Pope: Pentecost is a feast of unity, understanding
2012-05-27 Vatican Radio
Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Here is Vatican Radio's translation of the Pope's homily for the occasion.
Dear brothers and sisters
I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.
This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superfical and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?
The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.
This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist? How?
The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.
But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and comunion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.
The contrast between Babel and Pentecost returns in the second reading, where the Apostle Paul says: “Walk according to the Spirit and you will not be brought to satisfy the desires of the flesh”. St Paul tells us that our personal life is marked by interior conflict and division, between impulses that come from the flesh and those that come from the Spirit: and we cannot follow all of them. We cannot be both selfish and generous, we cannot follow the tendency to dominate others and experience the joy of disinterested service. We have to choose which impulse to follow and we can do so authentically only with the help of the Spirit of Christ. St Paul lists the works of the flesh: they are the sins of selfishness and violence, like hostility, discord, jealousy, dissent. These are thoughts and actions that do not allow us to live in a truly human and Christian way, in love. This direction leads to us losing our life. The Holy Spirit, though, guides us towards the heights of God, so that, on this earth, we can already experience the seed of divine life that is within us.St Paul confirms: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”. We note how the Apostle uses the plural to describe the works of the flesh that provoke the loss of our humanity – while he uses the singular to define the action of the Spirit, speaking of “the fruit”, in the same way as the dispersion of Babel contrasts with the unity of Pentecost.
Dear friends, we must live according to the Spirit of unity and truth, and this is why we must pray for the Spirit to enlighten and guide us to overcome the temptation to follow our own truths, and to welcome the truth of Christ transmitted in the Church. Luke's account of Pentecost tells us that, before rising to heaven, Jesus asked the Apostles to stay together and to prepare themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room and awaited the promised event.
Like when it was born, today the Church still gathers with Mary and prays: “Veni Sancte Spiritus! - Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”. Amen.
copied from VATICAN Radio http://www.news.va/en
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Pope greets members of Holy Spirit Renewal
2012-05-26 Vatican Radio
About thirty thousand people attended Holy Mass in Saint Peter’s Square Saturday morning to commemorate forty years since the founding of the Holy Spirit Renewal in Italy. The Archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, was the main celebrant. The celebration was immediately followed by a special audience with Pope Benedict XVI, who addressed the representatives of the Holy Spirit Renewal.
“In your pilgrimage,” the Holy Father said, “where you have the opportunity to spend time in prayer before the tomb of Saint Peter, may you reinvigorate your faith, grow in the Christian witness, and confront without fear, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the challenging tasks of the new evangelization.”
“Dear friends of the Holy Spirit Renewal! Never tire of turning towards heaven: the world is in need of prayer. Be of service to those men and women who feel drawn towards Heaven in their lives, giving praise to the Lord through a new way of life. And may you be joyful Christians!
“I entrust each and every one of you,” he concluded, “to the most Holy Mary, who was present at the Last Supper and the event of Pentecost. Persevere with her in prayer, go forward guided by the light of the Holy Spirit, living and proclaiming the announcement of Christ.”
The Holy Father concluded by imparting his Apostolic Blessing upon those who were present and their families. copied from VATICAN Radio
RETURNING TO THE ESSENTIAL ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN LIFE IN ORDER TO RELAUNCH EVANGELISATION
Vatican City, 24 May 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received participants in the sixty-fourth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, to whom he delivered an address focusing on the challenges of the new evangelisation in a society increasingly distanced from God. "Our situation requires renewed drive, aimed at the essential aspects of Christian faith and life", he said. "At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot relaunch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer. ... We will not be able to win mankind to the Gospel unless we ourselves first return to a profound experience of God".
The Pope began his remarks by recalling that this autumn marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and he exhorted the prelates to implement its teachings in order to meet the social and cultural transformations of our time which, he said, "also have visible consequences in the religious sphere". Societies of ancient Christian tradition are today characterised by secularism. Thus the spiritual and moral heritage which lies at the roots of the West "is no longer understood in its profound significance, ... and a rich soil risks becoming an inhospitable desert".
The Pope identified a number of worrying trends, including a drop in religious practice and diminishing participation in the Sacraments. "Many baptised have lost their identity. They do not know the essential contents of the faith, or believe they can cultivate that faith without ecclesial mediation. And while many look doubtfully at Church teaching, others reduce the Kingdom of God to certain broad values, which are certainly related to the Gospel but which do not touch the central nucleus of Christian faith".
"Unfortunately it is God Himself Who remains excluded from many people's horizon and, when not met with indifference, closure or rejection, discourse about God is relegated to the subjective sphere, reduced to an intimate and private affair which is marginalised from the public conscience. The heart of the crisis affecting Europe also arises from this abandonment, this lack of openness to the Transcendent".
In this context, Benedict XVI highlighted the fact that "new methods of announcing the Gospel or of pastoral activity are not enough to ensure that the Christian message finds greater acceptance". As the Council Fathers said, "we must begin again from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed. ... Our primary task, our true and only task, remains that of dedicating our lives to the one thing that ... is truly dependable, necessary and ultimate. Men live from God, from He Whom, often tentatively and unawares, they seek in order to give full meaning to lives. We have the task of announcing Him, revealing Him and leading others to meet Him".
The Holy Father continued: "The fundamental condition in order to be able to speak about God is to speak with God, increasingly to become men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and moulded by His Grace. ... We must allow ourselves to be found and seized by God so as to help the people we meet be touched by the Truth. ... The old and new mission facing us is that of introducing the men and women of our time to a relationship with God, to help them to open their minds and hearts to the God Who seeks them and wants to come close to them, leading them to understand that doing His will does not curb freedom; rather, it means being truly free, it means achieving true goodness in life.
"God is the guarantor not the competitor of our freedom", the Pope added in conclusion. "Where space is given to the Gospel, and therefore to friendship with Christ, man realises he is the object of a love which purifies, warms, renews, and makes us capable of serving mankind with divine love".
Lombardi: Investigations into leaking of documents continues
2012-05-28 Vatican Radio
Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. today made the following declaration concerning investigations taking place in the Vatican on the leaking of reserved documents.
"I can confirm that the individual arrested on Wednesday evening for illegal possession of reserved documents, which were found in his domicile located within Vatican territory, is Mr. Paolo Gabriele, who is still being held in detention."The first phase of the 'summary investigation' under the direction of Nicola Picardi, promoter of justice, has come to an end and given way to the phase of 'formal investigation', which is being conducted by Piero Antonio Bonnet, investigating magistrate.
"The accused has appointed two lawyers to represent him who are authorised to act before the Vatican Tribunal, and he has had the opportunity to meet with them. They will be able to help him in successive stages of the proceedings. He benefits from all the juridical guarantees laid down by the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure in force in Vatican City State."The investigatory phase will continue until an adequate picture of the situation being investigated has emerged, after which the investigating magistrate will either acquit the suspect or send him for trial".
Leaks suspect identified
2012-05-26 Vatican Radio
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, has issued a statement confirming the identity of the person accused of illegal possession of confidential documents found in his Vatican apartment. According to the statement, Vatican magistrates have formalised charges against 46 year-old Paolo Gabriele, who was papal valet until his arrest on Wednesday. The magistrates have confirmed his detention and invited him to name two lawyers to represent him before the Vatican Tribunal.
Vatican: Individual in possession of confidential documents identified
2012-05-25 Vatican Radio
Responding to questions from the press, the Director of the Vatican Press Office Father Federico Lombardi said that "the investigations initiated by the Gendarmerie" on the dissemination of confidential Vatican documents” have identified a person in illegal possession "of such material." The individual involved, whose identity was not revealed, is being held for further questioning.
The action was taken on the instructions of the Commission of Cardinals under the direction of the Promoter of Justice.
The Cardinalatial commission was established by Pope Benedict in the wake of recent leaks of reserved and confidential documents on television, in newspapers and in other communications media.
copied from VATICAN Radio http://www.news.va/en
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2012-05-27 Vatican Radio In his Regina Coeli address, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about today’s feast of Pentecost, “which completes the Easter season.”
“This feast reminds us and experience the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other disciples gathered in prayer to the Virgin Mary in the Upper Room,” the Pope said. “Jesus, risen and ascended into heaven, sends His Spirit to the Church, so that all Christians can share in His divine life and become His effective witness in the world.”
Noting that the Holy Spirit “continues to inspire women and men who engage in the pursuit of truth” Pope Benedict announced that on October 7, at the beginning of the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he would proclaim St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church. “These two great witnesses of the faith lived in very different historical periods and came from different cultural backgrounds,” he said. “But the sanctity of life and depth of teaching makes them perpetually present: the grace of the Holy Spirit, in fact, projected them into that experience of penetrating understanding of divine revelation and intelligent dialogue with the world that constitutes the horizon of permanent life and action of the Church.”
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After the Regina Coeli, the Holy Father addressed the pilgrims in various languages. In his remarks in English, he said “I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Regina Caeli on the Solemnity of Pentecost. Next Friday, I will go to Milan to be with families from all over the world celebrating the Seventh World Meeting of Families. I ask you to join me in praying for the success of this important event, and that families may be filled with the Holy Spirit, rediscover the joy of their vocation in the Church and the world, and bear loving witness to the faith. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!”
copied from VATICAN Radio http://www.news.va/en
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