Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Keep the Search for God Alive

On Sunday afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled in an open-top vehicle from the archbishop of Munich's palace to the city's cathedral of Our Lady. The cathedral, built between 1468 and 1488, was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War, only the altar and two towers surviving. Reconstruction work began in 1946 and final restoration was completed between 1988 and 1994.

It was in this cathedral, which houses the relics of St. Benno, patron saint of Bavaria who governed the diocese of Meissen from 1066 to 1106, that Joseph Ratzinger was ordained a bishop on May 28, 1977.

On his arrival, the Holy Father paused a moment before the chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament before descending to the crypt where he prayed at the tombs of the archbishops of Munich and Freising. He then presided at the celebration of Vespers in the presence of young First Communicants, and pronounced a homily.

Referring to the reading from the Book of Revelation, the Holy Father explained how "the seer is helped to lift his eyes upward, towards heaven, and forward, towards the future. But in doing so, he speaks to us about earth, about the present, about our lives. In the course of our lives, all of us are on a journey. ... Naturally, we want to find the right road. ... We don't want to end up saying: I took the wrong road, my life is a failure, it went wrong."

The seer of the Apocalypse, Pope Benedict continued, "is talking about a reconciled world. A world in which people ... have come together in joy," in which "people are living with God; God Himself has 'sheltered them in His tent.' ... God is not far from us, He is not somewhere out in the universe. ... In Jesus He became one of us, flesh and blood just like us. This is His 'tent'."

This meeting with God, with "this love, both divine and human, is the bath into which he plunges us at Baptism," the Pope added, but this "is just a beginning. By walking with Jesus, in faith and in our life in union with him, His love touches us, purifies us and enlightens us."

The white of the baptismal gown and of the robes of First Communion, "is meant to remind us of this, and to tell us: by living as one with Jesus and the community of believers, the Church, you have become a person of light, a person of truth and goodness, a person radiant with goodness, the goodness of God Himself."

In the Apocalypse, the Lamb, in other words Jesus, "leads the great multitude of people from every culture and nation to the sources of living water, ... the symbol par excellence of life. ... The true source is Jesus Himself, in Whom God gives us His very self. He does this above all in Holy Communion. ... Through the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Communion, a community is formed which spills over all borders and embraces all languages, the Universal Church, in which God speaks to us and lives among us."

Addressing parents the Pope said: "I ask you to help your children to grow in faith, I ask you to accompany them on their journey towards Holy Communion, on their journey towards Jesus and with Jesus. Please, go with your children to Church and take part in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration! You will see that this is not time lost, ... the whole week becomes more beautiful, when you go to Sunday Mass together. Pray together at home too. ... Prayer does not only bring us nearer to God but also nearer to one another."

Urging teachers of religion and educators "to keep alive in the schools the search for God," he said: "I know that in our pluralistic world it is no easy thing in schools to bring up the subject of faith. ... Encourage your students ... also to ask about the why and the wherefore of life as a whole."

Finally, he called on pastors "to do everything possible to make the parish a 'spiritual community' for people, a great family where we also experience the even greater family of the universal Church."

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