Tuesday, April 18, 2006

If you want an answer, why not go straight to the top?

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, thought to be an austere intellectual, has turned out to be a master of communication with his flock. He loves to answer your questions. On informal occasions he arrives and greets those present, but doesn’t speak from a prepared text. He simply fields questions. And he responds to each of them, spontaneously. Here are some examples:


First of all, it must be said that Holy Scripture cannot be read like just any historical book, as we read, for example, Homer, Ovid, or Horace. We must read it as truly the Word of God, placing ourselves in conversation with God. We must pray first, and talk to the Lord: “Open the door for me.” St. Augustine says this frequently in his homilies: “I knocked at the door of the Word in order to find at last what the Lord wanted to say to me.” [...]

For me it is a beautiful thing to note that already in the first pages of Sacred Scripture, immediately after the story of the creation of man, we find the definition of love and marriage. The sacred author tells us: “The man will leave his father and mother and follow after his woman, and the two shall be one flesh, a single existence.” We are at the beginning, and already we are given a prophecy of what marriage is; and this definition remains the same in the New Testament as well. [...] The medieval theologians, interpreting this assertion found at the beginning of Sacred Scripture, said that marriage was the first of the seven sacraments instituted by God, having been instituted at the moment of creation, in paradise, at the beginning of history, and before any human history. [...] Thus the sacrament of marriage is not an invention of the Church; it was really created together with man as such. [snip]

We all ask ourselves what the Lord expects from us. It seems to me that the great challenge of our time – as the bishops on their “ad limina” visits, for example those of Africa, also tell me – is secularism: a way of living and presenting the world “quasi Deus non daretur,” as if God did not exist. The intention is to reduce God to the private sphere, to a feeling, as if he were not an objective reality, so that everyone creates his own life plans [...] and at the end, everyone is in conflict with each other. It is clear that this situation is decidedly unlivable. We must make God present in our societies once again. This seems to me the first necessity: that God be present again in our lives, that we not live as though we were autonomous, with the authorization to make up what freedom and life are. We must realize that we are creatures, realize that there is a God who has created us and that remaining in his will is not dependence, but a gift of love that makes us live. [...]

I grew up in a world very different from the present one, but in the end the situations are similar. On the one hand, there was still the situation of “Christendom,” in which it was normal to go to church, accept the faith as a revelation from God, and try to live according to this revelation. On the other hand, there was the Nazi regime, which asserted in a loud voice: “In the new Germany, there will be no more priests, no more consecrated life, we have no more need for these people; seek out some other profession.” But precisely in hearing these loud voices, in facing the brutality of that system with its inhuman face, I understood that there was, on the contrary, a great need for priests. This contrast, seeing that antihuman culture, confirmed my conviction that the Lord, the Gospel, the faith show us the right way and that we must strive for the preservation of this path. In this situation, the vocation to the priesthood and I myself grew up almost naturally together, and without any great moments of conversion.

The great Galileo said that God wrote the book of nature in the form of mathematical language. He was convinced that God gave us two books: that of Sacred Scripture, and that of nature. And the language of nature – this was his conviction – is mathematics, which is therefore a language of God, of the Creator.
Sandro Magister's "www.Chiesa" (Chiesa means "church")

Sandro Magister, a professor at an Italian university and a columnist for a weekly magazine in Milan, has a column in English which he offers by free subscription. This is a must read if you are interested in "All things Papal"; he is your man. Subscription information is available on the right sidebar on the link referenced above.
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