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Monday, March 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 9 a.m. today, the Holy Father visited the parish of God the Merciful Father in the eastern area of the diocese of Rome, where he celebrated the Eucharist.

  At the beginning of his homily the Pope recalled that today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, "traditionally known as 'Laetare,' is permeated with a joy that to some extent attenuates the penitential climate of this holy time." One reason for this, he said, "is the closeness of Easter," but the "deeper reason," as today's readings show, is "that despite our unworthiness we are the recipients of God's infinite mercy."

  "It is the Cross, then, that must always, but especially in this time of Lent, be at the center of our meditations. ... It is the glory of Christ crucified that all Christians are called to contemplate, experience and bear witness to with their lives. The Cross is the definitive 'sign,' ... given us that we might understand the truth of man and the truth of God: we were all created and redeemed by a God Who, out of love, sacrificed His only Son."

  "Jesus died and rose again," the Pope exclaimed. "In Him we are able to understand the truth of life and obtain salvation. This is the Church's central message, unchanged over the centuries. Thus, Christian faith is not an ideology but a personal encounter with the crucified and risen Christ. From this, which is at once an individual and a community experience, arises a new way of thinking and acting, it is the beginning, as the saints show, of a life marked by love."

  Referring to the parish in which he was speaking, Benedict XVI recalled how its creation was due to "my beloved predecessor John Paul II in memory of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and in order to effectively condense the significance of that extraordinary spiritual event."

  The Pope then went on to read out part of a text due to have been pronounced by John Paul II on April 3 last year, Divine Mercy Sunday and the second Sunday of Easter: "To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of His love that pardons, reconciles and opens the soul to hope. It is love that converts hearts and brings peace. ... How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!" These handwritten words, said Benedict XVI "are like a last will and testament."

  "Understanding and welcoming the merciful love of God: let this be your task, above all within your families and in all areas of the neighborhood."

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on the faithful to continue to strive to ensure the parish becomes "a true family where day after day faithfulness to the word of God and to the Tradition of the Church become a rule for life." Referring then to the "original architectural structure" of the church building which attracts many sightseers, the Pope asked the faithful to ensure that visitors "appreciate not only the beauty of the sacred building, but above all the richness of a living community, that bears witness to the love of God the Merciful Father."
HML/.../GOD MERCIFUL FATHER                        VIS 20060327 (560)

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