Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Pope in Albano

With all the recent apologetics posts, I thought some of you readers would like to view some eye candy and be enlightened by the words of the Vicar of Christ instead.

From the Vatican Information Service:


VATICAN CITY, 21 SEP 2008 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated Mass and dedicated a new altar at the cathedral of San Pancrazio in Albano, a town near his summer residence of Castelgandolfo.

In his homily Benedict XVI spoke of "the love of Christ, charity 'which never ends'", which is "the spiritual energy that unites all those who participate in the same sacrifice and who draw nourishment from the one Bread, broken for the salvation of the world.

"Is it in fact possible", he asked, "to communicate with the Lord if we do not communicate with each other? How then can we present ourselves at God's altar divided and distant from one another?"

The Holy Father asked the faithful to ensure that the altar he was about to dedicate "be a constant invitation to love. To it you will always come", he said, "with your hearts ready to accept and to spread the love of Christ, to receive and to grant forgiveness".

"Each time you come to the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist", the Pope reiterated, "may your souls open to forgiveness and fraternal reconciliation, ready to accept the excuses of those who have hurt you and ready, in your turn, to forgive".

[Andrew: This is an important point, as Our Lord highlighted in the Scriptures ("Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. -Mat 5:23-24) and as we pray in the Pater Noster, the Lord's Prayer. Perhaps we have prayed it so often that we forget the seriousness of the petition 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us'. Do me mean it, and practice it? Let us ponder upon this the next time we appear before God's altar. Are dealing out forgiveness in the same measure as we hope to receive?]

Benedict XVI went on to explain that "each Eucharistic celebration anticipates Christ's triumph over sin and over the world. And, in the mystery, it demonstrates the splendour of the Church, 'spotless spouse of the spotless Lamb, whom Christ loved and for whom He delivered Himself up that He might sanctify her'".

The Pope encouraged the members of the diocesan community of Albano "to grow in charity and in apostolic and missionary dedication. What this means in concrete terms", he said, "is bearing witness with your lives to your faith in Christ and to the complete trust you place in Him. It also means cultivating ecclesial communion, which is above all a gift, a grace, the fruit of God's free and gratuitous love, in other words something that is divinely effective, ever present and operative in history, over and above any appearance to the contrary".

After highlighting how "ecclesial communion is a task entrusted to everyone's sense of responsibility", Pope Benedict concluded by calling on people to experience communion "with collaboration and co-responsibility at all levels: among priests, consecrated persons and the laity, among the different Christian communities of your territory, and among the various lay groups".

After the Mass, Benedict XVI greeted a number of benefactors and patrons of recent restoration work on the cathedral before returning by car to Castelgandolfo.

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