Daily Gospel: Thursday of the First Week of Pentecost, May 31, 2012


Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10.
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 14:1-7.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the First Week of Pentecost, May 30, 2012


Acts of the Apostles 2:40-47.
And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 7:37-39.
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, "Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water." ’Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the First Week of Pentecost, May 29, 2012

Saint of the day: St Theodosia of Tyre, Martyr.

Acts of the Apostles 2:29-39.
‘Fellow Israelites, I may say to you confidently of our ancestor David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would put one of his descendants on his throne. Foreseeing this, David spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, saying, "He was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh experience corruption." This Jesus God raised up, and of that all of us are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you both see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, "The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’ "Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 4:21-24.
Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the First Week of Pentecost, May 28, 2012


Acts of the Apostles 2:22-28.
‘You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him, "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover, my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 3:5-8.
Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, "You must be born from above." The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Homily on Pentecost, Sunday May 27, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday morning celebrated Pentecost Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Below is the translation of the Pope's homily for the occasion.



Dear brothers and sisters

I am happy to celebrate this Holy Mass with you – a Mass animated by the Choir of the Academy of Santa Cecilia and by the Youth Orchestra, which I thank – on this Feast of Pentecost. This mystery constitutes the baptism of the Church, it is an event that gave the Church the initial shape and thrust of its mission, so to speak. This shape and thrust are always valid, always timely, and they are renewed through the actions of the liturgy, especially.

This morning I want to reflect on an essential aspect of the mystery of Pentecost, which maintains all its importance in our own day as well. Pentecost is the feast of human unity, understanding and sharing.We can all see how in our world, despite us being closer to one another through developments in communications, with geographical distances seeming to disappear – understanding and sharing among people is often superfical and difficult. There are imbalances that frequently lead to conflicts; dialogue between generations is hard and differences sometimes prevail; we witness daily events where people appear to be growing more aggressive and belligerent; understanding one another takes too much effort and people prefer to remain inside their own sphere, cultivating their own interests. In this situation, can we really discover and experience the unity we so need?

The account of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles, which we heard in the first reading, is set against a background that contains one of the last great frescoes of the Old Testament: the ancient story of the construction of the Tower of Babel. But what is Babel? It is the description of a kingdom in which people have concentrated so much power they think they no longer need depend on a God who is far away. They believe they are so powerful they can build their own way to heaven in order to open the gates and put themselves in God's place. But it's precisely at this moment that something strange and unusual happens. While they are working to build the tower, they suddenly realise they are working against one another. While trying to be like God, they run the risk of not even being human – because they've lost an essential element of being human: the ability to agree, to understand one another and to work together.

This biblical story contains an eternal truth: we see this truth throughout history and in our own time as well. Progress and science have given us the power to dominate the forces of nature, to manipulate the elements, to reproduce living things, almost to the point of manufacturing humans themselves. In this situation, praying to God appears outmoded, pointless, because we can build and create whatever we want. We don't realise we are reliving the same experience as Babel. It's true, we have multiplied the possibilities of communicating, of possessing information, of transmitting news – but can we say our ability to understand each other has increased? Or, paradoxically, do we understand each other even less? Doesn't it seem like feelings of mistrust, suspicion and mutual fear have insinuated themselves into human relationships to the point where one person can even pose a threat to another? Let's go back to the initial question: can unity and harmony really exist? How?

The answer lies in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God's Spirit, which will give us a new heart and a new tongue, a new ability to communicate. This is what happened at Pentecost. On that morning, fifty days after Easter, a powerful wind blew over Jerusalem and the flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples. It came to rest upon the head of each of them and ignited in them a divine fire, a fire of love, capable of transforming things. Their fear disappeared, their hearts were filled with new strength, their tongues were loosened and they began to speak freely, in such a way that everyone could understand the news that Jesus Christ had died and was risen. On Pentecost, where there was division and incomprehension, unity and understanding were born.

But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and comunion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.

The contrast between Babel and Pentecost returns in the second reading, where the Apostle Paul says: “Walk according to the Spirit and you will not be brought to satisfy the desires of the flesh”. St Paul tells us that our personal life is marked by interior conflict and division, between impulses that come from the flesh and those that come from the Spirit: and we cannot follow all of them. We cannot be both selfish and generous, we cannot follow the tendency to dominate others and experience the joy of disinterested service. We have to choose which impulse to follow and we can do so authentically only with the help of the Spirit of Christ. St Paul lists the works of the flesh: they are the sins of selfishness and violence, like hostility, discord, jealousy, dissent. These are thoughts and actions that do not allow us to live in a truly human and Christian way, in love. This direction leads to us losing our life. The Holy Spirit, though, guides us towards the heights of God, so that, on this earth, we can already experience the seed of divine life that is within us.

St Paul confirms: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace”. We note how the Apostle uses the plural to describe the works of the flesh that provoke the loss of our humanity – while he uses the singular to define the action of the Spirit, speaking of “the fruit”, in the same way as the dispersion of Babel contrasts with the unity of Pentecost.

Dear friends, we must live according to the Spirit of unity and truth, and this is why we must pray for the Spirit to enlighten and guide us to overcome the temptation to follow our own truths, and to welcome the truth of Christ transmitted in the Church. Luke's account of Pentecost tells us that, before rising to heaven, Jesus asked the Apostles to stay together and to prepare themselves to receive the Holy Spirit. And they gathered together in prayer with Mary in the Upper Room and awaited the promised event.

Like when it was born, today the Church still gathers with Mary and prays: “Veni Sancte Spiritus! - Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love!”. Amen.

Holy Gospel: Sunday of Pentecost.





Acts of the Apostles 2:1-21.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.’ All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’ But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: "In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit;and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below,blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood,before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 14:15-20.
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

Message of the Virgin Mary to the World From Medjugorje, on May 25, 2012




“Dear children! Also today I call you to conversion and to holiness. God desires to give you joy and peace through prayer but you, little children, are still far away - attached to the earth and to earthly things. Therefore, I call you anew: open your heart and your sight towards God and the things of God - and joy and peace will come to reign in your hearts. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
 

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Seventh Week of the Resurrection, May 26, 2012


Letter to the Ephesians 6:10-20, 23-24.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak. Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 5:43-48.
‘You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy." But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Seventh Week of the Resurrection, May 25, 2012


Letter to the Ephesians 5:8-21.
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Mark 12:28-34.
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength." The second is this, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that "he is one, and besides him there is no other"; and "to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength", and "to love one’s neighbour as oneself", this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Seventh Week of the Resurrection, May 24, 2012

Letter to the Ephesians 5:1-7.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 12:37-43.
Although he had performed so many signs in their presence, they did not believe in him. This was to fulfil the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah: ‘Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ And so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said, ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not look with their eyes, and understand with their heart and turn and I would heal them.’ Isaiah said this because he saw his glory and spoke about him. Nevertheless many, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday May 23, 2012



Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday continued his series on prayer in the letters of Saint Paul. Speaking to tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Benedict reflected on the Holy Spirit’s role in prayer.


“Through the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we have become sons and daughters of God, sharing by adoption in the eternal sonship of Jesus,” the Pope said in his English remarks. The Pope reminded the faithful that “Our individual prayer is always part of the great symphony of the Church’s prayer.”

Below are the Pope’s full remarks in English:

In our reflection on prayer in the letters of Saint Paul, we now consider two passages in which the Apostle speaks of the Holy Spirit, who enables us to call upon God as “Abba”, our Father (cf. Gal 4:6; Rom 8:5). The word “Abba” was used by Jesus to express his loving relationship with the Father; our own use of this word is the fruit of the presence of the Spirit of Christ within us. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we have become sons and daughters of God, sharing by adoption in the eternal sonship of Jesus. Paul teaches us that Christian prayer is not simply our own work, but primarily that of the Spirit, who cries out in us and with us to the Father. In our prayer, we enter into the love of the indwelling Trinity as living members of Christ’s Body, the Church. Our individual prayer is always part of the great symphony of the Church’s prayer. Let us open our hearts ever more fully to the working of the Spirit within us, so that our prayer may lead us to greater trust in the Father and conformity to Jesus, his Son.

I am pleased to greet the ecumenical delegation from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Sweden. I also welcome the group from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, India, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States I cordially invoke the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Fifth Week of the Resurrection, May 23, 2012

Saint of the day: Tobias the Prophet.

Letter to the Ephesians 4:25-32.
So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbours, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labour and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 12:31-36.
Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

Daily Gospel: Tuesday of the Seventh Week of the Resurrection, May 22, 2012

Saint of the day: St Rita of Cassia, the Miraculous, Confessor.

Letter to the Ephesians 4:17-24.
Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practise every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 12:26-30.
Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour. ‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say "Father, save me from this hour"? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine.

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Seventh Week of the Resurrection, May 21, 2012

Saints of the day: Sts Constantine and His Mother Helena, Confessors.

Letter to the Ephesians 4:1-13.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, ‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.’ (When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 12:20-25.
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message (Regina Coeli), May 20, 2012

This Sunday Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholics worldwide to join in prayer with the Church in China, so that believers of the great nation may become ever more consistent in their witness to the faith.

In a series of appeals following the midday recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer, the Holy Father also strongly condemned a bomb attack on a high school in southern Italy Saturday that left one young student dead and others seriously wounded and called for prayers for the victims of a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck the north-east region of Emilia Romagna early Sunday morning.

Despite the threat of rain St Peter’s Square was thronged with pilgrims and visitors this Sunday, which for many parishes worldwide marks the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. In his reflections before the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict spoke to all those gathered about this mystery, the fulfilment of mankind’s salvation:

Below a translation of Pope Benedict’s Regina Caeli address and appeals


Dear brothers and sisters!

Forty days after the Resurrection – according to the Acts of the Apostles - Jesus ascended to heaven, that is he returned to the Father, from whom he was sent into the world. In many countries, this mystery is not celebrated on Thursday, but today, the following Sunday. The Ascension of Our Lord marks the fulfilment of salvation which began with the Incarnation. After having instructed his disciples for the last time, Jesus ascended into heaven (cf. Mk 16.19). He, however, "did not separate himself from our condition" (cf. Prefazio), in fact, in his humanity, he took mankind with him in the intimacy of the Father, and so has revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as he came down from heaven for us, and for us suffered and died on the cross, so for us he rose again and ascended to God, who therefore is no longer distant, but "Our God", "Our Father" (cf. Jn 20:17).

The Ascension is the ultimate act of our deliverance from the yoke of sin, as the Apostle Paul writes: "He ascended on high, and took prisoners captive" (Eph. 4.8). St. Leo the Great says that with this mystery " not only is the immortality of the soul proclaimed, but also that of the flesh. Today, in fact, not only are we confirmed possessors of paradise, but in Christ we also penetrated the heights of heaven "(De Ascension Domains, Tractatus 73, 2.4: CCL 138 A, 451,453). For this, the disciples, when they saw the Master rise from the ground towards the heavens, they were not overwhelmed by dejection, indeed, they felt great joy and compelled to proclaim the victory of Christ over death (cf. Mk 16:20) . And the Risen Lord worked with them, distributing to each a their own charism, so that the Christian community as a whole, would reflect the harmonious richness of Heaven. St. Paul writes: "He gave gifts to men ... And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ"(Eph 4,8.11-13).

Dear friends, the Ascension tells us that in Christ, our humanity is brought to the heights of God, so every time we pray, the earth joins with Heaven. And like burning incense, its fragrant smoke reaches on high, so that when we raise our fervent and trusting prayer in Christ to the Lord, it crosses the heavens and reaches the Throne of God, it is heard by Him and answered. In the famous work of St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, we read that "to see realized the desires of our heart, there is no better way than placing the power of our prayer in what is most pleasing to God. Thus, He will not give us only what we ask of him, salvation, but also what He sees as both convenient and good for us, even if we do not ask this of Him "(Book III, ch. 44, 2, Rome 1991, 335).

Let us beseech the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly things, which the Lord promises us, and become more credible witnesses of divine life.


After the Regina Caeli the Pope continued:

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the World Day of Social Communications, on the theme "Silence and the Word: the process of evangelization." Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite all to pray so that communications, in all forms, always serves to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing.

Thursday, May 24, is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai: we join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, so that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, be faithful to his Church and the Successor of Peter and live their daily life in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer them ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China.

I address a cordial greeting to the thousands of members of the Italian Movement for Life, meeting in Paul VI Hall. Dear friends, your movement has always been committed to defending human life, according to the teachings of the Church. In this line you have announced a new initiative called "One of us," to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you to always be witnesses and builders of a culture of life.

Greetings in Italian:

I greet the various school students present, and here today unfortunately I have to remember the girls and boys of the school in Brindisi, who yesterday were involved in a cowardly attack. Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are in pain. My affectionate thoughts go also to the dear people of Emilia Romagna affected by an earthquake a few hours ago. I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity: we implore God's mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

Holy Gospel: Seventh Sunday of the Resurrection: New Commandment




Letter to the Ephesians 1:15-23.
I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 13:31-35.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, "Where I am going, you cannot come." I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Sixth Week of the Resurrection, May 19, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 4:15-23.
You Philippians indeed know that in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you alone. For even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me help for my needs more than once. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the profit that accumulates to your account. I have been paid in full and have more than enough; I am fully satisfied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The friends who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of the emperor’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 14:1-6.
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.’ Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Sixth Week of the Resurrection, May 18, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 4:8-14.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 3:12-15.
If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Holy Gospel: Ascension Thursday.




Acts of the Apostles 1:1-14.
In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over the course of forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. ‘This’, he said, ‘is what you have heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Mark 16:15-20.
And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.’ So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

Daily Gospel: Wednesday of the Sixth Week of the Resurrection, May 16, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 4:1-7.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 11:32-44.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’ Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Daily Gospel: Feast of Our Lady of the Harvest, Tuesday, May 15, 2012






Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-7.
This ‘King Melchizedek of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he was returning from defeating the kings and blessed him’; and to him Abraham apportioned ‘one-tenth of everything’. His name, in the first place, means ‘king of righteousness’; next he is also king of Salem, that is, ‘king of peace’. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest for ever. See how great he is! Even Abraham the patriarch gave him a tenth of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to collect tithes from the people, that is, from their kindred, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man, who does not belong to their ancestry, collected tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had received the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Mark 3:31-35, 4:1-9.
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’  Again he began to teach beside the lake. Such a very large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there, while the whole crowd was beside the lake on the land. He began to teach them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:  ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly, since it had no depth of soil. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.’ And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

Daily Gospel: Monday of the Sixth Week of the Resurrection, May 14, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 3:1-12.
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 11:1-16.
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Homily and Angelus (Regina Coeli) in Arezzo, Italy on May 13, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Arezzo, Italy, on Sunday morning, during the first leg of a three-stop pastoral visit to the central Italian area rich in monstic and contemplative tradition.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in "Il Prato"park beside the cathedral church of the diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro. In his homily, the Holy Father recalled the great contributions of the Church in the area, saying, "Over the centuries, the Church in Arezzo has been enriched and animated by many expressions of the Christian faith, the highest among them being the Saints." Below, please find the full text of the Holy Father's homily.

Dear brothers and sisters,

It is a great joy for me to be able to break with you the bread of the Word of God and the Eucharist. I greet you all and I thank you for your kind welcome. I greet your Pastor, Archbishop Riccardo Fontana, whom I thank for his words of welcome, the Bishops, Priests, men and women religious, representatives of Church Associations and Ecclesial Movements. I greet the Mayor, Giuseppe Fanfani and thank him for his welcome, the Prime Minister Senator Mario Monti, and the other civil and military authorities present. My special thanks go to those who have generously contributed to this my Pastoral Visit.

An ancient Church welcomes me today, a Church that is expert in relationships and praiseworthy for its commitment over the centuries to building the city of Man in the image of the City of God. Here in Tuscany, the community of Arezzo has often distinguished itself in the course of history for its sense of freedom and its ability to dialogue with different social groups. This is my first visit to you and my wish is that your City may always allow this precious heritage to bear fruit.

Over the centuries, the Church in Arezzo has been enriched and animated by many expressions of the Christian faith, the highest among them being the Saints. I think, in particular, of St Donato, your Patron, whose life’s witness which fascinated Medieval Christians, is still appropriate today. He was an intrepid evangelizer, urging all to free themselves from pagan customs and to rediscover in the Word of God the strength to affirm the dignity of every person and the true meaning of freedom. Through his preaching, he brought people, whose Bishop he was, to unity with prayer and the Eucharist. The chalice that was broken and restored by St Donato, and which is referred to by St Gregory the Great, is the symbol of the peacemaking action of the Church in society, for the common good. Another of your witnesses is St Peter Damian and, with him, the great Camaldolese tradition which has been offering its spiritual riches to this diocesan Church and to the universal Church for a thousand years.


Blessed Pope Gregory X is entombed in your cathedral, almost as a sign of the continuity of the service of the Church of Christ to the world, in different times and cultures. Sustained by the light that came from the burgeoning Orders of mendicant friars, including theologians and Saints, like St Thomas Aquinas and St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, he confronted the great problems of his time: the reform of the Church, the healing of the schism with the Eastern Christian Church, which he tried to do by calling the Council of Lyon; attention to the Holy Land; peace and relations among peoples – he was the first person in the West to exchange ambassadors with Kublai Khan in China.

Dear Friends, the first Reading presented us with an important moment which manifests the universality of Christ and the Church’s message: St Peter, in the house of Cornelius, baptized the first pagans. In the Old Testament, God didn’t want the blessing of the Jewish people to remain exclusive, but to extend it to all nations. When he called Abraham, he said: “All the tribes of the earth shall bless themselves by you”. Thus Peter, inspired from above, understood that “God does not have favourites, but anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right, is acceptable to him”. Peter’s gesture becomes a symbol of the Church’s openness to all humanity. Following the great tradition of your Church and your Community, be authentic witnesses of God’s love for all!

But how can we, in our weakness, be witnesses to this love? In the second Reading, St John told us clearly that being freed of our sins and their consequences is not our initiative but God’s. We did not love him, he loved us and took our sins upon himself and washed them with the blood of Christ. God loved us first and wants us to enter his communion of love, to collaborate in his work of redemption.

The Lord’s invitation rang out in the Gospel: “I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last”. He was speaking specifically to the Apostles, but in the broader sense, it regards all Jesus’ disciples. The whole Church is sent out into the world to preach the Gospel and salvation. But it is always God’s initiative; he calls us to different ministries, so that each one plays his proper role for the common good. He calls us to the ministerial priesthood, to consecrated life, to married life, to working in the world: all are asked to respond generously to the Lord, sustained by his Word which comforts us: “You did not choose me, no, I chose you”.

Dear Friends. I know about your Church’s commitment to promoting Christian life. Be ferment in society, be present as Christians, be active and coherent. With its centuries-old history, the City of Arezzo summarizes significant expressions of culture and values. Among the treasures of your tradition, you are proud of your Christian identity, visible in many signs and rooted in devotions like the one to Our Lady of Comfort. This land was the birthplace of great Renaissance personalities, from Petrarch to Vasari, and played an active role in affirming that concept of man which left its mark on the history of Europe, drawing strength from Christian values. In recent times too, the ideal heritage of your city has been expressed by some of its most illustrious children through their university research and other institutions where they have elaborated the concept of civitas, defining it in terms of the Christian ideal among people of our time. Within the context of the Church in Italy, committed to the theme of education, we must ask – especially in this Region where the Renaissance was born – what vision of man are we proposing to the new generations. The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God’s love towards all, and, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak, respect for the dignity of all. Your capacity to welcome those who have come here recently in search of freedom and work, is well known. Showing solidarity with the poor, means recognizing the plan of God the Creator, who made us all one family.

Of course, this area has also been severely struck by the economic crisis. The complexity of the problems makes it difficult to find quick and effective solutions to come out of the present situation which affects the weakest elements especially and greatly worries young people. Since the remotest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis. May this Diocesan Church, enriched by the shining witness of St Francis of Assisi, continue to be caring and attentive towards those in need, and may it teach how to go beyond purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.

Witnessing to the love of God by caring for the weakest is tied to the defence of human life, from its beginning to its natural end. In your Region, ensuring everyone dignity, health and fundamental rights, is justly considered an indispensable good. The defence of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest elements, is always an important point that keeps the fabric of society strong and offers hope for the future. Just as in the Middle Ages, the statutes of your city became instruments that ensured inalienable rights to many, may they continue that task today, promoting a City with an ever more human face. The Church offers her contribution to this task so that the love of God may always be accompanied love for one’s neighbour.

Dear brothers and sisters. Continue serving God and man according to the teaching of Jesus, the shining example of your saints and the tradition of your people. May the maternal protection of Our Lady of Comfort, whom you love and venerate, accompany and sustain you in this task. Amen.




Following Mass, the Holy Father prayed the Angelus (Regina coeli). Below, is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's message at the Regina coeli.





Dear brothers and sisters,

At the conclusion of this liturgical celebration, the Marian prayer invites us to place ourselves spiritually before the image of Our Lady of Comfort, which is kept in the Cathedral.

As Mother of the Church, Our Lady always wants to comfort her children at the time of their greatest difficulties and sufferings. This City has often experienced her maternal assistance. So, today too, we commit to her intercession, all the people and families of your community which find themselves in situations of serious need.

At the same time, through Mary, we invoke from God the gift of moral comfort, so that this community, and the whole of Italy, may resist the temptation to become discouraged and, strengthened by this great humanist tradition, it may set out again on the road to spiritual and ethical renewal which can only lead to an authentic improvement in social and civil life. In this regard, each and every one must make their contribution. Mary, Our Lady of Comfort, pray for us.

Holy Gospel: Sixth Sunday of the Resurrection: Appearance to the Twelve.






Letter to the Romans 10:1-13.
Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" ’ (that is, to bring Christ down)  ‘or "Who will descend into the abyss?" ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 24:36-48.
While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Daily Gospel: Saturday of the Fifth Week of the Resurrection, May 12, 2012

Saint of the day: St Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, Confessor.

Letter to the Philippians 2:19-30.
I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. I have no one like him who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. All of them are seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But Timothy’s worth you know, how like a son with a father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. I hope therefore to send him as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I will also come soon. Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and co-worker and fellow-soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honour such people, because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 17:24-27.
When they reached Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, ‘Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?’ He said, ‘Yes, he does.’ And when he came home, Jesus spoke of it first, asking, ‘What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their children or from others?’ When Peter said, ‘From others’, Jesus said to him, ‘Then the children are free. However, so that we do not give offence to them, go to the lake and cast a hook; take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a coin; take that and give it to them for you and me.’

Daily Gospel: Friday of the Fifth Week of the Resurrection, May 11, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 2:12-18.
Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a libation over the sacrifice and the offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you and in the same way you also must be glad and rejoice with me.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 18:18-22.
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

Daily Gospel: Thursday of the Fifth Week of the Resurrection, May 10, 2012

Saint of the day: St Simon the Zealot, Apostle.

Letter to the Philippians 2:1-11.
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 16:11-20.
How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The story of the Lord’s liberation of Peter from prison tells us that the Church, each one of us, “goes through a night of trial”, but that it is the unceasing vigilance of prayer that sustains us, said Pope Benedict Wednesday as he continued his lessons on the power of prayer as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles.

In a very personnel comment on the narrative, the Pope who is the 264th Successor of St Peter, told the thousands who crammed into St Peter’s Square for the Wednesday audience: “I, too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers, especially during difficult times thank you from my heart”. Applause greeted the Holy Father’s words.


He continued “With constant and trusting prayer the Lord frees us from the chains, guides us through every night of captivity that can gnaw at our hearts, gives us the peace of heart to face the difficulties of life, even rejection, opposition, persecution”.

But this only if "the whole community together speaks with God, truly praying assiduously and unanimously. Even the discourse on God, in fact, may lose its inner strength and witness dries up if they are not animated, supported and accompanied by prayer, by the continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord. An important reminder for us and for our communities, both small ones such as the family, as well as more extensive ones such as the parish, the diocese, the whole Church. It makes me think that they prayed in this community of James, but prayed badly, only for their own passions[…]. We must continually learn to pray well, really pray, directed towards God and not towards our own good".

Below is a translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s catechesis this Wednesday:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I will touch on the last episode in the life of St. Peter as told in the Acts of the Apostles: his imprisonment by order of Herod Agrippa and his release through the miraculous intervention of the Angel of the Lord, on the eve of his trial in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 12.1 to 17).

The story is once again marked by the prayer of the Church. St. Luke, in fact, writes: "Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf" (Acts 12.5). And, after miraculously walking out of prison, on the occasion of his visit to the house of Mary, the mother of John, Mark, states that "many people gathered in prayer" (Acts 12:12). Between these two important records that show the attitude of the Christian community in the face of danger and persecution, the detention and liberation of Peter is narrated, which comprises all night. The strength of the unceasing prayer of the Church rises to God and the Lord hears and carries out an unthinkable and un-hoped for deliverance, sending His Angel.


The story recalls the great elements of the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt, the Passover. As was essential in that event, here too the main action is accomplished by the Angel of the Lord who frees Peter. And the same actions of the Apostle - who is asked to stand up quickly, to put on his belt and sandals - these events are based on those of the elected people on the night of deliverance from God's intervention when they were invited to eat the lamb in a hurry with their loins girded, sandals on their feet, stick in hand, ready to leave the country (cf. Ex 12:11). Thus, Peter can exclaim: "Now I really know that the Lord sent His Angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). But the Angel not only recalls the liberation of Israel from Egypt, but also that of the Resurrection of Christ. The Acts of the Apostles tells us so: “Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him"(Acts 12.7). The light that fills the room of the prison, the very act of arousing the Apostle, refers to the liberating light of the Passover of the Lord that overcomes the darkness of the night and evil. The invitation, finally, “Put on your cloak and follow me" (Acts 12.8), echoes in our hearts the words of the initial call of Jesus (cf. Mk 1.17), repeated after the resurrection of the lake of Tiberias, where the Lord says twice to Peter, "Follow me" (Jn 21, 19.22). It is a pressing invitation to follow him: only by coming out of yourself in order to start walking with the Lord and doing His will, will you experience true freedom.


I would like to emphasize another aspect of the attitude of Peter in prison; we note, in fact, that while the Christian community prays earnestly for him, Peter, "was asleep" (Acts 12.6) so says St. Luke. In such a critical situation of serious danger, this attitude may seem odd, but it denotes trust and confidence, he trusts in God, he knows he is surrounded by the solidarity and prayer and abandons himself totally in the hands of Lord. So must be our prayer, assiduous, in solidarity with others, fully trusting that God knows us deeply and takes care of us to the point that – as Jesus says - "the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid ... "(Mt 10, 30-31). Peter lives the night of his captivity and liberation from prison as a follower of the Lord, who overcomes the darkness of the night and frees from the chains of slavery and the danger of death. His release is prodigious, marked by several carefully described steps: guided by the Angel, despite the surveillance of the guards, through the first and second guard post, until the iron door leading into the city: and the door opens on its own in front of them (cf. Acts 12.10). Peter and the Angel of the Lord, travel a stretch of road together until, returning to himself, the Apostle realizes that the Lord has truly freed him and, after some thought, he went into the house of Mary, the mother of Mark where many disciples were gathered in prayer; once again the community's response to difficulty and danger is to rely on God, strengthening the relationship with Him.


Here it seems useful to recall another difficult situation that the first Christian community experienced. St. James speaks of it in his letter. It is a community in crisis, in difficulty, not because of persecution but because there are jealousies and contentions inside (cf. Jas 3.14 to 16). And the Apostle ponders the reason for this situation. And he finds two principal reasons: the first is allowing oneself to be dominated by passions, by the dictatorship of their own desires, egoism (cf. Jas 4.1-2a), the second is lack of prayer - " you do not ask," he says (James 4.2 b) - You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (James 4.3). This situation would change, according to St. James, if the whole community together speaks with God, truly praying assiduously and unanimously. Even the discourse on God, in fact, may lose its inner strength and testimony dries up if they are not animated, supported and accompanied by prayer, by the continuity of a living dialogue with the Lord. An important reminder for us and for our communities, both small ones such as the family, as well as more extensive ones such as the parish, the diocese, the whole Church. It makes me think that they prayed in this community of James, but prayed badly, only for their own passions[…]. We must continually learn to pray well, really pray, directed towards God and not towards our own good.


The community, however, that accompanies the imprisonment of Peter is a community that really prays, all night long, deeply united. And it is a sheer joy that fills the hearts of all when the Apostle knocks at the door unexpectedly. It is joy and amazement at the action of God who listens. So from the Church rises the prayer for Peter and he returns to the Church to tell "how the Lord had brought him out of prison" (Acts 12:17). To the Church where he is placed as a rock (cf. Mt 16:18), Peter tells of the "Passover" of his liberation: he experiences that true freedom is in following Jesus, it is surrounded by the radiant light of the Resurrection, and for this he is able to witness to the point of martyrdom that the Lord is Risen, and "for certain that [the] Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod" (Acts 12:11). The martyrdom he goes on to suffer in Rome will join him permanently to Christ, who told him: when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God (cf. Jn 21.18-19).


Dear brothers and sisters, the story of the liberation of Peter as told by Luke tells us that the Church, each of us, goes through the night of trial, but it is the unceasing vigilance of prayer that sustains us. I, too, from the first moment of my election as the Successor of St. Peter, I have always felt supported by the prayers of you all, by the prayer of the Church, especially by your prayers, especially during difficult times thank you from my heart. With constant and trusting prayer the Lord frees us from the chains, guides us through every night of captivity that can gnaw at our hearts, gives us the peace of heart to face the difficulties of life, even rejection, opposition, persecution. The episode of Peter shows this power of prayer. And the Apostle, though in chains, feels confident in the certainty of never being alone: ​​the community is praying for him, the Lord is near, even he knows that "the strength of Christ is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12.9). Unanimous and constant prayer is a precious instrument in overcoming all of the trials that may arise in the path of life, because it is our being deeply united with God that allows us to also be deeply united to others. Thank you.
* * * * *
I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the Conference on Combating Human Trafficking hosted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. My greeting also goes to the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce from New York. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.

Daily Gospel: Feast of St Isaiah the Prophet, May 09, 2012




Letter to the Romans 9:26-33.
‘And in the very place where it was said to them, "You are not my people", there they shall be called children of the living God.’ And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, ‘Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.’ And as Isaiah predicted, ‘If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.’ What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone, as it is written, ‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 4:14-21.
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:  ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’

Daily Gospel: Feast of St John, Evangelist and Apostle, May 08, 2012



First Letter to the Corinthians 1:26-31.
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint John 21:20-25.
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; he was the one who had reclined next to Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?’ When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!’ So the rumour spread in the community that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.