Monday, March 10, 2008

"Confession Sustains Christian Life", Says Pontiff, "It's More Than a Mere Formality"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 7, 2008 ( Confession must not be a mere formality in a Christian's life, but rather an essential ingredient to nourish and sustain a commitment to follow Christ, says Benedict XVIThe Pope said this today upon receiving the participants in a course taking place this week on the "internal forum" -- questions of conscience -- organized by the tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary. The seminar ends Saturday.In his remarks, the Holy Father reflected on sacrament of penance in today's society, which he said is "is losing the notion of sin.""What is needed today is to ensure that people who confess experience that divine tenderness for penitent sinners which so many Gospel episodes express with intense emotion," said the Pontiff.
Referring to the episode of the sinful woman in the Gospel of Luke, he highlighted "the eloquent message that emerges from this Gospel passage: To those who love much God forgives everything."Those who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their own 'I' and their hearts harden in sin."On the other hand, those who recognize themselves as weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and from him obtain grace and forgiveness."Benefits"What is most important," Benedict XVI said, "is to make it clear that in the sacrament of penance -- whatever the sin committed -- if sinners recognize it humbly and entrust themselves to the priest confessor, they will always experience the soothing joy of God's forgiveness."
Noting how there currently exists "a certain disaffection" with the sacrament, the Pope indicated that "when we insist only on the accusation of sin -- although this must exist, and it is necessary to help the faithful understand its importance -- we run the risk of relegating to second place what is, in fact, essential, in other words the personal meeting with God, Father of goodness and mercy."
Pastors, and especially confessors, he said, must "emphasize the close link between the sacrament of penance and an existence decisively oriented toward conversion," so that "the grace of the sacrament may support and nourish the commitment to be faithful disciples of the Lord."
"If this incessant longing is lost," affirmed Benedict XVI, "the celebration of this sacrament unfortunately risks becoming a formality which does not penetrate the fabric of everyday life.""On the other hand," he added, "if people -- though animated by a desire to follow Jesus -- do not confess regularly, little by little they risk slowing spiritual rhythm until it weakens and perhaps even stops."

Pope and Students Pray Together: Benedict XVI Asks Youth to Be Builders of Unity

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2008 ( Benedict XVI prayed the rosary with university students from 10 European and American cities and then entrusted them the duty of being builders of peace and unity.
The Pope thus participated in the 6th European Day for Universities, held Saturday in Paul VI Hall and linked via satellite to Naples, Italy; Bucharest, Romania; Toledo, Spain; Avignon, France; Minsk, Belarus; Washington D.C.; Mexico City; Havana, Cuba; Aparecida, Brazil; and Loja, Ecuador.
The initiative is promoted by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and the vicariate of Rome's office for pastoral care in universities.
The theme was "Europe and the Americas Together to Build a Civilization of Love" and some 40,000 university students participated.
After a prayer vigil held for the youth, the Holy Father arrived to pray the rosary. He then extended greetings in various languages, both to the young people present in Paul VI Hall and to those following events from the European and American cities.
"Christianity," he said, "is a profound and powerful link between the so-called old continent and what has been called the 'New World.'"
Cultural foundations
Benedict XVI affirmed "the fundamental position that holy Scripture and Christian liturgy occupy in the culture and art of European and American peoples."
"Unfortunately," he added, "so-called western civilization has also partly betrayed its Gospel inspiration. What is needed, then, is an honest and sincere reflection, an examination of conscience. It is necessary to discern between what serves to build the 'civilization of love' according to the design that God revealed in Jesus Christ, and what runs counter to it."
"God calls you to cooperate, alongside your peers all over the world, so that the lifeblood of the Gospel may renew the civilization of these two continents and of humanity entire," the Holy Father stated. "The great European and American cities are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, but they often lack this lifeblood, which is capable of ensuring that differences do not become the cause of division and conflict but of mutual enrichment."
The Pope said the civilization of love would be characterized by "a respectful and peaceful coexistence that finds joy in its differences in the name of a shared vision which Blessed Pope John XXIII founded on the four columns of love, truth, freedom and justice."
He added: "This, dear friends, is the duty I consign to you today: Be disciples of and witnesses to the Gospel, because the Gospel is the good seed of the Kingdom of God, in other words the civilization of love! Be builders of peace and of unity!"
The Holy Father concluded his remarks by identifying one "sign of this Catholic unity" in the initiative of giving each of the students present a CD copy of his encyclical "Spe Salvi" in five languages.

Pope to Youth: Look to Eucharist for True Immortality

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2008 ( Those looking for the fountain of life should look to the Eucharist, the only true source of immortality, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today upon celebrating a Mass marking the 25th anniversary of the San Lorenzo International Center, attended by an international group of 200 young people.
Pope John Paul II inaugurated the San Lorenzo International Center, located near St. Peter's Basilica, on March 13, 1983. During the inauguration the Polish Pope expressed the hope that the center become "a forge for the formation of authentic young Christians who are capable of bearing coherent witness to the Gospel in today's world."

Benedict XVI put aside his text for the homily and offered a meditation on the meaning of life and death in light of this Sunday’s Gospel on the resurrection of Lazarus.

The human being is not only a biological being, the Pope explained, speaking at the Church of San Lorzenzo in Piscibus, which forms part of the center.

“Although he is part of the this great biocosmos, man transcends it because, certainly, man is always man with all his dignity, even if he is in a comatose state, even if he is an embryo; but if he only lives biologically not all of the possibilities of his being will be realized, which open new dimensions,” he said.

The first dimension is that of knowledge, the Holy Father continued, a knowledge that in man, as distinct from animals, is identified with a “thirst for the infinite.”

We all aspire to “drink from the fountain of life itself,” he said, and to do so we entrust ourselves to the “second dimension of human nature,” which is love.

Social being

Benedict XVI continued, “Man is not only a being that knows, but he lives in a relation of friendship and love. Beyond the dimension of knowledge and truth there exists, inseparably from the latter, the relational dimension. Here one draws closer to the fountain of life, from which one wants to drink to have life in abundance, life itself."

Science, the Pope added, and medicine in particular, represent a great struggle for life, but they cannot satisfy the desire for eternity that is proper to man, not even if the pill of immortality is discovered.

The Holy Father said, “Let us imagine what would happen with an immortal biological human life: a world grown old, a life that would no longer leave room for young people, for youth, for this newness of life.

"So, this cannot be that immortality [that comes from] drinking of the fountain of life, which we all desire."

The only true medicine of immortality is the Eucharist, he said, and the certainty of being loved by God.


Benedict XVI made special mention of the Emmanuel Community, “who for 20 years has with great fidelity coordinated various initiatives.” He also praised the involvement of young people of various movements and communities and mentioned.

The Pontiff’s Mass began a series of celebrations of the Center’s 25th anniversary that will culminate on Palm Sunday, March 16, with the youth pertaining to the center attending Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square, presided over by Benedict XVI.

On Thursday, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity will preside over a Eucharist celebration to be followed by a prayer vigil and adoration until midnight.

The community of Taizé will organize another vigil on Friday, presided over by Brother Alois Loser, prior of the community.

On Saturday, a gathering will be held on the theme of the history and mission of the San Lorenzo International Center to be attended by Cardinal Rylko and Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, who promoted the foundation of the center.