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BENEDICT XVI'S 2011 LENTEN MESSAGE "God Created Men and Women for Resurrection and Life"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI annual Lenten message, which was released today with a theme from Colossians: "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him." The message offers a reflection for each of the Sunday Gospel readings of the liturgical season. *** "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him." (cf. Col 2: 12) Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Lenten period, which leads us to the celebration of Holy Easter, is for the Church a most valuable and important liturgical time, in view of which I am pleased to offer a specific word in order that it may be lived with due diligence. As she awaits the definitive encounter with her Spouse in the eternal Easter, the Church community, assiduous in prayer and charitable works, intensifies her journey in purifying the spirit, so as to draw more abundantly from the Mystery of Redemption the new life in Christ the Lord (cf. Preface I of Lent). 1. This very life was already bestowed upon us on the day of our Baptism, when we "become sharers in Christ's death and Resurrection", and there began for us "the joyful and exulting adventure of his disciples" (Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 10 January, 2010). In his Letters, St. Paul repeatedly insists on the singular communion with the Son of God that this washing brings about. The fact that, in most cases, Baptism is received in infancy highlights how it is a gift of God: no one earns eternal life through their own efforts. The mercy of God, which cancels sin and, at the same time, allows us to experience in our lives "the mind of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2: 5), is given to men and women freely. The Apostle to the Gentiles, in the Letter to the Philippians, expresses the meaning of the transformation that takes place through participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, pointing to its goal: that "I may come to know him and the power of his resurrection, and partake of his sufferings by being molded to the pattern of his death, striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3: 10-11). Hence, Baptism is not a rite from the past, but the encounter with Christ, which informs the entire existence of the baptized, imparting divine life and calling for sincere conversion; initiated and supported by Grace, it permits the baptized to reach the adult stature of Christ. A particular connection binds Baptism to Lent as the favorable time to experience this saving Grace. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council exhorted all of the Church's Pastors to make greater use "of the baptismal features proper to the Lenten liturgy" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium, n. 109). In fact, the Church has always associated the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism: this Sacrament realizes the great mystery in which man dies to sin, is made a sharer in the new life of the Risen Christ and receives the same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead (cf. Rm 8: 11). This free gift must always be rekindled in each one of us, and Lent offers us a path like that of the catechumenate, which, for the Christians of the early Church, just as for catechumens today, is an irreplaceable school of faith and Christian life. Truly, they live their Baptism as an act that shapes their entire existence. 2. In order to undertake more seriously our journey towards Easter and prepare ourselves to celebrate

the Resurrection of the Lord the most joyous and solemn feast of the entire liturgical year what could be more appropriate than allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word of God? For this reason, the Church, in the Gospel texts of the Sundays of Lent, leads us to a particularly intense encounter with the Lord, calling us to retrace the steps of Christian initiation: for catechumens, in preparation for receiving the Sacrament of rebirth; for the baptized, in light of the new and decisive steps to be taken in the sequela Christi and a fuller giving of oneself to him. The First Sunday of the Lenten journey reveals our condition as human beings here on earth. The victorious battle against temptation, the starting point of Jesus' mission, is an invitation to become aware of our own fragility in order to accept the Grace that frees from sin and infuses new strength in Christ the way, the truth and the life (cf. Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum, n. 25). It is a powerful reminder that Christian faith implies, following the example of Jesus and in union with him, a battle "against the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world" (Eph 6: 12), in which the devil is at work and never tires even today of tempting whoever wishes to draw close to the Lord: Christ emerges victorious to open also our hearts to hope and guide us in overcoming the seductions of evil. The Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord puts before our eyes the glory of Christ, which anticipates the resurrection and announces the divinization of man. The Christian community becomes aware that Jesus leads it, like the Apostles Peter, James and John "up a high mountain by themselves" (Mt 17: 1), to receive once again in Christ, as sons and daughters in the Son, the gift of the Grace of God: "This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor. Listen to him" (Mt17: 5). It is the invitation to take a distance from the noisiness of everyday life in order to immerse oneself in God's presence. He desires to hand down to us, each day, a Word that penetrates the depths of our spirit, where we discern good from evil (cf. Heb 4:12), reinforcing our will to follow the Lord. The question that Jesus puts to the Samaritan woman: "Give me a drink" (Jn 4: 7), is presented to us in the liturgy of the third Sunday; it expresses the passion of God for every man and woman, and wishes to awaken in our hearts the desire for the gift of "a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life" (Jn 4: 14): this is the gift of the Holy Spirit, who transforms Christians into "true worshipers," capable of praying to the Father "in spirit and truth" (Jn 4: 23). Only this water can extinguish our thirst for goodness, truth and beauty! Only this water, given to us by the Son, can irrigate the deserts of our restless and unsatisfied soul, until it "finds rest in God", as per the famous words of St. Augustine. The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: "Do you believe in the Son of man?" "Lord, I believe!" (Jn 9: 35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as "children of the light". On the fifth Sunday, when the resurrection of Lazarus is proclaimed, we are faced with the ultimate mystery of our existence: "I am the resurrection and the life Do you believe this?" (Jn11: 25-26). For the Christian community, it is the moment to place with sincerity together with Martha all of our hopes in Jesus of Nazareth: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world" (Jn 11: 27). Communion with Christ in this life prepares us to overcome the barrier of death, so that we may live eternally with him. Faith in the resurrection of the dead and hope in eternal life open our eyes to the ultimate meaning of our existence: God created men and women for resurrection and life, and this truth gives an authentic and definitive meaning to human

history, to the personal and social lives of men and women, to culture, politics and the economy. Without the light of faith, the entire universe finishes shut within a tomb devoid of any future, any hope. The Lenten journey finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Triduum, especially in the Great Vigil of the Holy Night: renewing our baptismal promises, we reaffirm that Christ is the Lord of our life, that life which God bestowed upon us when we were reborn of "water and Holy Spirit", and we profess again our firm commitment to respond to the action of the Grace in order to be his disciples. 3. By immersing ourselves into the death and resurrection of Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are moved to free our hearts every day from the burden of material things, from a self-centered relationship with the "world" that impoverishes us and prevents us from being available and open to God and our neighbor. In Christ, God revealed himself as Love (cf. 1Jn 4: 7-10). The Cross of Christ, the "word of the Cross", manifests God's saving power (cf. 1Cor 1: 18), that is given to raise men and women anew and bring them salvation: it is love in its most extreme form (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 12). Through the traditional practices of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, which are an expression of our commitment to conversion, Lent teaches us how to live the love of Christ in an ever more radical way. Fasting, which can have various motivations, takes on a profoundly religious significance for the Christian: by rendering our table poorer, we learn to overcome selfishness in order to live in the logic of gift and love; by bearing some form of deprivation and not just what is in excess we learn to look away from our "ego", to discover Someone close to us and to recognize God in the face of so many brothers and sisters. For Christians, fasting, far from being depressing, opens us ever more to God and to the needs of others, thus allowing love of God to become also love of our neighbor (cf. Mk 12: 31). In our journey, we are often faced with the temptation of accumulating and love of money that undermine God's primacy in our lives. The greed of possession leads to violence, exploitation and death; for this, the Church, especially during the Lenten period, reminds us to practicealmsgiving which is the capacity to share. The idolatry of goods, on the other hand, not only causes us to drift away from others, but divests man, making him unhappy, deceiving him, deluding him without fulfilling its promises, since it puts materialistic goods in the place of God, the only source of life. How can we understand God's paternal goodness, if our heart is full of egoism and our own projects, deceiving us that our future is guaranteed? The temptation is to think, just like the rich man in the parable: "My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come". We are all aware of the Lord's judgment: "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul" (Lk 12: 1920). The practice of almsgiving is a reminder of God's primacy and turns our attention towards others, so that we may rediscover how good our Father is, and receive his mercy. During the entire Lenten period, the Church offers us God's Word with particular abundance. By meditating and internalizing the Word in order to live it every day, we learn a precious and irreplaceable form of prayer; by attentively listening to God, who continues to speak to our hearts, we nourish the itinerary of faith initiated on the day of our Baptism. Prayer also allows us to gain a new concept of time: without the perspective of eternity and transcendence, in fact, time simply directs our steps towards a horizon without a future. Instead, when we pray, we find time for God, to understand that his "words will not pass away" (cf. Mk 13: 31), to enter into that intimate communion with Him "that no one shall take from you" (Jn 16: 22), opening us to the hope that does not disappoint, eternal life. In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us "the pattern of his death" (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deepconversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to

Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ. Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves just as she did in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life. From the Vatican, 4 November, 2010 BENEDICTUS PP XVI Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana VISIT TO THE PONTIFICAL ROMAN MAJOR SEMINARY ON THE MEMORIAL OF OUR LADY OF THE TRUST LECTIO DIVINA BY HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI Chapel of the Seminary Friday, 4 March 2011 Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am very glad to be here at least once a year with my seminarians, with the young men bound for the priesthood to form the future presbyterate of Rome. I am delighted that this happens every year on the day of Our Lady of Trust, the Mother who day after day accompanies us with her love and gives us the confidence to journey on towards Christ. In the unity of the Spirit is the theme that guides your reflections during this year of formation. It is an expression found, precisely, in the passage of the Letter to the Ephesians that has been presented to us, in which St Paul begs the members of that community to maintain the unity of the Spirit (4:3). The second part of the Letter to the Ephesians begins with this text, the so-called paranetical or exhortatory part, and begins with the word parakalo, I beg you. However, the same word also comes at the end, Paraklitos, thus it is an exhortation in the light, in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles exhortation is based on the mystery of salvation which he had presented in the first three chapters. In fact, our passage begins with the word therefore, I therefore beg you (v. 1). The behaviour of Christians is the consequence of the gift, the realization of all that is given to us, every day. Yet, if it is simply the realization of the gift given to us it is not an automatic effect, because with God we are always in the reality of freedom hence since the response and also the realization of the gift is freedom

the Apostle must recall it, he cannot take it for granted. Baptism, as we know, does not automatically produce a consistent life: this is the fruit of the will and of the persevering commitment to collaborate with the gift, with the Grace received. And this commitment costs us effort, there is a price to pay in person. This may be why St Paul refers here to his actual condition: I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you (ibid.). Following Christ means sharing in his Passion, his Cross, following him to the very end, and this participation in the Teachers destiny profoundly unites us to him and reinforces the authoritativeness of the Apostles exhortation. We now reach the heart of our meditation, encountering a particularly striking word: call, vocation. St Paul wrote: lead a life worthy of the calling, of the klesis to which you have been called (ibid.). And he was to repeat it a little later, affirming that you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call (v. 4). Here, in this case, it is a question of the vocation common to all Christians, namely, the baptismal vocation, the call to be in Christ and to live in him, in his Body. In these words an experience is inscribed and the echo resounds of that of the first disciples, which we know from the Gospels: when Jesus passed along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and called Simon and Andrew, then James and John (cf. Mk 1:16-20); and even earlier, at the River Jordan after his Baptism, when, noticing that Andrew and the other disciple were following him Jesus said to them: Come and see (Jn 1:39). Christian life begins with a call and always remains an answer, to the very end. And this is in the dimension of believing and that of doing: both the faith and the behaviour of the Christian correspond to the grace of the vocation. I spoke of the call of the first Apostles, but the word call reminds us above all of the Mother of every call, of Mary Most Holy, the Chosen One, the One Called par excellence. The image of the Annunciation to Mary portrays far more than that particular Gospel episode, despite its fundamental character: it contains the whole mystery of Mary, the whole of her history, of her being; and at the same time it speaks of the Church, of her essence as it has always been; as well as of every individual believer in Christ, of every Christian soul who is called. At this point we must bear in mind that we are not speaking of people of the past. God, the Lord, has called each one of us, each one is called by name. God is so great that he has time for each one of us, he knows me, he knows each one of us by name, personally. It is a personal call for each one of us. I think we should meditate time and again on this mystery: God, the Lord, has called me, is calling me, knows me, awaits my answer just as he awaited Marys answer and the answer of the Apostles. God calls me: this fact must make us attentive to Gods voice, attentive to his word, to his call for me, in order to respond, in order to realize this part of the history of salvation for which he has called me. Then, in this text, St Paul points out to us several concrete elements of this answer with four words: lowliness, meekness, patience, forbearing one another in love. Perhaps we could meditate briefly on these words in which the Christian journey is expressed. Then at the end, we shall once again return to this.

Lowliness: the Greek word is tapeinophrosyne, the same word that St Paul uses in his Letter to the Philippians when he speaks of the Lord who was God and who humbled himself, he made himself tapeinos, he descended to the point of making himself a creature, of making himself man, obedient even unto death on the Cross (cf. Phil 2:7-8). Lowliness, then is not just any word, any kind of modesty, something it is a Christological word. Imitating God who descends even to me, who is so great that he makes himself my friend, suffers for me and dies for me. This is the humility we must learn, Gods humility. It means that we must always see ourselves in Gods light; thus, at the same time, we can know the greatness of being a person loved by God but also our own smallness, our poverty, and thus behave correctly, not as masters but as servants. As St Paul says: Not that we lord it over your faith; we work with you for your joy (2 Cor 1:24). Being a priest, even more than being a Christian, implies this humility. Meekness: the Greek text uses here the word prates, the same word that appears in the Beatitudes: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth (Mt 5:5). And in the Book of Numbers, the fourth Book of Moses, we find the affirmation that Moses was the meekest man in the world (cf. Num 12:3) and in this sense he was a prefiguration of Christ, of Jesus, who said of himself: I am gentle and lowly in heart (Mt 11:29). So this word meek, or gentle, is also a Christological word and once again implies imitating Christ in this manner. For in Baptism we are configured to Christ so we must configure ourselves to Christ, we must discover this spirit of being meek, without violence, of convincing with love and kindness. Patience [magnanimity], makrothymia, means generosity of heart, it means not being minimalists who give only what is strictly necessary: let us give ourselves with all that we possess and we will also increase in magnanimity. Forbearing one another in love: it is a daily duty to tolerate one another in our own otherness, and precisely to tolerate one another with humility, to learn true love. And let us now take a step further. This word call is followed by the ecclesial dimension. We have now spoken of the vocation as a very personal call: God calls me, knows me, waits for my personal response. However at the same time Gods call is a call to a community, it is an ecclesial call. God calls us to a community. It is true that in this passage on which we are meditating the word ekklesia, Church, is not found but the reality is all the more evident. St Paul speaks of a Spirit and a body. The Spirit creates the body and unites us as it were in one body. And then he speaks of unity, he speaks of the chain of being, of the bond of peace. And with these words he refers to the word prisoner at the beginning: it is always the same word, I am in chains, chains will bind you, but behind them is the great, invisible, liberating chain of love. We are in this bond of peace which is the Church, it is the great bond that unites us to Christ. Perhaps we must also meditate personally on this point: we are called personally, but we are called to a body. And this is not something abstract but is very real.

At this time the Seminary is the body in which your being on a common journey is brought about in practice. Then there will be the parish: accepting, supporting, enlivening the whole parish, the people, those who are likable and those who are not, becoming integrated into this body. Body: the Church is a body so she has structures, she really has a law and this time it is not so simple to integrate. Of course we want the personal relationship with God, but we often do not like the body. Yet in this very way we are in communion with Christ: by accepting this corporeity of his Church, of the Spirit who is incarnate in the body. However, perhaps we frequently feel the problem, the difficulty of this community, starting from the actual community of the Seminary to the large community of the Church, with her institutions. We must also keep in mind that it is really lovely to be in a company, to journey on in a large company of all the centuries, to have friends in Heaven and on earth and to be aware of the beauty of this body, to be happy that the Lord has called us in a body and has given us friends in all the parts of the world. I said that the word ekklesia is not found here, but there is the word body, the word Spirit, the word bond and in this brief passage the word one recurs seven times. Thus we feel that the Apostle has the unity of the Church at heart. And he ends with a scale of unity, until Unity: God is One, the God of all. God is One and the oneness of God is expressed in our communion, because God is the Father, the Creator of us all and so we are all brothers and sisters, we are all one body and the oneness of God is the condition for and also the creation of human brotherhood, of peace. Let us therefore also meditate on this mystery of oneness and the importance of always seeking oneness in the communion of the one Christ, of the one God. We may now go a step further. If we ask ourselves what is the deep meaning of this use of the word call, we see that it is one of the doors that open on to the Trinitarian mystery. So far we have spoken of the mystery of the Church of the one God but the Trinitarian mystery also appears. Jesus is the mediator of the call of the Father that happens through the Holy Spirit. The Christian vocation cannot but have a Trinitarian form, both at the level of the individual person and at the level of the ecclesial community. The mystery of the Church is enlivened throughout by the dynamism of the Holy Spirit, which is a vocational dynamism in the broad and perennial sense, starting with Abraham who was the first to hear Gods call and to respond with faith and action (cf. Gen 12:1-3); until the behold of Mary, a perfect reflection of that of the Son of God at the moment when he accepted the Fathers call to come into the world (cf. Heb 10:5-7). Thus, at the heart of the Church as St Thrse of the Child Jesus would say the call of every individual Christian is a Trinitarian mystery: the mystery of the encounter with Jesus, with the Word made flesh, through whom God the Father calls us to communion with him and for this reason wishes to give us his Holy Spirit; and it is precisely through the Spirit that we can respond authentically to Jesus and to the Father within a real, filial relationship. Without the breath of the Holy Spirit the Christian vocation simply cannot be explained, it loses its vitality.

And finally the last passage. The form of unity according to the Spirit, as I said, calls for the imitation of Jesus, configuration to him in the concreteness of his behaviour. The Apostle writes, as in our meditation: with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, and then adds that the unity of the Spirit should be maintained in the bond of peace (Eph 4:2-3). The unity of the Church does not come from a mould imposed from the outside; rather, it is the fruit of a harmony, a common commitment to behave like Jesus, by virtue of his Spirit. St John Chrysostom made a very fine commentary on this passage. Chrysostom comments on the image of the bond, the bond of peace. He says: a glorious bond is this; with this bond let us bind ourselves together with one another and unto God. This is a bond that bruises not, nor cramps the hands it binds, but it leaves them free, and gives them ample play and greater courage (Homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, 9, 4:1-3). Here we find the evangelical paradox: Christian love is a bond, as we said, but a liberating bond! The image of the bond, as I told you, brings us back to the situation of St Paul who is a prisoner and is in chains. The Apostle is in chains because of the Lord, just as Jesus made himself a servant to set us free. If we are to maintain the unity of the Spirit we must impress upon our own behaviour that humility, meekness and patience to which Jesus witnessed in his Passion; it is necessary to have hand and heart bound by the bond of love that he himself accepted for us by making himself our servant. This is the bond of peace. And St John Chrysostom says further in the same commentary: if you would attach yourself to another [your brother] ... these thus bound by love bear all things with ease. thus also here he would have us tied one to another; not simply that we be at peace, not simply that we love one another [to be friends], but that all should be one, one soul (ibid.). The Pauline text, a few elements of which we have meditated on, is very rich. I have only been able to convey to you a few ideas, which I entrust to your meditation. And let us pray the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Trust, to help us walk joyfully in the unity of the Spirit. Thank you!