Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Feast of All Saints:Pope's Homily

Just the improvisations here, from Asia News Italy:

Twice, the pope deviated slightly from his written address to underline
certain fundamental ideas.

The first time, citing St Bernard, he said that looking at the saints
serves to “awaken in us the great desire of holiness”. And he added
spontaneously: “Awakening the desire to be close to God, in the great family of
friends of God. Being close to God in his family is the vocation of all
Christians”. Here is a twofold concern of the pope: that holiness should not be
considered as something exceptional, and that it should be seen in relation to
God. He said: “To be saints, it is not necessary to undertake extraordinary
works and actions, or to possess exceptional charismas.” Above all, he wants to
instil the idea that the true dignity of man comes through holiness and
relationship with God. Bearing in mind the secularized world, which tends to do
without God and to exclude Him, the pope said: “The example of the saints is an
encouragement for us to follow in the same footsteps, and to experience the joy
of those who trust in God, because the only true reason for man’s sadness and
unhappiness is living far from Him.”

The second improvisation came as the pope was talking about the
Beatitudes, the Gospel of today’s Mass. The Gospel of the Beatitudes is often
used by some theologians to present a Christianity “of values” (poverty, hunger,
justice, peace workers and so on), detached from the person of Jesus. The pope
was clear: “In reality, the Blessed one par excellence is only Him, Jesus. It is
He, in fact, who is truly poor in spirit, afflicted, meek, the one who hungers
and thirsts for justice, merciful, pure in heart, and a peace worker. It is He
who is persecuted in the cause of right”. And spontaneously he added: “The
Beatitudes show us the mystery of death and resurrection, which is the mystery
of Jesus.” He continued: “With the Beatitudes, Jesus points out to us how to
follow him and to imitate him. In the measure that we welcome his invitation and
seek to follow it, we too can participate in his Beatitudes.”

Thus, the emphasis of Benedict XVI corrects a confused concept
that makes holiness a sort of “religion of civic values”, without testifying to
the Christian roots. At the same time, he opens a door to dialogue with the
Protestant world, which is often critical about the saints and devotion to them:
holiness is following Christ, not divinization operated by man. The pope said:
“Holiness calls for constant effort, but it is possible for all because, more
than the work of man, it is above all a gift of God, three times Holy... With
Him [with Christ] the impossible becomes possible and even a camel can pass
through the eye of a needle (cfr Mk 10:25). With his help, only with his help,
is given to us to become perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect (cfr Mt