The Pope reflected upon his apostolic journey to Benin during the general audience. He thanked the Lord who willed that he return to Africa on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the evangelization of Benin, and in order to sign and officially consign the Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus., and enabled him to honour the memory of Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, a great churchman and a noble son of that country.
The Exhortation, he explained, “gathers the fruits of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, held in Rome two years ago, and it offers guidelines for the Church’s future mission on the continent. In the light of the Synod, the Church in Africa is called to deepened faith and commitment in the service to reconciliation, justice and peace”
The Holy Father said he recognized consoling signs of hope for the great African continent. He said he found in Africa “a freshness in the “yes” to life, a freshness in religious sensibilities and a freshness of hope, as well as a sense of reality in its totality, with God -- and not reduced to a positivism that, in the end, extinguishes hope.”
He gave some examples: “In the parish church of St. Rita, I truly experienced the joy of life, the delight and enthusiasm of the new generations who represent the future of Africa. To the joyful throng of children -- one of the great resources and riches of the Continent -- I held up the figure of St. Kizito, an Ugandan boy who was killed because he wanted to live according to the Gospel.
And also “The joy and apostolic ardor that I encountered among priests, men and women religious, seminarians and lay faithful, who gathered in great numbers, is a sign of sure hope for the future of the Church in Benin.”
"My journey was a great appeal to Africa to direct every effort to announcing the Gospel to those who as yet do not know it," the Holy Father explained. "This involves a renewed commitment to evangelization -- to which each of the baptized is called -- by promoting reconciliation, justice and peace."
He entrusted to Mary, Mother of the Church and Our Lady of Africa, all those whom he had occasion to meet during his Apostolic Journey and asked the faithful to join him in commending all Christ’s followers in Africa to her maternal intercession, so “that by their witness of fidelity to God’s word, their commitment to the spread of the Gospel and their efforts to build communion, peace and solidarity they can become protagonists of a new season of hope for that great Continent.” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2011
Advent is a wonderful time in which people's hearts are reawakened to the expectation of Christ's return and to the memory of His first coming, when He divested Himself of His divine glory to assume our mortal flesh. At the Angelus the Holy Father reminded the faithful of Christ’s call: "Stay awake! (Mt, Mk 13:37). “It is a timely reminder that life has not only an earthly dimension, but is projected, "beyond," like a small seedling whose shoots open from the earth towards heaven.” He affirmed.
At times, in this apparently perfect world, terrible things happen, either in nature or society, which make us think that God has withdrawn and has, so to say, left us to our own devices.
"In reality, the real 'master' of the world is not man but God.” He said. “The Gospel says: 'stay awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly'. Advent comes every year to remind us of this fact, that our lives might find their just orientation towards the face of God. The face not of a 'master', but of a Father and a Friend".”
“With the Virgin Mary, who guides us on our Advent journey, let us make the words of the prophet our own.”Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hands." (Is 64:7)” VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2011
Other papal messages and activities.
Benedict XVI approved the canonical election of the bishop of the major archiepiscopal curia of the Greek-Catholic Romanian Church. The rector of Rome's Pio Romeno pontifical college is the new bishop. Father Claudiu-Lucian Pop, 39, will take his position following his election by the synod of bishops of that Church, which the Pope has now approved. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2011
Prepare yourselves to live the time of Advent as a time of interior waiting on the Messiah, Our Savior." The Pope spoke of the liturgical season to the youth, sick and newlyweds at the end of the general audience. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 23, 2011
Humankind needs humble practical people who, like Jesus, stand alongside their brothers and sisters and share their fatigue, the Pope affirmed in his address to members of Italian Caritas.
Responding to need means, not only giving bread to the hungry, but also asking ourselves about the reasons for their hunger, using the gaze of Jesus who could see the profound truth of the people around him, he said. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2011
Conscious of the many pressing and at times apparently insoluble problems which they face daily in the exercise of their ministry, Benedict XVI addressed the group of U.S. bishops who are in Rome for their five-yearly "ad limina" visits and recognized the urgency and demands of a new evangelization.
However, the Holy Father also said he considers it significant that despite attempts to still the Church’s voice in the public square, many people of good will continue to look to her for wisdom, insight and sound guidance in meeting this far-reaching crisis.
“The present moment can thus be seen, in positive terms, as a summons to exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defense of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free.” He affirmed.
The Holy Father ended his address commending them and the clergy, religious and lay faithful of their Dioceses to the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2011
Benedict XVI addressed a Student Group on Ecology called "Sister Nature." He offered his full support to their choice to be "guardians of creation”.
He noted that St. Francis the patron saint of Italy is also the patron of ecology.
“If in his work, man forgets he is God's collaborator, then he can cause violence to creation, which always has a negative impact on humans, as we have seen, unfortunately, on several occasions.” He said.
The Holy Father emphasized the great importance of education in this field of ecology. VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2011
A prayer for the Holy Father
Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.
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