Monday, April 16, 2012

Pope Benedict's Innaugural Homily

In the week where we remember the election of Pope Benedict XVI we should also recall why he chose the name Benedict. The following excerpt comes from a book edited by Peter Seewald titled, Pope Benedict XVI, Servant of the Truth. "The name Benedict comes from the Latin benedictus ('the blessed man'). By choosing this name, Benedict XVI looks back to Saint Benedict of Nursia, the great religious founder and educator. His motto ora et labora ('pray and work') and the Rule he wrote in Montecassion laid the foundations for a new start in Europe. Hundreds of thousands of his monks cultivated the soil of western Europe with agriculture, scholarship, and culture. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe. In Bavaria, the Pope's homeland, terra benedicta ('the blessed land') is a name given to the regions made so fertile by the Benedictines. At the same time, the German Pope looks back to his predecessor Benedict XV (Pope from 1914 to 1922). He is remembered as the 'Pope of Peace' and as a great missionary. It is not surprising that Ratzinger, who has played such a prominent role in social debates for decades, should have chosen a name that recalls another man who got involved in poitics. Christians must get involved. It goes without saying that the Pope is called to plead for peace and reconciliation in a lacerated world. The name of the new Pope can be read as a prophecy of the mission he is to fulfill.'" Notice the key role the Pope is to play in the public square. There are some who would like to silent the role of the church and have its members live with a wall between their professed belief and involvement and engagement with the culture. Is this not happening in the current HHS mandate debate. The Catholics and Bishops in particular should just keep quiet, not make such a fuss about mandates and outdated outmoded morality. Those who make such arguments do not understand how religious liberty is under direct attack. Enclosed verbatim is the Pope's innaugural homily. "How alone we all felt after the passing of John Paul II-the Pope who for over twenty-six years had been our shepherd and guide on our journey through life! He crossed the threshold of the next life entering into the mystery of God. But he did not take this step alone. Those who believe are never alone-neither in life nor in death..... And now, at this moment, weak servant of God that I am , I must assume this enormous task, which truly exceeds all human capacity....Al of you, my dear friends, hae just invoked the entire host of Saints, represented by some of the great names in the history of God's dealings with mankind. In this way, I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accmpany me.... Yes, the Church is alive-this is the wonderful experience of these days. During those sad days of the Pope's illness and death, it became wonderfully evident to us that the Church is alive. And the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future. The Church is alive, and we are seeing it: we are experiencing the joy that the Risen Lord promised his followers. The Church is alive-she is alive because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen.... Dear Friends! At this moment there is no need for me to present a programme of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my Message of Wednesday, April 20, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real programme of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that he himself will lead the Church at this particular hour of our history. Instead of putting forward a programme, I should simply like to comment on the two liturgical symbols which represent the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry... The first symbol is the Pallium, woven in pure wool, which will be placed upon my shoulders. This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which the Bishop of this City, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders.... The symbollism of the Pallium is even more concrete: the lamb's wool is meant to represent the lost, sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders and carries to the waters of life. For the Fathers of the Church, the parable of the lost sheep, which the shepherd seeks in the desert, was an image of the mystery of Christ and the Church. The human race-every one of us-is the sheep lost in the desert which no longer knows the way. What the Pallium indicates first and foremost is that we are all carried by Christ. But at the same time it invites us to carry one another. Hence the Pallium becomes a symbol of the shepherd's mission, of which the Second reading and the Gospel speak. The pastor must be inspired by Christ's holy zeal: for him, it is not a matter of indifference that so many people are living in the desert. And there are so many different kinds of deserts. There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. there is the desert of God's darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts of the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction...It is not power, but love that redeems us! This is God's sign: he himself is love. How often we wish that God would show himself stronger, that he would strike decisively, defeating evil and creating a better world. All ideologies of power justify themselves in exactly this way, they justify the destruction of whatever would stand in the way of progress and the liberation of humanity. We suffer on account of God's patience. And yet, we need his patience. God, who became a lamb, tells us that the world is saved by the Crucified One, not by those who crucified Him. The world is redeemed by the patience of God. It is destroyed by the impatience of man.... The second symbol used in today's liturgy to express the inauguration of the Petrine Ministry is the presentation of the fisherman's ring. Peter's call to be a shepherd, which we heard in the Gospel, comes after the account of a miraculous catch of fish: after night in which the disciples had let down their nets without success, they see the risen Lord on the shore. He tells them to let down their nets onece more, and the nets become so full that they can hardly pull them in; 153 large fish...And then came the conferral of his mission: 'Do not be afraid. Henceforth you will be catching men.' Both the image of the Sheperd and that of the fisherman issue an explicit call to unity. 'I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must lead them too, and they will heed my herd (JN 10:16); these are the words of Jesus at the end of his discourse on the Good Sheperd. And the account of the 153 large fish ends with the joyful statement:'Although there were so many, the net was not torn.( Jn 21:11) Alas, beloved Lord, with sorrow we must now acknowledge that it has been torn! But no-we must not be sad! Let us rejoice because of your promise, which does not disappoint, and let us do all we can to pursue the path towards the unity you have promised. Let us remember it in our prayer to the Lord, as we plead with him. Yes, Lord, remember your promise. Grant that we may be one flock and one sheperd! Do not allow your net to be torn, help us to be servants of unity.... And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ-and you will find true life. Amen."

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