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Wednesday, April 8, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 8 APR 2009 (VIS) - In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter's Square, the Pope dedicated his remarks to Holy Week. "For us as Christians", he said, "this is the most important week of the year, offering us the chance to immerse ourselves in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Easter Mystery, the great Mystery of the faith".

  The Holy Father explained how Jesus "did not wish to use the fact of His being God, His glorious dignity and His power, as an instrument of triumph and a sign of distance" between Him and us.

  "For love", the Pope continued, "He wished to 'empty Himself' and become our brother. For love He shared our condition, the condition of all men and women".

  Benedict XVI then went on to explain that the Chrism Mass is "a prelude to the Easter Triduum which begins tomorrow". At that Mass "priestly vows pronounced on the day of Ordination are renewed". The ceremony "has particular significance this year because it comes as a kind of preparation for the Year for Priests, which I have called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars' and which will begin on 19 June. Also in the Chrism Mass the oil used for the sick and for catechumens will be blessed and the Chrism consecrated", he said.

  During Holy Thursday Mass "in Coena Domini", the Church "commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, the priestly ministry and the new commandment ('mandatum novum') of charity which Jesus left to His disciples", the Pope explained. Holy Thursday, then, "is a renewed invitation to give thanks unto God for the supreme gift of the Eucharist, which must be welcomed with devotion and adored with living faith".

  Good Friday, the Pope proceeded, is "the day of the passion and crucifixion of the Lord. ... Christ's death recalls the mass of pain and evil weighing upon humanity in every epoch: the crushing weight of our own mortality, the hatred and violence which still bloody the earth today. The Lord's passion continues in the suffering of mankind".

  Yet, "if Good Friday is a day full of sadness, it is at the same time the best day on which to reawaken our faith, to strengthen our hope and the courage to carry our cross with humility and trust, abandoning ourselves to God in the certainty of His support and His victory".

  Benedict XVI then highlighted how "this hope is nourished in the great silence of Easter Saturday as we await the resurrection of Jesus". On that day "the Church keeps prayerful vigil, like Mary and with Mary, sharing her feelings of pain and of trust in God. Rightly we are advised to spend the whole day in an atmosphere of prayer, one favourable to meditation and reconciliation. The faithful are encouraged to avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance so that, thus renewed, they can participate in the Easter celebrations".

  Referring then to the Easter vigil, "mother of all vigils", Benedict reminded people that "once again the victory of light over darkness, of life over death, will be proclaimed, and the Church will joy at the meeting with her Lord. Thus will we enter the atmosphere of Easter Day".

  The Holy Father concluded by inviting the faithful "to enter into the Cenacle with the Virgin Mary, to stand with her at the foot of the cross, to watch over the dead Christ, hopefully awaiting the bright dawn day of resurrection".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 APR 2009 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope reiterated his "spiritual closeness to the beloved community of L'Aquila and its outlying villages, so severely affected by the violent earthquake of recent days, which caused numerous victims, many injured and vast material damage.

  "The promptness with which the authorities, security forces, volunteers and other workers are helping these our brothers and sisters shows how important solidarity is in order to overcome such difficult trials together. Once again I wish to tell those dear people that the Pope shares their suffering and concerns. Dear friends, as soon as possible I hope to come and visit you. Know that the Pope prays for everyone, imploring the Lord's mercy for the deceased, and the maternal comfort of Mary and the support of Christian hope for survivors and families".

  Benedict XVI then went on to greet 4,300 students from 200 universities who are currently attending the UNIV international congress, being held this week in Rome under the auspices of the Prelature of Opus Dei. "Dear friends", said the Pope, "I encourage you to respond with joy to the Lord's call in order to give full meaning to your lives: in your studies, in your relationships with your colleagues, in the family and in society. 'Many things depend', St. Josemaria Escriva said, 'on whether you and I live our lives as God wants', an important teaching", the Holy Father concluded, "upon which it is necessary to meditate".
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VATICAN CITY, 8 APR 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Bishop Stephan Ackermann, auxiliary of Trier, Germany, as bishop of the same diocese (area 12,870, population 2,493,000, Catholics 1,548,300, priests 1,032, permanent deacons 165, religious 2,419).
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