Benedict XVI Homilies 11906
Dear Brothers in the episcopal and priestly ministry!
Dear Brother and Sisters!
"Those who believe are never alone". Let me return once again to the theme of these days and express my joy that here we can see how true it is: faith brings us together and gives us a reason to celebrate. It gives us joy in God, joy in his creation, joy in being together. I realize that this celebration required much time and effort to prepare. By reading newspaper accounts, I had some idea of how many people gave their time and energy to do such a fine job of readying this esplanade. Thanks to them, we have the Cross here on the hill as a sign of God's peace in the world; the access roads have been cleared; security and good order have been ensured; housing has been provided, and so much more. I could not have imagined - and even now I am only beginning to imagine - how much work, down to the smallest details, was needed for us to meet here today. For all this I can only say, in a word: "Heartfelt thanks!" May the Lord repay you for everything you have done, and may the joy which we can now experience as a result of your preparations return a hundredfold to each of you! I was very moved when I heard how many people, especially from the vocational schools of Weiden and Hamburg, and how many firms and individuals, men and women, also helped to make my little house and garden a bit more beautiful. I am a bit taken aback by all this goodness, and once again I can only offer an inadequate "thank you!" for all your efforts. You did not do this for just one person; in the end, you did it in a spirit of solidarity in faith, inspired by love of the Christ and the Church. All this is a sign of true humanity, born of our experience of the love of Jesus Christ.
We are gathered for a celebration of faith. But the question immediately arises: What do we actually believe? What does it mean to have faith? Is it still something possible in the modern world? When we look at the great Summae of theology compiled in the Middle Ages, or we think of the number of books written each day for or against faith, we might lose heart and think that it is all too complicated. In the end, we can no longer see the forest for the trees. True enough: faith's vision embraces heaven and earth; past, present and future; eternity - and so it can never be fully exhausted. And yet, deep down, it is quite simple. The Lord himself tells us so when he says to the Father: "you have revealed these things to the simple - to those able to see with their hearts" (cf. Mt 11,25). The Church, for her part, has given us a tiny Summa in which everything essential is expressed. It is the so-called "Apostles' Creed", which is usually divided into twelve articles, corresponding to the number of the twelve Apostles. It speaks of God, the creator and source of all that is, of Christ and his work of salvation, and it culminates in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting. In its basic structure, the Creed is composed of only three main sections, and as we see from its history, it is merely an expansion of the formula for Baptism which the same Lord entrusted to his disciples for all time when he told them: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt 28,19).
Once we realize this, two things become clear. First, faith is simple. We believe in God - in God, who is the Beginning and End of human life. We believe in a God who enters into a relationship with us human beings, who is our origin and our future. Consequently, faith is, always and inseparably, hope: the certainty that we have a future and will not end up as nothing. And faith is love, since God's love is "contagious". This is the first thing: we simply believe in God, and this brings with it hope and love.
A second thing also becomes clear: the Creed is not a collection of propositions; it is not a theory. It is anchored in the event of Baptism - a genuine encounter between God and man. In the mystery of Baptism, God stoops to meet us; he comes close to us and in turn brings us closer to one another. Baptism means that Jesus Christ adopts us as his brothers and sisters, welcoming us as sons and daughters into God's family. He thus makes us one great family in the universal communion of the Church. Truly, those who believe are never alone. God comes to meet us. Let us go out to meet God and thus meet one another! To the extent we can, let us make sure that none of God's children ever feels alone!
We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part. But again the question has to be asked: is this still possible today? Is it reasonable? From the Enlightenment on, science, at least in part, has applied itself to seeking an explanation of the world in which God would be unnecessary. And if this were so, he would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success - inevitably it would become clear: something is missing from the equation! When God is subtracted, something doesn't add up for man, the world, the whole universe. So we end up with two alternatives. What came first? Creative Reason, the Creator Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, yet somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason. The latter, however, would then be nothing more than a chance result of evolution and thus, in the end, equally meaningless. As Christians, we say: "I believe in God the Father, the Creator of heaven and earth" -I believe in the Creator Spirit. We believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal Word, with Reason and not Unreason. With this faith we have no reason to hide, no fear of ending up in a dead end. We rejoice that we can know God! And we try to help others see the reasonableness of faith, as Saint Peter in his First Letter explicitly urged the Christians of his time to do, and with them, ourselves as well (cf. 1P 3,15)!
We believe in God. This is what the main sections of the Creed affirm, especially the first section. But another question now follows: in what God? Certainly we believe in the God who is Creator Spirit, creative Reason, the source of everything that exists, including ourselves. The second section of the Creed tells us more. This creative Reason is Goodness, it is Love. It has a face. God does not leave us groping in the dark. He has shown himself to us as a man. In his greatness he has let himself become small. "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father", Jesus says (Jn 14,9). God has taken on a human face. He has loved us even to the point of letting himself be nailed to the Cross for our sake, in order to bring the sufferings of mankind to the very heart of God. Today, when we have learned to recognize the pathologies and the life-threatening diseases associated with religion and reason, and the ways that God's image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism, it is important to state clearly the God in whom we believe, and to proclaim confidently that this God has a human face. Only this can free us from being afraid of God - which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism. Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life. Only by looking to Jesus Christ does our joy in God come to fulfilment and become redeemed joy. During this solemn Eucharistic celebration, let us look to the Lord lifted up before us on the Cross and ask him to give us the immense joy which, at the hour of his farewell, he promised to the disciples (cf. Jn 16,24)!
The second section of the Creed ends by speaking of the last judgement and the third section by speaking of the resurrection of the dead. Judgement - doesn't this word also make us afraid? On the other hand, doesn't everyone want to see justice eventually rendered to all those who were unjustly condemned, to all those who suffered in life, who died after lives full of pain? Don't we, all of us, want the outrageous injustice and suffering which we see in human history to be finally undone, so that in the end everyone will find happiness, and everything will be shown to have meaning? This triumph of justice, this joining together of the many fragments of history which seem meaningless and giving them their place in a bigger picture in which truth and love prevail: this is what is meant by the concept of universal judgement. Faith is not meant to instil fear; rather it is meant to call us to accountability. We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them, or spend them simply for ourselves. In the face of injustice we must not remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright accomplices. We need to recognize our mission in history and to strive to carry it out. What is needed is not fear, but responsibility - responsibility and concern for our own salvation, and for the salvation of the whole world. Everyone needs to make his or her own contribution to this end. But when responsibility and concern tend to bring on fear, then we should remember the words of Saint John: "My little ones, I am writing this to keep you from sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one" (1Jn 2,1). "No matter what our hearts may charge us with - God is greater than our hearts and all is known to him" (ibid., 1Jn 3,20).
Today we celebrate the feast of the "Most Holy Name of Mary". To all those women who bear that name - my own mother and my sister were among them, as the Bishop mentioned - I offer my heartfelt good wishes for their feast day. Mary, the Mother of the Lord, has received from the faithful the title of Advocate: she is our advocate before God. And this is how we see her, from the wedding-feast of Cana onwards: as a woman who is kindly, filled with maternal concern and love, a woman who is attentive to the needs of others and, out of desire to help them, brings those needs before the Lord. In today's Gospel we have heard how the Lord gave Mary as a Mother to the beloved disciple and, in him, to all of us. In every age, Christians have received with gratitude this legacy of Jesus, and, in their recourse to his Mother, they have always found the security and confident hope which gives them joy in God and makes us joyful in our faith in him. May we too receive Mary as the lodestar guiding our lives, introducing us into the great family of God! Truly, those who believe are never alone. Amen!
12906 Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
We are gathered, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Protestants, - and together with us there are also some Jewish friends – we are gathered to sing together the evening praise of God. At the heart of this liturgy are the Psalms, in which the Old and the New Covenant come together and our prayer is joined to the Israel which believes and lives in hope. This is an hour of gratitude for the fact that we thus recite together the Psalms, and, by turning to the Lord, at the same time grow in unity among ourselves.
Among those gathered for this evening’s Vespers, I would like first to greet warmly the representatives of the Orthodox Church. I have always considered it a special gift of God’s Providence that, as a professor at Bonn, I was able to come to know and to love the Orthodox Church, personally as it were, through two young Archimandrites, Stylianos Harkianakis and Damaskinos Papandreou, both of whom later became Metropolitans. At Regensburg, thanks to the initiative of Bishop Graber, further meetings occurred: during the symposia on the “Spindlhof” and with scholarship students who had studied here. I am happy indeed to recognize some long-familiar faces and to renew earlier friendships. In a few days time, at Belgrade, the theological dialogue will resume on the fundamental theme of koinonia – communion - in the two aspects which the First Letter of John indicates to us at the very beginning of its first chapter. Our koinonia is above all communion with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit; it is communion with the triune God, made possible by the Lord through his incarnation and the outpouring of the Spirit. This communion with God creates in turn koinonia among people, as a participation in the faith of the Apostles, and therefore as a communion in faith – a communion which is “embodied” in the Eucharist and, transcending all boundaries, builds up the one Church (cf. 1Jn 1,3). I hope and pray that these discussions will be fruitful and that the communion with the living God which unites us, like our own communion in the faith transmitted by the Apostles, will grow in depth and maturity towards that full unity, whereby the world can recognise that Jesus Christ is truly the One sent from God, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world (cf. Jn 17,21). “So that the world may believe”, we must become one: the seriousness of this commitment must spur on our dialogue.
I also extend warm greetings to our friends of the various traditions stemming from the Reformation. Here too many memories arise in my heart: memories of friends in the Jäger-Stählin circle, who have already passed away, and these memories are mixed with gratitude for our present meetings. Obviously, I think in particular of the demanding efforts to reach a consensus on justification. I recall all the stages of that process up, to the memorable meeting with the late Bishop Hanselmann here in Regensburg – a meeting that contributed decisively to the achievement of the conclusion. I am pleased to see that in the meantime the World Methodist Council has adhered to the Declaration. The agreement on justification remains an important task, which – in my view – is not yet fully accomplished: in theology justification is an essential theme, but in the life of the faithful today – it seems to me – it is only dimly present. Because of the dramatic events of our time, the theme of mutual forgiveness is felt with increased urgency, yet there is little perception of our fundamental need of God’s forgiveness, of our justification by him. Our modern consciousness – and in some way all of us are “modern” - is generally no longer aware of the fact that we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome only by God’s initiative. Behind this weakening of the theme of justification and of the forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of our relation with God. In this sense, our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives, in our time and in our society.
Let us now hear what Saint John was saying to us a moment ago in the biblical reading. I wish to stress three statements present in this complex and rich text. The central theme of the whole letter appears in verse 1Jn 4,15: “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God”. Once again John spells out, as he had done before in verses 2 and 3 of chapter 4 1Jn 4,2-3), the profession of faith, the confessio, that ultimately distinguishes us as Christians: faith in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God who has come in the flesh. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known”; so we read at the end of the prologue of the Fourth Gospel (Jn 1,18). We know who God is through Jesus Christ, the only one who is God. It is through him that we come into contact with God. In this time of interreligious encounters we are easily tempted to attenuate somewhat this central confession or indeed even to hide it. But by doing this we do not do a service to encounter or dialogue. We only make God less accessible to others and to ourselves. It is important that we bring to the conversation not fragments, but the whole image of God. To be able to do so, our personal communion with Christ and our love of him must grow and deepen. In this common confession, and in this common task, there is no division between us. And we pray that this shared foundation will grow ever stronger.
And so we have arrived at the second point which I would like to consider. This is found in verse 14, where we read: “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world” (Jn 1,14). The central word in this sentence is: µa?t????ˆ µe? - we bear witness, we are witnesses. The Profession of Faith must become witness. The root word µ??t?? brings to mind the fact that a witness of Jesus Christ must affirm by his whole existence, in life and death, the testimony he gives. The author of the Letter says of himself: “We have seen” (cf. 1Jn 1,1). Because he has seen, he can be a witness. This presupposes that we also – succeeding generations – are capable of seeing, and can bear witness as people who have seen. Let us pray to the Lord that we may see! Let us help one another to develop this capacity, so that we can assist the people of our time to see, so that they in turn, through the world fashioned by themselves, will discover God! Across all the historical barriers may they perceive Jesus anew, the Son sent by God, in whom we see the Father. In verse 9 it is written that God has sent his Son into the world so that we might have life. Is it not the case today that only through an encounter with Jesus Christ can life become really life? To be a witness of Jesus Christ means above all to bear witness to a certain way of living. In a world full of confusion we must again bear witness to the standards that make life truly life. This important task, common to all Christians, must be faced with determination. It is the responsibility of Christians, now, to make visible the standards that indicate a just life, which have been clarified for us in Jesus Christ. He has taken up into his life all the words of Scripture: “Listen to him” (Mc 9,7).
And so we come to the third word, of our text (1Jn 4,9), which I wish to stress: agape – love. This is the key-word of the whole letter and particularly of the passage which we have heard. Agape, love as Saint John teaches us, has nothing of the sentimental or grandiose about it; it is something completely sober and realistic. I attempted to explain something of this in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est. Agape, love is truly the synthesis of the Law and the Prophets. In love everything is “fulfilled”; but this everything must daily be “filled out”. In verse 16 of our text we find the marvellous phrase: “We know and believe the love God has for us”. Yes, man can believe in love. Let us bear witness to our faith in such a way that it shines forth as the power of love, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17,21). Amen!61006
At the beginning of the Liturgy, Cardinal William J. Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, greeted the Holy Father, who responded:
Thank you, Your Eminence, for your deeply cordial words. Thank you for your work and for your prayers. In the joy of our common faith, let us now begin the Celebration of the Holy Mysteries.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have not prepared a real Homily, only a few ideas for meditation.
As clearly appears, the mission of St Bruno, today's saint, is, we might say, interpreted in the prayer for this day, which reminds us, despite being somewhat different in the Italian text, that his mission was silence and contemplation.
But silence and contemplation have a purpose: they serve, in the distractions of daily life, to preserve permanent union with God. This is their purpose: that union with God may always be present in our souls and may transform our entire being.
Silence and contemplation, characteristic of St Bruno, help us find this profound, continuous union with God in the distractions of every day. Silence and contemplation: speaking is the beautiful vocation of the theologian. This is his mission: in the loquacity of our day and of other times, in the plethora of words, to make the essential words heard. Through words, it means making present the Word, the Word who comes from God, the Word who is God.
Yet, since we are part of this world with all its words, how can we make the Word present in words other than through a process of purification of our thoughts, which in addition must be above all a process of purification of our words?
How can we open the world, and first of all ourselves, to the Word without entering into the silence of God from which his Word proceeds? For the purification of our words, hence, also for the purification of the words of the world, we need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God's silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born.
St Thomas Aquinas, with a long tradition, says that in theology God is not the object of which we speak. This is our own normal conception.
God, in reality, is not the object but the subject of theology. The one who speaks through theology, the speaking subject, must be God himself. And our speech and thoughts must always serve to ensure that what God says, the Word of God, is listened to and finds room in the world.
Thus, once again we find ourselves invited to this process of forfeiting our own words, this process of purification so that our words may be nothing but the instrument through which God can speak, and hence, that he may truly be the subject and not the object of theology.
In this context, a beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St Peter springs to my mind. It is from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: "Castificantes animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis". Obedience to the truth must "purify" our souls and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action.
In other words, speaking in the hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort of prostitution: of words and of the soul.
The "purity" to which the Apostle Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking applause, but rather, seeking obedience to the truth.
And I think that this is the fundamental virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth, which makes us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of truth, for it is not we who speak in today's river of words, but it is the truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.
This reminds me of St Ignatius of Antioch and something beautiful he said: "Those who have understood the Lord's words understand his silence, for the Lord should be recognized in his silence". The analysis of Jesus' words reaches a certain point but lives on in our thoughts.
Only when we attain that silence of the Lord, his being with the Father from which words come, can we truly begin to grasp the depth of these words.
Jesus' words are born in his silence on the Mountain, as Scripture tells us, in his being with the Father.
Words are born from this silence of communion with the Father, from being immersed in the Father, and only on reaching this point, on starting from this point, do we arrive at the real depth of the Word and can ourselves be authentic interpreters of the Word. The Lord invites us verbally to climb the Mountain with him and thus, in his silence, to learn anew the true meaning of words.
In saying this, we have arrived at today's two Readings. Job had cried out to God and had even argued with God in the face of the glaring injustice with which God was treating him. He is now confronted with God's greatness. And he understands that before the true greatness of God all our speech is nothing but poverty and we come nowhere near the greatness of his being; so he says: "I have spoken... twice, but I will proceed no further" [Jb 40,5].
We are silent before the grandeur of God, for it dwarfs our words. This makes me think of the last weeks of St Thomas' life. In these last weeks, he no longer wrote, he no longer spoke. His friends asked him: "Teacher, why are you no longer speaking? Why are you not writing?". And he said: "Before what I have seen now all my words appear to me as straw".
Fr Jean-Pierre Torrel, the great expert on St Thomas, tells us not to misconstrue these words. Straw is not nothing. Straw bears grains of wheat and this is the great value of straw. It bears the ear of wheat. And even the straw of words continues to be worthwhile since it produces wheat.
For us, however, I would say that this is a relativization of our work; yet, at the same time, it is an appreciation of our work. It is also an indication in order that our way of working, our straw, may truly bear the wheat of God's Word.
The Gospel ends with the words: "He who hears you, hears me". What an admonition! What an examination of conscience those words are! Is it true that those who hear me are really listening to the Lord? Let us work and pray so that it may be ever more true that those who hear us hear Christ. Amen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Four new Saints are proposed today for the veneration of the universal Church: Rafael Guízar y Valencia, Filippo Smaldone, Rose Venerini and Théodore Guérin. Their names will be remembered for ever.
In contrast to this immediately comes the thought of the "rich young man" of whom the Gospel, just proclaimed, speaks. This youth has remained anonymous; if he had responded positively to the invitation of Jesus, he would have become his disciple and probably the Evangelist would have recorded his name.
From this fact one can immediately glimpse the theme of this Sunday's Liturgy of the Word: if man puts his trust in the riches of this world, he will not reach the full sense of life and of true joy.
If instead, trusting the Word of God, he renounces himself and his goods for the Kingdom of Heaven, apparently losing much, he in reality gains all.
The Saint is exactly that man, that woman, who, responding with joy and generosity to Christ's call, leaves everything to follow him. Like Peter and the other Apostles, as St Teresa of Jesus today reminds us as well as countless other friends of God, the new Saints have also run this demanding yet fulfilling Gospel itinerary and have already received "a hundred fold" in this life, together with trials and persecutions, and then eternal life.
Jesus, therefore, can truly guarantee a happy existence and eternal life, but by a route different from what the rich young man imagines: that is, not through a good work, a legal tribute, but rather in the choice of the Kingdom of God as the "precious pearl" for which it is worth selling all that one possesses (cf. Mt 13,45-46).
The rich youth is not able to take this step. Notwithstanding that he has been the object of the loving gaze of Jesus (cf. Mc 10,21), his heart is not able to detach itself from the many goods that he possessed.
Thus comes the teaching for the disciples: "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God!" (Mc 10,23).
Earthly riches occupy and preoccupy the mind and the heart. Jesus does not say they are bad, but that they distance one from God if they are not, so to speak, "invested" for the Kingdom of Heaven, spent, that is, to come to the help of those who are poor.
Understanding this is the fruit of that wisdom of which the First Reading speaks. As we were told, she is more precious than silver or gold, and more beautiful, healthy and full of light, "because her radiance never ceases" (Sg 7,10).
Obviously, this wisdom cannot be reduced merely to an intellectual dimension. It is much more; it is "the Wisdom of the heart", as it is called in Psalm 89. It is a gift from on high (cf. Jc 3,17), from God, and is obtained by prayer (cf. Sg 7,7).
In fact, it has not remained distant from man; it has come close to his heart (cf. Dt 30,14), taking form in the law of the First Covenant between God and Israel through Moses.
The Wisdom of God is contained in the Decalogue. This is why Jesus affirms in the Gospel that to "enter into life" it is necessary to observe the commandments (cf. Mc 10,19). It is necessary, but not sufficient!
In fact, as St Paul says, salvation does not come from the law, but from Grace. And St John recalls that the law was given by Moses, while Grace and Truth come by means of Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 1,17).
To reach salvation one must therefore be open in faith to the grace of Christ, who, however, when addressed, places a demanding condition: "Come, follow me" (Mc 10,21).
The Saints have had the humility and the courage to respond "yes", and they have renounced all to be his friends.
The four new Saints who we particularly venerate today have done likewise. In them we find the experience of Peter actualized: "Lo, we have left everything and followed you" (Mc 10,28). Their only treasure is in heaven: it is God.
The Gospel that we have heard helps us to understand the figure of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia, Bishop of Vera Cruz in the beloved Mexican Nation, as an example of one who has left all to "follow Jesus".
This Saint was faithful to the divine Word, "living and active", that penetrates the depth of the spirit (cf. He 4,12). Imitating the poor Christ, he renounced his goods and never accepted the gifts of the powerful, or rather, he gave them back immediately. This is why he received "a hundred fold" and could thus help the poor, even amid endless "persecutions" (cf. Mc 10,30).
His charity, lived to a heroic degree, earned him the name, "Bishop of the poor". In his priestly and later episcopal ministry, he was an untiring preacher of popular missions, the most appropriate way at the time to evangelize people, using his own "Catechism of Christian Doctrine".
Since the formation of priests was one of his priorities, he reopened the seminary, which he considered "the apple of his eye", and therefore he would often say: "A Bishop can do without the mitre, the crosier and even without the cathedral, but he cannot do without the seminary, since the future of his Diocese depends on it".
With this profound sense of priestly paternity he faced new persecutions and exiles, but he always guaranteed the formation of the students.
The example of St Rafael Guízar y Valencia is a call to his brother Bishops and priests to consider as fundamental in pastoral programmes, beyond the spirit of poverty and evangelization, the promotion of priestly and religious vocations, and their formation according to the heart of Jesus!
St Filippo Smaldone, son of South Italy, knew how to instil in his life the higher virtues characteristic of his land.
A priest with a great heart nourished continuously on prayer and Eucharistic adoration, he was above all a witness and servant of charity, which he manifested in an eminent way through service to the poor, in particular to deaf-mutes, to whom he dedicated himself entirely.
The work that he began developed thanks to the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Hearts founded by him and which spread to various parts of Italy and the world.
St Filippo Smaldone saw the image of God reflected in deaf-mutes, and he used to repeat that, just as we prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament, so we should kneel before a deaf-mute.
From his example we welcome the invitation to consider the ever indivisible love for the Eucharist and love for one's neighbour. But the true capacity to love the brethren can come only from meeting with the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
St Rose Venerini is another example of a faithful disciple of Christ, ready to give up all in order to do the will of God. She loved to say: "I find myself so bound to the divine will that neither death nor life is important: I want to live as he wishes and I want to serve him as he likes, and nothing more" (Biografia Andreucci, p. 515).
From here, from this surrender to God, sprang the long-admired work that she courageously developed in favour of the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time.
St Rose did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church's doctrinal teaching.
Her own apostolic style continues to characterize the life of the Congregation of the Religious Teachers Venerini which she founded. And how timely and important for today's society is this service, which puts them in the field of education and especially of the formation of women.
"Go, sell everything you own, and give the money to the poor... then come, follow me". These words have inspired countless Christians throughout the history of the Church to follow Christ in a life of radical poverty, trusting in Divine Providence.
Among these generous disciples of Christ was a young Frenchwoman, who responded unreservedly to the call of the divine Teacher. Mother Théodore Guérin entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence in 1823, and she devoted herself to the work of teaching in schools. Then, in 1839, she was asked by her Superiors to travel to the United States to become the head of a new community in Indiana.
After their long journey over land and sea, the group of six Sisters arrived at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. There they found a simple log-cabin chapel in the heart of the forest. They knelt down before the Blessed Sacrament and gave thanks, asking God's guidance upon the new foundation.
With great trust in Divine Providence, Mother Théodore overcame many challenges and persevered in the work that the Lord had called her to do. By the time of her death in 1856, the Sisters were running schools and orphanages throughout the State of Indiana.
In her own words, "How much good has been accomplished by the Sisters of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods! How much more good they will be able to do if they remain faithful to their holy vocation!".
Mother Théodore Guérin is a beautiful spiritual figure and a model of the Christian life. She was always open for the missions the Church entrusted to her, and she found the strength and the boldness to put them [the missions] into practice in the Eucharist, in prayer and in an infinite trust in Divine Providence. Her inner strength moved her to address particular attention to the poor, and above all to children.
Dear brothers and sisters, we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of holiness that today shines forth in the Church with singular beauty.
Jesus also invites us, like these Saints, to follow him in order to have an inheritance in eternal life. May their exemplary witness illuminate and encourage especially young people, so that they may allow themselves to be won over by Christ, by his glance full of love.
May Mary, Queen of the Saints, raise up among the Christian people, men and women like St Rafael Guízar y Valencia, St Filippo Smaldone, St Rose Venerini and St Théodore Guérin, ready to abandon all for the Kingdom of God; disposed to make their own the logic of gift and service, the only one that saves the world. Amen.
Benedict XVI Homilies 11906