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Monday, September 10, 2007


VATICAN CITY, SEP 8, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a Letter from the Pope, written in Latin and dated August 16, appointing Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar general for the diocese of Rome, as special envoy to the closing celebrations for the "European Citizens' Missions," due to be held in Budapest, Hungary, from September 16 to 22.

  Cardinal Ruini will be accompanied on his mission by Msgr. Endre Gaal, provost of the metropolitan chapter of Esztergom-Budapest, and Fr. Janos Szekely, vice-director of the St. Adalbert Center of Esztergom.


VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2007 (VIS) - At the conclusion of his meeting with volunteer associations, the Holy Father travelled by car to the airport of Vienna for the farewell ceremony.

  Following a speech by Heinz Fischer, president of he Republic of Austria, Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the bishops, government, public authorities and volunteers "who assisted in the organization of this visit."

  "Vienna, faithful to its rich history and its location in the vital center of Europe, can offer a specific contribution ... by consistently helping to bring the traditional values of the continent, values shaped by the Christian faith, to the European institutions and to the work of promoting international, inter-cultural and inter-religious relations," said the Pope.

  The papal plane departed shortly after 8.15 p.m. and, following a 770-kilometer flight, landed at Rome's Ciampino airport at 9.45 p.m. From there, the Holy Father travelled to his summer residence at Castelgandolfo where he will remain until the end of September.
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2007 (VIS) - This evening in the "Wiener Konzerthaus," the Viennese concert hall inaugurated in 1913 in the presence of the emperor Francis Joseph I, the Pope met with civil and ecclesial voluntary groups active in Austria.

  Greetings from the young volunteer workers and talks by the president of the Republic of Austria and by the Pope were interspersed with brief musical interludes.

  At the beginning of his talk, the Pope expressed "gratitude and heartfelt thanks for the remarkable 'culture of volunteerism' existing in Austria. ... Love of neighbor is not something that can be delegated; the State and the political order, properly concerned with the relief of the needy and the provision of social services, cannot take the place of volunteer work. Love of neighbor always demands a voluntary personal commitment, and the State, of course, should provide the conditions which make this possible."

  "To say 'yes' to volunteering to help others is a decision which is liberating; it opens our hearts to the needs of others, to the requirements of justice, to the defense of life and the protection of creation. Volunteer work is really about the heart of the Christian image of God and man: love of God and love of neighbor."

  Volunteer work is characterized by its "gratuitousness" said the Pope, affirming that "a readiness to be at the service of others is something which surpasses calculations of outlay and return: it shatters the rules of market economy. The value of human beings cannot be judged by purely economic criteria."

  "In the gaze of others, and particularly of the person who needs our help, we experience the concrete demands of Christian love. Jesus Christ does not teach us a spirituality 'of closed eyes,' but one of 'alertness,' one which entails an absolute duty to take notice of the needs of others."

  The Holy Father dwelt on the importance of prayer for people involved in charitable enterprises. "Praying to God sets us free from ideologies and from a sense of hopelessness in the face of endless needs," he said.

  "Whenever people do more than their simple duty in professional life and in the family - and even doing this well calls for great strength and much love - and whenever they commit themselves to helping others, putting their precious free time at the service of man and his dignity, their hearts expand."

  Benedict XVI concluded his address by affirming that "anyone who takes seriously the 'priority' of his neighbor lives and acts in accordance with the Gospel and shares in the mission of the Church, which always looks at the whole person and wants everyone to experience the love of God. The Church fully supports this valuable service that you offer."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly after 4.30 p.m. today, the Holy Father arrived by car at the abbey of Heiligenkreuz, 30 kilometers from Vienna. It is the largest Cistercian monastery in Europe and the oldest in the world to have remained open uninterruptedly since its foundation, in 1135.

  The name Heiligenkreuz (Holy Cross) is due to a relic of the True Cross which was donated to the monastery in 1188 by duke Leopold V and which is still venerated there. Under the Nazis, the monastery was almost completely expropriated and many of the monks were imprisoned, Following World War Two, the abbot Karl Braunstofer reformed the liturgy in accordance with Vatican Council II and created a Latin breviary in which particular importance was given to the Gregorian Chant.

  In the abbey is the Pontifical Theological Faculty, founded in 1802 as a teaching center for philosophy and theology. It currently has more than 100 students.

  On his arrival, Benedict XVI paused in prayer before the relic of the True Cross in the abbey church together with the monks, teachers and students. Then, after a greeting from the abbot Fr. Gregor Henckel Donnersmack, he delivered a talk to those present.

  "The core of monasticism is worship," said the Pope. "But since monks are people of flesh and blood on this earth, St. Benedict added to the central command: 'pray,' a second command: 'work.' ... Thus in every age monks, setting out with their gaze upon God, have made the earth life-giving and lovely. Their protection and renewal of creation derived precisely from their looking to God."

  "Your primary service to this world must therefore be your prayer and the celebration of the Divine Office. The interior disposition of each priest, and of each consecrated person, must be that of 'putting nothing before the Divine Office.' The beauty of this inner attitude will find expression in the beauty of the liturgy," of which "the determining factor must always be our looking to God."

  "Whenever in our thinking we are only concerned about making the liturgy attractive, interesting and beautiful, the battle is already lost," said the Pope. "In the light of this, I ask you to celebrate the sacred liturgy with your gaze fixed on God within the communion of saints, the living Church of every time and place, so that it will truly be an expression of the sublime beauty of the God Who has called men and women to be His friends."

  The Holy Father then quoted a traditional pun which defines Osterreich (Austria) as Klosterreich (a realm of monasteries), and he called on the faithful to consider the abbeys and monasteries not as "mere strongholds of culture and tradition, or even simple business enterprises. Structure, organization and finances are necessary in the Church too, but they are not what is essential. A monastery is above all this: a place of spiritual power."

  The Holy Father had words of praise for the Pontifical Theological Faculty, which is 205 years old and which the current abbot has named after Benedict XVI. It is important, he said, "that there should be academic institutions like your own, where there can be a deeper interplay between scientific theology and real spirituality." Christian theology "is never a purely human discourse about God, but always, and inseparably, the 'Logos' and 'logic' of God's self-revelation."

  In this context, the Pope recalled how St. Bernard, the father of the Cistercian Order, "fought against the detachment of an objectivizing rationality from the main current of ecclesial spirituality." Today, the Holy Father added, "in its desire to be recognized as a rigorously scientific discipline in the modern sense, theology can lose the life-breath given by faith" and "end up as an array of more or less loosely connected disciplines."

  Turning to consider the question of vocations, the Pope pointed out that if they are "to be sustained faithfully over a lifetime, there is a need for a formation capable of integrating ... the entire personality. Neglect of the intellectual dimension can give rise all too easily to a kind of superficial piety nourished mostly by emotions and sentiments, which cannot be sustained over a lifetime. Neglect of the spiritual dimension, in turn, can create a rarified rationalism which, in its coldness and detachment, can never bring about an enthusiastic self-surrender to God."

  After visiting the abbey museum, Benedict XVI returned to Vienna for his meeting with volunteer associations in the city's "Wiener Konzerthaus."


VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2007 (VIS) - This morning the Pope celebrated Mass in Vienna's cathedral of St. Stephen, a Gothic structure with a campanile 136 meters high and a frontage incorporating two Roman towers more than 60 meters high.

  A procession prior to the ceremony led the Pope 100 meters to the cathedral entrance.

  In his homily, Benedict XVI reflected upon the meaning of Sunday, the day of the Lord. "In the word 'dominico' [Sunday]," he said, "two meanings are inextricably intertwined, and we must once more learn to recognize their unity. First of all there is the gift of the Lord, this gift is the Lord himself: the Risen One, Whom Christians simply need to have close and accessible to them, if they are to be themselves. ... The encounter with the Lord is inscribed in time on a specific day."

  "We need this encounter which brings us together, which gives us space for freedom, which lets us see beyond the bustle of everyday life to God's creative love, from which we come and towards which we are travelling."

  "Without the Lord and without the day that belongs to Him," the Holy Father insisted, "life does not flourish. Sunday has been transformed in our Western societies into the weekend, into leisure time. Leisure time is certainly something good and necessary, especially amid the mad rush of the modern world. Yet if leisure time lacks an inner focus, an overall sense of direction, then ultimately it becomes wasted time that neither strengthens nor builds us up. Leisure time requires a focus, the encounter with Him who is our origin and goal."

  "The early Christians celebrated the first day of the week as the Lord's day, because it was the day of the resurrection. Yet very soon, the Church also came to realize that the first day of the week is the day of the dawning of creation, the day on which God said: 'Let there be light.' Therefore Sunday is also the Church's weekly feast of creation, the feast of thanksgiving and joy over God's creation. At a time when creation seems to be endangered in so many ways through human activity, we should consciously welcome this dimension of Sunday too."

  "In this Sunday's Opening Prayer we call to mind firstly that through His Son God has redeemed us and made us His beloved children. ... To be someone's child," the Holy Father concluded, "means to be a free person, not a slave but a member of the family. And it means being an heir. If we belong to God, Who is the power above all powers, then we are fearless and free. And we are heirs. The inheritance He has bequeathed to us is Himself, His love."

  At the conclusion of Mass, the Pope went out into the adjoining square where he climbed a podium to pray the Angelus. Before the Marian prayer he said: "Just as Mary bore Him in her womb - a defenseless little Child, totally dependent on the love of His Mother - so Jesus Christ, under the species of bread, has entrusted Himself to you, dear brothers and sisters. Love Him as Mary loved Him! Bring Him to others, just as Mary brought Him to Elizabeth as the source of joyful exultation! The Virgin gave the Word of God a human body, and thus enabled Him to come into the world as a man. Give your own bodies to the Lord, and let them become ever more fully instruments of God's love, temples of the Holy Spirit! Bring Sunday, and its immense gift, into the world!"

  Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI presented a Letter he has written to children who participate in the initiatives of the Pontifical Work of the Holy Childhood. "In you I see young collaborators in the service that the Pope renders to the Church and to the world," the Holy Father writes in his Letter. "You support me with your prayers and with your commitment to spread the Gospel."

  There are many children, the Letter proceeds, who do not know Jesus, and many more who lack the basic necessities of life. "The Church gives them her special attention, especially through the work of missionaries. And you too feel called to offer your contribution both individually and in groups. Friendship with Jesus is such a beautiful gift that we cannot keep it to ourselves."
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VATICAN CITY, SEP 8, 2007 (VIS) - This evening, having bid farewell to the Benedictine community of the Austrian Shrine of Mariazell, the Pope travelled to the basilica where he presided at the celebration of Second Vespers with priests, religious, deacons and seminarians. During the celebration, the Holy Father pronounced a homily.

  "The Lord calls priests, religious and lay people to go into the world, in all its complexity, and to cooperate in the building up of God's Kingdom," he told those present. "The Lord invites you to join the Church 'on her pilgrim way through history.' He is inviting you to become pilgrims with Him and to share in His life which today too includes both the way of the Cross and the way of the Risen One through the Galilee of our existence."

  "Taking part in His journey thus entails both things: the dimension of the Cross - with failure, suffering, misunderstanding and even contempt and persecution - but also the experience of profound joy in His service and of the deep consolation born of an encounter with Him."

  "At the heart of the mission of Jesus Christ and of every Christian is the proclamation of the Kingdom of God," the Pope told his audience indicating that this means "a commitment to be present in the world as His witnesses. You testify to a 'meaning' rooted in God's creative love and opposed to every kind of meaninglessness and despair. ... You bear witness to that Love which sacrificed itself for humanity and thus conquered death. ... And so you stand against all forms of injustice, hidden or apparent, and against a growing contempt for man."

  "Following Christ means taking on ever more fully His mind and His way of life," said Pope Benedict, and he recalled the three distinctive elements of such commitment, "poverty, chastity and obedience."

  "Jesus Christ, Who was rich with the very richness of God, became poor for our sake. Himself poor, He called the poor 'blessed'," Yet "material poverty alone does not ensure God's closeness, even though God does remain particularly close to the poor. ... In the poor, Christians see the Christ Who awaits them. ... Anyone who wants to follow Christ in a radical way must decisively renounce material goods. But he or she must live this poverty in a way centered on Christ, as a means of becoming inwardly free for God and neighbor. For all Christians, but especially for priests and religious, both as individuals and in community, the issue of poverty and the poor must be the object of a constant and serious examination of conscience.

  "To understand correctly the meaning of chastity," the Holy Father proceeded, "we must start with its positive content." Christ's mission, he explained, "led Him to a pure and unreserved commitment to men and women. Sacred Scripture shows that at no moment of His life did He betray even the slightest trace of self-interest or selfishness in His relationship with others. ... Priests and religious are not aloof from interpersonal relationships. By their vow of celibate chastity they do not consecrate themselves to individualism or a life of isolation; instead, they solemnly promise to put completely and unreservedly at the service of God's Kingdom the deep relationships of which they are capable."

  Finally, referring to the question of obedience, the Pope observed how "Jesus lived His entire life, from the hidden years in Nazareth to the very moment of His death on the Cross in listening to the Father, in obedience to the Father. ... Christians have always known from experience that, in abandoning themselves to the will of the Father, they lose nothing, but instead discover their deepest identity and interior freedom." Hence, "listening to God and obeying Him has nothing to do with external constraint and the loss of oneself."

  "Jesus is concretely present to us only in His Body, the Church," Benedict XVI concluded. "As a result, obedience to God's will, obedience to Jesus Christ, must be, really and practically, humble obedience to the Church."

  The ceremony concluded with a procession to the chapel containing the image of the Virgin of Mariazell. The Pope then travelled by car to the town's heliport for the return journey to Vienna where he spent the night at the apostolic nunciature.
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