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Wednesday, September 1, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 1 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father held his general audience this morning in the square in front of the Apostolic Place of Castelgandolfo, where he is spending the summer. His catechesis was dedicated to St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), a great seer known as the "Teutonic prophetess".

  Before focusing on the saint the Pope turned his attention John Paul II's 1988 Apostolic Letter "Mulieris dignitatem", which examined "the precious role women have played and continue to play in the life of the Church". The Church, that text states, "gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine 'genius' which have appeared in the course of history".

  "During the centuries we customarily call the Middle Ages", said Benedict XVI, "certain female figures also stood out for the sanctity of their lives and the richness of their teachings". One of these was Hildegard of Bingen, born to a noble family who chose to dedicate her to the service of God.

  Having received an appropriate human and Christian formation at the hands of her teacher Jutta of Spanheim, Hildegard entered the Benedictine convent of St. Disibod where she received the veil from Bishop Otto of Bamberg. In 1136 she was elected as mother superior, a role she carried out using "her gifts as a cultured and spiritually elevated woman, capable of dealing with the organisational aspects of life in the cloister", said the Pope.

  Soon afterwards, due to the large number of vocations, Hildegard founded another community, located in Bingen and dedicated to St. Rupert, where she spent the rest of her life. "The manner in which she exercised the ministry of authority remains exemplary for all religious communities", noted the Holy Father. "She aroused saintly emulation in the practice of good works".

  While still superior of the convent of St. Disibod the saint began to dictate her mystical visions to her spiritual advisor, the monk Volmar, and to her own secretary, Richardis of Strade. "As is always the case in the lives of true mystics, Hildegard wished to place herself under the authority of the wise, in order to discern the origin of her visions, which she was afraid could be the fruit of illusions and not from God".

  To this end she spoke with St. Bernard of Clairvaux who calmed her fears and encouraged her. In 1147, moreover, she received the crucial approbation of Pope Eugene III who, in the Synod of Trier, read out one of the texts dictated by Hildegard which had been presented to him by Archbishop Henry of Mainz.

  "The Pope authorised the mystic to write her visions and to speak in public. From that moment Hildegard's spiritual prestige grew to the point that her contemporaries gave her the title of the 'Teutonic prophetess'", said Benedict XVI.

  "The sign of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, the source of all charisms", the Pope concluded, "is that the individual possessing supernatural gifts never boasts of them, never shows them off and, above all, demonstrates complete obedience to ecclesiastical authority. All gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit are, in fact, intended for the edification of the Church and it is the Church, through her pastors, who recognises their authenticity".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Among his remarks to pilgrim groups at the end of this morning's general audience in Castelgandolfo, the Pope addressed a special greeting to participants in the Third Latin American Youth Conference, which is soon to be held in the city of Los Teques, Venezuela, on the theme "Let us walk with Jesus to give Life to our peoples".

  Benedict XVI invited young people to fix their "gaze on Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. With His Grace", he said, "you will find the strength which encourages us to commit ourselves to causes that dignify mankind and make peoples great.

  "Dear young people, may these days of coexistence, prayer and study serve to bring you to a personal encounter with the Lord, and to listen to His Word. You will not be disappointed, because He has designs of love and salvation for everyone. The Pope is with you and reiterates his trust, at the same time asking God to help you so that - being authentic disciples of Jesus Christ - you may live the values of the Gospel, transmit them courageously to those around you and draw inspiration from them to build a more just and reconciled world. It is worthwhile committing to this beautiful mission".

  The Holy Father concluded by calling on the Virgin Mary to accompany the young people on their journey and "to remind them always that there is no greater happiness that being a friend of Christ".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Pope for the opening of the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity, which is being held in Seoul, Korea, from 31 August to 5 September on the theme "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today".

  In the English-language Message, addressed to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Holy Father mentions his "wish to single out with gratitude the outstanding work of the many catechists who bring the riches of the Catholic faith to young and old alike". In this context he highlights the contribution of apostolic and charismatic movements which "bring new life and vigour to the formation of the laity, particularly families and young people".

  "I pray", the Holy Father writes, "that the present congress will highlight the indispensable role of the lay faithful in the Church's mission and develop specific programmes and initiatives to assist them in their task of proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia today".

  "Those who have found in Jesus the truth, joy and beauty which give meaning and direction to their lives will naturally desire to bring this grace to others. Undaunted by the presence of difficulties, or the enormity of the task at hand, they will trust in the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit Who is always at work in the hearts of individuals, in their traditions and cultures, mysteriously opening doors to Christ as 'the way, and the truth and the life', and the fulfilment of every human aspiration".
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VATICAN CITY, 1 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for September is: "That in less developed parts of the world the proclamation of the Word of God may renew people's hearts, encouraging them to work actively toward authentic social progress".

  His mission intention is: "That by opening our hearts to love we may put an end to the numerous wars and conflicts which continue to bloody our world".
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