TASK OF PASTORS: DEVOTION, COMMUNION, EUCHARIST, PRAYER
VATICAN CITY, 5 FEB 2011 (VIS REPORT) - This morning in the Vatican Basilica, the Holy Father conferred episcopal ordination upon the following five priests: Msgr. Savio Hon Tai-Fai S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples; Msgr. Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Msgr. Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy; Msgr. Antonio Guido Filipazzi, apostolic nuncio, and Msgr. Edgar Pena Parra, apostolic nuncio to Pakistan.
Commenting on the Gospel reading from today's Mass, "The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few", the Pope said: "Although it may seem that a large part of the modern world, of the men and women of today, turn their backs on God and consider faith as a thing of the past, there is still a longing that justice, peace and love will finally be established, that poverty and suffering will be overcome, that mankind may find happiness".
"Today's liturgy", he went on, "gives us two definitions of your mission as bishops, as priests of Jesus Christ: that of being labourers in the harvest of world history with the task of healing, of opening the doors of the world to the lordship of God that His will of may be done on earth as in heaven; ... and that of co-operating in the mission of Jesus Christ".
In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke illustrates "the fundamental elements of Christian existence in the communion of the Church of Jesus Christ. He writes: 'They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers''. These four major elements of Church life also describe the essential task of her pastors", the Pope explained.
"Devotion, constancy, is part of the essence of being Christian, and it is fundamental for the role of pastors, labourers in the Lord's harvest. ... Intrepidness, the courage to oppose the trends of the moment, are an essential part of a pastor's duties. ... Only where there is stability can there also be growth".
Referring then to the second of the "pillars" of the Church, "communion", the Holy Father highlighted how "by being in communion with the Apostles, by abiding in their faith, we ourselves are in contact with the living God. This is the goal of the ministry of bishops. May this chain of communion not be broken! The essence of apostolic succession is to maintain our communion with the people who visibly and tangibly met with the Lord ".
"Help to ensure that joy in the great unity of the Church remains alive, joy in the communion of all places and times, in the communion of the faith which embraces heaven and earth", the Pope told the new archbishops.
The third fundamental element of ecclesial life is "the breaking of bread", said Benedict XVI. "Breaking the bread - the Blessed Eucharist - is the core of the Church and must be the core of our being Christian, of our priestly lives. The Lord gives Himself to us; the Risen One enters my intimate self and wishes to transform me, bringing me into profound communion with Him".
"Let us seek to celebrate the Eucharist devotedly, with ever deeper fervour; let us seek to organise our days around it and to allow ourselves to be moulded by it. Breaking the bread is also an expression of sharing, of transmitting our love for others. This social dimension, this sharing, is not some moral appendix added to the Eucharist, but an essential part thereof".
Commenting then on the fourth aspect of ecclesial life, "prayer", the Pope noted that, "on the one hand, prayer must be highly personal, a union with God in my most intimate being. ... However, it is never an exclusively private affair regarding only my individual self, disassociated from others. Prayer is always essentially an activity we undertake together as children of God. Only in this 'us' can we be children of our Father, to whom the Lord taught us to pray. ... Thus, in the final analysis, prayer cannot just be an activity like any other, a little corner of my time".
"'Duc in altum' the Lord is telling you today, dear friends", the Holy Father concluded. "You have been called to play roles that concern the universal Church. You are called to throw out the nets of the Gospel into the stormy seas of our time, to obtain the adherence of men and women to Christ, so as to draw them out, so to speak, from the salty waters of death and from the dark where the light of heaven does not reach. You must bring them onto the earth, to live in communion with Jesus Christ".
VATICAN CITY, 5 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The annual spiritual exercises of the Pope and the Roman Curia are due to begin on 13 March, the first Sunday of Lent. This year's meditations will be directed by Fr. Francois-Marie Lethel O.C.D., prelate secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology.
The theme of the spiritual exercises, which will take place in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, is: "The light of Christ in the heart of the Church: John Paul II and the theology of the saints".
The spiritual exercises will come to an end on Saturday 19 March. During the retreat all audiences are suspended, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday 16 March.
VATICAN CITY, 6 FEB 2011 (VIS) - At midday today Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square.
"In today's Gospel", he said, "the Lord Jesus tells His disciples: 'You are the salt of the earth. ... You are the light of the world'. Using these deeply significant images, He wishes to convey to them the meaning of their mission and their witness. In Middle Eastern culture, salt evokes various values such as alliance, solidarity, life and hope. Light was the first work of God the Creator, and it is the source of life. The Word of God itself is compared to light".
For this reason, "the Lord's disciples are called to bring new 'flavour' to the world, to preserve it from corruption with the wisdom of God, which shines fully in the face of the Son because He is 'the true light which enlightens everyone'. United to Him Christians can - amidst the shadows of indifference and selfishness - diffuse the light of God's love, true wisdom which gives meaning to the life and activities of mankind".
The Pope then went on to recall that 11 February, Feast of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, also marks the World Day of the Sick. "This", he said, "is a good opportunity to reflect, to pray and to raise the awareness of the ecclesial community and of civil society towards their sick brothers and sisters. In my Message for this Day, ... I invite everyone to contemplate Jesus, the Son of God, Who suffered and died, but rose again. God radically contests the arrogance of evil. The Lord takes care of man in all situations, He shares his suffering and opens his heart to hope. Thus I exhort all healthcare workers to see the sick person, not only as a frail body, but above all as a person to whom to show solidarity and to offer appropriate solutions".
In this context, the Holy Father also referred to the Day for Life, which is being celebrated in Italy today. "I trust that everyone will work to make the culture of life grow, so as to ensure that the value of human beings remains central in all circumstances. According to both faith and reason, the dignity of the person cannot be reduced to his or her faculties or abilities, and thus it is not diminished when the person is weak, disabled or in need of help".
Following the Marian prayer Benedict XVI noted how he is currently "following the delicate situation in the dear nation of Egypt. I ask God that that land, blessed by the presence of the Holy Family, may rediscover tranquillity and peaceful coexistence, in a shared commitment for the common good".
VATICAN CITY, 7 FEB 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father received participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
In his address to the group the Pope noted that "the common denominator of the topics you are examining over these days is education and formation, which today represent one of the most urgent challenges the Church and her institutions are called to face. Educational work seems to be becoming ever more arduous because, in a culture which all too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth is lacking. Indeed, it is considered dangerous even to speak about truth, thus instilling doubt about the basic values of individual and community life".
The Holy Father went on to recall how the dicastery was founded by Benedict XV in 1915. "For nearly a hundred years", he said, "it has been doing its important work serving the various kinds of Catholic formative institute", such as the seminary, which "is one of the most important for the life of the Church and thus needs educational projects which take account of the abovementioned [cultural] context".
Benedict XVI then remarked on the fact that the participants in the plenary will be studying a draft document on "The internet and formation in seminaries". The internet, he said, "with the necessary discernment to ensure it is used intelligently and prudently, can be a useful tool, not only for the studies but also for the pastoral work of future priests in various ecclesial fields, such as evangelisation, missionary activity, catechesis, educational projects, and administration of institutions. Here too, the presence of well-prepared formators is of vital importance, as they act as faithful guides accompanying candidates to the priesthood in the correct and positive use of the information media.
"This year", he added, "marks the seventieth anniversary of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, established by the Venerable Pius XII to favour collaboration between the Holy See and the local Churches in the vital task of promoting vocations to the ordained ministry. This anniversary can be an opportunity to understand and take advantage of the most important vocational initiatives being promoted in the local Churches. It is important ... to insist more clearly on the nature of priestly ministry, characterised by its specific configuration to Christ, something which intrinsically distinguishes it from the other faithful and places it at their service".
The Pope also commented on the fact that the participants have begun a revision of the Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana" on ecclesiastical universities and faculties. "One sector meriting particular attention is that of theology", he said. "It is vital for theology to remain closely linked to individual and community prayer, especially liturgical prayer".
"Catholic universities, with their highly specific identity and their openness to the 'totality' of human beings, can do precious work to promote the unity of knowledge, guiding students and teachers towards the Light of the world", he said.
The Holy Father concluded his remarks by underlining "the educational role of the teaching of Catholic religion as an academic discipline in interdisciplinary dialogue with others. It contributes, indeed, not only to the integral development of the student, but also to an understanding of others, to comprehension and mutual respect. To reach these goals, particular attention must be paid to the education of directors and formators, not only from a professional, but also from a religious and spiritual standpoint so that, through coherent lifestyle and personal involvement, the presence of Christian educators may become an expression of love and a witness of truth".
VATICAN CITY, 7 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines on their "ad limina" visit:
- Archbishop Onesimo C. Gordoncillo of Capiz.
- Bishop Crispin B. Varquez of Borongan.
- Bishop Isabelo C. Abarquez of Calbayog.
- Bishop Filomeno G. Bactol of Naval.
On Saturday 5 February he received in audience Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
VATICAN CITY, 7 FEB 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Linus Lee Seong-hyo, professor and director of the Suvon Centre for Academic Research, as auxiliary of Suwon (area 5,371, population 7,146,120, Catholics 718,638, priests 417, religious 1,604), Korea. The bishop-elect was born in Gi-dong Paldal-gu, Korea in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1992.
On Saturday 5 February it was made public that he:
- Appointed Bishop Janusz Kaleta as bishop of Karaganda (area ,711,300 population 3,440,500, Catholics 30,575, priests 16, religious 40), Kazakhstan. At the same time, Bishop Kaleta will retain, "donec aliter provideatur", his current office of apostolic administrator of Atyrau, Kazakhstan. He succeeds Bishop Jan Pawel Lenga M.I.C., whose resignation from the pastoral care of Karaganda the Holy Father accepted, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- Appointed Bishop Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., auxiliary of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana (area 576,400, population 4,000,000, Catholics 78,000, priests 41, religious 92), Kazakhstan.