Friday, September 30, 2011

Fr. Barron comments on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Germany


Pope Benedict XVI was clearly concerned with the spiritual health of his homeland, when he visited Germany in September 2011. In this video, Fr. Robert Barron reflects on the Pope's mission in Germany, and looks at the way his message was received in one of the most secular countries on Earth!

St. Jerome

One of the greatest Biblical scholars of Christendom, Saint Jerome was born of Christian parents at Stridon in Dalmatia around the year 345. Educated at the local school, he then studied rhetoric in Rome for eight years, before returning to Aquilea to set up a community of ascetics. When that community broke up after three years Jerome went to the east. He met an old hermit named Malchus, who inspired the saint to live in a bare cell, dressed in sackcloth, studying the Scriptures.
He learned Hebrew from a rabbi. Then he returned to Antioch and was reluctantly ordained priest. With his bishop he visited Constantinople and became friendly with Saints Gregory Nazianzen and Gregory of Nyssa. And then in 382 he went again to Rome, to become the personal secretary of Pope Damasus. Here he met his dearest friends, a wealthy woman called Paula, her daughter Eustochium and another wealthy woman named Marcella.
Here too he began his finest work. Commissioned by the pope, he began to revise the Latin version of the psalms and the New Testament, with immense care and scholarship. Jerome eventually translated the whole of the Bible into the Latin version which is known as the Vulgate. But when Damasus died, his enemies forced the saint to leave Rome.
Accompanied by Paula and Eustochium, Jerome went to Bethlehem. There he lived for thirty-four years till his death in 420, building a monastery over which he presided and a convent headed first by Paula and after her death by Eustochium. The saint set up a hospice for the countless pilgrims to that place. His scholarship, his polemics, his treatises and letters often provoked anger and always stimulated those who read them. 'Plato located the soul of man in the head,' he wrote, 'Christ located it in the heart.'
Excerpted from A Calendar of Saints by James Bentley
Patron: Archeologists; archivists; Bible scholars; librarians; libraries; schoolchildren; students; translators.
Symbols: Cardinal's hat; lion; aged monk in desert; aged monk with Bible.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that, "[T]he existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition."
Angels are pure, created spirits. The name angel means servant or messenger of God. Angels are celestial or heavenly beings, on a higher order than human beings. Angels have no bodies and do not depend on matter for their existence or activity. They are distinct from saints, which men can become. Angels have intellect and will, and are immortal. They are a vast multitude, but each is an individual person. Archangels are one of the nine choirs of angels listed in the Bible. In ascending order, the choirs or classes are 1) Angels, 2) Archangels, 3) Principalities, 4) Powers, 5) Virtues, 6) Dominations, 7) Thrones, 8) Cherubim, and 9) Seraphim.
St. Michael
The name of the archangel Michael means, in Hebrew, who is like unto God? and he is also known as "the prince of the heavenly host." He is usually pictured as a strong warrior, dressed in armor and wearing sandals. His name appears in Scripture four times, twice in the Book of Daniel, and once each in the Epistle of St. Jude and the Book of Revelation. From Revelation we learn of the battle in heaven, with St. Michael and his angels combatting Lucifer and the other fallen angels (or devils). We invoke St. Michael to help us in our fight against Satan; to rescue souls from Satan, especially at the hour of death; to be the champion of the Jews in the Old Testament and now Christians; and to bring souls to judgment.

This day is referred to as "Michaelmas" in many countries and is also one of the harvest feast days. In England this is one of the "quarter days", which was marked by hiring servants, electing magistrates, and beginning of legal and university terms. This day also marks the opening of the deer and other large game hunting season. In some parts of Europe, especially Germany, Denmark, and Austria, a special wine called "Saint Michael's Love" (Michelsminne) is drunk on this day. The foods for this day vary depending on nationality. In the British Isles, for example, goose was the traditional meal for Michaelmas, eaten for prosperity, France has waffles or Gaufres and the traditional fare in Scotland used to be St. Michael's Bannock (Struan Micheil) — a large, scone-like cake. In Italy, gnocchi is the traditional fare.
St. Gabriel
St. Gabriel's name means "God is my strength". Biblically he appears three times as a messenger. He had been sent to Daniel to explain a vision concerning the Messiah. He appeared to Zachary when he was offering incense in the Temple, to foretell the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist. St. Gabriel is most known as the angel chosen by God to be the messenger of the Annunciation, to announce to mankind the mystery of the Incarnation.

The angel's salutation to our Lady, so simple and yet so full of meaning, Hail Mary, full of grace, has become the constant and familiar prayer of all Christian people.
St. Raphael
Our knowledge of the Archangel Raphael comes to us from the book of Tobit. His mission as wonderful healer and fellow traveller with the youthful Tobias has caused him to be invoked for journeys and at critical moments in life. Tradition also holds that Raphael is the angel that stirred the waters at the healing sheep pool in Bethesda. His name means "God has healed".

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Novena to Saint Therese of the Little Flower - Day 7



Little Flower Novena

Prayers to be said each day:

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of divine love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be ever truly wise and rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love: O my God! I believe in Thee: strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee: teach me to love Thee daily more and more.

The Act of Contrition: O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance , and to amend my life. Amen.

Seventh Day

O little martyr of Love, you know now even better than in the days of your pilgrimage that Love embraces all vocations; that it is Love alone which counts, which unites us perfectly to God and conforms our will with His. All you sought on earth was love; to love Jesus as He had never yet been loved. Use your power in heaven to make us love Him. If only we love Him we shall desire to make Him loved by others; we shall pray much for souls. We shall no longer fear death, for it will unite us to Him forever. Obtain for us the grace to do all for the love of God, to give Him pleasure, to love Him so well that He may be pleased with us as He was with you.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Love of God. I will love God alone and will not have the misfortune of attaching myself to creatures, now that my heart perceive what He has in store for those who love Him.
Him loved by a great number of souls who will bless Him forever.

When Christ said, "Give Me a Drink," it was the love of His poor creatures that He, the Creator of all things, desired. He thirsted for love.

Remember that the dear Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone. Remember that He is consumed with a desire to come into your heart. What attracts me to the kingdom of Heaven is the call of our Lord, the hope of loving Him as I have so desired and the thought that I shall be able to make.

Concluding Prayer


O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Papal Mass in Freiburg: the Pope's Homily

Pope Benedict XVI presided a big outdoor Mass at Freiburg's touristic airport just outside the south west German city. This is the final Mass of the Holy Father's four day visit to his homeland and comes on the last day of his trip. The following is the text of his Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is moving for me to be here once again to celebrate this Eucharist, this Thanksgiving, with so many people from different parts of Germany and the neighbouring countries. We offer our thanks above all to God, in whom we live and move. But I would also like to thank all of you for your prayers that the Successor of Peter may continue to carry out his ministry with joy and faithful hope, and that he may strengthen his brothers in faith.

“Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness”, as we said in today’s Collect. In the first reading we heard how God manifested the power of his mercy in the history of Israel. The experience of the Babylonian Exile caused the people to fall into a crisis of faith: Why did this calamity happen? Perhaps God was not truly powerful?

There are theologians who, in the face of all the terrible things that happen in the world today, say that God cannot be all-powerful. In response to this we profess God, the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. We are glad and thankful that God is all-powerful. At the same time, we have to be aware that he exercises his power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on his power, by recognizing the freedom of his creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom. However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened. Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of his people. He desires our salvation. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, his heart aches for us and he reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to him so that the power of his mercy can touch our hearts. We have to be ready to abandon evil, to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for his word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us. 

In the Gospel Jesus takes up this fundamental theme of prophetic preaching. He recounts the parable of the two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son responded: “‘I will not go’, but afterward he repented and went.” Instead the other son said to the father: “‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.” When asked by Jesus which of the two sons did the father’s will, those listening respond: “the first” (Mt 21:29-31). The message of the parable is clear: it is not words that matter, but deeds, deeds of conversion and faith. Jesus directs this message to the chief priests and elders of the people, that is, to the experts of religion for the people of Israel. At first they say “yes” to God’s will, but their piety becomes routine and God no longer matters to them. For this reason they find the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus disturbing. The Lord concludes his parable with harsh words: “Truly, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him, and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Mt 21:32). Translated into the language of our time, this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is “routine” and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith.

Where God is There is the Future - Pope Benedict XVI in Germany - Day 3

Pope tells German youth to be 'light of the world'

Pope Benedict's final appointment on Saturday afternoon was a prayer vigil with young people from all over Germany gathered outside Freiburg's exhibition centre.

Read the full text of the Pope's words:

Dear young friends,
Throughout today I have been looking forward to this evening, and to this opportunity to be together with you and to join you in prayer. No doubt some of you were present at World Youth Day, where we were able to experience the special atmosphere of peace, deep fellowship and inner joy that characterizes an evening prayer vigil. It is my wish that we may experience the same thing now: that the Lord may touch our hearts and make us joyful witnesses who pray together and support one another, not just this evening but throughout our ...»


Pope to Freiburg's seminarians


During the afternoon of Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with seminarians from the archdiocese of Freiburg.

The encounter took place in Freiburg Seminary's Chapel which is dedicated to Saint Charles Borromeo.

Speaking informally to some sixty seminarians, Pope Benedict focussed on the importance of three things: the Word of God as an encounter with the living Christ; the sense of belonging to the Universal Church; and the relationship between faith and reason....»

Pope to lay Catholics in Freiburg

On Saturday afternoon, Pope Benedict met with members of the Central Committee of German lay Catholics (Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken, ZdK) at the seminary in Freiburg.

Read the full text of the Pope's speech:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am grateful for this opportunity to come together, here in Freiburg, with you, the Council Members of the Central Committee for German Catholics (ZdK). I gladly express to you my appreciation for your work in publicly representing the concerns of Catholics and in giving impetus to the apostolate of the Church and of Catholics in society. I also thank the President of the ZdK, Herr Alois Glück, for his kind greeting.
Dear friends, for some years now, development aid has included what are known as “exposure ...»

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Novena to Saint Therese of the Little Flower - Day 3



Little Flower Novena

Prayers to be said each day:

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of divine love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be ever truly wise and rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love: O my God! I believe in Thee: strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee: teach me to love Thee daily more and more.

The Act of Contrition: O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance , and to amend my life. Amen.

Third Day

Dear Little Flower, make all things lead me to heaven and God, Whether I look at the sun, the moon, the stars and the vast expanse in which they float, or whether I look at the flowers of the field, the trees of the forest, the beauties of the earth so full of color and so glorious, may they speak to me of the love and power of God; may they all sing His praises in my ear. Like you may I daily love Him more and more in return for His gifts. Teach me often to deny myself in my dealings with others, that I may offer to Jesus many little sacrifices.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: The Use of God’s Gifts. How much benefit have I received from the beauties of nature, bestowed in such abundance. How they raise me to Him who placed such wonders in this land of exile which is only to last a day.

O sparkling nature, if I did not see God in you, you would be naught but a great tomb.

With your little hand which caresses Mary, You sustain the universe and bestow life; and You think of me, O Jesus my little King.

I do not wish creatures to have one atom of my love. I wish to give all to Jesus, since He has shown me that He alone is perfect happiness.

Concluding Prayer Prayed Each Day:
O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI: homily at Mass in Erfurt Cathedral Square

Please find below the full provisional text of Pope Benedict XVI's homily at Mass in Erfurt's Cathedral Square on Saturday, September 24th, 2011.

Homily of the Holy Father
Holy Mass in Erfurt
Cathedral Square
24 September 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Praise the Lord at all times, for he is good.” These are the words that we sang just before the Gospel. Yes, we truly have reason to thank God with our whole hearts. If we think back thirty years to the Elizabeth Year 1981, when this city formed part of the German Democratic Republic, who would have thought that a few years later, the wall and the barbed wire at the border would have come down? And if we think even further back, some 70 years, to the year 1941, in the days of National Socialism, who could have predicted that the so-called “thousand-year Reich” would turn to dust and ashes just four years later?

Dear Brothers and Sisters, here in Thuringia and in the former German Democratic Republic, you have had to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain. Many late consequences of that period are still having to be worked through, above all in the intellectual and religious fields. Most people in this country since that time have spent their lives far removed from faith in Christ and from the communion of the Church. Yet the last two decades have also brought good experiences: a broader horizon, an exchange that reaches beyond borders, a faithful confidence that God does not abandon us and that he leads us along new paths. “Where God is, there is a future”.

We are all convinced that the new freedom has helped bring about greater dignity and a great many new possibilities for people’s lives. On the part of the Church, we can point gratefully to many things that have become easier, whether it be new opportunities for parish activities, renovation and enlargement of churches and community centres, or diocesan initiatives of a pastoral or cultural nature. But have these opportunities led to an increase in faith? Are not the deep roots of faith and Christian life to be sought in something very different from social freedom? It was actually amid the hardships of pressure from without that many committed Catholics remained faithful to Christ and to the Church. They accepted personal disadvantages in order to live their faith. Here I should like to thank the priests and the men and women who assisted them during that period. I would like to remember especially the pastoral care of refugees immediately after the Second World War: many priests and laypersons achieved great things in order to relieve the plight of those driven from their homes, and to provide them with a new home. Sincere thanks go not least to the parents who brought up their children in the Catholic faith in the midst of the diaspora and in an anticlerical political environment. With gratitude we remember, for example, the Religious Weeks for Children during the holidays and the fruitful work of the Catholic youth centres “Saint Sebastian” in Erfurt and “Marcel Callo” in Heiligenstadt. Especially in Eichsfeld, many Catholic Christians resisted the Communist ideology. May God richly reward their tenacity in the faith. That courageous witness and that patient trust in God’s guidance are like a precious seed that promises rich fruit for the future.

Pope Benedict XVI meets with abuse victims in Germany


Pope Benedict XVI met Friday with German victims of sexual abuse by priests. The pope met for half an hour with five victims, and expressed, “deep compassion and regret,” at the suffering of those abused by members of the clergy. Below, please find the full English text of the statmeent released by the Press Office of the Holy See.

Full Text: Statement of the Press Office of the Holy See

[Friday] evening, in the seminary at Erfurt, Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of victims of sexual abuse committed by priests and church personnel. Subsequently he greeted some people who care for those injured by these crimes.

Moved and deeply shaken by the sufferings of the victims, the Holy Father expressed his deep compassion and regret over all that was done to them and their families. He assured the people present that those in positions of responsibility in the Church are seriously concerned to deal with all crimes of abuse and are committed to the promotion of effective measures for the protection of children and young people. Pope Benedict XVI is close to the victims and he expresses the hope that the merciful God, Creator and Redeemer of all mankind, may heal the wounds of the victims and grant them inner peace.

Our Lady of Ransom

Would you risk your life to free someone from a concentration camp? Would you take the place of a prisoner? Would you sacrifice comforts and even necessities to save a slave? Would you pray and do penance for the freedom of Christian captives? These things were done by the followers of Christ from the earliest days, but especially during the Middle ages. At that time the enemies of Christ's Church had conquered a great part of Christian territory and had carried off into slavery many thousands of Christians. Hit and miss, though heroic, efforts to free these unfortunates had been made here and there.

The Church decided to organize the work of ransoming slaves. In 1198 St. John of Matha and St. Felix of Valois founded the Trinitarians. From then until 1787 they redeemed 900,000 captives. The Order of Our Lady of Ransom, called the Mercedarians, and founded by St. Peter Nolasco, ransomed 490,736 slaves between the years 1218 and 1632. St. Vincent de Paul, a slave himself, led his priests to save 1200 Christian captives in the short period between 1642 and 1660 at the staggering cost of 1,200,000 pounds of silver. An even greater achievement was the conversion of thousands in captivity, and steeling them against the sufferings of a cruel martyrdom for the faith.

All this has been admitted by a modern, competent Protestant historian, Bonet-Maury. He records that no expedition sent into the Barbary States by the powers of Europe or America equalled "the moral effect produced by the ministry of consolation, peace and abnegation, going even to the sacrifice of liberty and life, which was exercised by the humble sons of St. John of Matha, St. Peter Nolasco, and St. Vincent de Paul."

Our Blessed Mother herself appeared in a vision to St. Peter Nolasco, and requested him to found a religious order devoted to the rescue of captives. This was in 1218. Previous to that, since 1192, certain noblemen of Barcelona, Spain, had organized to care for the sick in hospitals and to rescue Christians from the Moors. St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Pennafort, and King James formed the new Order of Our Lady of Mercy. The group included religious priests who prayed and gathered the means, while the lay monks or knights went into the very camps of the Moors to buy back Christians, and, if necessary, take their very places. We have mentioned the magnitude of their success, a success that was won through the heavenly assistance of the Mother of Mercy, Our Lady of Ransom.

Excerpted from the Feasts of Our Lady by Fr. Arthur Tonne

Patrons: Barcelona, Spain; people named Clemency, Mercedes, Mercedez, Merced or Mercy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Where God is There is the Future - Pope Benedict XVI in Germany - Day 2

An afternoon in the Eichsfeld

Day 2 of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Federal Republic of Germany concluded with a sunset vigil of prayer at an iconic Marian Shrine that once stood behind the Iron Curtain. Veronica Scarsbrick is in Germany with the Pope and sends us this report:

A cross, cut from a section of a former barbed wire border fence. That was the symbolic gift Benedict XVI received on Friday afternoon at a Marian Shrine in Eichsfeld, a region 80 kilometres north of Erfurt.

The Pope was in this remote rural area in former Eastern Germany which until 1989 was behind the iron curtain visiting the Pilgrim’s Chapel the Wallfahrtskapelle at Etzselbach , a Marian shrine where people kept the faith alive during the harsh years of the communist regime and where as the Bishop ...»


Pope Benedict: address at Etzelsbach Marian Shrine

Friday evening Pope Benedict XVI lead a congregation of hundreds in the celebration Vespers at the Wallfahrtskapelle, or Pilgrimage Chapel of the Shrine, located in the small hamlet of Etzelsbach, outside the city of Erfurt.

Below we publish the text of his discourse:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Now I am able to fulfil my wish to visit Eichsfeld, and here in Etzelsbach to thank Mary in company with you. “Here in the beloved quiet vale”, as the pilgrims’ hymn says, “under the old lime trees”, Mary gives us security and new strength. During two godless dictatorships, which sought to deprive the people of their ancestral faith, the inhabitants of Eichsfeld were in no doubt that here in this shrine at Etzelsbach an open door and ...»


Making history in the land of Luther
Pope Benedict XVI spent much of the second day of his visit to Germany in Erfut, where the former Augustinian monk and reformer, Martin Luther lived. On Friday, the Pope met with leaders of Germany's Protestant churches and shared in an ecumenical prayer service as our correspondent in Germany, Veronica Scarisbrick reports:

The Thuringian capital , Erfurt where Pope Benedict arrived on Friday takes its name from water, and water does flow right through this city in the River Gera. But this is no backwater. Not just because it's been accepted into the "Historic Highlights of Germany" , as offering special charm, architectural brilliance and historic character .

Not just because of its landmark sandstone inhabited medieval bridge "Kramerbrucke" , or ...»


Muslim leader speaks to Pope Benedict

In a meeting with members of Germany's Muslim community in Berlin Friday morning, Pope Benedict XVI was welcomed by Prof. Dr. Mouhanad Khorchide, an Islamic scholar at the University of Muenster.
The following is the text of Dr. Khorchide's address to the Pope:

The criterion of love and mercy in Islam and Christianity
Your Holiness,
Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Faith,
Your Holiness, during your visit to Cologne in August 2005, you sought a dialogue with Muslims in Germany. On behalf of all the Muslims gathered here, I would lìke to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing so on this visit also. I consider this - and I am certain that most Muslims in Germany see it in precisely the same light - as a ...»


Pope Benedict addresses ecumenical prayer service

Friday afternoon Pope Benedict took part in an ecumenical service in the church of the former Augustinian convent in Erfurt, Germany, once the home of Martin Luther. Over 300 people took part in the service, including representatives of various German Protestant communities.

Below is the translation of the pope’s homily during the celebration:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through them” (Jn 17:20). According to the Gospel of John, Jesus spoke these words to the Father in the Upper Room. He intercedes for coming generations of believers. He looks beyond the Upper Room, towards the future. He also prayed for us. And he prayed for our unity. This prayer of ...»

Pope Benedict addresses ecumenical gathering

On Friday Pope Benedict addressed representatives of the Protestant EKD (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland), a federation of 22 Lutheran, Unified and Reformed Protestant regional church bodies in Germany, headed by Council Chair Nikolaus Schneider. The encounter took place in the former Augustinian Convent in Erfurt, which was once the home of Martin Luther.

The full text of the Pope’s remarks is published below:
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I begin to speak, I would like first of all to thank you for this opportunity to come together with you. I am particularly grateful to Pastor Schneider for greeting me and welcoming me into your midst with his kind words. At the same time I want to express my thanks for the particularly gracious gesture that our meeting ...»

Pope Benedict meets Germany's Muslim leaders

Pope Benedict met with members of Germany's Muslim community at the Apostolic Nunziature in Berlin on Friday. Below we publish the text of his discourse:

Dear Muslim Friends,
I am glad to be able to welcome you here, as the representatives of different Muslim communities in Germany. From my heart I thank Professor Mouhanad Khorchide for his kind greeting. His words show me what a climate of respect and trust has grown up between the Catholic Church and the Muslim communities in Germany.

Berlin is a good place for a meeting like this, not only because the oldest mosque on German territory is located here, but also because Berlin has the largest Muslim population of all the cities in Germany.
From the 1970s onwards, the presence of numerous Muslim families has ...»

Novena to Saint Therese of the Little Flower - Day 2



Little Flower Novena

Prayers to be said each day:

Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the faithful, and kindle in them the fire of divine love.

V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O God, who have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit; grant that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be ever truly wise and rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love: O my God! I believe in Thee: strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee: do Thou secure them. I love Thee: teach me to love Thee daily more and more.

The Act of Contrition: O my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance , and to amend my life. Amen.


Second Day

O dear little Saint, now that you see the crucified Jesus in heaven, still bearing the wounds caused by sin, you know still more clearly than you did upon earth the value of souls, and the priceless worth of that Precious Blood which He shed to save them. As I am one of those children for whom Christ died, obtain for me all the graces I need in order to profit by that Precious Blood. Use your great power with our divine Lord and pray for me.

Intercede for us all the days of our life, but especially during this Novena and obtain for us from God the graces and favors we ask through your intercession. Amen.

Thought for the day: Sin. The only grace I ask, O Jesus, is never to offend Thee.
The remembrance of my faults humbles me and makes me afraid to rely on my own strength, which is nothing but weakness. Yes, even if I have on my conscience every possible crime, I should lose none of my confidence; my heart breaking with sorrow, I should go and throw myself into the arms of my Savior. By love and not by fear, does a soul avoid committing the least fault.

Concluding Prayer Prayed Each Day:
O Lord, You have said: Unless you become as little children you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven; grant us, we beg You, so to follow, in humility and simplicity of heart, the footsteps of the Virgin blessed Thérèse, that we may attain to an everlasting reward. Amen.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Padre Pio is one of the greatest and best known saints of modern time. He was a Capuchin Franciscan whose deep devotion to the sufferings of Jesus led to his receiving the mystical gift of the stigmata. May this good and holy man intercede with us now for the Holy Father’s intentions. In June 2009 Pope Benedict visited his tomb and said the following:

Then there is another important lesson we can learn from Padre Pio’s life: the value of and need for prayer. He would answer those who asked him to express an opinion of himself: "I am only a poor friar who prays". And effectively he prayed always and everywhere with humility, trust and perseverance. Here then is a key point, not only for the spirituality of the priest but also for that of every Christian, and especially for you, dear men and women religious, chosen to follow Christ more closely through the practice of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. One may sometimes be overcome by a certain discouragement at the weakening or even abandonment of faith which is recorded in our secularized societies. It is certainly necessary to find new channels for communicating the Gospel truth to the men and women of our time, but if the essential content of the Christian proclamation is always to remain the same, we must turn to its original source, to Jesus Christ who is "the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13: 8). The human and spiritual life of Padre Pio teaches us that only a soul closely united with the Crucified One succeeds in communicating the joy and riches of the Gospel even to those who are remote.

Love for Christ is inevitably linked to love for Christ's Church, guided and enlivened by the power of the Holy Spirit, in which each one of us has a role and mission to carry out. Dear priests, dear men and women religious, the tasks entrusted to you and the charisms which you interpret may differ but may the spirit in which you carry them out always be the same so that your presence and action among the Christian people become an eloquent witness of God's primacy in your lives. Was it not perhaps precisely this that everyone perceived
 in St. Pio of Pietrelcina?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pope's Homily at Berlin's Olympic Stadium


Today at 6pm, Pope Benedict arrived at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin for the first Celebration of the Holy Eucharist of this year’s visit to Germany. After arriving and the traditional drive-through, the Holy Father was welcomed by the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit.
The Stadium was filled to capacity, with some 70,000 people in attendance. There were also 84 Cardinals and Bishops present, of whom 16 con-celebrated with the Holy Father.
The Gospel reading was from John 15: “I am the vine.” The Holy Father reminded all present that the true source of joy is abiding in the vine, who is Jesus Christ.
Here is the full text of his homily.
Dear Brother Bishops, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As I look around the vast arena of the Olympic Stadium, where you have gathered today in such large numbers, my heart is filled with great joy and confidence.  I greet all of you most warmly – the faithful from the Archdiocese of Berlin and the Dioceses of Germany as well as the many pilgrims from neighbouring countries.  It was fifteen years ago that Berlin, the capital of Germany, was first visited by a Pope.  We all remember vividly the visit of my venerable predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, and the beatification of the Berlin Cathedral Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg – together with Karl Leisner – here in this very place.
If we consider these beati and the great throng of those who have been canonized and beatified, we can understand what it means to live as branches of Christ, the true vine, and to bring forth rich fruit.  Today’s Gospel puts before us once more the image of this climbing plant, that spreads so luxuriantly in the east, a symbol of vitality and a metaphor for the beauty and dynamism of Jesus’ fellowship with his disciples and friends.
In the parable of the vine, Jesus does not say: “You are the vine”, but: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn 15:5).  In other words: “As the branches are joined to the vine, so you belong to me!
But inasmuch as you belong to me, you also belong to one another.” This belonging to each other and to him is not some ideal, imaginary, symbolic relationship, but – I would almost want to say – a biological, life-transmitting state of belonging to Jesus Christ.  Such is the Church, this communion of life with him and for the sake of one another, a communion that is rooted in baptism and is deepened and given more and more vitality in the Eucharist.  “I am the true vine” actually means: “I am you and you are I” – an unprecedented identification of the Lord with us, his Church.
On the road to Damascus, Christ himself asked Saul, the persecutor of the Church: “Why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4).  With these words the Lord expresses the common destiny that arises from his Church’s inner communion of life with himself, the risen Christ.  He continues to live in his Church in this world.  He is present among us, and we are with him.  “Why do you persecute me?”  It is Jesus, then, who is on the receiving end of the persecutions of his Church.  At the same time, when we are oppressed for the sake of our faith, we are not alone: Jesus is with us.

Pope meets with Jewish community in Berlin


During the afternoon of the first day of his state visit to his native Germany, Pope Benedict met with some 15 representatives of the German Jewish Community.The meeting took place in Berlin's Reichstag Building behind closed doors.Here is the English translation of the full text of his speech:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to be taking part in this meeting with you here in Berlin. I warmly thank President Dr Dieter Graumann for his kind words of greeting. They make it very clear to me how much trust has grown between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church, who hold in common a not insignificant part of their essential traditions. At the same time it is clear to us all that a loving relationship of mutual understanding between Israel and the Church, each respecting the being of the other, still has further to grow and needs to be built into the heart of our proclamation of the faith.

On my visit to the Synagogue in Cologne six years ago, Rabbi Teitelbaum spoke of remembrance as one of the supporting pillars that are needed if a future of peace is to be built. And today I find myself in a central place of remembrance, the appalling remembrance that it was from here that the Shoah, the annihilation of our Jewish fellow citizens in Europe, was planned and organized. Before the Nazi terror, there were about half a million Jews living in Germany, and they formed a stable component of German society. After the Second World War, Germany was considered the “Land of the Shoah”, where it had become virtually impossible to live. Initially there were hardly any efforts to re-establish the old Jewish communities, even though Jewish individuals and families were constantly arriving from the East. Many of them wanted to emigrate and build a new life, especially in the United States or Israel.

In this place, remembrance must also be made of the Kristallnacht that took place from 9 to 10 November 1938. Only a few could see the full extent of this act of contempt for humanity, like the Berlin Cathedral Provost, Bernhard Lichtenberg, who cried out from the pulpit of Saint Hedwig’s Cathedral: “Outside, the Temple is burning – that too is the house of God”. The Nazi reign of terror was based on a racist myth, part of which was the rejection of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of Jesus Christ and of all who believe in him. The supposedly “almighty” Adolf Hitler was a pagan idol, who wanted to take the place of the biblical God, the Creator and Father of all men. Refusal to heed this one God always makes people heedless of human dignity as well. What man is capable of when he rejects God, and what the face of a people can look like when it denies this God, the terrible images from the concentration camps at the end of the war showed.

Pope's Address to German Parliament


Today, Thursday, September 22, Pope Benedict began his first State Visit to Germany with a visit to the Bundestag, the lower house of Parliament. This is the third time that a Pope addresses a Federal Parliament: Pope John Paul II addressed the Parliaments in Warsaw and in Rome.
He reminds German politicians that the foundation of all politics is justice, quoting St. Augustine: ““Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?” All politicians are called to be just and to always seek peace. Here is his full address titled “The Listening Heart: Reflections on the Foundations of Law.”
 Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Mr President of the Bundestag,
Madam Chancellor,
Mr President of the Bundesrat,
Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the House,
It is an honour and a joy for me to speak before this distinguished house, before the Parliament of my native Germany, that meets here as a democratically elected representation of the people, in order to work for the good of the Federal Republic of Germany.  I should like to thank the President of the Bundestag both for his invitation to deliver this address and for the kind words of greeting and appreciation with which he has welcomed me.  At this moment I turn to you, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, not least as your fellow-countryman who for all his life has been conscious of close links to his origins, and has followed the affairs of his native Germany with keen interest.  But the invitation to give this address was extended to me as Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, who bears the highest responsibility for Catholic Christianity.  In issuing this invitation you are acknowledging the role that the Holy See plays as a partner within the community of peoples and states.  Setting out from this international responsibility that I hold, I should like to propose to you some thoughts on the foundations of a free state of law.
Allow me to begin my reflections on the foundations of law [Recht] with a brief story from sacred Scripture.  In the First Book of the Kings, it is recounted that God invited the young King Solomon, on his accession to the throne, to make a request.  What will the young ruler ask for at this important moment?  Success – wealth – long life – destruction of his enemies?  He chooses none of these things.  Instead, he asks for a listening heart so that he may govern God’s people, and discern between good and evil (cf. 1 Kg 3:9).  Through this story, the Bible wants to tell us what should ultimately matter for a politician.  His fundamental criterion and the motivation for his work as a politician must not be success, and certainly not material gain.  Politics must be a striving for justice, and hence it has to establish the fundamental preconditions for peace.  Naturally a politician will seek success, as this is what opens up for him the possibility of effective political action.  Yet success is subordinated to the criterion of justice, to the will to do what is right, and to the understanding of what is right.  Success can also be seductive and thus can open up the path towards the falsification of what is right, towards the destruction of justice.  “Without justice – what else is the State but a great band of robbers?”, as Saint Augustine once said .  We Germans know from our own experience that these words are no empty spectre.  We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right – a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss.  To serve right and to fight against the dominion of wrong is and remains the fundamental task of the politician.  At a moment in history when man has acquired previously inconceivable power, this task takes on a particular urgency.  Man can destroy the world.  He can manipulate himself.  He can, so to speak, make human beings and he can deny them their humanity.  How do we recognize what is right?  How can we discern between good and evil, between what is truly right and what may appear right?  Even now, Solomon’s request remains the decisive issue facing politicians and politics today.
For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion.  Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough: everyone in a position of responsibility must personally seek out the criteria to be followed when framing laws.  In the third century, the great theologian Origen provided the following explanation for the resistance of Christians to certain legal systems: “Suppose that a man were living among the Scythians, whose laws are contrary to the divine law, and was compelled to live among them … such a man for the sake of the true law, though illegal among the Scythians, would rightly form associations with like-minded people contrary to the laws of the Scythians.”

Something Old, Something New


The Roman Missal Translation



Adjusting to the Roman Missal translation next Advent 2011 will be a little like moving into a new room. At certain points in our lives we may realize that we have outgrown a room, an apartment, or even a home and that we need more space. While moving into a new space gives us an opportunity to add new furniture, we don’t usually throw away all the old. We combine the new pieces with the pieces of furniture that we are bringing along to create a new living space that serves our needs.

In many ways, the need for a third edition of the Roman Missaltranslation is similar. Like the addition of brand-new furniture, some of the third edition includes completely new texts for use at Mass. Much of this third edition, however, will be as familiar to us as old furniture, albeit renewed in its beauty through a new translation. As we prepare to implement the Roman Missal translation next Advent, it is important to know why a third edition is needed and in what ways it will be different from its previous editions.

Recall that 10 years ago, much was being made of the turn of the millennium. As we approached the year 2000, grand events were being planned all over the world. The Church was no different. Each of the three years leading up to the turn of the millennium was dedicated to one of the Persons of the Trinity to help Catholics prepare for Y2K. It was this event – the year 2000 – that the pope chose to commemorate by issuing the third edition of the Roman Missal translation.

The Roman Missal Translation was Necessary

However, the issuing of another edition of all the texts we use at Mass was not done solely for the millennium. The truth is, we needed another edition. Since the second edition was promulgated in 1975, numerous new prayers and other texts had been added to the Missal. This was largely due to the number of saints who had been canonized since 1975. Pope John Paul II canonized moresaints than any other pope in history (some 480). For those whose feast days were added to the universal liturgical calendar, there were prayer texts for the Masses celebrated on those days. All of these had to be added to the Roman Missal.

In addition to these prayers, other texts have been added. For example, in 1995, a new Eucharistic Prayer was issued – the Eucharistic Prayer for Various Needs and Occasions. Four new Prefaces were part of this text. Since the prayer is not in the current Missal, it has only been available in supplemental form. With the third edition, the Roman Missal translation, this prayer will have its rightful place among the other main Eucharistic Prayers we use.

Although moving into a new living space is exciting, it can also be a challenge as we try to recall where things are now compared with our previous space. As we move toward the implementation of the Roman Missal translation in Advent 2011, we will no doubt experience the same excitement and challenge that comes with any change. It will only be a matter of time before we adjust and once again feel at home with the words we use to worship our good and gracious God.

In Pictures: Heaven's angels: Pope Benedict arrive in Berlin

A motorcade carries the delegation of Pope Benedict XVI from Tegel airport to Bellevue Palace in Berlin
A motorcade carries the delegation of Pope Benedict XVI from Tegel airport to Bellevue Palace in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina Wulff, front from left, wait for Pope Benedict XVI
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Christian Wulff and his wife Bettina Wulff, front from left, wait, Pope Benedict XVI walks on the red carpet upon his arrival at the Tegel airport tarmac

Pope Benedict XVI walks with German President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel on his arrival at Tegel International airport
Pope Benedict XVI walks with German President Christian Wulff and Chancellor Angela Merkel on his arrival at Tegel International airport (left). A large crown greeted the pope at the Berlin airport

The pope greets children upon his arrival at Tegel airport as German President Christian Wulff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel look on
The pope greets children upon his arrival at Tegel airport as German President Christian Wulff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel look on

The 84-year-old addressed young well-wishers after he had landed