is Sunday, the feast: I hope that Sunday is observed in America. Sunday seems very important to me, the day of the Lord and, precisely as such, the “day of man” too, because we are free. This was, in the creation account, the Creator’s original intention: that on one day everyone would be free. In this freedom for each other, for ourselves, we are free for God. And so I think that we are defending man’s freedom when we defend Sunday and holidays as God’s days and therefore days for man. Best wishes to you! Thank you.

5. The Araujo Family (from Porto Alegre, Brazil)

Maria Marta: Your Holiness, as in the rest of the world so also in our Brazil failed marriages continue to increase.

My name is Maria Marta and this is Manoel Angelo. We have been married for 34 years and we are already grandparents. As a doctor and family psychotherapist we meet many families, and notice in conflicts between couples a more pronounced difficulty in forgiving and accepting forgiveness, but in various cases we have seen the desire and the will to remarry and to build something lasting also for the children who are born from the new union.

Manoel Angelo: Some of these remarried couples would like to return to the Church, but when they are refused the Sacraments their delusion is great. They feel excluded, singled out by a judgment to which there is no appeal.

These great sufferings wound the very depths of those who are involved – lacerations that also become part of the world, and they are also our wounds, of all humanity.

Holy Father, we know that the Church has these situations and these persons in her heart: what words and what signs of hope can we give them?

Holy Father: Dear friends, thank you for your psychotherapeutic work with families, which is very necessary. Thank you for all that you do to help these suffering persons. In fact, this problem of divorced people who have remarried is among the more painful things that today’s Church has to suffer. And we do not have simple fixes for it. The suffering is great and we can only help the parishes and individuals help these persons endure the suffering of this divorce. I would say that, naturally, prevention is very important, that is, from the very beginning to deepen the affection (innamoramento) into a profound, ripened decision; moreover, accompanying the family during the marriage [is also very important], so that families are never alone but are truly accompanied on their journey. And then, in regard to divorced persons, we must tell them – as you said – that the Church loves them, but they must see and feel this love. It seems to me that it is a major task of a parish, of a Catholic community, really to do what is possible so that they really feel that they are loved, accepted, that they are not “outside” even if they cannot receive absolution and the Eucharist: they must see that even in this way they live fully in the Church. Perhaps it is not possible to receive absolution in Confession, nevertheless, permanent contact with a priest, with a spiritual director, is very important so that they can see that someone is there for them, helping them. Then it is also very important that they sense that the Eucharist is real and participated in if they truly enter into communion with the Body of Christ. Even without the “bodily” reception of the Sacrament, we can be spiritually united to Christ in his Body. And making this understood is important so that they really discover the possibility of living a life of faith, with the Word of God, with the communion of the Church and are able to see that their suffering is a gift for the Church, that they serve everyone in this way even for defending the stability of love, of marriage; that they also see that this suffering is not only a physical and psychological torment, but that it is also a suffering in the community of the Church for the great values of our faith. I think that their suffering, if it is truly accepted interiorly, is a gift for the Church. They must know this, that precisely in this way they serve the Church, they are in the Church’s heart. Thank you for your work.

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Papal Message to Earthquake Victims
"We all Want to Work Together to Help You"

MILAN, June 4, 2012 - Here is a translation of a message Benedict XVI gave in Milan to the victims of the earthquake in Emilia-Romagna at the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Dear friends, you know that we feel your sorrow deeply; and, above all, I pray every day that this earthquake will finally end. We all want to work together to help you: be certain that we have not forgotten you, that each of us is doing what we can to help you – Caritas, all of the Church’s organizations, the state, the different communities – each of us wants to help you, spiritually in our prayer, in the nearness of our heart, and materially, and I pray insistently for you. May God help you and all of us! Greetings to you, may the Lord bless you!

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Papal Address to Confirmandi
"Learn to Converse With the Lord"

MILAN, June 4, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at the meeting with youth receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Dear young men and women,

It is a great joy for me to be able to meet you during my visit to this city of yours. In this famous soccer stadium today you are the protagonists! I greet your archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, and I thank him for the words that he has addressed to me. I also thank Fr. Samuele Marelli. I greet your friend who welcomed me on your behalf. I am happy to greet the episcopal vicars who, in the name of the archbishop, administered or will confirm you. A special thank you to the Foundation of Milanese Oratories, who organized this meeting, to your priests, to all the catechists, the educators, the sponsors and to those in the individual parish communities were your companions on the way and who to you bore witness to the faith in Jesus Christ dead, risen, and alive.

You, dear young people, are preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, or you have already received it a short time ago. I know that you have completed a significant course of formation, this year called “The Spirit Show.” Helped by this journey, with different stages, you have learned to recognize the marvelous things that the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in your lives and in all those who say “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have discovered the great value of Baptism, the first Sacrament, the entryway into the Christian life. You received it thanks to your parents, who, together with your godparents, professed the Creed in your name and committed themselves to educate you in the faith. This was for you, as for me – many years ago! – an incredible grace. From that moment, reborn in the water of the Spirit, you became members of the family of the children of God, you became Christians, members of the Church.

Now you have grown, and you yourselves can pronounce your personal “yes” to God, a free and conscious “yes.” The Sacrament of Confirmation ratifies Baptism and pours the Holy Spirit out upon you in abundance. You yourselves now, full of gratitude, have the ability to welcome his great gifts that help you, in the journey of life, to become faithful and courageous witnesses of Jesus. The Spirit’s gifts are wondrous realities that allow you to form yourselves as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community. I would like briefly to recall these gifts of which the prophet Isaiah and Jesus speak to us:

- the first gift is wisdom, through which you discover how good and great the Lord is and, as the word “wisdom” itself says, gives much flavor (sapore) to your life because, as Jesus said, you are “the salt of the earth”;

- then the gift of understanding, which helps you to understand the depths of the Word of God and the truths of the faith;

- then the gift of counsel, which will guide you to the discovery of the plan that God has for your life, the life of each one of you;

- the gift of courage, to defeat the temptations of evil and to always do the good, even when it means sacrifice;

- then there comes the gift of knowledge, not technical knowledge, as is taught at universities, but knowledge in the deeper sense that teaches us to find the signs, the traces of God in creation, to understand how God speaks to us in every age and speaks to me, and to animate daily work with the Gospel; to understand that there is a profundity to [daily life] and to understand this profundity and thus to give flavor (sapore) to work, even hard work;

- another gift is piety, which keeps the flame of love for our Father in heaven alive in such a way that we can pray to him every day with the confidence and tenderness of children who are much loved; it helps us not to forget the fundamental reality of the world and my life: that God exists and God knows me and awaits my answer to his plan;

- and finally the 7th gift is the fear of God – we spoke earlier of fear; to fear God in this sense does mean to be frightened of him, but to feel a deep respect for him, respect for his will, which is the true plan for my life and is the way through which personal and community life becomes good; and today, with all of the crises in the world, we see how important it is that everyone respect this will of God, which is written into our hearts and by which we must live; and thus this fear of God is the desire to do good, to do truth, to do the will of God.

Dear young people, the whole of Christian life is a journey, it is like climbing a path that leads up a mountain – and so it is not always easy, but climbing a mountain is something beautiful – together with Jesus; with these precious gifts your friendship with him will become still more real and intimate. This friendship is continually nourished with the Sacrament of the Eucharist, in which we receive his Body and Blood. In this regard I invite you always to participate in Sunday Mass with joy and fidelity. At Mass the whole community gathers together to pray, to listen to the Word of God and to take part in the eucharistic sacrifice. Participate also in the Sacrament of Penance, Confession: it is a meeting with Jesus who forgives our sins and helps us to do the good; receiving this gift, beginning again, is a great gift in life, knowing that I am free, that I can start over, that all is forgiven. Do not forget also daily personal prayer. Learn to converse with the Lord, confide in him, tell him your joys and worries, and ask him for light and help on along your way.

Dear friends, you are fortunate to have oratories in your parishes, it is a great gift in the Diocese of Milan. The oratory, as the word itself indicates, is a place where we pray, but also where we come together in the joy of faith, where there is catechesis, games, activities of service and other types, which help us always to grow in our knowledge and in our following of the Lord! These 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit grow precisely in this community where life is lived in truth, in God. In your families, be obedient to your parents, listen to the instructions they give you to grow up like Jesus “in wisdom, age and grace before God and men” (Luke 2:51-52). Finally, do not be lazy, but hard working young people, especially in your studies, in view of the future: it is your daily duty and a great opportunity that you have to grow and to prepare the future. Be available and generous to others, overcoming temptations to put yourselves at the center because egoism is the enemy of true joy. If you now taste the beauty of being part of Jesus’ community, you can also make your own contribution to making it grow and inviting others to be a part of it. Let me tell you also that every day the Lord is calling you to great things, even here today. Be open to what he suggests and if he calls you to follow him on the path of the priesthood or the consecrated life, do not say no to him! It would be misguided laziness. Jesus will fill your hear for the rest of your life!

Dear young men and women, I say this to you in all seriousness: have high ideals: everyone can reach the heights, not just a few! Be saints! But is it possible to be saints at your age? Certainly! St. Ambrose, the great saint of your city, says this too in one of his works: “Every age is ripe for Christ” (“De virginitate,” 40). And above all this is demonstrated by the witness of many saints who are your own age, like Domenico Savio or Maria Goretti. Sanctity is the normal path for Christians: it is not only for a few chosen ones, but is open to all. Naturally, [this can be done] with the light and the power of the Holy Spirit – which we will not lack if we raise up our hands and open our heart! – and with the help of Our Mother. Who is Our Mother? It is the Mother of Jesus, Mary. Jesus entrusted all of us to her before he died ont he cross. May the Virgin Mary then always safeguard the beauty of your “yes” to Jesus, her Son, the great and faithful Friend of your life. So be it!

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Popes Homily at Closing Mass of the VII World Meeting of Families
"Christ Gives You a Share in His Spousal Love"

MILAN, June 1, 2012 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday in Milan at the Closing Mass of the VII World Meeting of Families.

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Dear Brother Bishops,

Distinguished Authorities,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a time of great joy and communion that we are experiencing this morning, as we celebrate the eucharistic Sacrifice: a great gathering, in union with the Successor of Peter, consisting of faithful who have come from many different nations. It is an eloquent image of the Church, one and universal, founded by Christ and fruit of the mission entrusted by Jesus to his Apostles, as we heard in today’s Gospel: to go and make disciples of all nations, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28:18-19). With affection and gratitude I greet Cardinal Angelo Scola, Archbishop of Milan, and Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the principal architects of this VII World Meeting of Families, together with their staff, the Auxiliary Bishops of Milan and all the other bishops. I am pleased to greet all the Authorities who are present today. And I extend a warm welcome especially to you, dear families! Thank you for your participation!

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that in Baptism we received the Holy Spirit, who unites us to Christ as brothers and sisters and makes us children of the Father, so that we can cry out: "Abba, Father!" (cf.Rom 8:15,17). At that moment we were given a spark of new, divine life, which is destined to grow until it comes to its definitive fulfilment in the glory of heaven; we became members of the Church, God’s family, "sacrarium Trinitatis" as Saint Ambrose calls it, "a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit", as the Second Vatican Council teaches (Lumen Gentium, 4). The liturgical Solemnity of the Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today invites us to contemplate this mystery, but it also urges us to commit ourselves to live our communion with God and with one another according to the model of Trinitarian communion. We are called to receive and to pass on the truths of faith in a spirit of harmony, to live our love for each other and for everyone, sharing joys and sufferings, learning to seek and to grant forgiveness, valuing the different charisms under the leadership of the bishops. In a word, we have been given the task of building church communities that are more and more like families, able to reflect the beauty of the Trinity and to evangelize not only by word, but I would say by "radiation", in the strength of living love.

It is not only the Church that is called to be the image of One God in Three Persons, but also the family, based on marriage between man and woman. In the beginning, "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’" (Gen 1:27-28).

God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life. It is love that makes the human person the authentic image of the Blessed Trinity , image of God. Dear married couples, in living out your marriage you are not giving each other any particular thing or activity, but your whole lives. And your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation.

Dear married couples, watch over your children and, in a world dominated by technology, transmit to them, with serenity and trust, reasons for living, the strength of faith, pointing them towards high goals and supporting them in their fragility. And let me add a word to the children here: be sure that you always maintain a relationship of deep affection and attentive care for your parents, and see that your relationships with your brothers and sisters are opportunities to grow in love.

God’s plan for the human couple finds its fullness in Jesus Christ, who raised marriage to the level of a sacrament. Dear married couples, by means of a special gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ gives you a share in his spousal love, making you a sign of his faithful and all-embracing love for the Church. If you can receive this gift, renewing your "yes" each day by faith, with the strength that comes from the grace of the sacrament, then your family will grow in God’s love according to the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Dear families, pray often for the help of the Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, that they may teach you to receive God’s love as they did. Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform the cosmos, the world. You have before you the witness of so many families who point out the paths for growing in love: by maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church, by cultivating dialogue, respecting the other’s point of view, by being ready for service and patient with the failings of others, by being able to forgive and to seek forgiveness, by overcoming with intelligence and humility any conflicts that may arise, by agreeing on principles of upbringing, and by being open to other families, attentive towards the poor, and responsible within civil society.

These are all elements that build up the family. Live them with courage, and be sure that, insofar as you live your love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace, you become a living Gospel, a true domestic Church (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 49). I should also like to address a word to the faithful who, even though they agree with the Church’s teachings on the family, have had painful experiences of breakdown and separation. I want you to know that the Pope and the Church support you in your struggle. I encourage you to remain united to your communities, and I earnestly hope that your dioceses are developing suitable initiatives to welcome and accompany you.

In the Book of Genesis, God entrusts his creation to the human couple for them to guard it, cultivate it, and direct it according to his plan (cf. 1:27-28; 2:15). In this indication of Sacred Scripture we may recognize the task of man and woman to collaborate with God in the process of transforming the world through work, science and technology. Man and woman are also the image of God in this important work, which they are to carry out with the Creator’s own love. In modern economic theories, there is often a utilitarian concept of work, production and the market. Yet God’s plan, as well as experience, show that the one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a just society, because it brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, family tensions. Indeed, the utilitarian mentality tends to take its toll on personal and family relationships, reducing them to a fragile convergence of individual interests and undermining the solidity of the social fabric.

One final point: man, as the image of God, is also called to rest and to celebrate. The account of creation concludes with these words: "And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it" (Gen 2:2-3). For us Christians, the feast day is Sunday, the Lord’s day, the weekly Easter. It is the day of the Church, the assembly convened by the Lord around the table of the word and of the eucharistic Sacrifice, just as we are doing today, in order to feed on him, to enter into his love and to live by his love. It is the day of man and his values: conviviality, friendship, solidarity, culture, closeness to nature, play, sport. It is the day of the family, on which to experience together a sense of celebration, encounter, sharing, not least through taking part in Mass. Dear families, despite the relentless rhythms of the modern world, do not lose a sense of the Lord’s Day! It is like an oasis in which to pause, so as to taste the joy of encounter and to quench our thirst for God.

Family, work, celebration: three of God’s gifts, three dimensions of our lives that must be brought into a harmonious balance. Harmonizing work schedules with family demands, professional life with fatherhood and motherhood, work with celebration, is important for building up a society with a human face. In this regard, always give priority to the logic of being over that of having: the first builds up, the second ends up destroying. We must learn to believe first of all in the family, in authentic love, the kind that comes from God and unites us to him, the kind that therefore "makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28)" (Deus Caritas Est, 18). Amen.

[Original text: Italian]

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On the Pastoral Visit to Milan for Family Meeting
Love is the Only Force that Can Transform the World

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2012- Here is a translation of the Italian-language catechesis Benedict XVI gave during the general audience held in St. Peter’s Square. Today the Holy Father reviewed his trip of last Friday through Sunday to Milan for the 7th World Meeting of Families.

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“The family, work and celebration”: this was the theme of the Seventh World Meeting of Families, which took place in recent days in Milan. I still carry in my mind’s eye and in my heart the images and emotions of this unforgettable and marvelous event, which transformed Milan into a city of families: families from around the world, united by the joy of believing in Jesus Christ. I am deeply grateful to God for having granted me the experience of this meeting “with” families and “for” the family. In all those who listened to me during these days I found a sincere readiness to receive and give witness to the “Gospel of the family”. Yes, there is no future for humanity without the family; in order to learn the values that give meaning to life, the young in particular need to be born and raised in that community of life and love which God Himself has willed for man and for woman.

The encounter with numerous families from the various Continents offered me the joyous occasion to visit the Archdiocese of Milan for the first time as the Successor of Peter. Cardinal Angelo Scola, priests and faithful alike, as well as the Mayor and other civil authorities welcomed me with great warmth – and for this I am deeply grateful. Thus I was able to experience up close the faith of the Ambrosian people, with their wealth of history, culture, humanity and active charity. The first meeting of this intense three-day pastoral visit took place in the Piazza del Duomo, the symbol and heart of the city. I cannot forget the warm embrace of the crowds of Milanese and participants in the VII World Meeting of Families, who accompanied me throughout the entire course of my visit, the streets thronged with people.

A sea of families on holiday with sentiments of profound participation united themselves particularly to the warm and supportive greetings I wished to address at once to all those who are in need of help and comfort and who are plagued by various concerns, especially families most affected by the economic crisis and the dear people struck by the recent earthquakes. During this first meeting with the city, I first wished to speak to the hearts of the Ambrosian faithful, exhorting them to live the faith in their personal and communal lives, in their private and public lives, so as to favor an authentic “well-being”, beginning with the family, which must be rediscovered as humanity’s principle patrimony. From high atop the cathedral, the statue of Our Lady with arms outstretched seemed to welcome with maternal tenderness all the families of Milan and of the whole world!

Milan then gave me a unique and noble greeting in one of city’s most evocative and significant locations, La Scala theatre, where important pages in the country’s history were written under the impulse of great spiritual values and ideals. In this temple of music, the notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony gave voice to this moment of universality and fraternity, which the Church untiringly proposes by announcing the Gospel. At the end of the concert, I made reference to the contrast between this ideal and the dramas of history, and to the existence of a God who is near and who shares in our sufferings, dedicating the concert to the many brothers and sisters who have been tried by earthquakes. I emphasized that -- in Jesus of Nazareth -- God draws near to us and carries our sufferings with us. At the conclusion of this intense artistic and spiritual moment, I wished to refer to the family of the third millennium, by recalling that it is within the family that we experience for the first time that the human person is not created to live enclosed within himself, but in relationships with others; and it is in the family that the light of peace is first set aflame in our hearts so that it might illumine our world.

The following day, in the cathedral filled with priests, religious and seminarians, and in the presence of the many cardinals and bishops who came to Milan from various countries of the world, I celebrated Terce according to the Ambrosian liturgy. There I wished to confirm the value of celibacy and of consecrated virginity, which were so dear to the great St. Ambrose. Within the Church, celibacy and virginity are a luminous sign of love for God and for one’s brothers and sisters, and are born of an increasingly intimate relationship with Christ in prayer and are expressed in the total gift of self.

A moment filled with great enthusiasm was the meeting at the Meazza stadium, where I experienced the welcome of a joyous multitude of young people who received the Sacrament of Confirmation this year. The careful preparation of the event, with meaningful texts and prayers and choreography, made the encounter even more stimulating. I addressed an appeal to the Ambrosian youth to give a free and conscious “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus, by receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which allow them to be formed as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community. I encouraged them to be committed particularly to their studies and to the generous service of those around them.

The meeting with representatives of institutional authorities, with employers and workers, and with the world of culture and education in Milan and Lombardy society allowed me to highlight the importance of legislation and the work of state institutions being ordered to the service and protection of the person in his various aspects, beginning with the right to life, the deliberate suppression of which can never be allowed, and the acknowledgement of the proper identity of the family, founded on marriage between one man and one woman.

Following this last appointment dedicated to the state of the diocese and city, I went to the great area of the Northern Park in the region of Bresso, where I took part in the exciting Feast of Testimonies entitled “One world, family, love”. There I had the joy of meeting thousands of people, a rainbow of families from Italy and across the globe, who had already gathered on the first afternoon in an atmosphere of festivity and authentic family warmth. In responding to the questions of several families -- questions arising out of their lives and experience -- I wished to give a sign of the open dialogue that exists between families and the Church, between the world and the Church. I was very struck by the touching testimonies of spouses and children from various continents, on the burning issues of our time: the economic crisis, the challenge of reconciling time for work with time for family, the spread of separation and divorce, as well as existential questions that affect adults, youth and children. Here I would like to recall what I stated in defense of family time, which is threatened by a kind of “overbearance” of work commitments: Sunday is the Lord’s day and man’s day, a day when everyone should be able to be free, free for family and free for God. In defending Sunday, we defend man’s freedom!

The Holy Mass on Sunday June 3, which concluded the Seventh World Meeting of Families, saw the participation of an immense praying assembly who completely filled the area of the Bresso airport, which became an great open-air cathedral, thanks also to the reproduction of the stupendous stained glass windows of Milan’s Cathedral that stood in the sanctuary. Before a myriad of faithful from various nations who participated deeply in the liturgy which was very well coordinated, I made an appeal to build ecclesial communities that are increasingly family oriented and capable of reflecting the beauty of the Most Holy Trinity and of evangelizing not only with words, but by radiating the strength of love lived, for love is the only force that can transform the world. I also emphasized the importance of the “triad” of family, work and celebration. They are three gifts of God, three dimensions of our lives that must find a harmonious equilibrium in order to build a society with a human face.

I am deeply grateful for these magnificent days in Milan. Thanks to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli and to the Pontifical Council for the Family, to all the civil authorities for their presence and collaboration in the event. Thanks also to the President of the Council of Ministers and the Republic of Italy for having participated in the Holy Mass on Sunday. And I renew my cordial “thanks” to the various institutions that generously cooperated with the Holy See and with the Archdiocese of Milan in organizing the Meeting, which enjoyed great pastoral and ecclesial success and whose echo resounded throughout the entire world. In fact, the event drew more than a million people to Milan. For several days, they peacefully invaded the streets and witnessed to the beauty of the family -- the hope for humanity.

The World Meeting in Milan was an eloquent “epiphany” of the family, which manifested itself in its variety of expressions but in the uniqueness of its essential identity: a communion of love, founded on marriage and called to be a sanctuary of life, a domestic Church, a cell of society. From Milan, a message of hope was sent out to all the world, substantiated by lived experience: it is possible and joyous, even if demanding, to live faithful love “for ever” which is open to life; it is possible to participate as a family in the mission of the Church and in the building up of society. With God’s help and the special protection of Most Holy Mary, the Queen of Families, may the Milan experience bear abundant fruits in the Church’s journey and be a sign of greater attention to the cause of the family, which is the cause of man and of civilization. Thank you.

[Translation by Diane Montagna]

[In Italian, he said:]

My thoughts go to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. Dear young people, may God’s faithful love be the model of your love for your brothers and sisters; dear sick, you are never alone in your suffering but the whole Church prays for you and with you; lastly, dear newlyweds, may the communion of love that God lives in Himself always be the foundation of your married and family life.

Lastly, I would like to recall that tomorrow, as every year on the feast of Corpus Domini, the Holy Mass will be celebrated at St. John Lateran at 7pm. At the conclusion, a solemn procession will follow, travelling along the Via Merulana and concluding at St. Mary Major. I invite all the faithful of Rome and all pilgrims to be united in this act of profound faith in the Eucharist, which constitutes the most precious treasure of the Church of humanity.

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