THE SILENCE OF GOD IS ONLY APPARENT
VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father travelled by helicopter from the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to the Vatican, where he held his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Hall. In his catechesis he dwelt on the first part of Psalm 22, focusing on the theme of prayers of supplication to God. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
The Psalm, which remerges in the narrative of Christ's Passion, presents the figure of an innocent man persecuted and surrounded by adversaries who seek his death. He raises his voice to God "in a doleful lament which, in the certainty of faith, mysteriously gives way to praise".
The Psalmist's opening cry of "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" is "an appeal addressed to a God Who appears distant, Who does not respond", said the Holy Father. "God is silent, a silence that rends the Psalmists heart as he continues to cry out incessantly but finds no response". Nonetheless, he "calls the Lord 'my' God, in an extreme act of trust and faith. Despite appearances, the Psalmist cannot believe that his bond with the Lord has been severed entirely".
The opening lament of Psalm 22 recurs in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark in the cry the dying Jesus makes from the cross. This, Benedict XVI explained, expresses all the desolation the Son of God felt "under the crushing burden of a mission which had to pass through humiliation and destruction. For this reason He cried out to the Father. ... Yet His was not a desperate cry, as the Psalmist's was".
Sacred history, the Pope continued, "has been a history of cries for help from the people, and of salvific responses from God". The Psalmist refers to the faith of his ancestors "who trusted ... and were never put to shame", and he describes his own extreme difficulties in order "to induce the Lord to take pity and intervene, as He always had in the past".
The Psalmist's enemies surround him, "they seem invincible, like dangerous ravening beasts. ... The images used in the Psalm also serve to underline the fact that when man himself becomes brutal and attacks his fellow man, ... he seems to lose all human semblance. Violence always contains some bestial quality, and only the salvific intervention of God can restore man to his humanity".
At this point, death begins to take hold of the Psalmist. He describes the moment with dramatic images "which we come across again in the narrative of Christ's Passion: the bodily torment, the unbearable thirst which finds an echo in Jesus' cry of 'I am thirsty', and finally the definitive action of his tormenters who, like the soldiers under the cross, divide among themselves the clothes of the victim, whom they consider to be already dead".
At this point a new cry emerges, "which rends the heavens because it proclaims a faith, a certainty, that is beyond all doubt. ... The Psalm turns into thanksgiving. ... The Lord has saved the petitioner and shown him His face of mercy. Death and life came together in an inseparable mystery and life triumphed. ... This is the victory of faith, which can transform death into the gift of life, the abyss of suffering into a source of hope". Thus the Psalm leads us to relive Christ's Passion and to share the joy of His resurrection.
In closing, the Pope invited the faithful to distinguish deeper reality from outward appearance, even when God is apparently silent. "By placing all our trust and hope in God the Father, we can pray to Him with faith at all moments of anguish, and our cry for help will turn into a hymn of praise".
VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - In his greetings to pilgrims at the end of his general audience this morning, the Pope recalled how Poland is currently celebrating Education Week. "Education, the aim of which is the integral development of man", he said, "requires the collaboration of parents, teachers and pastors, as well as of the various State and local authorities. May this Week arouse a sense of responsibility in everyone, so as to ensure high-quality formation of the minds and hearts of the young".
"Today", he went on addressing Italian-speaking pilgrims, "the liturgy invites us to meditate on the Lord's Cross, and tomorrow on the sufferings of His Mother. May the Cross of Christ and the example of Mary, Virgin of Sorrows, illuminate your lives". In this context he also mentioned today's beatification in the Italian city ofCosenza of Elena Aiello, Italian foundress of the Minim Sisters of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
"In the immediate wake of the Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Ancona, the Church in Italy rejoices at the elevation to the altars of such an eminently Eucharistic soul. Sr. Elena used to say that the 'the Eucharist is the essential nourishment of my life, ... the Sacrament that gives meaning to ... my daily activities'. May the example and intercession of the new blessed increase everyone's love for the Sacrament of the altar".
VATICAN CITY, 14 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy See Press Office released the following communique concerning the postion of the Society of St. Pius X:
"On 14 September at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'; Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the congregation, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission, met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, who was accompanied by Fr. Niklaus Pfluger and Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, respectively first and second assistant general to the society.
"Following the appeal of 15 December 2008, addressed by the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy Father decided to remove the excommunication against the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. At the same time, he approved the opening of discussions with the society in order to clarify doctrinal problems and to heal the existing rift.
"In order to put the Holy Father's instructions into effect, a joint study commission was set up, composed of experts from the Society of St. Pius X and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who met in Rome on eight occasions between October 2009 and April 2011. Their discussions, which aimed to identify and study the essential doctrinal difficulties in the controversial issues, had the result of clarifying the positions of the two sides and their respective motivations.
"While bearing in mind the concerns and demands presented by the Society of St. Pius X about protecting the integrity of the Catholic faith against Vatican Council II's 'hermeneutic of rupture' with Tradition (a theme addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith maintains that the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the Apostolic See is the acceptance of the text of the Doctrinal Preamble, which was handed over during a meeting on 14 September 2011. The Preamble defines certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'. At the same time, it leaves open to legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.
"At the same meeting, certain suggestions were made for a canonical solution to the position of the Society of St. Pius X, with a view to achieving the desired reconciliation".