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Tuesday, September 12, 2006


VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI travelled from the major seminary of St. Wolfgang in Regensburg to the city's Islinger Field where he presided at the celebration of Mass. In his homily, he expressed his gratitude for all the efforts being made to ensure his visit was successful, confessing himself "a bit taken aback by all this goodness," and "moved" when he heard how many people had helped to renovate the house and garden he used to share with his brother and sister prior to his episcopal ordination.

  "We are gathered for a celebration of faith," said the Pope. "But the question immediately arises: What do we actually believe? What does it mean to have faith? ... 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 tells us so when he says to the Father: 'You have revealed these things to the simple'."

  "The Church, for her part," he continued, "has given us a little 'Summa' in which everything essential is expressed. It is the so-called 'Apostles' Creed", which ... 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."

  "Faith is simple. We believe in God. ... We believe in a God Who enters into a relationship with us human beings, who is our origin and 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.' ... The Creed is not a collection of propositions; it is not a theory. ... Truly, those who believe are never alone. God comes to meet us."

  "We believe in God. This is a fundamental decision on our part," said the Holy Father, recalling how "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." If this were so, he added, "He would also become unnecessary in our lives. But whenever the attempt seemed to be nearing success, inevitably it would become clear that something was missing from the equation!"

  "What came first?" the Holy Father asked, "Creative Reason, the Spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or Unreason, which, lacking any meaning, somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason? ... As Christians, 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 believe in God," he continued, "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. ... He has shown himself to us as a man. ... 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."

  "The second section of the Creed ends by speaking of the last judgement. ... 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 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 instill fear; rather it is meant ... to call us to accountability," the Holy Father concluded. "We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them, or spend them selfishly. 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."

  "But when responsibility and concern tend to bring on fear, then we should remember the words of Saint John: ... 'No matter what our hearts may charge us with - God is greater than our hearts and all is known to Him."
PV-GERMANY/MASS/REGENSBURG                    VIS 20060912 (870)


VATICAN CITY, SEP 11, 2006 (VIS) - Today at 4.30 p.m., Benedict XVI travelled by popemobile from the convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Altotting to the town's basilica of St. Anne, which was built between 1910 and 1912. There he presided at the celebration of Vespers with religious, priests and seminarians. Prior to entering the basilica, he paid a brief visit to the church of St. Konrad Birndorfer (1818-1894), a Capuchin friar canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934.

  In 1989, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had celebrated Mass in the basilica of St. Anne to mark the beginning of celebrations for the 500th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin at Altotting.

  "Under the watchful gaze of Saint Anne, in whose home the greatest vocation in the history of salvation developed," that of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Father invited those present to reflect upon "our vocation to serve Jesus Christ."

  "God's harvest is indeed great, and it needs laborers," said Pope Benedict, "in the so-called Third World - in Latin America, in Africa and in Asia - people are waiting for heralds to bring them the Gospel of peace, the good news of God Who became man. But also in the so-called West, here among us in Germany, and in the vast lands of Russia it is true that a great harvest could be reaped. But there is a lack of people willing to become laborers for God's harvest."

  "Lord, ... look upon our world and send us laborers!" cried the Pope. "With this petition we knock on God's door; but with the same petition the Lord is also knocking on the doors of our own heart. Lord do you want me? Is it not perhaps too big for me? Am I too small for this? 'Do not be afraid,' the Angel said to Mary. 'Do not fear: I have called you by name,' God says through the Prophet Isaiah."

  "Only one who is 'with Him' comes to know Him and can truly proclaim Him. Anyone who has been with Him cannot keep to himself what he has found; instead, he has to pass it on."

  "The first and most important thing for the priest is his daily Mass," the Holy Father insisted, "always celebrated with deep interior participation."

  "The Liturgy of the Hours is another fundamental way of being with Christ," he added, "here we pray as people conscious of our need to speak with God, while lifting up all those others who have neither the time nor the ability to pray in this way."

  Another essential way of being with the Lord is "Eucharistic adoration. ... In the sacred Host, He is present, the true treasure, always waiting for us. Only by adoring this presence do we learn how to receive Him properly. ... Let us love being with the Lord! There we can speak with Him about everything. We can offer Him our petitions, our concerns, our troubles. Our joys. Our gratitude, our disappointments, our needs and our aspirations. There we can also constantly ask Him: 'Lord send laborers into Your harvest! Help me to be a good worker in Your vineyard!'."

  Benedict XVI concluded his homily by considering Mary, "who lived her life fully 'with Jesus' and consequently was, and continues to be, close to all men and women. ... Let us think of Mary's holy mother, St. Anne, and with her let us also think of the importance of mothers and fathers, of grandmothers and grandfathers, and the importance of the family as an environment of life and prayer, where we learn to pray and where vocations are able to develop."

  After the ceremony, the Holy Father travelled by car to the village in which he was born, Marktl am Inn. There he visited the parish church of St. Oswald where he was baptized on the day of his birth, 16 April 1927.

  Later, from the heliport of Marktl am Inn, he flew to Regensburg where he went to the major seminary of St. Wolfgang to dine and spend the night.
PV-GERMANY/VESPERS/ALTOTTING                    VIS 20060912 (690)

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