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Sunday, September 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - Following his meeting with members of the Central Committee for German Catholics at the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau, Benedict XVI travelled to the city fairgrounds where he presided at a prayer vigil with young people. Extracts from the Holy Father's address are given below.

He began by referring to the candle-lighting ceremony, which was part of the vigil. In an imitation of the Easter rite of lighting the Paschal candle, the Pope lit candles borne by a number of young people who, in their turn, lit candles carried by others. "This wonderful liturgical rite ", he said, "reveals to us in signs more eloquent than words the mystery of our Christian faith. Jesus who says of Himself: 'I am the light of the world', causes our lives to shine brightly, so that what we have just heard in the Gospel comes true: 'You are the light of the world'.

"It is not our human efforts or the technical progress of our era that brings light into this world", the Holy Father added. "Again and again we have to experience how our striving to bring about a better and more just world hits against its limits. Innocent suffering and the ultimate fact of death awaiting every single person are an impenetrable darkness. ... While all around us there may be darkness and gloom, yet we see a light: ... Christ, risen from the dead, shines in this world and He does so most brightly in those places where, in human terms, everything is sombre and hopeless".

"To be sure, those who believe in Jesus do not lead lives of perpetual sunshine, as though they could be spared suffering and hardship, but there is always a bright glimmer there, lighting up the path that leads to fullness of life. The eyes of those who believe in Christ see light even amid the darkest night and they already see the dawning of a new day.

"Light does not remain alone. All around, other lights are flaring up. In their gleam, space acquires contours, so that we can find our bearings. We do not live alone in this world. And it is for the important things of life that we have to rely on other people. Particularly in our faith, then, we do not stand alone, we are links in the great chain of believers. Nobody can believe unless he is supported by the faith of others, and conversely, through my faith, I help to strengthen others in their faith".

The idea of sainthood has often been distorted

"We increasingly experience the failure of our efforts and our personal shortcomings, despite our best intentions. In the final analysis, the world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better. There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression. And even those figures in our history who saw themselves as 'bringers of light' - without being fired by Christ, the one true light - did not manage to create an earthly paradise, but set up dictatorships and totalitarian systems, in which even the smallest spark of true humanity was choked".

"At this point we cannot remain silent about the existence of evil. We see it in so many places in this world; but we also see it - and this scares us - in our own lives. Truly, within our hearts there is a tendency towards evil, there is selfishness, envy, aggression. Perhaps with a certain self-discipline all this can to some degree be controlled. But it becomes more difficult with faults that are somewhat hidden, that can engulf us like a thick fog, such as sloth, or laziness in willing and doing good. Again and again in history, keen observers have pointed out that damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians".

"Dear friends, again and again the very notion of saints has been caricatured and distorted, as if to be holy meant to be remote from the world, naive and joyless. Often it is thought that a saint has to be someone with great ascetic and moral achievements, who might well be revered, but could never be imitated in our own lives. How false and discouraging this opinion is! There is no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen. Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you. He does not call you because you are good and perfect, but because He is good and He wants to make you His friends. Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light. You are Christians - not because you do special and extraordinary things, but because Christ is your life. You are holy because His grace is at work in you".

"This gathering shines in more ways than one - in the glow of innumerable lights, in the radiance of so many young people who believe in Christ. A candle can only give light if it lets itself be consumed by the flame. It would remain useless if its wax failed to nourish the fire. Allow Christ to burn in you, even at the cost of sacrifice and renunciation. Do not be afraid that you might lose something and, so to speak, emerge empty-handed at the end. Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God's kingdom and to give yourselves - like candle wax - so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you. Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world. I am confident that you and many other young people here in Germany are lamps of hope that do not remain hidden. 'You are the light of the world'".
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110925 (1040)

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