THE FAMILY IS MAN'S MOST IMPORTANT HERITAGE
Vatican City, 2 June 2012 (VIS) - "We must rediscover the family as human beings' most important heritage, one of the elements and signs of an authentic and stable culture in favour of man". Benedict XVI pronounced these words yesterday evening during his meeting with the citizens of Milan, having travelled today to that Italian city to participate in the seventh World Meeting of Families. The event began on 30 May and has as its theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration".
After landing in Milan the Pope travelled to Piazza del Duomo where he met with local citizens and with pilgrims from all over the world who have come to the city for the occasion. Benedict XVI began by making affectionate recollection "of those who are alone or in difficulties, the unemployed, the sick, the imprisoned, the homeless and those who do not have the means to live a dignified life. May none of these brothers and sisters of ours lack the collective and constant concern of society as a whole". In this context he praised the efforts of the archdiocese of Milan to help the families most deeply affected by the economic crisis, and the people of the Emilia Romagna region who have recently suffered a series of earthquakes.
The Pope then went on to highlight "the profound ecclesial sense and sincere and affectionate communion with Peter's Successor, which have been part of the richness and identity of the Milanese Church throughout her history, and which are well expressed in the great pastors who have guided her". In this context, he mentioned St. Ambrose, St. Charles Borromeo, Blessed Andrea Carlo Ferrari, Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI, both former archbishops of Milan, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
"Your history is rich in culture and faith", the Pope told the Milanese. "Now it is up to you, the heirs to a glorious past and to a priceless spiritual heritage, to ensure you hand on the torch of this lustrous tradition to future generations. Well you know how vital it is to introduce evangelical leaven into modern culture. Faith in Jesus Christ, Who died and rose again for us, Who is alive among us, must animate the entire fabric of individual and community life, of private and public affairs, so as to create a stable and authentic 'well being' on the basis of the family".
At the end of the meeting, the Pope travelled to the nearby archbishopric where he will be staying during his time in Milan.
WE ARE CALLED TO TRANSFORM SUFFERING INTO LOVE
Vatican City, 2 June 2012 (VIS) - At 7.30 p.m. yesterday the Pope went to the La Scala opera house in Milan, where a concert was held in his honour. The Pope is currently visiting Milan to participate in the seventh World Meeting of Families. Daniel Barenboim conducted the orchestra and choir of La Scala in Beethoven’s ninth symphony.
At the end of the concert Benedict XVI expressed his thanks to the musicians, singers and conductor. "By choosing Beethoven's ninth symphony we are sending a message in music which affirms the fundamental value of solidarity, fraternity and peace. This, I believe, is also an important message for the family, because it is in families that we first experience how human beings are not created to live closed in themselves, but in relation with others. It is in the family that we understand that self realisation does not mean being guided by selfishness and putting oneself at the centre, but giving oneself. It is in the family that the light of peace begins to burn in people's hearts, so as to illuminate our world".
The Holy Father also noted that the joy of the concert had been clouded by the recent earthquakes, "which have brought great suffering to so many inhabitants of this country. The words taken from Schiller's "Hymn to joy" sound empty to us, they seem untrue", he said. "At this time ... we have no need for inauthentic accounts of a distant God or of a fraternity without commitment. We are searching for a God Who is close. We are searching for a fraternity which, in the midst of suffering, supports others and helps us to carry on. After this concert many people will go on to adore the Eucharist, they will go to the God Who placed Himself in our sufferings and continues to do so, the God Who suffers with us and for us, and thus makes men and women capable of sharing the suffering of others and of transforming it into love. This is the message we have received from this concert".
At the end of the concert the Holy Father returned to the archbishopric where he spent the night.
LOOK TO THE FUTURE WITH CONFIDENCE, RELYING ON GOD'S FIDELITY
Vatican City, 2 June 2012 (VIS) - At 10 a.m. today the Holy Father presided at the celebration of Terce in the Duomo of Milan, in the presence of priests, deacons, seminarians and religious of the local archdiocese. Following the recitation of the Psalms Benedict XVI pronounced a mediation, extracts of which are given below:
"At this moment we are experiencing the mystery of the Church in its most exalted form, that of liturgical prayer. In ecclesial prayer our lips, our hearts and our minds, interpret the needs and longings of all humankind. ... The daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours is an essential task of the ordained ministry of the Church. It is also through the divine office, which prolongs the central mystery of the Eucharist throughout the day, that priests have a special bond to the Lord Jesus".
"What a precious gift the priesthood is! ... If Christ, to build His Church, delivers Himself into the hands of the priest, then the priest must in turn entrust himself to Christ without reserve. Love for the Lord Jesus is both the soul of and the reason for priestly ministry. ... There is no contrast between the good of the priest's person and his mission, Quite the contrary, pastoral charity is a unifying element which, on the basis of an increasingly intimate rapport with Christ in prayer, enables us to experience the total gift of self for our flock. ... Each of our actions, in fact, has the aim of leading the faithful to union with the Lord, and of increasing ecclesial communion for the salvation of the world.
"One luminous sign of pastoral charity and an undivided heart is priestly celibacy and consecrated chastity. ... Without doubt love for Jesus regards all Christians, but it acquires particular significance for the celibate priest and for those who have responded to the vocation to consecrated life. The source and model for repeating our daily 'yes' to God's will is only and always in Christ". In the Virgin Mary "we recognise that 'chaste and detached life, which Christ the Lord chose for Himself and which His Mother also embraced', a life full of obedience to the will of God".
"Dear consecrated brothers and sisters, ... look to the future with confidence, relying on God's fidelity and the power of His grace, which is always capable of working new miracles. ... At this time I wish to render thanks unto God for the many Ambrosian priests and religious who have spent their lives at the service of the Gospel, sometimes even unto the supreme sacrifice of their lives". Among these, the Holy Father made specific mention of the priests Luigi Talamoni, Luigi Biraghi, Luigi Monza, Carlo Gnocchi and Serafino Morazzone; the religious blesseds Giovanni Mazzucconi, Luigi Monti, Clemente Vismara, Maria Anna Sala and Enrichetta Alfieri.
"Through their joint intercession, we trustingly ask the Giver of all gifts to make the ministry of priests fruitful, and to strengthen the testimony of consecrated persons, so as to show the world the beauty of giving oneself to Christ and the Church, and to renew Christian families according to God's plan, that they may become places of grace and sanctity, a fertile terrain for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life".
TO YOUNG PEOPLE: AIM AT HIGH IDEALS! BE SAINTS!
Vatican City, 2 June 2012 (VIS) - At around midday today, following the celebration of Terce in the Duomo of Milan, Benedict XVI travelled by car to the stadium of San Siro where he was greeted by a crowd of around 80,000 made up of young people who have recently received or about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, members of their families and catechists.
"Assisted by your itinerary (of formation), you have learned to recognise the wonderful things the Holy Spirit has done and does in your lives, and in all those who say 'yes' to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have discovered the great value of Baptism, the first of the Sacraments, the entranceway to Christian life. You received all this thanks to your parents who ... committed themselves to educating you in the faith".
"Now you have grown and can say your own 'yes' to God, a free and conscious 'yes'. The Sacrament of Confirmation confirms Baptism and infuses you abundantly with the Holy Spirit . Now you, full of gratitude, have the chance to accept His great gifts which, on life's journey, will help you to become faithful and courageous witnesses of Jesus. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are stupendous, enabling you to be formed as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community".
"All of Christian life is a journey. It is like following a path up a mountain, sometimes a difficult path, in company with Jesus. ... With the precious gifts (of the Holy Spirit) your friendship with Him will become more authentic and closer. It is constantly nourished by the Sacrament of the Eucharist, ... for which reason I invite you to participate joyfully and faithfully in Sunday Mass, and ... to attend Confession, which is the meeting with Jesus Who forgives our sins and helps us to do good. ... Learn to enter into dialogue with the Lord, tell Him of your joys and concerns, and ask for light to support you on your journey".
"In the family, be obedient to your parents, listen to the instructions they give you so as to grow, like Jesus, 'in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour'. Finally, do not be lazy but hard-working, particularly in your studies. That is your daily duty and a great opportunity you have to develop and to prepare your future. Be open and generous towards others, vanquishing the temptation to place yourselves at the centre, because selfishness is the enemy of authentic joy.
"If you now have a taste of the beauty of being part of the community of Jesus, then you too will be able to make your contribution to help it grow. ... Every day, including here today, the Lord is calling you to great things, Remain open to what He is suggesting and, if He calls you to follow Him on the path of the priesthood or consecrated life, do not say no! ... Jesus will fill your hearts for all your lives".
"I say with conviction: Aim at high ideals! ... Be saints! Yet, you may ask, is it possible to be saints at your age? I tell you that it is, ... as is clear from the witness of many saints who were your peers, such as Domenico Savio and Maria Goretti. Sanctity is the normal path for Christians, it is not reserved for the chosen few but open to everyone, though naturally with the light and strength of the Holy Spirit ... and the guidance of our Mother, ... Mary the Mother of Jesus. ... May the Virgin Mary, then, always watch over the beauty of your 'yes' to Jesus, her Son, the great and faithful Friend of your lives".