Sunday, 20 April 2008

The Pope in America

I've been enjoying Pope Benedict's Apostolic Visit to the United States, courtesy of EWTN, and I'm sure the warm reception he has received everywhere will do much to strengthen him in his Petrine Ministry. I must confess that I've found some of the liturgies to be rather long-winded and the music at times brash and over-the-top - indeed, I even thought (to my surprise) that some of the musical performances at last night's Youth Rally were more satisfying than those during the Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral!

One of the highlights for me was the Holy Father's rich address to the young people in New York yesterday, which contained much more than the widely reported critique of his youth in Nazi Germany. Here are my favourite passages:

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place or better said its absence an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a freedom which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others.

* * *

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move. The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.

* * *

[To the seminarians] The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons. Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love shine forth for others.

* * *



Blogger PeterHWright said...

I couldn't agree more with Father's oomment.

This is a quite brilliant explanation of relativism.

The whole speech is deeply thoughtful, inspired and inspiring.

These young people need encouragement and inspiration, without illusions.

Pope Benedicthas has certainly given them that.

3:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This papal visit has helped me realize the importance of having a pope. To non-Roman Catholics, like me, the pope ends up representing the Christian world, both to others, but also to ourselves. It is not unusual that, in a church of over 1 billion believers, the cream rises, and one finds among the College of Cardinals a number of admirable candidates whose personalities are pleasing and whose preaching summons mankind to the nobility of its original purpose. I pray we will have his spiritual and intellectual direction for many years to come.

8:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you mind having a look at these two new vocations blogs and, perhaps, posting something about them to let people know that they're around:

God bless you!


8:34 pm  
Blogger Padre Steve said...

It was a beautiful visit to the States! I was blessed to be at Yankee Stadium and at St. Pat's! Our Holy Father is a great blessing to us and he said just what we needed to hear! Keep up the great work on the blog! God bless! Padre Steve, SDB

2:30 am  

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