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Pope Benedict XVI Says Goodbye

I apologize for the lengthy gap, but I could not let Pope Benedict XVI’s final audience pass by without posting. Here are the Pope’s remarks to the English-speaking pilgrims:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I offer a warm and affectionate greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors who have joined me for this, my last General Audience. Like Saint Paul, whose words we heard earlier, my heart is filled with thanksgiving to God who ever watches over his Church and her growth in faith and love, and I embrace all of you with joy and gratitude.

During this Year of Faith, we have been called to renew our joyful trust in the Lord’s presence in our lives and in the life of the Church. I am personally grateful for his unfailing love and guidance in the eight years since I accepted his call to serve as the Successor of Peter. I am also deeply grateful for the understanding, support and prayers of so many of you, not only here in Rome, but also throughout the world.

The decision I have made, after much prayer, is the fruit of a serene trust in God’s will and a deep love of Christ’s Church. I will continue to accompany the Church with my prayers, and I ask each of you to pray for me and for the new Pope. In union with Mary and all the saints, let us entrust ourselves in faith and hope to God, who continues to watch over our lives and to guide the journey of the Church and our world along the paths of history.

I commend all of you, with great affection, to his loving care, asking him to strengthen you in the hope which opens our hearts to the fullness of life that he alone can give. To you and your families, I impart my blessing. Thank you!

Vatican Information Service has the full text of the Audience.  It is quite touching and very moving.  It reads like a loving letter from a father to his children.  As it should.

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Psalm 110: Prophecy of Christ the King

Annunciation Cathedral in Roslindale, MA

In his final catechesis on the Psalms, Pope Benedict fittingly reflects on Psalm 110 (one of the “royal psalms”) as we head towards the final Sunday of our liturgical year, the Solemnity of Christ the King.  As usual, here is the excerpt as we wait for the full text to be published next week:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to Psalm 110, one of the famous “royal psalms”, originally linked to the enthronement of a Davidic monarch. The Church reads this Psalm as a prophecy of Christ, the messianic king and eternal priest, risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father. Saint Peter, in his speech on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:32-36), applies its words to the Lord’s victory over death and his exaltation in glory. From ancient times, the mysterious third verse of the Psalm has been interpreted as a reference to the king’s divine sonship, while the fourth verse speaks of him as “a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek”. The Letter to the Hebrews specifically applies this imagery to Christ, the Son of God and our perfect high priest, who lives eternally to make intercession for all those who, through him, approach the Father (cf. Heb 7:25). The final verses of the Psalm present the triumphant King as executing judgment over the nations. As we pray this Psalm, we acclaim the victory of our risen Lord and King, while striving to live ever more fully the royal and priestly dignity which is ours as members of his Body through Baptism.

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Psalm 119: A Celebration of the Beauty of the Word of God

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...

Pope Benedict is back on task today with another catechesis on the Psalms, continuing his Catechesis on Christian Prayer.  Now up – Psalm 119:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to Psalm 119, a solemn celebration of the Torah, the Law of the Lord. In twenty-two stanzas, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Psalmist proclaims his love for God’s Law, which brings light, life and salvation. His song voices the range of sentiments which fill the hearts of those who pray: praise, thanksgiving, trust, supplication and lament, all within the context of a heartfelt openness to the Lord’s word. In praying this Psalm, Christians see in the Blessed Virgin Mary the model of this loving docility to God’s will, and in Jesus the fulfilment of the Law. A striking example of the Psalmist’s devotion is seen in his words: “The Lord is my portion” (v. 57). We can apply these words in a special way to priests, whose lives of celibacy testify to their call to complete devotion to the Lord and his Kingdom. But they can also be applied to all the faithful, who share in Christ’s royal priesthood and are called daily to bear witness to the Gospel. May the Lord grant us a deeper love for him, so that, like the Psalmist, we may always make his word “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path”.

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May the Souls of the Faithful Departed, through the Mercy of God, Rest in Peace

Old Catholic Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama. Form...

Today, Benedict dedicates his audience to reflecting on the Feast of All Souls Day, where we pray for all the faithful departed. 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, the day after the Solemnity of All Saints, the Church invites us to pray for the faithful departed. This yearly commemoration, often marked by visits to the cemetery, is an occasion to ponder the mystery of death and to renew our faith in the promise of eternal life held out to us by Christ’s resurrection. As human beings, we have a natural fear of death and we rebel against its apparent finality. Faith teaches us that the fear of death is lightened by a great hope, the hope of eternity, which gives our lives their fullest meaning. The God who is love offers us the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of his Son. In Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end. Christ is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him will never die. Each Sunday, in reciting the Creed, we reaffirm our faith in this mystery. As we remember our dear departed ones, united with them in the communion of the saints, may our faith inspire us to follow Christ more closely and to work in this world to build a future of hope.

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Remember, from November 1st through November 8th, if we visit a cemetery and pray for the dead, we can gain a plenary indulgence (at all other times of year, this is a partial indulgence).  This particular indulgence can only be applied to the dead, so it’s a great time to pray for our dearly departed loved ones, or simply that soul in Purgatory who is most in need of prayers and has no one else to pray for them.

Prayer in Preparation of the Meeting in Assisi

Derivative Work. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Po...

Sorry for the large gap in posting.  I have updated the Christian Prayer audiences to reflect the time I have missed.  That series is now up to 16 audiences and Pope Benedict is currently spending some time on a few select Psalms.

Today, however, Pope Benedict took a break from the regular series of catecheses to lead the pilgrims in a preparatory prayer in anticipation of tomorrow’s historic Assisi III gathering with representatives of various different world religions.

There’s not much text available on the Vatican website at the moment.  VIS has a fuller account:

VATICAN CITY, 26 OCT 2011 (VIS) – Because of the rain, the Holy Father presided over this morning’s celebration of the Word in the Paul VI Hall, rather than in St. Peter’s Square as had been scheduled. The celebration of the Word took the place of the usual general audience, in view of the event due to take place tomorrow in the Italian town of Assisi: “Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World: Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace”. Before the celebration this morning, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims gathered in the Vatican Basilica who had been unable to find space in the Paul VI Hall.

Following a greeting from Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope’s vicar general for the diocese of Rome, and the readings from the Bible, the Holy Father pronounced his homily.

“As Christians”, he said, “we are convinced that prayer is the most precious contribution we can make to the cause of peace. For this reason we, the Church of Rome and pilgrims from elsewhere, are gathered here today to listen to the Word of God and to invoke the gift of peace”.

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Moses: Model of Intercessory Prayer

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy ...

For his fifth audience in the catechetical series on Christian Prayer, Pope Benedict now reflects upon Moses’ great example of interceding before God on behalf of his people.  Here it is:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the great prophetic figure of Moses. As the mediator between God and Israel, Moses is a model of intercessory prayer. We see this clearly in the episode of the golden calf (Ex 32). As Moses descends from Mount Sinai where he has spoken to God and received the gift of the Law, he confronts both the infidelity of the people, who now worship an idol of gold, and the God’s wrath. Moses intercedes for his people, fully acknowledging the gravity of their sin. He also pleads with God to remember his mercy, to forgive their sin and thus to reveal his saving power. Moses’ prayer of petition is an expression of God’s own desire for the salvation of his people and his fidelity to the covenant. Through his intercessory prayer Moses grows in deeper knowledge of the Lord and his mercy, and becomes capable of a love which extends to the total gift of self. In this prayer Moses points beyond himself to that perfect intercessor who is Jesus, the Son of God, who brings about the new and eternal covenant in his blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin and the reconciliation of all God’s children.

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Jacob Wrestles with God

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

Image via Wikipedia

For the fourth audience in the Catechesis on Christian Prayer, Pope Benedict turns his attention to the Jacob’s wrestling bout with God in Genesis 32 and what that says about prayer.  I have always had difficulty understanding this passage, so I greatly appreciate the Holy Father’s explanation!  Here is the excerpt:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the biblical account of the Patriarch Jacob’s struggle with God at the ford of the Jabbok (cf. Gen 32:23-33). This mysterious encounter takes place at night, when Jacob is alone and unarmed; the identity of his assailant and the winner of the contest is not at first clear. Jacob is wounded and must reveal his name to his rival, suggesting his defeat, yet he receives a new name – Israel – and is given a blessing. At daybreak Jacob recognizes that his opponent is God; limping from his wound, he now crosses the ford. The Church’s spiritual tradition has seen in this story a symbol of prayer as a faith-filled struggle which takes place at times in darkness, calls for perseverance, and is crowned by interior renewal and God’s blessing. This struggle demands our unremitting effort, yet ends by surrender to God’s mercy and gift. At daybreak, Jacob called the place of his struggle Peniel, which means “face of God”, for he said: “I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved” (Gen 32:30). In our prayers, let us ask the Lord to help us as we fight the good fight of faith, and to bless us as we long to see his face.

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