Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Mirrors of Divine Charity": True Saints, "True Reformers"

The genuine article of ecclesial renewal was the focus of today's General Audience as the Pope highlighted two of the Host whose witness reminds anew that "in every age the saints are the true reformers of the church’s life."

Here, the ever quick and thorough AsiaNews summary:
[B16] spoke of the "mendicant orders, the Franciscans and Dominicans, who, in the medieval towns were able to meet the need, which still exists today, for a presence in places of culture that proposes the Gospel teachings “with respect" and offers a coherent testimony of Christian life.

"In every generation - he observed - saints are born who can be "forces for reform and renewal". So it was in the thirteenth century, with the founding of mendicant orders, so called for their "humble appeal for people’s financial support so as to live their vow of poverty." "The most famous and important" are the Friars Minor and the Friar Preachers, Franciscans and Dominicans, that is, who owe their name to their fondours, St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic de Guzman. They "had the ability to read with understanding the signs of the times, realizing the challenges that faced the Church of their time."

It was a period when there was a strong group of faithful who "even if motivated by a deep search of the Christian life, opposed the Church, which appeared rich," even "owning property". Against this the idea was born that the Church of Christ should be poor and the churches of the poor. They were pauperistic movements. "They bitterly contested the way of life of priests and monks of the time, accused of having betrayed the Gospel and not practising poverty as the early Christians did, and they countered the ministry of bishops with their own parallel hierarchy. Furthermore, to justify their own choices, they spread doctrines incompatible with Catholic faith. For example, the movement of the Cathars or Albigenses proposed ancient heresies, such as the devaluation and contempt of the material world”, "the denial of free will, and then the duality, the existence of a principle of evil equated to God."

St. Francis and St. Dominic showed that "it is possible to live evangelical poverty without separating from the Church." "The members of the mendicant orders not only renounced the possession of personal property, as had monks since ancient times, but neither did they want land and property to be bequeathed to the community. In this way they intended to witness an extremely sober life, to show solidarity with the poor and trust in Providence. Their action was "much appreciated by Popes: Innocent III and Honorius III gave their full support, recognizing in them the voice of the Spirit." Pauperstic groups that were separated from the Church returned or disappeared.

And "even today, though living in a society where “having” often prevails over “being”, there is still a great sensitivity to the examples of poverty and solidarity, that believers give through courageous choices." In this regard, Benedict XVI recalled a phrase of Paul VI: "The world willingly listens to teachers, when they are also witnesses. This - he commented – is a lesson never to be forgotten in the work of spreading the Gospel: living in first person that which you preach, being a mirror of divine charity."

Franciscans and Dominicans, the Pope continued, "were witnesses, but also teachers. Indeed, another widespread need in their day was that of religious formation" and they "were also able to successfully meet this need”. “With great zeal, they devoted themselves to preaching. Numerous faithful, often real crowds, gathered to listen to the preachers in churches and outdoor venues. They treated subjects close to people's lives, especially the practice of moral and theological virtues, with concrete, easily understandable examples. Moreover, they taught ways to nourish a life of prayer and piety"....

"Even today there's a charity of and in truth, an intellectual charity to be exercised, to enlighten minds and unite faith with the culture. The commitment of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the medieval universities is a call, dear faithful, to be present in the places of knowledge, to propose, with respect and belief, the light of the Gospel on the key issues that affect man, his dignity, his eternal destiny. "

"At the beginning of this year - concluded Benedict XVI – we invoke Holy Spirit, the eternal youth of the Church; may he help everyone feel the urgency to provide a consistent and courageous witness to the Gospel, so the world will never lack holy men and women, who make the Church radiate, to render it capable of irresistibly attracting the world to Christ, to his salvation."
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Following his departure from the Nervi at the audience's close, B16 met privately with Susanna Maiolo, the woman who jumped a St Peter's barricade and knocked the Pope over as entered the basilica for his Christmas Non-Midnight Mass.

According to a subsequent release from the Holy See Press Office, the 25 year-old apologized for the incident as Benedict "sought to manifest his pardon, as well as his cordial interest and good wishes" for the assailant's health.

Last Saturday, the pontiff traveled to Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic to visit (right) with Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, still in recovery after a fall amid the clamor broke his hip and required the joint's replacement.

The vice-dean of the College of Cardinals, the 87 year-old Frenchman's condition was described as "optimal" following the weekend visit.

Reuters(1); AP(2)