Sunday, September 14, 2008

Text of two Pope messages at Lourdes

Here is the text of his message at the Angelus:

(For those who are not Catholics, the Angelus can be thought of as mid-day prayers).


At noon, when the first hours of the day are already beginning to weigh us down with fatigue, our availability and our generosity are renewed by the contemplation of Mary’s “yes”. This clear and unreserved “yes” is rooted in the mystery of Mary’s freedom, a total and entire freedom before God, completely separated from any complicity with sin, thanks to the privilege of her Immaculate Conception. This privilege given to Mary, which sets her apart from our common condition, does not distance her from us, but on the contrary, it brings her closer.

While sin divides, separating us from one another, Mary’s purity makes her infinitely close to our hearts, attentive to each of us and desirous of our true good. You see it here in Lourdes, as in all Marian shrines; immense crowds come thronging to Mary’s feet to entrust to her their most intimate thoughts, their most heartfelt wishes. That which many, either because of embarrassment or modesty, do not confide to their nearest and dearest, they confide to her who is all pure, to her Immaculate Heart: with simplicity, without frills, in truth. Before Mary, by virtue of her very purity, man does not hesitate to reveal his weakness, to express his questions and his doubts, to formulate his most secret hopes and desires. The Virgin Mary’s maternal love disarms all pride; it renders man capable of seeing himself as he is, and it inspires in him the desire to be converted so as to give glory to God.

And here is the text of Pope Benedict's homily:


This is the great mystery that Mary also entrusts to us this morning, inviting us to turn towards her Son. In fact, it is significant that, during the first apparition to Bernadette, Mary begins the encounter with the sign of the Cross. More than a simple sign, it is an initiation into the mysteries of the faith that Bernadette receives from Mary. The sign of the Cross is a kind of synthesis of our faith, for it tells how much God loves us; it tells us that there is a love in this world that is stronger than death, stronger than our weaknesses and sins. The power of love is stronger than the evil which threatens us. It is this mystery of the universality of God’s love for men that Mary came to reveal here, in Lourdes. She invites all people of good will, all those who suffer in heart or body, to raise their eyes towards the Cross of Jesus, so as to discover there the source of life, the source of salvation.

The Church has received the mission of showing all people this loving face of God, manifested in Jesus Christ.

A homily is the "sermon" given during a Catholic Mass.

These are highly recommended readings because once again Pope Benedict XVI shows himself to be the loving instructor of the flock. He knows that people, even those with great belief, have failings in their knowledge and need to regain educational context for their faith. And so with every paragraph he does three things at once: he preaches, he explains and teaches, and he performs as the role model for the faith. If you read these two texts (and all future ones from him) and keep these three points in mind, you'll see for yourself how he is doing all of those essential tasks at once. For example, through his careful example and explanations, Pope Benedict corrects, without having to say a word about them, misconceptions that people have about the role of Mary and reinforce that Mary is totally about the primacy of God, to whom all worship is due and who holds all power, and the completeness of the role of Savior in and only in Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict demonstrates how he can frame the truthful context of God, Jesus, Mary, and the importance of the Cross so that misguided misconceptions simply fall away and do not have to be confronted.

Studying Pope Benedict and his writings and utterances in this way also helps when one reads the Bible. You see, Bible authors who recorded the true events in faith history were doing the same thing: preaching, instructing and establishing role models. It is much easier to understand Bible figures and also the saints and others who followed when you recognize those who are particularly gifted and conscientious, as is Pope Benedict, to do all of these three tasks at once that are essential to good faith formation.

Parents, you might want to think about this too in your relationship to your children, including in secular activities. Children develop the best when they understand at the same time: 1) what to do 2) why it is the way it is and 3) they can observe good role models.

I hope that you find this helpful.