Basic Catholic Rules On Indulgences

November 29, 2010

Bridegroom Press
November 2010

“I remember indulgences from when I was a kid!” Many people mention this, and the people who do always have questions.

Where Has The Time Gone?
When we learned about indulgences twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago, we remember how the nuns explained it to us: doing an indulgence got us time off purgatory. We didn’t know exactly what that meant, but it sounded like a good deal.

God bless the nuns, but they either deliberately misled us because they didn’t think we would understand the real explanation, or they didn’t know the real explanation themselves. Prior to Vatican II, all indulgences had a certain amount of time associated with them - saying this prayer or doing that deed was worth 300 days, or 10 years or somesuch. But the time listed was never meant to refer to time in Purgatory. It was a little more complicated than that.

Long, Long Ago…
You see, in the very early Church, the first 300 to 400 years, the sacrament of reconciliation was not celebrated as commonly as it is now. In fact, it was unusual to receive it as often as once every five or ten years. Everyone who entered the Church came in as adults - while the Church was happy to baptize children if the parents wanted, She spent most of her time teaching pagan adults the Faith.
If I were a pagan adult who was interested in becoming Christian, I would probably take between three and five solid years of instruction, being taught every day, practicing the Faith every day, having the community watch me practice every day. Everyone knew my name, and I would learn everyone’s name myself. Only after the whole community had seen me prepare and felt I was ready, only then would I be permitted to enter the Church.

The Church took this long because the bishop and the community wanted to make sure I really understood what I was getting into. They also wanted to make sure that I understood all the responsibilities I was undertaking. They wanted to see a real conversion in the way I approached the world, a real hunger for baptism and the washing away of sins.

Penance IS Purgation
What’s this got to do with indulgences? Well, once I was finally permitted to be baptized, the power of that baptism combined with the pre- and post-baptismal instruction was supposed to make me so solid in Christ Jesus that I would never commit another mortal sin.

Sure, I would be tempted - that went without saying. But I was not expected to commit any more mortal sins. I was an adult, I was giving my word to God that I had left that life of sin behind me, and God gave me His grace to empower me so that I would no longer succumb, so why would I sin?

And if I did commit a mortal sin, then I needed to show real remorse for it in order to demonstrate to the community that I had no plans to repeat the experience. So, if I had gone to confession in the early Church, this is the kind of penance I might receive: “Well, you’ve made a good confession,” the bishop might say, “so I will give you a light penance. For the next two years, you are not permitted to attend Mass or receive the Eucharist. Instead, you will spend every Sunday walking around the Church, praying the penitential Psalms while we are celebrating Mass.

Then, for the two years following that, you may attend Mass through the Gospel reading, but when all the unbaptized are ushered out of the Church after that Gospel reading, you will go with them and again walk about the courtyard praying the penitential Psalms.”

“If you do this faithfully, then for the two years following that, you are permitted to be present for the consecration, but you must be face down in front of the community, reciting the penitential Psalms.

And if all of this goes well and you continue to show true and deep remorse, then following this, you may be admitted to the Eucharist once again. Go in peace, my son.”

An eight or ten year penance was not at all uncommon. For certain sins, like murder or participation in abortion, you might be  told to perform penance for the rest of your life, not permitted to receive the Eucharist again until you lay dying.

A VERY Sweet Deal
So, the time periods associated with the indulgenced prayers were not meant to be time off purgatory after death, rather, they were indications that the Church had remitted the normal, early penance of 300 days or ten years in exchange for your saying this one prayer. She was promising to release to you the grace you would otherwise have had to spend a decade in prayer to win. Obviously, this was a pretty sweet deal. There was only one problem.

No one understood or seemed to remember the connection between the early penances and the current time values associated with indulgences. Instead, the faithful were getting a fairly silly understanding of how Purgatory and indulgences worked. Ultimately, after Vatican II, the Church threw up her hands and said, “Never mind the time periods. Every indulgence is just partial or plenary now. You can either win back for the world some of the grace you took out of it (partial) or all of the grace you took out of it.”

What Indulgences Count?
This leaves an obvious question. What do we do with all those old holy cards we have that say we get 300 days off? The Church also answered that question.
Since indulgences are matters of particular law, no prayer is indulgenced unless the Church says it is. Every generation or so, the Church releases a new handbook listing all the indulgences for which She opens the treasury of heaven.
These indulgences are listed in the Handbook of Indulgences, and that Handbook (aka Enchiridion) supercedes all previous rules. So, if you have an old holy card or book (like a Raccolta) that lists indulgences, none of those prayers carry the indulgence described unless that prayer also happens to be in the latest list from Rome.

And even if the prayer you are looking at is in the latest list, it no longer carries the indulgence the old list said it had. Now, it has only the indulgence - partial or plenary - that the Church has most recently assigned it. Don’t worry too much, though. All of the prayers have been retained with at least a partial indulgence. It’s only the plenary indulgences that may have been altered in a significant way.

So, if you want to do an indulgenced work or pray an indulgenced prayer, you have to have the latest handbook (currently, a translation of the 1999 edition) or you can use the prayers and acts conveniently described in the latest edition of the Beauty of Grace, Calendar of Indulgences 2010. We’ve gone through the book and laid out the rules in an easy-to-use calendar, so you don’t have to worry about all the details in the book. You can find it at www.bridegroompress.com

We hope you like it. We certainly enjoyed putting it together. Now, go and get some purgatory time out of the way.

Steve Kellmeyer
Bridegroom Press

Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Gabriel the Archangel, McKinney

November 7, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) -  Until recently the Holy Spirit was a complete mystery to me.  It is very easy for us to understand the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity because their stories and roles are made so clear to us… but, who is this Holy Spirit that makes up the third and very important part of the Trinity?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 691 that “the Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son.  The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in Baptism of her new children.   The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.”

The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of complete intimacy with our Lord.  It is the very air that we breathe to survive.  The Holy Spirit is calling to us to say yes to our Lord and live our lives for Him, with complete love and accepting of His will.  St. Augustine told us that the Spirit is to our souls what our souls are to our bodies.

If you are longing for a better relationship with our Lord, want a better prayer life, and/or a better understanding of the role that the Holy Spirit plays in that journey you will not want to miss the “Life in the Spirit Seminar” at St. Gabriel the Archangel in McKinney, TX.

The Life in the Spirit seminar will be a two-day Mission, which will be presented by The Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ (www.dljc.org/english) and hosted by St. Gabriel’s Holy Spirit Prayer Group.  The seminar will be held on Friday, November 19th (7-9pm) and Saturday, November 20th (8am-4pm) followed by Mass at 5pm with music by the Praise Band, all our welcome!

This will be my first time attending so I have asked a couple of members of the Holy Spirit Prayer Group at St. Gabriel to tell us about their experiences attending the seminar.  Rob Karl, who attended last years seminar said,  “After attending the Life in the Spirit seminar it gave new meaning to Scripture, the Eucharist, and brought to life how the Holy Spirit works in and around us all the time.  The seminar is life changing and has helped me connect more with my Catholic faith and the prayer group that has formed from the weekend has been a source of joy and inspiration as well. This seminar should be done at all parishes.”  Rob’s enthusiasm was echoed by Tracy Stewart’s testimony as well, “The Life In the Spirit Seminar was a wonderful experience.  Not only did it educate me about the meaning of living a life in the Spirit;  it was also uplifting and fulfilling.  I truly felt the Holy Spirit was with us during the singing and praise and worship.  I would say that if you’ve never been to a Life in the Spirit Seminar, you should check it out because it can change your life.  If you have been, I’d recommend attending again to refresh yourself in the Spirit.  I’m personally looking forward to hearing the charismatic Franciscan nuns of the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ speak.  They have dedicated their lives to teaching about the Holy Spirit’s gifts and the charismatic life.  You don’t want to miss this one!”

So please come learn how to make the Holy Spirit come alive in your daily life.  If you’ve been to a previous Life in the Spirit seminar, please come again.  There is always more. The cost is $15 in advance and $20 at the door and includes lunch on Saturday.   For more information, please contact Steven or Rita Auguirre at 972-562-1781, email [email protected]. or visit www.stgabriel.org to register.

Michael Youssef Speaks Out on Proposed Majestic Mosque in Manhattan

August 10, 2010

ATLANTA (MetroCatholic) — Michael Youssef, Founder and President of Leading The Way, says the effort by political Islamic leaders to build a Mosque and Islamic Center just yards away from Ground Zero is not only insensitive, it is also part of Islam’s overall goal to dominate the world.

“Most Westerners do not understand that Islam is not a religion in their true understanding of what the word means,” stated Michael Youssef, PhD. “Islam is a political and social ideology that will never submit to a secular form of government. Islamists will wait until such time as they are able to transform societies into Sharia-dominated ones, giving citizens a Taliban-type government.”

Polls suggest that a majority of Americans do not want the Mosque built at the Twin Tower’s former site. However, Muslim leaders are using western language of “tolerance” and “freedom of religion” to gain approval for placing the mosque by the site of the infamous terrorist attack.

“Islamic and Arabic media outlets are triumphantly, if not blatantly, saying that Islam is a superior religion, therefore it can build a mosque anywhere in the world, and the infidels need to shut up and accept it,” added Youssef. “When you realize that in Saudi Arabia, the most likely bank rollers of the $100 million project, forbids even Christian foreigners to worship in their own homes, you will soon realize the contempt they hold for the West in general and Christians in particular.”

The administration in Washington naively believes if America is nice to the Islamists they will be nice to America. The assassination of Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat nearly 30 years ago should instantly put an end to that fallacy.

“He tried to be nice to the Islamists and set them free from prison,” stated Youssef. “But in ‘thanksgiving’ for what he did, they pulled the trigger and killed him on that fateful day of October 6, 1981.”

Islam continues its march around the world. There were 50,000 Muslims in Western Europe in the early 1900s. By 2008, as many as 25 million were living there.

-Forty percent of Rotterdam’s current population is Muslim.

-In Brussels, one in three citizens (33%) follow Islam.

-In Marseille, one in four people (25%) is Muslim.

-Twenty percent of inner London’s population “claims allegiance to Islam.”

“Socialists and leftists in the media play down Muslim ideology and present Islamists and Jihadists as peace lovers,” commented Youssef. “This naivety and ignorance on the part of the Left is like Christmas in July for Muslim leaders. The Islamists and Jihadists are laughing in their sleeves at such stupidity, but they will soon laugh aloud if Muslims become the majority in these countries. Ironically, the Jihadists first victims will be the leftists, the socialists and the godless.”

About Michael Youssef
Michael Youssef, Ph.D., is the Founder and President of Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef. His weekly television programs and daily radio programs are broadcast in 20 languages and available in more than 200 countries - airing 3,800 times per week. He recently launched MichaelYoussef.com, a new personal blog, that offers readers a unique perspective on cultural, political and religious issues and the consequences that result from decisions being made around the world ( www.michaelyoussef.com).

Homosexual activists disrupt pro-marriage rallies, intimidate nursing mother

July 21, 2010

Providence, R.I. (CNA).- Homosexual activists’ behavior at rallies by a touring pro-marriage event has ranged from “silly” to “crazy” and “disgraceful,” one event leader reports. Some activists disrupted a Rhode Island rally and mocked religion and children, while others intimidated a nursing mother at a New York rally.

The National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Summer for Marriage Tour stopped in Albany, New York last Saturday and in Providence, Rhode Island on Sunday.

NOM president Brian S. Brown reported in a letter to supporters that during a speaker’s presentation at the Albany Capitol event, several activists with colored umbrellas started walking up on stage. When gay “marriage” supporters were told the event had a permit for the space, they refused to leave. Though rebuked by Capitol police, “they hung around, holding their rainbow-colored umbrellas and balloons,” he said.

Though Brown described the action on Twitter as “Silliest. Protest. Ever,” he charged in his letter that the activists showed themselves to be an “intolerant bunch” in their behavior towards a Hispanic mother who attended the rally with her three young children.

“During the rally she moved to the back to nurse her baby. A bunch of male protestors followed her with their rainbow umbrellas and stood directly in front of her, blocking her view of the stage. She asked them to move, or at least turn around while she fed her baby, and they refused. Classy.”

NOM interviewed the mother and published the video on YouTube.

“They were here to make sure I wasn’t going to enjoy (the rally),” she commented in the video. “I was scared, in the beginning, and after a while, I figure the goal was intimidating my family … which I think they did the job, but I felt that was more than (them) just standing there.

“This is what they are doing to our traditional families: intimidating so we can back off, and I wasn’t going to back off … We need to stand for our families and we are not going to back off.”

At the Sunday rally at the Providence Capitol, homosexual activists told police that they planned to assemble peacefully behind the NOM event on the Capitol lawn to demonstrate their support for same-sex “marriage.”

However, according to Brown, the activists “came around behind our rally and tried to shout over us. Then they came right into our crowd, getting in people’s faces and shouting at our marriage supporters.

“At one point while I was delivering my remarks, three protestors physically surrounded me and got right up in my face, trying to shout me down as Capitol police did nothing,” he reported, saying police were “totally unprepared” and had to call in state troopers to restore order.

According to an event video produced by NOM, one speaker at the rally said during the disruptions, “Activists have come to our rallies and silence us. The moment we allow them to silence us is the moment our civil rights have been taken away.”

“Throughout the event, the protestors were disgraceful. Mocking religion. Mocking children. I mean, what kind of adult goes up to a 7-year-old child and sneers, ‘Mommy raising you to be a good little bigot’?” asked Brown.

“These are the people who want to control our culture’s understanding of marriage, family, and tolerance,” he asserted.

Brown called his own supporters at the Providence event “outstanding,” saying they were peaceful and left “more determined than ever to stand firm for marriage in Rhode Island.” A sign-up table was “absolutely flooded” with supporters after the event.

Organizers of a homosexual advocacy counter-rally in Trenton, New Jersey told their members not to “taunt” or “harass” attendees of the NOM rally scheduled for Monday, which Brown thought was a sign they realized the “unseemly behavior” on Sunday was a “disaster” for their cause.

The website of the NOM’s Summer for Marriage Tour is http://www.marriagetour2010.com

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The Pill’s 50th: Documentary Reveals Largely Hidden Controversy

July 13, 2010

MEDIA ADVISORY (MetroCatholic) — Dr. Albert Mohler, Seminary President has stated, “I cannot imagine any development in human history, after the Fall, that has had a greater impact on human beings than the pill.”

View the full documentary “28 Days on the Pill” now by clicking: vimeo.com/12090300

A Christian worker, his family and a nurse friend investigate throughout North America to uncover the truth about the birth control pill. The debate has been raging for over a decade and yet many people don’t know about it. How could this be? How does the pill really work? Can everyday oral contraceptives really cause abortions? Why are so many people uninformed?

Discover how this could be a deadly silence. Find out what has shocked doctors and nurses.

Whether Christian or not, women across the board do not have a real understanding of how the pill actually works. Does it only prevent ovulation? What do the inserts and pharmaceutical guides really say? How is it that women consume something when they know very little about how it actually works? Do women and men really care?

The producers believe they should be given the opportunity to make an informed choice. No matter what one’s conclusions are, they believe everyone has a right to full information and informed consent. Whether on the left or the right, we should all agree, informed consent in the medical community is paramount.

This is a good start to the investigative work of how informed we really are, what we take for granted, who might know and may not want to tell.

The question is why? Why the silence? The topic that for many has been too hot to handle.

The documentary features: Dr. Albert Mohler (quoted in Time Magazine’s recent article on The Pill), The Duggars (19 children and counting), Christian author Randy Alcorn (i.e. Heaven, Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?) and Dr. Walt Larimore (formerly with Focus on the Family).

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Pope calls for imitation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ devotion to Eucharist

June 23, 2010

Vatican City,  (CNA/EWTN News).- Basing his catechesis for a third and final time on the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, Pope Benedict highlighted Aquinas’ “masterpiece,” the “Summa Theologica.” He referred to the saint’s devotion to the Eucharist, making the call for all people to “fall in love” with the Blessed Sacrament.

An estimated 7,000 pilgrims and faithful joined the Pope in the Paul VI Hall for Wednesday’s general audience. Among those in attendance was a group from Malawi in tribal dress who performed a traditional dance for the Holy Father from their seats in the packed auditorium.

Referring to the “masterpiece” of the “Summa Theologica,” Benedict XVI noted the saint’s “serene confidence in the harmony of faith and reason, and in the ability of reason, enlightened by faith, to come to an understanding of God and his saving plan.”

Through the work, said the Pope, the saint “illustrates the working of divine grace, which perfects our natural gifts and enables us, through the practice of the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to attain the eternal happiness for which we were created.”

In the collection of articles from which the “Summa” is composed, explained the Holy Father, the 13th century saint offers an extensive series of questions and answers through which he assists in deepening the teachings provided in Scripture and those from the Fathers of the Church, especially St. Augustine. He examines three elements of the being and essence of God: that He exists in Himself as the beginning and end of all things, that He is present in life through His Grace and in Christian activity, and that he is present in a special way in the Person of Christ, still present in the sacraments.

Benedict XVI recalled the importance the saint gives to the sacraments, in particular to the Eucharist. Noting Aquinas’ enormous devotion to the Eucharist, the Holy Father cited the saint’s words from another work in which he spoke of the Blessed Sacrament as that of the “Passion of our Lord, (which) contains in it Jesus Christ who suffered for us.”

“Therefore,” he went on, “all that is the effect of the Passion of our Lord, is also the effect of this sacrament, it not being but the application in us of the Passion of the Lord.”

Through these words, said the Pope, we “understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated Mass while shedding tears of compassion, tears of joy and of gratitude, for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us.”

The Holy Father then exclaimed, “in the example of the saints, let us all fall in love with this Sacrament!

“Let us participate devotedly in Mass in order to obtain its spiritual fruits; let us feed from the Body and Blood of the Lord that we may be incessantly nourished by divine Grace; let us pause willingly and often in the company of the Blessed Sacrament.”

Pope Benedict XVI concluded the English-language portion of the catechesis by imploring that, “with the Angelic Doctor, let us pray for the grace to love the Lord with all our heart and to love our neighbor, ‘in God and for God.’”

PROGRESS OF PERMANENT COMMISSION HOLY SEE - ISRAEL

June 18, 2010

VATICAN CITY, (VIS) - The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel held its plenary meeting in the Vatican yesterday “in an atmosphere of mutual understanding”, according to a joint communique released in the late afternoon.

“The plenary welcomed the progress accomplished by the ‘Working Level’ Commission since the previous plenary, and agreed on the next steps towards conclusion of the Agreement”, says the English-language communique.

The Holy See delegation was headed by Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, under secretary for Relations with States; and the delegation of the State of Israel by Daniel Ayalon, deputy minister for foreign affairs.

The next plenary meeting will take place on 6 December at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the next “Working Level” meeting will be held from 27-28 July.

Worldwide 24-Hour Rosary Relay

June 11, 2010

New York, New York, (MetroCatholic) — This unique event on June 19 will start in Australia at 01.00 GMT and finish in Los Angeles at 23.30 GMT, linking 24 shrines to Our Lady in an unbroken chain of prayer to mark the closing of the “Year of the Priest”.

The idea is a simple one: the first shrine in Brisbane Australia will recite a decade of the Rosary at 01.00 GMT and will then pass on the relay in succeeding hours to the other 23 shrines, covering the whole world in 24 hours. The Rosary is being offered in thanksgiving to God for our priests and to implore the protection and loving care of Our Lady, Mother of all priests, for all her priestly sons. The participating shrines are located in Australia, Japan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Levant And Middle East, South Africa, Bosnia, Italy, Poland, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Ireland, Wales, England, Mexico, Argentina, Canada and the United States. Catholics in all the participating countries and time zones are being invited to join in prayer at the designated hour.

The organizers & promoters of the event; Worldpriest stated:

“As the family of the Church, we are all invited to join our prayers to the prayers of millions throughout the world on 19th June as the ‘Year of the Priest’ draws to a close. It is an opportunity for us to raise our hearts to God for all priests in the exercise of their ministry; that they will be blessed, through our prayers, with God’s grace for their priesthood; that in this worldwide communion of prayer for them, they may experience our gratitude and support; and finally that they will persevere in unity with Christ and his Church and shepherd the Lord’s flock to the safe pastures of his Kingdom.”

Quote from one of the 24 participating countries. “Thank you very for selecting The Shrine of Our Lady of Matara to recite the Rosary on 19th June marking the end of the ‘Year of Priest’. It is a great blessing. I thank you and the organizing committee for giving us this great opportunity. You all are in my prayers at the feet of Our Lady of Matara.”

“I am happy to support and highly recommend the current initiative of The Worldwide Rosary Relay on June 19th to mark the end of The Year of the Priest. I believe it has great potential and will bring many spiritual benefits to all involved.” — Michael Neary Archbishop of Tuam, Ireland (Episcopal Advisor to Worldpriest)

About Worldpriest:
We are a group of committed Catholic Communication /Advertising laypeople, who love and cherish the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It is our prayer that our website www.worldpriest.com will be a gateway to a deeper understanding of the priesthood of Jesus Christ as exercised by our priests, a priesthood in which, by virtue of our baptism, we all share.

This Rosary Relay project was made possible through the financial support of Aid To The Church In Need and a number of individuals.

Visit www.worldpriest.com
View Rosary Relay on Youtube.

EDUCATION: HELPING NEW GENERATIONS RELATE TO THE WORLD

May 27, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Today in the Vatican’s Synod Hall, the Holy Father met with participants in the general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), who are meeting from 24 to 28 May to consider their general pastoral guidelines for the period 2010 - 2020.

“The Holy Spirit guides the Church in the world and in history”, said the Pope. “Thanks to this gift from the Risen One, the Lord remains present in midst of historical events. It is through the Spirit that we can recognise the meaning of human vicissitudes in Christ”.

“Supported by the Spirit and continuing down the path shown us by Vatican Council II, in particular with the pastoral guidelines of the last decade, you have chosen to adopt education as the principal theme for the next ten years. This temporal horizon is proportioned to the importance and breadth of educational requirements, which call on us to take responsibility for the new generations with a united, integral and harmonious witness which helps us to think, propose and live the truth, beauty and goodness of the Christian experience”.

Benedict XVI went on to speak of modern culture, where sometimes “the dignity of the person, the value of life, and the very meaning of truth and goodness” are placed in doubt, and where “nothing beyond the individual is recognised as definitive”. In this situation “it becomes arduous and difficult to present new generations with the ‘bread’ of truth’ for which it is worth spending one’s life and accepting, when necessary, the rigour of discipline and the fatigue of commitment.

“Though aware of the weight of these difficulties”, the Holy Father added, “we cannot resign ourselves to lack of confidence and despair. Education has never been easy, but we must not surrender for we would fail in the mandate the Lord Himself entrusted to us when He called us to feed His sheep with love. … Education means forming new generations that they may know how to relate to the world, strengthened by a significant memory, by a shared inner patrimony of real knowledge which, while recognising the transcendent goal of life, guides thoughts, emotions and judgements”.

Pope Benedict continued: “The inner thirst of the young is a call for meaning, for authentic human relationships which can help them not to feel alone in the face of life’s challenges. … Our response is to announce God, the friend of man Who in Jesus approached each one of us. The transmission of the faith is an indispensable part of the integral formation of the person. … The personal meeting with Jesus is the key to understanding God’s relevance in everyday life”.

The Pope explained how “the quality of our witness remains a decisive factor” in the duty to educate in families, schools and parishes.

Going on them to mention “the weakness and sin” of some members of the Church, he highlighted how “this humble and painful admission must not, however, make us forget the gratuitous and zealous service of many believers, first among them, priests. The special year dedicated to the clergy has sought to be an opportunity to promote their interior renewal as a condition for more incisive evangelical and ministerial commitment”.

“What gives rise to scandal must, for us, translate into a profound reminder of the need to re-learn penance and accept purification; to learn, on the one hand, forgiveness and, on the other, the need for justice”.

Benedict XVI encouraged the bishops “never to lose faith in the young. … Frequent all areas of life”, he told them, “including those of the new communications technologies which now permeate culture in all its expressions. It is not a question of adapting the Gospel to the world, but of drawing from the Gospel that perennial novelty which, in all times, enables us to find the best way to announce the Word that does not fail, fecundating and serving human life. Let us, then, again present the young with the exalted and transcendent measure of life as vocation”.

Referring then to the “current cultural, spiritual and economic crisis”, the Pope concluded by renewing his call “to the leaders of public life and to business people to do everything they can to lessen the effects of the employment crisis. I exhort everyone to reflect on the premises of a good and meaningful life, which lie at the basis of that authoritativeness which alone educates”.

WE MUST ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE TOUCHED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

May 25, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - At 10 a.m. on Sunday in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope presided at Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost.

Commenting on the Pentecost narrative in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Father explained how “from the Son of God - Who died, rose again then returned to the Father - the divine breath, the Holy Spirit, now descends on humankind with unprecedented energy. And what”, he asked, “does God’s new and powerful self-communication produce? Wherever there is rupture and estrangement, He brings unity and understanding.

“A process of reunification begins among the different and divided parts of the human family”, he added. “People, often reduced to competing and conflicting individuals, having been touched by the Spirit of Christ, open themselves to the experience of communion, which can envelop them to the point that they form a new organism, a new entity: the Church. The effect of God’s work is unity. Thus unity is the sign of recognition, the ‘calling card’ of the Church in the course of her universal history. Ever since the beginning, since the day of Pentecost, she has spoken all languages”.

“The Church”, Benedict XVI explained, “is never a prisoner of political, racial or cultural boundaries. She must not be confused with other States or with federations of States because hers is a different unity; it aspires to cross all human frontiers.

“From this, dear brothers and sisters derives a practical criterion of discernment for Christian life: when a person or a community close themselves inside their own way of thinking and acting, it is a sign they have distanced themselves from the Holy Spirit. Christians and particular Churches must always compare themselves, and seek harmony, with the one Catholic Church”.

The Holy Father went on: “The unity of the Spirit is expressed in the plurality of understanding. The Church is by her nature one and multiple, being destined to live in all nations, with all peoples, and in the most diverse social contexts. She fulfils her vocation of being a sign and instrument of unity of the entire human race, only if she remains independent of all States and all specific cultures. Always and everywhere the Church must be truly catholic and universal, a home with which everyone can identify”.

“At Pentecost the Holy Spirit appeared as a fire”, said the Pope, noting “how different this fire was from that of wars and bombs. How different is the immolation of Christ, as propagated by the Church, from the fires ignited by dictators of all ages, even last century, which left behind them only scorched earth”.

“The flame of the Holy Spirit burns but does not injure, and yet it achieves a transformation. … However this effect of the divine fire scares us, we are afraid of being ’scalded’ and would prefer to remain as we are. This depends on the fact that our lives often follow a logic of having, of possession and not of giving. … On the one hand we want to be with Jesus, to follow Him closely, on the other we are afraid of the consequences this brings”.

We must, Benedict XVI told the faithful, “be able to recognise that losing something, losing ourselves, for the true God, the God of love and life, is in fact a gain, it means rediscovering oneself more fully. Those who entrust themselves to Jesus experience peace and joy of heart already in this life, things the world cannot give, and cannot take away once God has given them to us. It is worthwhile, then, to allow ourselves to be touched by the fire of the Holy Spirit. The pain this brings is necessary for our transformation”.

The Pope concluded by calling on the Holy Spirit “to ignite the flame of your love in us. We know this is an audacious payer, with which we ask to be touched by the flame of God; yet we know that this flame alone has the power to save us. We do not want, in order to defend our lives, to lose the eternal life God wants to give us. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit, because only Love redeems”.

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