ST. FRANCIS OF SALES: GREAT MASTER OF SPIRITUALITY AND PEACE
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - During today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke about St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church who lived in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
Born in 1567 to a noble family in the Duchy of Savoy, while still very young Francis, "reflecting on the ideas of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, underwent a profound crisis which led him to question himself about his own eternal salvation and about the destiny God had in store for him, experiencing the principle theological questions of his time as an authentic spiritual drama". The saint "found peace in the radical and liberating truth of God's love: loving Him without asking anything in return and trusting in divine love; this would be the secret of his life".
Francis de Sales, the Holy Father explained, was ordained a priest in 1593 and consecrated as bishop of Geneva in 1602, "in a period in which the city was a stronghold of Calvinism. ... He was an apostle, preacher, writer, man of action and of prayer; committed to realising the ideals of the Council of Trent, and involved in controversies and dialogue with Protestants. Yet, over and above the necessary theological debate, he also experienced the effectiveness of personal relations and of charity".
With St. Jane Frances de Chantal he founded the Order of the Visitation, characterised "by a complete consecration to God lived in simplicity and humility". St. Francis of Sales died in 1622.
In his book "An Introduction to the Devout Life", the saint "made a call which may have appeared revolutionary at that time: the invitation to belong completely to God while being fully present in the world. ... Thus arose that appeal to the laity, that concern for the consecration of temporal things and for the sanctification of daily life upon which Vatican Council II and the spirituality of our time have laid such emphasis".
Referring then to the saint's fundamental work, his "Treatise on the Love of God", the Pope highlighted how "in a period of intense mysticism" it "was an authentic 'summa' and at the same time a fascinating literary work. ... Following the model of Holy Scripture, St. Francis of Sales speaks of the union between God and man, creating a whole series of images of interpersonal relationships. His God is Father and Lord, Bridegroom and Friend".
The treatise contains "a profound meditation on human will and a description of how it flows, passes and dies, in order to live in complete abandonment, not only to the will of God, but to what pleases Him, ... to His pleasure. At the apex of the union with God, beyond the rapture of contemplative ecstasy, lies that well of concrete charity which is attentive to all the needs of others".
Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis by noting that "in a time such as our own, which seeks freedom, ... we must not lose sight of the relevance of this great master of spirituality and peace who gave his disciples the 'spirit of freedom', true freedom, at the summit of which is a fascinating and comprehensive lesson about the truth of love. St. Francis of Sales is an exemplary witness of Christian humanism. With his familiar style, with his parables which sometimes contain a touch of poetry, he reminds us that inscribed in the depths of man is nostalgia for God, and that only in Him can we find true joy and complete fulfilment".
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2011 (VIS) - At the end of his general audience this morning, the Pope received in private audience Josette Sheeran, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), who has just returned from a mission to the border between Libya and Tunisia.
Following the meeting, the executive director of the WFP spoke of the Holy Father's concern for the innocent people trapped in this terrible tragedy, and expressed her own gratitude for the Catholic Church's support in the task of feeding the hungry around the world.
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2011 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office at 5 p.m. on Thursday 10 March, a press conference will be held to present the book: "Jesus of Nazareth. From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection", written by Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and published by the Vatican Publishing House.
The conference will be presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and by Claudio Magris, a writer and German scholar.
The book is being published in seven languages - German, Italian, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish - and has nine chapters and an epilogue.
Chapter one deals with "The Entrance into Jerusalem and the Cleansing of the Temple". Chapter two, which focuses on "Jesus' Eschatological Discourse", is subdivided into three sections: "The End of the Temple", "The Times of the Gentiles" and "Prophecy and Apocalyptic in the Eschatological Discourse". Chapter three has as its subject "The Washing of the Feet" and contains the following six subheadings: "The hour of Jesus", "You are clean", " Sacramentum and exemplum - gift and task: The 'new commandment'", "The mystery of the betrayer", "Two conversations with Peter" and "Washing of feet and confession of sin".
Chapter four has as its title "Jesus' High-Priestly Prayer" and is subdivided as follows: "The Jewish Feast of Atonement as Biblical Background to the High-Priestly Prayer", "Four Major Themes of the Prayer: ('This is eternal life...', ' Sanctify them in the truth...', ' I have made your name known to them...', ' That they may all be one...')".
Chapter five is entirely dedicated to "The Last Supper" which is analysed under the headings: "The Dating of the Last Supper", "The Institution of the Eucharist", "The Theology of the Words of Institution", and "From the Last Supper to the Sunday Morning Eucharist".
"Gethsemane", the tile of chapter six, includes sections on: "On the Way to the Mount of Olives", "The Prayer of Jesus", "Jesus' Will and the Will of the Father" and "Jesus' Prayer on the Mount of Olives in the Letter to the Hebrews".
Chapter seven, "The Trial of Jesus", includes sections on "Preliminary Discussion in the Sanhedrin", "Jesus before the Sanhedrin" and "Jesus before Pilate". Chapter eight, on the "Crucifixion and Burial of Jesus", begins with a reflection on "Word and Event in the Passion Narrative", then continues with "Jesus on the Cross: ('The first of Jesus' words from the Cross: Father, forgive them', 'Jesus is mocked', 'Jesus' cry of abandonment', 'The casting of lots for Jesus' garments', 'I thirst', 'The women at the foot of the Cross - the Mother of Jesus', 'Jesus dies on the Cross', and ' Jesus' burial')". The chapter concludes with "Jesus' Death as Reconciliation (Atonement) and Salvation".
The ninth and final chapter is entitled "Jesus' Resurrection from the Dead" and is subdivided as follows: "What Is the Resurrection of Jesus?", "The Two Different Types of Resurrection Testimony", "The Confessional Tradition: ('Jesus' death', 'The question of the empty tomb', 'The third day', 'The witnesses')", "The Narrative Tradition ('Jesus' appearances to Paul', 'The appearances of Jesus in the Gospels', 'Summary: The Nature of Jesus' Resurrection and Its Historical Significance')".
The Holy Father's book concludes with an epilogue entitled: "He Ascended into Heaven - He Is Seated at the Right Hand of the Father, and He Will Come Again in Glory".
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Given below is the text of a declaration made this morning by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. concerning the assassination of Shabbaz Bhatti, the Pakistani minister for minorities.
"The assassination of Shabbaz Bhatti, Pakistani minister for minorities, is another terrible episode of violence. It shows how right the Pope is in his persistent remarks concerning violence against Christians and against religious freedom in general.
"Bhatti was the first Catholic to hold such an office. We recall how he was received by the Holy Father in September last year, and how he bore witness to his own commitment to peaceful coexistence among the religious communities of his country.
"Our prayers for the victim, our condemnation for this unspeakable act of violence, our closeness to Pakistani Christians who suffer hatred, are accompanied by an appeal that everyone many become aware of the urgent importance of defending both religious freedom and Christians who are subject to violence and persecution".
VATICAN CITY, 2 MAR 2011 (VIS) - A note published today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announces details of forthcoming ceremonies in which two cardinals will take possession of their diaconate churches:
At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 6 March, Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Julian of the Flemish, in Via del Sudario 40, Rome.
At 5 p.m. on Saturday 12 March, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, will take possession of the diaconate of St. Angelo in Pescheria, in della Tribuna di Campitelli 6, Rome.