The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pope in Venice...Revisited

Yesterday I received an email from a friend who asked that I provide more information about Pope Benedict's  visit to Venice last week. Revisiting my earlier post, I have to agree that I wrote much more about my earlier visits to the city and very little about what the pope had to say. I trust the following will rectify this...

During the course of his remarks to the 300,000 people gathered to hear him, Pope Benedict began by telling them: “Dear brothers and sisters! I have come among you as the Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter’s ministry to confirm fidelity to the Gospel and communion.” He then reaffirmed that we must give hope to our modern world by "listening and loving the Word of God...As in the past, when those churches were known for apostolic zeal and pastoral dynamism, so today we need to promote and defend the truth with courage and unity of the faith. You must give an account of Christian hope for modern man, often overwhelmed by vast and disturbing issues that arise in crisis and shake the very foundations of his being and his activity.”

At Venice's beautiful St. Mark's basilica, he preached on the day's Gospel, St. Luke's description of the encounter between the risen Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Luke's account relates how the disciples shared their sadness and grief after the crucifixion, attitudes the pope said mirrored the attitudes of many Christians today: “The disciples of today are moving away from the Jerusalem of the Crucified Jesus and the Risen Lord, no longer believing in the power and the living presence of the Lord...The problems of evil, pain and suffering, of injustice and oppression, lead today’s Christians to similarly say, 'we were hoping that the Lord deliver us from evil, pain, suffering, fear, injustice.'"

Pope Benedict went on to suggest that the solution to such despair was the same today as it was for the two disciples on the road to Emmaus – listening to Jesus and receiving him in the Eucharist, “the breaking of bread.” Like the Emmaus disciples, we must first listen to and love God's Word, "reading it in light of the Paschal Mystery, for it warms our hearts and enlightens our mind, and helps us to interpret the events of life and give them meaning."

The pope went on to say, “Then, you must sit at the table with the Lord, to become his guests, so that his humble presence in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood we restore our eyes of faith, to look at everything and everyone through the eyes of God, in light of his love.”

He concluded by urging Catholics to uphold the Christian values of their forebears and to set “new missionary objectives” for themselves including building “bridges of dialogue between peoples and nations.” 

As always it was a wonderful message, one we should all take to heart. It's so easy to live our Christianity as if it's strictly a personal thing between God and us as individuals. Doing so leads us away from the call to evangelize, the call to take Jesus Christ and His Church to others, "to all nations, baptizing them...teaching them..." As the pope is fond of reminding us, the Church is "communion", a communion with God and with each other.

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