By Junno Arocho
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Pope Benedict XVI continued his series of catechesis on faith during Wednesday's General Audience, calling on faithful to offer "convincing reasons for our faith and hope."
Continuing from last week's catechesis on the desire for God, the Holy Father meditated on the paths to knowing God while always keeping in mind that the initiative of God always "precedes any action of man." The Pope recalled the words of St. Augustine which says "it is not we who possess the Truth after seeking it, rather it is Truth that seeks us out and possesses us."
While acknowledging that there are paths that can lead to God, Pope Benedict said that the today's secularized society makes these roads difficult to follow.
"However, God never tires of looking for us, He is faithful to man whom He created and redeemed, He remains close to our lives, because He loves us. This is a certainty that must accompany us every day, even if certain widespread mentalities make it more difficult for the Church and the Christian to communicate the joy of the Gospel to every creature and to lead all to an encounter with Jesus, the only Savior of the world," the Pope said.
The Pope said that criticism of religion has increased since the Enlightenment, while the presence of atheistic systems has continued to assert that God is a "mere projection of the human mind."
"The last century has seen a strong and growing secularism, in the name of the absolute autonomy of man, considered as a measure and artifice of reality, but depleted of his being created 'in the image and likeness of God.' In our time there is a particularly dangerous phenomenon for the faith: there is in fact a form of atheism that we define, as 'practical', which does not deny the truths of faith or religious rituals, but simply considers them irrelevant to everyday existence, detached from life, useless. Often, then, people believe in God in a superficial way, but live 'as if God did not exist'", the Holy Father said.
The World, Man, and Faith
The Holy Father encouraged the faithful to persevere and to never cease to "affirm the truth about man and his destiny." In confronting the atheism, skepticism, and indifference of today's society and enabling man to question himself about the existence of God and the paths that lead toward him, the Pope focused on three specific aspects: the world, man, and faith.
Regarding the world, the Holy Father recalled the words of St. Augustine and Albert Einstein, who through nature, discovered the first path leading to the discovery of God: "the careful contemplation of nature." In speaking of man, Pope Benedict referred again to St. Augustine who, in his 'Confessions' stated that "God is closer to me than I am to myself."
"This is another aspect we risk losing in the noisy and distracted world we live in: the ability to stop and look deep within ourselves and perceive this thirst for the infinite that we carry within us, that pushes us to go further and refers us to Someone who may satisfy it.," the Holy Father said.
Concluding with the final aspect on faith, Pope Benedict stated that it must not be forgotten that a path to knowledge and an encounter with God is the life of faith.
Faith, he said, "is an encounter with God who speaks and acts in history and who converts our daily life, transforming our mentality, value judgments, choices and concrete actions."
"Christianity, before being a moral or ethical system, is the advent of love, it is to welcome the person of Jesus. For this reason, the Christian and Christian communities must first look and bring others to look to Christ, the true Way leading to God," the Holy Father concluded.
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