October 2010


We Never Do Enough for God" - Homily in Palermo, Italy, October 4, 2010 during an outdoor Mass in Palermo's Foro Italico Umberto I.

... May the Mother of Christ, the Virgin Odigitria greatly venerated by you, assist you and lead you to the profound knowledge of her Son. Amen!

On Marian Devotion: "Mary Is the Model of the Christian Life" - Angelus Address, October 4, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this moment of profound communion with Christ, present and alive among us and in us, it is a beautiful thing for us as an ecclesial family to turn in prayer to his and our Mother, Mary, most holy and immaculate. Sicily has many Marian sanctuaries and in this place I feel spiritually at the center of this "network" of devotion, which joins all of the cities and villages of the island.

To the Virgin Mary I wish to entrust all of the people of God who live in this beloved land. May she sustain the families in love and in educational commitment; may she fructify the seeds of vocation that God liberally sows among the young people; may she instill courage in trials, hope in difficulties, renewed strength in doing the good. May the Madonna comfort the sick and all those who are suffering, and help the Christian communities so that no one in them be forgotten or in need, but that each one, especially the little and the weak, feel welcomed and valued.

Mary is the model of the Christian life. I ask her above all to quicken your footsteps and fill you with joy on the path to holiness, following the many luminous witnesses to Christ, children of Sicily. In this context I would like to recall that today, in Parma, Anna Maria Adorni is being beatified. In the nineteenth century she was an exemplary wife and mother and then, having become a widow, she dedicated herself to charitable work among women in prison and in difficulty, for whose service she founded two religious institutes. Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the "Living Rosary." I am glad to mention her at the beginning of the month of the rosary. May the daily meditation on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the prayerful Virgin, strengthen us in faith, in hope and in charity.

On St. Gertrude: "Only Woman of Germanic Descent to Be Called 'the Great'." - General Audience, October 6, 2010

... her life of communion with the Lord intensified, above all in the most significant liturgical seasons -- Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, feasts of the Virgin -- even when illness made her unable to go to the choir....

To this heap of benefits you added that of giving me as advocate the most holy Virgin Mary, your Mother, and of recommending me often to her affection as the most faithful of spouses could recommend to his own mother his beloved wife...." (Ibid., II, 23, p. 145)

And this friendship is learned in love for sacred Scripture, in love for the liturgy, in profound faith, in love for Mary, so that one will increasingly really know God himself and thus true happiness, the goal of our life. Thank you.

[He concluded with the following remarks in Italian:]

Finally, I address an affectionate thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow the Church will celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. October is the month of the holy rosary, which invites us to appreciate this prayer so dear to the tradition of the Christian people. I invite you, dear young people, to make the rosary your daily prayer. I encourage you, dear sick, to grow in confident abandonment in God's hands, thanks to the recitation of the rosary. I exhort you, dear newlyweds, to make of the rosary a constant contemplation of the mysteries of Christ.

Anniversary of Eastern Canon Law: "Will Not Fail to Contribute to the Life and the Mission of the Church" - Address upon receiving in audience participants in a congress marking the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches, October 9, 2010.

... Thus, I exhort, as did the venerable John Paul II, all the beloved children of the Eastern Churches "to observe the precepts set down with a sincere heart and a humble will, not in the least doubting that the Eastern Churches will provide in the best way possible for the good of the souls of faithful Christians with renewed discipline, and that they will always flourish and carry out the task entrusted to them under the protection of the glorious and blessed ever Virgin Mary, who in all truth is called 'Theotokos' and who shines as the great mother of the universal Church." (Sacri canones)

"The Life of Communion Is Truly the Great Witness" - Homily for Mideast Synod Inauguration, October 10, 2010

... Dear friends, let us entrust the workings of the Synodal Assembly for the Middle East to the many Saints of that blessed land; let us invoke upon it the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the coming days of prayer, of reflection and of fraternal communion may be the harbingers of the good fruits for the present and for the future of the beloved Middle Eastern populations. To them we address a hopeful greeting with all our heart: "Peace to you, peace to your family, peace to all that is yours!" (1 Sam 25:6).

On the Rosary: "It Leads Directly to Jesus, Contemplated in His Mysteries" - Angelus Address, October 10, 2010

... The month of October is called the month of the Rosary. This is a "spiritual intonation," so to speak, provided by the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated on October 7. We are thus invited to let ourselves be guided by Mary in this ancient and ever new prayer, which is especially dear to her because it leads directly to Jesus, contemplated in his mysteries of salvation: joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. In the footsteps of the venerable John Paul II (cf. Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae), I would like to recall that the Rosary is a biblical prayer, completely interwoven with Sacred Scripture. It is a prayer of the heart in which the repetition of the "Hail Mary" orients one's thought and affection toward Christ, and thus one confidently supplicates his Mother and ours. It is a prayer that aids meditation on the Word of God and is likened to Eucharistic communion on the model of Mary, who carries in her heart all Jesus did and said and his presence itself.

Dear Friends, we know how much the Virgin Mary is loved and venerated by our brothers and sisters of the Middle East. All look upon her as the caring Mother, near to every suffering, and as the Star of Hope. We entrust the assembly that opens today to her intercession so that the Christians of that region are strengthened in communion and bear witness of the Gospel of love and peace to all.

[In English he said:]

... As we entrust these prayers to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her Spouse, who themselves came from that region, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

"True Wisdom of Simple Faith ... Is the Force of the Church" - Reflection on Day 1 of Mideast Synod, October 11, 2010

Dear brothers and sisters,

On October 11 1962, forty-eight years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.

Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, sixteen hundred years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of 'Theotokos', 'Dei Genitrix'. With this great word 'Dei Genitrix', 'Theotokos', the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.

In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.

Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with her.

The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of 'Mater Ecclesiae' to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon, because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born - as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel - to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born - as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians - to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of Him who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.

Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus' disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the 'Christus totus,' of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.

Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.

Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with the sun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.

... It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.... And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelation mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says - the first psalm of the Hour - the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Ps. 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery....

And then the Psalm says: "Arise, God, judge the world." (Ps 81:8) Thus we also say to the Lord: "Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth." And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: "You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world." Amen.

On Medieval Mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno: "Jesus Lives in the Heart of Every Believer and Desires to Take Total Possession of It" - General Audience, October 13, 2010

... My thought goes to Our Lady of Fatima, whose last apparition we recall in fact today. To the heavenly Mother of God I entrust you, dear young people, so that you will be able to respond generously to the Lord's call. May Mary be for you, dear sick people, a comfort in your pains; and accompany you, dear newlyweds, in your incipient family path.

"The Celebration of Sanctity Is Renewed in St. Peter's Square Today" - Homily at Canonization Mass, October 17, 2010

... May the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new saints, whom we venerate today with joy, obtain this grace [of holiness] for us. Amen.

"Living Image of the Love of God" - Angelus Address, October 17, 2010

... Now let us turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, who God placed at the center of the great assembly of saints. We entrust to her [and all the other saints] the entire Church, so that, enlightened by her example and sustained by their intercession, the faithful will go forward with an ever new spirit toward the homeland of heaven.

Letter to Seminarians: "For Us God Is Not Some Abstract Hypothesis" - October 18, 2010

... I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace.

"We Must Never Resign Ourselves to the Absence of Peace" - Homily at Closing Mass of Mideast Synod, October 24, 2010

... We entrust the results of the Special Assembly for the Middle East, as well as the preparation for the Ordinary General Assembly, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace. Amen.

"The Church Exists to Evangelize" - Angelus Address, October 24, 2010

... To the Virgin Mary, who from Jesus crucified received the new mission of being the Mother of all those who want to believe in him and follow him, we entrust the Christian communities in the Middle East and all the missionaries of the Gospel.... [After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

... Entrusting this mission to the intercession of our Mother Mary, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

Benedict XVI's Q and A With Catholic Action Youth - Meeting with some 50,000 children, 30,000 youth and 10,000 educators of Catholic Action, who gathered in Rome under the theme: "There Is More. We Become Great Together." October 30, 2010

Young woman's question: Your Holiness, our teachers in Catholic Action tell us that to grow up it is necessary to learn to love, but often we fail and we suffer in our relationships, in our friendships, in our first loves. But what does it mean to love totally? How can we learn to love truly?

... Catholic Action also teaches you the roads to take to learn authentic love: participation in the life of the Church, of your Christian community, loving your friends in the Children's Catholic Action group, in Catholic Action, availability to those of your age at school, in the parish or in other environments, the company of the Mother of Jesus, Mary, who knows how to guide your heart and lead you along the way of good. ... Dear Friends, ... I assure you of remembrance in my prayer and I entrust you to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that like her you can bear witness that "there is more," the joy of a life full of the presence of the Lord. I Thank all of you from my heart!

Angelus Address, October 31, 2010

... Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, perfect model of communion with Jesus, to be renewed by his love, and to show his mercy to others.