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Ordinary public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals and for the Vote of Several Causes of Canonization Eucharistic Concelebration with the New Cardinals.

ORDINARY PUBLIC CONSISTORY
FOR THE CREATION OF NEW CARDINALS
AND FOR THE VOTE ON SEVERAL CAUSES OF CANONIZATION
EUCHARISTIC CONCELEBRATION WITH THE NEW CARDINALS

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Vatican Basilica
Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter, we have the joy of gathering around the altar of the Lord together with the new Cardinals whom yesterday I incorporated into the College of Cardinals. It is to them, first of all, that I offer my cordial greetings and I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni for the gracious words he has addressed to me in the name of all. I extend my greetings to the other Cardinals and all the Bishops present, as well as to the distinguished authorities, ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful who have come from different parts of the world for this happy occasion, which is marked by a particular character of universality.

In the second reading that we have just heard, Saint Peter exhorts the “elders” of the Church to be zealous pastors, attentive to the flock of Christ (cf. 1 Pet 5:1-2). These words are addressed in the first instance to you, my dear venerable brothers, who have already shown great merit among the people of God through your wise and generous pastoral ministry in demanding dioceses, or through presiding over the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, or in your service to the Church through study and teaching. The new dignity that has been conferred upon you is intended to show appreciation for the faithful labour you have carried out in the Lord’s vineyard, to honour the communities and nations from which you come and which you represent so worthily in the Church, to invest you with new and more important ecclesial responsibilities and finally to ask of you an additional readiness to be of service to Christ and to the entire Christian community. This readiness to serve the Gospel is firmly founded upon the certitude of faith. We know that God is faithful to his promises and we await in hope the fulfilment of these words of Saint Peter: “And when the chief shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory” (1 Pet 5:4).

Today’s Gospel passage presents Peter, under divine inspiration, expressing his own firm faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. In response to this transparent profession of faith, which Peter makes in the name of the other Apostles as well, Christ reveals to him the mission he intends to entrust to him, namely that of being the “rock”, the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19). This new name of “rock” is not a reference to Peter’s personal character, but can be understood only on the basis of a deeper aspect, a mystery: through the office that Jesus confers upon him, Simon Peter will become something that, in terms of “flesh and blood”, he is not. The exegete Joachim Jeremias has shown that in the background, the symbolic language of “holy rock” is present. In this regard, it is helpful to consider a rabbinic text which states: “The Lord said, ‘How can I create the world, when these godless men will rise up in revolt against me?’ But when God saw that Abraham was to be born, he said, ‘Look, I have found a rock on which I can build and establish the world.’ Therefore he called Abraham a rock.” The prophet Isaiah makes reference to this when he calls upon the people to “look to the rock from which you were hewn … look to Abraham your father” (51:1-2). On account of his faith, Abraham, the father of believers, is seen as the rock that supports creation. Simon, the first to profess faith in Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the resurrection, now, on the basis of his renewed faith, becomes the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.

Dear brothers and sisters, this Gospel episode that has been proclaimed to us finds a further and more eloquent explanation in one of the most famous artistic treasures of this Vatican Basilica: the altar of the Chair. After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. What does this sculptural composition say to us, this product of Bernini’s genius? It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.

The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital “O”, to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads. The Church is the place where God “reaches” us and where we “set off” towards him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.

The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be Saint Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi. The magisterial chair also reminds us of the words spoken to Peter by the Lord during the Last Supper: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren” (Lk 22:32).

The chair of Peter evokes another memory: the famous expression from Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, where he says of the Church of Rome that she “presides in charity” (Salutation, PG 5, 801). In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith. But the words of Saint Ignatius have another much more concrete implication: the word “charity”, in fact, was also used by the early Church to indicate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the Sacramentum caritatis Christi, through which Christ continues to draw us all to himself, as he did when raised up on the Cross (cf. Jn 12:32). Therefore, to “preside in charity” is to draw men and women into a eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences. The Petrine ministry is therefore a primacy of love in the eucharistic sense, that is to say solicitude for the universal communion of the Church in Christ. And the Eucharist is the shape and the measure of this communion, a guarantee that it will remain faithful to the criterion of the tradition of the faith.

The great Chair is supported by the Fathers of the Church. The two Eastern masters, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Athanasius, together with the Latins, Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the holy and one Church. This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith. The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it. Within the ecclesial community, the Fathers of the Church fulfil the function of guaranteeing fidelity to sacred Scripture. They ensure that the Church receives reliable and solid exegesis, capable of forming with the Chair of Peter a stable and consistent whole. The sacred Scriptures, authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium in the light of the Fathers, shed light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history.

After considering the various elements of the altar of the Chair, let us take a look at it in its entirety. We see that it is characterized by a twofold movement: ascending and descending. This is the reciprocity between faith and love. The Chair is placed in a prominent position in this place, because this is where Saint Peter’s tomb is located, but this too tends towards the love of God. Indeed, faith is oriented towards love. A selfish faith would be an unreal faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist, discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic this gift. True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love, leads on high, just as the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica. That window is given great prominence by the triumphant angels and the great golden rays, with a sense of overflowing fulness that expresses the richness of communion with God. God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light.

Dear brothers and sisters, the gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives. This is your task in particular, dear brother Cardinals: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love. We now entrust your ecclesial service to the Virgin Mary, who was present among the apostolic community as they gathered in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). May she, Mother of the Incarnate Word, protect the Church’s path, support the work of the pastors by her intercession and take under her mantle the entire College of Cardinals. Amen!


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February 20, 2012 Posted by | Cardinals, Catholicism, Pope Benedict XVI, Religious, Vatican | Leave a comment

God is Smiling Down on Each One of You!

My dear Friends, how many of you are aware that God is your friend and that He is happy that you are alive and that you are aware that He is your God.

God created each one of us because of His Great love for you and me. We being alive gives Him great glory. So it is very important for us to be happy that we are alive and we worship a great big God as Our God.

It was not by chance or accidence that we are Catholics/Christians. God in His goodness and mercy chose each one of us and called us by name. We are special to Him and believe me, my dear friends, His gaze is on each one of us every minute, every second and why do you think His gaze is on us? He is in Love with each one of us and that is why His gaze is on us. God is love and because He is love, He knows only how to love us.

If difficulties, problems, sickness, financial stress should come confront us, it is because God has allowed these things to happen to us. Why do you think God has allowed bad things to happen to us. Is it because He hates us? No, He allows us to have problems because it is through suffering that we are purified and we are brought closer to Him. He loves us so much that He longs to have us in His arms. We must believe that Christ Jesus loved us so much that He came down to die for each one of us.

For those of you out there who are doubting in God’s great love and tender mercy, I urge you to come back to God for He is waiting for you with open arms. The 22nd of February is Ash Wednesday – the beginning of lent. This is the time of the year for us to return to God – to be sorry for our sins – to make a good confession – to be inward looking and to see how we could become better people. This is the time for us to be charitable to one another in our thoughts, words and deeds.

Give all your problems, sorrows, joys, difficulties even your happiness. Give it all to Jesus Christ. He will purify all that we give Him and He will return it to us purified and blessed. We are so lucky that Christ Jesus is Our Lord and Master. His love for us has no bounds.

I am going to close my eyes for a minute and if Christ Jesus gives me a message I will share it with you.

Well, I can see Christ Jesus – He is wearing a white garment and He is walking towards me. I can see His nail pierced hands and feet. He is showing me his nail pierced hands and feet and He is telling me that He willing died on the cross because of His great love for us all and also for His great love for the whole wide world.

He is telling me that He wants us all to run into His arms. He says, ‘Come to me and I will give you rest’. He says that people when they face trouble and trials, they run away from me. He says tell my people that especially when they have problems, they need to come running to me because only I can help them. I will give them all the graces that they need to live from one day to the next.

I can see His hair moving in the wind and a great beauty on His face. He looks radiant and He says, ‘Come!’ I can see myself running towards Him. It looks like He is on the beach and I am finding it hard to run on the beach because the sand is moving under my feet. I am now in His arms but I cannot feel Him because Christ is Spirit. Everytime He holds me, He is spirit and whenever I am in His arms, I am being healed in mind, soul and body and I feel very happy.

My dear friends, this is an exercise for you when you read this article. You will see Christ the way I have described Him. Run into His arms and allow Him to hold you and heal you. You will find peace that surpasses all understanding.

As Christ holds you, tell Him all your problems. Believe me, He is your best friend. He is your Saviour and Healer. He will listen and He will help you but you must believe because only faith can heal you. Only faith can make you well in mind, soul and body. When you are with Christ, take your family and friends to Him for blessing. May all of us can sit down on the beach with Christ Jesus and He will teach you how to do God’s Holy Will. He will chat with you and He will become your close friend. This is what He wants. He wants to have a close relationship with each and everyone of us. The question is? Are we ready?

Some food for thought. Let us examine ourselves and see what is it that we want from Christ Jesus. Are we ready to love Him unconditionally – that no matter whatever situation that we are in, we would love Him. Love is not love unless it is expressed, so are we ready to express our love to Christ? I leave you with this question? Think and answer yourself and Christ. He is waiting for your answer, my friends!


February 20, 2012 Posted by | Ash Wednesday, Blessing, Catholicism, Charismatic Renewal, couples, Faith in God, Family, Happiness, Jesus Christ, married couples, Singles, Solution to problems, The Sick, Trust in God, Youth | , | 1 Comment