IT IS TIME FOR THE CHURCH TO SET ASIDE HER WORLDLINESS
VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 5 p.m. today at the concert hall of Freiburg im Breisgau, the Holy Father met with representatives of Catholic associations active in the life of the Church and of society. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Here is the full text of his remarks:
"Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am glad to be here today with all of you who work in so many ways for the Church and for society. This gives me a welcome opportunity personally to thank you most sincerely for your commitment and your witness as “powerful heralds of the faith in things to be hoped for” (Lumen Gentium, 35 – validi praecones fidei sperandarum rerum). In your fields of activity you readily stand up for your faith and for the Church, something that is not always easy at the present time.
For some decades now we have been experiencing a decline in religious practice and we have been seeing substantial numbers of the baptized drifting away from church life. This prompts the question: should the Church not change? Must she not adapt her offices and structures to the present day, in order to reach the searching and doubting people of today?Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked what in her opinion was the first thing that would have to change in the Church. Her answer was: you and I.
Two things are clear from this brief story. On the one hand Mother Teresa wants to tell her interviewer: the Church is not just other people, not just the hierarchy, the Pope and the bishops: we are all the Church, we the baptized. And on the other hand her starting-point is this: yes, there are grounds for change. There is a need for change. Every Christian and the community of the faithful are constantly called to change.
What should this change look like in practice? Are we talking about the kind of renewal that a householder might carry out when reordering or repainting his home? Or are we talking about a corrective, designed to bring us back on course and help us to make our way more swiftly and more directly? Certainly these and other elements play a part. As far as the Church in concerned, though, the basic motive for change is the apostolic mission of the disciples and the Church herself.
The Church, in other words, must constantly rededicate herself to her mission. The three Synoptic Gospels highlight various aspects of the missionary task. The mission is built upon personal experience: “You are witnesses” (Lk 24:48); it finds expression in relationships: “Make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19); and it spreads a universal message: “Preach the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). Through the demands and constraints of the world, however, the witness is constantly obscured, the relationships are alienated and the message is relativized. If the Church, in Pope Paul VI’s words, is now struggling “to model itself on Christ's ideal”, this “can only result in its acting and thinking quite differently from the world around it, which it is nevertheless striving to influence” (Ecclesiam Suam, 58). In order to accomplish her mission, she will constantly set herself apart from her surroundings, she needs in a certain sense to become unworldly or “desecularized”.
The Church’s mission has its origins in the mystery of the triune God, in the mystery of his creative love. Love is not just somehow within God, he himself is love by nature. And divine love does not want to exist in isolation, it wants to pour itself out. It has come down to men in a particular way through the incarnation and self-offering of God’s Son. He stepped outside the framework of his divinity, he took flesh and became man; and indeed his purpose was not merely to confirm the world in its worldliness and to be its companion, leaving it completely unchanged. The Christ event includes the inconceivable fact of what the Church Fathers call a commercium, an exchange between God and man, in which the two parties – albeit in quite different ways – both give and take, bestow and receive. The Christian faith recognizes that God has given man a freedom in which he can truly be a partner to God, and can enter into exchange with him. At the same time it is clear to man that this exchange is only possible thanks to God’s magnanimity in accepting the beggar’s poverty as wealth, so as to make the divine gift acceptable, given that man has nothing of comparable worth to offer in return.
The Church likewise owes her whole being to this unequal exchange. She has nothing of her own to offer to him who founded her. She finds her meaning exclusively in being a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God’s word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God. The Church is fully immersed in the Redeemer’s outreach to men. She herself is always on the move, she constantly has to place herself at the service of the mission that she has received from the Lord. The Church must always open up afresh to the cares of the world and give herself over to them, in order to make present and continue the holy exchange that began with the Incarnation.
In the concrete history of the Church, however, a contrary tendency is also manifested, namely that the Church becomes settled in this world, she becomes self-sufficient and adapts herself to the standards of the world. She gives greater weight to organization and institutionalization than to her vocation to openness.
In order to accomplish her true task adequately, the Church must constantly renew the effort to detach herself from the “worldliness” of the world. In this she follows the words of Jesus: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn 17:16). One could almost say that history comes to the aid of the Church here through the various periods of secularization, which have contributed significantly to her purification and inner reform.
Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty. In this the Church has shared the destiny of the tribe of Levi, which according to the Old Testament account was the only tribe in Israel with no ancestral land of its own, taking as its portion only God himself, his word and his signs. At those moments in history, the Church shared with that tribe the demands of a poverty that was open to the world, in order to be released from her material ties: and in this way her missionary activity regained credibility.
History has shown that, when the Church becomes less worldly, her missionary witness shines more brightly. Once liberated from her material and political burdens, the Church can reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world, she can be truly open to the world. She can live more freely her vocation to the ministry of divine worship and service of neighbour. The missionary task, which is linked to Christian worship and should determine its structure, becomes more clearly visible. The Church opens herself to the world not in order to win men for an institution with its own claims to power, but in order to lead them to themselves by leading them to him of whom each person can say with Saint Augustine: he is closer to me than I am to myself (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11). He who is infinitely above me is yet so deeply within me that he is my true interiority. This form of openness to the world on the Church’s part also serves to indicate how the individual Christian can be open to the world in effective and appropriate ways.
It is not a question here of finding a new strategy to relaunch the Church. Rather, it is a question of setting aside mere strategy and seeking total transparency, not bracketing or ignoring anything from the truth of our present situation, but living the faith fully here and now in the utterly sober light of day, appropriating it completely, and stripping away from it anything that only seems to belong to faith, but in truth is mere convention or habit. To put it another way: for people of every era, not just our own, the Christian faith is a scandal. That the eternal God should know us and care about us, that the intangible should at a particular moment have become tangible, that he who is immortal should have suffered and died on the Cross, that we who are mortal should be given the promise of resurrection and eternal life – to believe all this is to posit something truly remarkable.
This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith. A dangerous situation arises when these scandals take the place of the primary skandalon of the Cross and in so doing they put it beyond reach, concealing the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it.
All the more, then, is it time once again for the Church resolutely to set aside her worldliness. That does not mean withdrawing from the world. A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers. “For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being” (Deus Caritas Est, 25). At the same time, though, the Church’s charitable activity also needs to be constantly exposed to the demands of due detachment from worldliness, if it is not to wither away at the roots in the face of increasing erosion of its ecclesial character. Only a profound relationship with God makes it possible to reach out fully towards others, just as a lack of outreach towards neighbour impoverishes one’s relationship with God.
Openness to the concerns of the world means, then, for the Church that is detached from worldliness, bearing witness to the primacy of God’s love according to the Gospel through word and deed, here and now, a task which at the same time points beyond the present world because this present life is also bound up with eternal life. As individuals and as the community of the Church, let us live the simplicity of a great love, which is both the simplest and hardest thing on earth, because it demands no more and no less than the gift of oneself.
Dear friends, it remains for me to invoke God’s blessing and the strength of the Holy Spirit upon us all, that we may continually recognize anew and bear fresh witness to God’s love and mercy in our respective fields of activity. Thank you for your attention."
Pope Benedict bid farewell to Germans at Lahr airport at the end of his four day state visit to his native land.
VATICAN CITY, 25 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Today at 6 p.m. the Pope travelled fifty kilometres by car from the city of Freiburg im Breisgau to Lahr airport for his return flight to Italy. The departure ceremony was attended by German President Christian Wulff, to whom the Pope again expressed his thanks, as well as by various German bishops, representatives of the civil authorities and large numbers of faithful.
Here is the full text of his remarks at the departure ceremony:
Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Distinguished Representatives of the Federal Government,
of Baden Württemburg and its Communities,
"Dear Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before leaving Germany, I would like very much to thank you for these days, so moving and eventful, spent in my native land.
I am grateful to you, President Wulff, for welcoming me in Berlin in the name of the German people and now, at the moment of my departure, for again honouring me with your gracious words. My thoughts turn to the representatives of the Federal Government and the governments of the Länder who are present at this departure ceremony. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Zollitsch of Freiburg, who accompanied me throughout the journey. I likewise express my gratitude to Archbishop Woelki of Berlin and Bishop Wanke of Erfurt, who also showed me hospitality, and to the entire German episcopate. Finally I offer a particular word of thanks to all those who worked behind the scenes before and during these four days in order to ensure that all went smoothly: to the civic institutions, to all those engaged in providing security, health services and public transport, and to the many volunteers. I thank all of you for these splendid days, for our many personal encounters and for your many signs of attention and affection.
In Berlin, the Federal Capital, I had the particular opportunity of addressing the members of the Bundestag and presenting some reflections on the intellectual foundations of the state. I also readily think of the fruitful conversations which I had with the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor about the present state of the German people and the international community. I was particularly touched by the cordial welcome and enthusiasm shown by so many people in Berlin.
Here in the land of the Reformation, Christian unity was naturally a high point of my journey. I would mention in particular my meeting with representatives of the Lutheran Church in Germany, which took place in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt. I am profoundly grateful for our fraternal exchange and common prayer. Significant too were my meetings with Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, as well with Jews and Muslims.
Of course my visit was particularly aimed at the Catholic communities in Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg. I gladly recall our common liturgical celebrations and the joy which accompanied them, our common listening to the word of God and our union in prayer – especially in those parts of the country where efforts were made for decades to remove religion from people’s lives. This gives me confidence for the future of Christianity in Germany. As in previous visits, it was clear how many people here are bearing witness to their faith and making its transforming power present in today’s world. Last but not least, after the impressive celebration of World Youth Day in Madrid, I was also delighted to be in the presence of large numbers of young people in Freiburg at yesterday’s youth vigil.
I encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers – and these already exist – whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance. “There is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to speak to others of our friendship with him” (Homily for the Solemn Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry, 24 April 2005). This experience ultimately gives the certainty that “where God is, there is a future.” Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral. In this sense I accompany in my thoughts and prayers the path of the Church in Germany.
With vivid memories of these days spent in my native land, I now return to Rome. With the assurance of my prayers for all of you, and for a future of peace and freedom for our country, I bid you farewell with a hearfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” [May God reward you]. God bless you all!"
VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Stanislaw Budzik, secretary general of the Polish Episcopal Conference, as archbishop of Lublin (area 9,108, population 1,154,267, Catholics 1,128,233, priests 1,328, religious 1,043), Poland. The archbishop-elect was born in Lekawica, Poland in 1952 and ordained a priest in 1977. Having studied dogmatic theology in Austria, he worked as director of diocesan Caritas, then director of the "Biblos" publishing house and later as rector of the major seminary of Tarnow.
Christian and Muslim representatives are discretely meeting today at the headquarters of the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, to discuss the situation in the neighbouring country, as well as political and social perspectives. Samir Geagea to Christians: "Do not be afraid! Be leaders of the Arab liberation movement".
Damascus (AsiaNews) – As the repression of civil protests Syria continue in various parts of the country, with deaths and arrests, in Lebanon a quite religious meeting of Christian and Muslim is taking place to reflect on the situation in Syria, in an atmosphere of conviviality to share the positions of various denominations. The Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Ahmad Hassoun, Catholic Greek -Melkite Patriarch Gregorios III and others travelled from Damascus to Lebanon for the summit,. The meeting is being held in Beirut at the headquarters of the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Qabbani.
The initiative responds to the rumors that the presence of Christians in the Middle East, especially Syria, is seriously threatened by a possible regime change in Damascus in favour of an Islamist leadership. Against this threat has been uttered by many Muslim figures, including the rector of Al-Azhar University, Cairo, considered the highest academic authority in the Sunni Muslim world.
Last week, the Lebanese press published information from unnamed sources "close to the Maronite Patriarchate," according to whom the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, had told the Maronite Patriarch, Butrus Beshara Rai, during his recent visit to France, that Christians have no place in the Middle East and that they should all emigrate to Europe. The reports were immediately and once formally denied by the Presidency of the French Republic, with the Presidents office stating that on the contrary in his meeting with Patriarch President Sarkozy urged the importance of the Christian presence in the Middle East in the regional perspective of peace. Despite this public denial, and Syrian press published information on Sarkozy’s alleged statements to the patriarch.
In the meantime, the Catholic hierarchy in Syria is due to meet in its first gathering since the events of March 15 (the scheduled meeting in April was cancelled), to adopt a common ecclesial stance on the situation. So far, members of the Catholic episcopate in Syria who have spoken out publically have expressed support for the regime, although in some cases (some writings by Patriarch Gregorios III, President of the Assembly), with an invitation to consider demands of the protesters.
The Assembly will have to take into account instructions received from the Holy See, which demand greater signs of "discernment" and underline the Church's duty to promote human dignity, civic equality among all citizens and between man and women, the respect for fundamental freedoms, the separation between state and religion, the rejection of violence, etc.. and all this without engaging in favor of any political party. And according to the Lebanese Christian leader Samir Geagea, Christians in the Middle East should be "leaders of the Arab liberation movement" and not "the defenders of backward and brutal regimes." Samir Geagea, known for his critical position towards the regime in Damascus said: "My brothers in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt and throughout the region, do not be afraid ... immerse yourself in the sufferings of the peoples of the region, always be leaders of the movements of liberation and progress."
The statement sent to Fides, signed by the Scalabrinian Fr. Francisco Pellizzari, spiritual Counselor in North America area, reports that "Marisol Castro, lay Scalabrinian of the Nuevo Laredo group" was kidnapped by a group of drug dealers considered 'bosses' of this border region on Wednesday, September 22. After two days of research and dramatic silence, her lifeless body was found in a street in the city of Nuevo Laredo, city where she was born and where she lived and worked as a editor and illustrator for a local periodical". The statement underlines that the news at an official level on the event is very scarce, what is known is that on her body was written: "This happens to the media which is against us."
"We ask a prayer for our friend and member of the Central Committee of the Lay Scalabrinian Movement who worked with great affection and loyalty at the Casa del Migrante in Nuevo Laredo and maintained daily contact with many of us in the Movement". Marisol was "a woman of great faith and commitment to justice", testifies Father Rui Pedro.
The atrocious murder may be the third committed by a drug cartel among residents in Nuevo Laredo, killed because of what they had published on the Internet. Mexico is considered by the United Nations as the most dangerous country in America with regards to the media operators. Until this murder, a dozen giornalists have been killed this year, according to Reporters Without Borders. Among them are two journalists who were murdered in a park in Mexico City in early September (see Fides 17/9/2011). Often the complaints of violence carried out by drug gangs in these border areas appear on the Internet, because covered by a certain degree of anonymity, while the local media are too often intimidated. (CE) (Agenzia Fides 26/09/2011)
Sydney Archdiocese REPORT:
22 Sep 2011
Years 5 and 6 students at St Mary's Primary School, North Sydney are not only aware of the less fortunate, but at least once a term these 10 and 11-year-olds don aprons and begin cooking up a storm, making enough lasagne or pasta bake casseroles to feed 70 or more.
Frozen, the meals are then sent to St Vincent's Catholic Church, Redfern where the food is heated up and becomes a nourishing meal for the area's homeless, poor and in need.
The Sharing of the Meal program was created more than 15 years ago by the late Father Ted Kennedy and offers a big breakfast cum lunch to those doing it tough in the Redfern area each Tuesday and Friday.
While the program has been in operation for more than a decade and a half, in the last two years it has been revitalised by Jenny Carter, a powerhouse working mum who took on the job as coordinator. Not only has Jenny made sure the meals are high in nourishment, vitamins and offer fresh fruit and vegetables, which are so often lacking in diets of those on the margins, but she has roped in a series of schools, corporations and volunteers to donate their time or meals or pitch in to help any way they can.
"We have always had a strong social awareness program at St Mary's Primary and our program each year includes a fund drive for the Jesuit Mission in India, as well as helping with the Archdiocese's Charitable Works Fund and St Vincent de Paul Society," says Elizabeth Kaye, Religious Education Coordinator at St Mary's Primary, North Sydney. "But thanks to Jenny, who came and spoke to the children, they can actually do something practical. By cooking meals, they are making something they know will help someone who is hungry. It is a powerful message."
The young students in fact become so involved that they not only cook one big meal a term for Sharing of the Meal but frequently join other classes to make and decorate cup cakes for the program, or to make individually-wrapped fruit cakes as small gifts at Christmas.
"For the big meals such as pasta bakes students, from years 5 and 6 are taken by staff to Marist College North Shore at St Leonards and use their big kitchen and ovens. But for things like the cupcakes the children often stay back after school to decorate them here and help pack them up," says Elizabeth.
"St Mary's motto is to Aim, to Aspire, to Inspire and to Make a Difference and by joining in and helping out with the Sharing the Meal program, the students are doing just that," she says.
Thanks to Jenny's persuasive powers, other schools have enthusiastically embraced the program. These include St Vincent's College, Potts Point; St Thomas' Primary, Willoughby; Loreto Kirribilli; Sacred Heart, Mosman and Cammeray Public School.
Each school takes responsibility for one big meal for 70 for the Redfern program each term, with others like St Mary's also adding other extras such as cup cakes whenever they are able.
In addition, Jenny has begun persuading various city corporations to sponsor one big barbecue breakfast a year and is hoping to find 12 corporations, so that each month Sharing the Meal can become a big barbecue of fried eggs, bacon, tomatoes and all the trimmings.
"So far we have held two great barbecues with one sponsored and staffed by volunteers from GIO and the other sponsored and staffed by Lane Cove's Baker's Delight," she says.
Now with December only a few months away, Jenny and her team of volunteers, many of whom are fellow mums from the schools her son and daughter attend, are planning the lavish Christmas feast for more than 150 of Redfern families in need as well as the homeless.
Charities such as OzHarvest and St Vincent de Paul help out with donations of vegetables and goods and Steggles donates the turkeys and hams. It promises to be a real feast with all the trimmings complete with St Mary's Primary Schools individual Christmas cakes.
"But we won't be serving plum pudding," Jenny says, pointing out other than those with a British heritage, it is not a favourite. Europeans don't like it nor do Asians or the Indigenous people of Redfern. "Instead we make big pavlovas which like all Australians, they love!"
To find out how to become a corporate sponsor one of the meals for the Sharing of the Meal program at St Vincent's Church, Redfern or to volunteer and help in some way, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sts. Cosmas and Damian
Feast: September 26
3rd century AD, Arabia
287 AD, Aegea, Roman province of Syria
Convent of the Poor Clares in Madrid, Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Bitonto, Bari, Italy
surgeons, physicians, dentists, protectors of children, barbers, pharmacists, veterinarians, orphanages, day-care centers, confectioners, children in house, against hernia, against the plague.
Early Christian physicians and martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 27 September. They were twins, born in Arabia, and practised the art of healing in the seaport Ægea, now Ayash (Ajass), on the Gulf of Iskanderun in Cilicia, Asia Minor, and attained a great reputation. They accepted no pay for their services and were, therefore, called anargyroi, "the silverless". In this way they brought many to the Catholic Faith. When the Diocletian persecution began, the Prefect Lysias had Cosmas and Damian arrested, and ordered them to recant. They remained constant under torture, in a miraculous manner suffered no injury from water, fire, air, nor on the cross, and were finally beheaded with the sword. Their three brothers, Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius died as martyrs with them. The execution took place 27 September, probably in the year 287. At a later date a number of fables grew up about them, connected in part with their relics. The remains of the martyrs were buried in the city of Cyrus in Syria; the Emperor Justinian I (527-565) sumptuously restored the city in their honour. Having been cured of a dangerous illness by the intercession of Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude for their aid, rebuilt and adorned their church at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526-530) erected a church in their honour, the mosaics of which are still among the most valuable art remains of the city. The Greek Church celebrates the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian on 1 July, 17 October, and 1 November, and venerates three pairs of saints of the same name and profession. Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints.
46And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest.47But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side,48and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great."49John answered, "Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us."50But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you."