Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stand firm in faith: Benedict in Poland



American Papist has links to full coverage, and here's an English language site that's reporting on the visit. (And here's an amusing story: seems like the local media is having a temporary fit of modesty!) I just read the text of the two speeches the Pope gave, one on arrival and one to the clergy at Warsaw Cathedral.

On arrival, apart from recognizing the various dignitaries, ecumenical representatives, leaders of other faiths (Jews and Muslims) and the faithful, he also mentioned non-believers.
And for those who do not have the gift of faith, but whose hearts are full of good will, may my visit be a time of fraternity, goodness and hope. May these enduring values of humanity lay a firm foundation for building a better world, one in which everyone can enjoy material prosperity and spiritual joy.
I think it's always good to remember that faith is, indeed, a gift.

And two snippets in his address to the priests at the Cathedral:
The greatness of Christ’s priesthood can make us tremble. We can be tempted to cry out with Peter: "Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinful man" (Lk 5:8), because we find it hard to believe that Christ called us specifically. Could he not have chosen someone else, more capable, more holy? But Jesus has looked lovingly upon each one of us, and in this gaze of his we may have confidence. Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. On the contrary, it is precisely then that the most wonderful fruits of pastoral service come to birth. There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but he is at work.
and
The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life. With this end in view, when a young priest takes his first steps, he needs to be able to refer to an experienced teacher who will help him not to lose his way among the many ideas put forward by the culture of the moment. In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest, changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed word. Solicitude for the quality of personal prayer and for good theological formation bear fruit in life. ... In reality, we grow in affective maturity when our hearts adhere to God. Christ needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity. For this to happen, priests need to be honest with themselves, open with their spiritual director and trusting in divine mercy.
(Emphasis added.) Once again, I think it is useful to listen to the Holy Father in his continual call for a deep prayer life and interior conversion of priests (and, I'd say, by extension, all the faithful!).

::added:: John Allen will be giving daily dispatches on the Papal journey to Poland. In today's dispatch he gives some context to the Pope's remarks to the priests:
At the same time, however, Benedict along with the Polish bishops is also concerned that the Polish church not be seen as a lobby on behalf of the country's new government.

"The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics," the pope said to the Polish clergy. "He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life."

It was an especially pointed remark in light of continuing controversy over Radio Maria, a popular Catholic radio service seen by some as tightly linked to the new Polish ruling coalition.
And on the plane, this remark, which every nationalist of every nation should take to heart:
"I am above all Catholic, and I would say that this point is important," he said. "We must always learn that we are Catholic, and thus that one's nationality is inserted, relativized, and also carefully located in the great unity of the Catholic communion."

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