Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message on September 30, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday. Speaking to pilgrims and tourists gathered to pray the Angelus with him at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father deplored the violence that flared there this month between a rebel group and irregular militia forces seeking to establish control over an already much-contested area during a lull in activity by regular government forces. This latest round of fighting has driven thousands of people from their homes since the middle of September. “With affection and concern,” said Pope Benedict, “I follow the developments in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Intermittent fighting involving regular government forces, rebels and militia groups experienced a serious flare-up between April and July, during which nearly a quarter-million people were displaced internally and as many as 60 thousand others fled into neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda – a refugee crisis that UN agencies say will require at least $40 million in supplementary emergency funding.

The Holy Father expressed prayerful spiritual closeness to the refugees, many of whom are women and children, and to all those affected by the violence. He prayed that, by God’s grace, there might be found peaceful means of dialogue, effective protection of innocents, and a return – as soon as possible – to a peace based on justice. The Pope also called for the restoration of brotherly concord throughout the whole people of the DRC and throughout the entire region.

Below is a translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s appeal for peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo:

I follow with affection and concern the affairs of the people in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, object, in these days of attention from a high-level meeting at the United Nations. I am particularly close to the refugees, to the women and children, who because of persistent armed clashes, undergo suffering, violence and profound hardship. I pray to God: that there be found peaceful means of dialogue and for the protection of innocents; that peace based on justice return as swiftly as possible; for the restoration of fraternal coexistence within that sorely tried population, and throughout the entire region.


Daily Gospel: Third Sunday of the Cross, The False Prophets and the Return of the Son of Man. Sunday, September 30, 2012


Letter to the Philippians 3:17-21, 4:1.
Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. Their end is destruction; their god is the belly; and their glory is in their shame; their minds are set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation so that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. 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.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 24:23-31.
Then if anyone says to you, "Look! Here is the Messiah!" or "There he is!" do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. Take note, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, "Look! He is in the wilderness", do not go out. If they say, "Look! He is in the inner rooms", do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.  ‘Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see "the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven" with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Pope Benedict XVI's Weekly General Audience on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Liturgy is the school of prayer where God Himself teaches us to pray. But in order to celebrate the Liturgy well, to really experience the re-enactment of Christ’s Paschal Mystery we must make our hearts God’s Altar and understand that the Liturgy is the action of God and of man, as the Second Vatican Council teaches us.

In his latest instalment in his cycle on the School of Prayer, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Wednesday audience to prayer and the liturgy.

Below a translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
in recent months we have made a journey in the light of the Word of God, to learn to pray in a more authentic way by looking at some great figures in the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Letters of St. Paul and the Book of Revelation, but also looking at unique and fundamental experience of Jesus in his relationship with the Heavenly Father. In fact, only in Christ, is man enabled to unite himself to God with the depth and intimacy of a child before a father who loves him, only in Him can we turn in all truth to God and lovingly call Him "Abba! ! Father. " Like the Apostles, we too have repeated and we still repeat to Jesus, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11:1).

In addition, in order to live our personal relationship with God more intensely, we have learned to invoke the Holy Spirit, the first gift of the Risen Christ to believers, because it is he who "comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought,"(Romans 8:26).

At this point we can ask: how can I allow myself to be formed by the Holy Spirit? What is the school in which he teaches me to pray and helps me in my difficulties to turn to God in the right way? The first school of prayer which we have covered in the last few weeks is the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Scripture in permanent dialogue between God and man, an ongoing dialogue in which God reveals Himself ever closer to us. We can better familiarize ourselves with his face, his voice, his being and the man learns to accept and to know God, to talk to God. So in recent weeks, reading Sacred Scripture, we looked for this ongoing dialogue in Scripture to learn how we can enter into contact with God.

There is another precious "space", another valuable "source" to grow in prayer, a source of living water in close relation with the previous one. I refer to the liturgy, which is a privileged area in which God speaks to each of us, here and now, and awaits our response.

What is the liturgy? If we open the Catechism of the Catholic Church – an always valuable and indispensable aid especially in the Year of Faith, which is about to begin - we read that originally the word "liturgy" means " service in the name of/on behalf of the people" (No. 1069) . If Christian theology took this word from the Greek world, it did so obviously thinking of the new People of God born from Christ opened his arms on the Cross to unite people in the peace of the one God. "service on behalf of the people " a people that does not exist by itself, but that has been formed through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. In fact, the People of God does not exist through ties of blood, territory or nation, but is always born from the work of the Son of God and communion with the Father that He obtains for us.

The Catechism also states that "in Christian tradition (the word" liturgy ") means the participation of the People of God in "the work of God." Because the people of God as such exists only through the action of God.

The very development of the Second Vatican Council reminds us of this. It began its work, fifty years ago, with the discussion of the draft on the Sacred Liturgy, solemnly approved on December 4, 1963, the first text approved by the Council. The fact that document on the liturgy was the first result of the conciliar assembly was perhaps considered by some a chance occurrence. Among the many projects, the text on the sacred liturgy seemed to be the least controversial, and, for this reason, seen as an exercise in the methodology of conciliar work. But without a doubt, what at first glance seemed a chance occurrence, proved to be the right choice, starting from the hierarchy of themes and most important tasks of the Church. By beginning, with the theme of "liturgy" the primacy of God, his absolute priority was clearly brought to light. God before all things: the Council’s choice of starting from the liturgy tells us precisely this. Where God’s gaze is not decisive, everything else loses its direction. The basic criterion for the liturgy is its orientation to God, so that we can share in His work.

But we may ask: what is this work of God that we are called to participate in? The answer offered us by Conciliar Constitution on the sacred liturgy is apparently double. At number 5 it tells us, in fact, that the works of God are His historical actions that bring us salvation, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; but in number 7, the Constitution defines the celebration of the liturgy as "the work of Christ. " In reality, the two meanings are inseparably linked. If we ask ourselves who saves the world and man, the only answer is Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, Crucified and Risen. And where does the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, that brings salvation it becomes present and real for us, for me today ? The answer is the action of Christ through the Church, in the liturgy, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which makes real and present this sacrificial offering of the Son of God, who has redeemed us, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, through which we pass from the death of sin to new life, and in the other sacramental acts that sanctify us (cf. PO 5). Thus, the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ is the centre of liturgical theology of the Council.

Let's take a step further and ask ourselves: how is this re-enactment of the Paschal Mystery of Christ made possible? Blessed John Paul II, 25 years after the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, wrote: " In order to reenact his Paschal Mystery, Christ is ever present in his Church, especially in liturgical celebrations. (27). Hence the Liturgy is the privileged place for the encounter of Christians with God and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf Jn 17:3). "(Vicesimus quintus annus, n. 7). Along the same lines we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: " A sacramental celebration is a meeting of God's children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words." (n. 1153). Therefore, the first requirement for a good liturgical celebration is that both prayer and conversation with God, first listening and then answering. St. Benedict, in his "Rule", speaking of the prayer of the Psalms, indicates to the monks: mens concordet voci, "may the mind agrees with the voice." The Saint teaches that the prayer of the Psalms, the words must precede our mind. Usually it does not happen this way, first one has to think and then what we have thought, is converted into speech. Here, however in the liturgy it is the inverse, the words come first. God gave us the Word and the Sacred Liturgy gives us the words, and we must enter into their meaning, welcome them within us, be in harmony with them. Thus we become children of God, similar to God. As noted in the Sacrosanctum Concilium, to ensure the full effectiveness of the celebration " it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain "(n. 11). The correlation between what we say with our lips and what we carry in our hearts is essential, fundamental, to our dialogue with God in the liturgy.

In this line, I just want to mention one of the moments that, during the liturgy calls us and helps us to find such a correlation, this conforming ourselves to what we hear, say and do in the liturgy. I refer to the invitation the Celebrant formulates before the Eucharistic Prayer: "Sursum corda," we lift up our hearts outside the tangle of our concerns, our desires, our anxieties, our distraction. Our heart, our intimate selves, must open obediently to the Word of God, and gather in the prayer of the Church, to receive its orientation towards God from the words that it hears and says. The heart’s gaze must go out to the Lord, who is among us: it is a fundamental requirement.

When we experience the liturgy with this basic attitude, it is as if our heart is freed from the force of gravity, which drags it down, and from within rises upwards, towards truth and love, towards God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls: " In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays. The spiritual writers sometimes compare the heart to an altar. "(No. 2655): altare Dei est cor nostrum.

Dear friends, we celebrate and live the liturgy well only if we remain in an attitude of prayer, united to the Mystery of Christ and his dialogue as the Son with the Father. God Himself teaches us to pray, as St. Paul writes (cf. Rom 8:26). He Himself has given us the right words to hear to Him, words that we find in the Psalter, in the great prayers of the liturgy and in the same Eucharistic celebration. We pray to the Lord to be ever more aware of the fact that the liturgy is the action of God and man; prayer that rises from the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the Son of God made man (cf. Catechism the Catholic Church, n. 2564).

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

“Dear children! When in nature you look at the richness of the colors which the Most High gives to you, open your heart and pray with gratitude for all the good that you have and say: ‘I am here created for eternity’ – and yearn for heavenly things because God loves you with immeasurable love. This is why He also gave me to you to tell you: ‘Only in God is your peace and hope, dear children’. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message on September 23, 2012

In his weekly Angelus address, Pope Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on the Gospel of Saint Mark. The Pope reminds us that the second half of the Gospel deals with Jesus' final journey to Jerusalem, a journey that will culminate in the His death and resurrection. After Saint Peter’s profession of faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Pope recalls, “Jesus began to speak openly about what would happen in the end.” But, he notes, the disciples did not understand Jesus’ words.

“It is clear,” the Pope says, “that between Jesus and the disciples there is a deep interior distance; they are, so to speak, on two different wavelengths.” Pope Benedict tells us that “this reminds us that God’s logic is always ‘other’ with respect to our own”: God’s ways are not our ways. For this reason, “following the Lord requires of each person a profound conversion, a change in his or her way of thinking and living.”

The Holy Father points to pride as a key difference between God and human beings. “We, who are little, desire to appear great, to be first; while God, who is truly great, is not afraid to humble Himself, and make Himself last.”

Summing up this week’s message for English speaking pilgrims, Pope Benedict reflects on the call to be “last of all, and servants of all”: “May Christ’s supreme act of love on Calvary always be our true measure of greatness.”

Below is the translation of the Pope's full message:

In our journey through the Gospel of Mark, last Sunday we entered into the second half [of the Gospel], the last journey towards Jerusalem and towards the culmination of Jesus’ mission. After Peter, on behalf of the disciples, professed faith in Him, recognizing Him as the Messiah (cf. Mark 8:29), Jesus began to speak openly about what would happen in the end. The Evangelist reports three successive predictions of the death and resurrection, in chapters 8, 9 and 10: in them, Jesus proclaims ever more clearly the fate that awaits Him and their intrinsic necessity. The passage for this Sunday contains the second of these announcements. Jesus says: "The Son of Man,” – an expression that designates Himself – “is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise” (Mark 9:31). But the disciples “did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him” (v. 32).

In fact, reading this part of the story of Mark, it is clear that between Jesus and the disciples there is a deep interior distance; they are, so to speak, on two different wavelengths, so that the discourses of the Master are not understood, or are understood only superficially. The apostle Peter, after having shown his faith in Jesus, was permitted to reprove Him because He predicted that He must be rejected and killed. After the second announcement of the Passion, the disciples began to discuss who was the greatest among them (cf. Mk 9:34), and after the third, James and John asked Jesus to be able to sit at His right hand and at his left, when He was in glory (cf. Mk 10:35-40). But there are several other signs of this distance: for example, the disciples were not able to heal an epileptic boy, that afterwards Jesus heals with the power of prayer (cf. Mk 9:14-29); or when some children were presented to Jesus, the disciples reproved them, while Jesus, indignant, made them stay, and affirmed that only those who were like them could enter into the Kingdom of God (cf. Mk 10:13-16).

What does all this say to us? It reminds us that God's logic is always “other” with respect to our own, as God Himself revealed through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts / nor are your ways my ways” (Is 55:8). For this reason, following the Lord requires of every person a profound conversion, a change in his or her way of thinking and living, it requires an opening of the heart to listen, in order to allow oneself to be enlightened and interiorly transformed. A key point in which God and man are different is pride: In God, there is no pride, because He is absolute fullness, and is completely given to love and to give live; in us, on the other hand, pride is deeply rooted and requires constant vigilance and purification. We, who are little, desire to appear great, to be the first, while God, who is truly great, does not fear to humble Himself and make Himself the last. The Virgin Mary is perfectly “in tune” with God: Let us invoke her with confidence, that she might teach us to faithfully follow Jesus along the way of love and humility.

After the Angelus:

Yesterday, in the French city of Troyes, the priest Louis Brisson, the founder of the Oblates of Saint Francis di Sales, who lived in the 19th century, was declared blessed. I joyfully join in the thanksgiving of the diocesan community of Troyes and of all the spiritual sons and daughters of the new Blessed.

To the English speaking pilgrims:
I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus prayer. In the Gospel today, our Lord reveals to His disciples that He will be delivered unto death and rise again for our salvation. As we reflect on the call to be “last of all and servants of all”, may Christ’s supreme act of love on Calvary always be our true measure of greatness. God bless you and your loved ones!

Daily Gospel: Second Sunday of the Cross, Destruction of the Temple and the End of Times. September 23, 2012


First Letter to the Corinthians 15:19-34.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf? And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord. If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’ Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Matthew 24:1-14.
As Jesus came out of the temple and was going away, his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. Then he asked them, ‘You see all these, do you not? Truly I tell you, not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’ When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, "I am the Messiah!" and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.  ‘Then they will hand you over to be tortured and will put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of my name. Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But anyone who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

Starting Again From Lebanon

Rarely has a message from the Pope during a journey been understood and received with admiration and concord approaching unanimity as it has on this occasion. There have been very few dissenting voices. And rightly so. It was a very welcome sign of the sense of responsibility of media professionals.
The mission of the unarmed prophet, who went unhesitatingly, resolutely, to talk about peace in a region and at a time of heated conflicts and protests, was a message of strength and of uncommon power. While all around the region mostly continue to rely above all on power and weapons, and hatred is relentlessly promoted, the words of dialogue and mutual respect, the invitation to reconciliation, the exhortation to young people of different religious faiths to build a future of peace together echoed with clear and fascinating veracity, from the lips “of one who speaks with authority” unlike other less credible teachers.
Particularly encouraging was his reception by the Muslim religious leaders of Lebanon, who welcomed the message of peace and collaboration between Christians and Muslims for peace in their own land with respect and openness, in the heart of the Middle East.
Sincere respect for the beliefs of others is the foundation of those thoughts, those words and those gestures of peace of which the Pope spoke once again, and of which there is an extreme need on the part of everyone and throughout the world, which is now a global village, in order not to irresponsibly feed uncontrolled and violent reactions. The Pope and the Catholic Church are doing their part for peace in the world; those who have the instruments of power in the political, military and communications spheres should also do their part in this crucial effort for the future of humanity.

Homélie du Pape Benoît XVI Durant la Messe Pontificale à Beyrouth le Dimanche, 16 Septembre 2012


Text intégral de l'homélie du Pape Benoît XVI durant la messe pontificale sur le front de mer au centre-ville de Beyrouth. 
"Chers frères et soeurs, 
"Béni soit Dieu, le Père de notre Seigneur Jésus Christ ! " (Ep 1, 3). Béni soit-il en ce jour où j'ai la joie d'être ici avec vous, au Liban, pour remettre aux évêques de la région l'Exhortation apostolique post-synodale Ecclesia in Medio Oriente ! Je remercie cordialement Sa Béatitude Bechara Boutros Raï pour ses aimables paroles de bienvenue. Je salue les autres Patriarches et les évêques des églises orientales, les ?vêques latins des régions avoisinantes ainsi que les Cardinaux et les évêques venus d'autres pays. Je vous salue tous avec grande affection, chers frères et soeurs du Liban et aussi des pays de toute cette région bien-aimée du Moyen-Orient, venus célébrer, avec le successeur de Pierre, Jésus-Christ crucifié, mort et ressuscité. J'adresse aussi mon salut déférent au Président de la République et aux Autorités Libanaises, aux Responsables et aux membres des autres traditions religieuses qui ont voulu être présents ce matin. 
En ce dimanche où l'évangile nous interroge sur la véritable identité de Jésus, nous voici transportés avec les disciples, sur la route qui conduit vers les villages de la région de Césarée de Philippe. " Et vous, que dites-vous ? pour vous qui suis-je ? " (Mc 8, 29) leur demande Jésus ? Le moment choisi pour leur poser cette question n'est pas sans signification. Jésus se trouve à un tournant déterminant de son existence. Il monte vers Jérusalem, vers le lieu où va s'accomplir, par la croix et la résurrection, l'événement central de notre salut. C'est aussi à Jérusalem, qu'à l'issue de tous ces événements, l'église va naître. Et lorsque, à ce moment décisif, Jésus demande d'abord à ses disciples " Pour les gens, qui suis-je ? " (Mc 8, 27), les réponses qu'ils lui rapportent sont bien diverses : Jean-Baptiste, Elie, un prophète ! 
Aujourd'hui encore, comme au long des siècles, ceux qui, de multiples manières, ont trouvé Jésus sur leur route apportent leurs réponses. Ce sont des approches qui peuvent permettre de trouver le chemin de la vérité. Mais, sans être nécessairement fausses, elles restent insuffisantes, car elles n'accèdent pas au coeur de l'identité de Jésus. Seul celui qui accepte de le suivre sur son chemin, de vivre en communion avec lui dans la communauté des disciples, peut en avoir une véritable connaissance. C'est alors que Pierre qui, depuis un certain temps, a vécu avec Jésus, va donner sa réponse : " Tu es le Messie " (Mc 8, 29). Réponse juste sans aucun doute, mais pourtant insuffisante, puisque Jésus ressent le besoin de la préciser. Il entrevoit que les gens pourraient se servir de cette réponse pour des desseins qui ne sont pas les siens, pour susciter de faux espoirs temporels sur lui. Il ne se laisse pas enfermer dans les seuls attributs du libérateur humain que beaucoup attendent. 
En annonçant à ses disciples qu'il devra souffrir, être mis à mort avant de ressusciter, Jésus veut leur faire comprendre qui il est en vérité. Un Messie souffrant, un Messie serviteur, et non un libérateur politique tout-puissant. Il est le Serviteur obéissant à la volonté de son Père jusqu'à perdre sa vie. C'est ce qu'annonçait déjà le prophète Isaïe dans la première lecture. Jésus va ainsi à l'encontre de ce que beaucoup attendaient de lui. Son affirmation choque et dérange. 
Et on entend la contestation de Pierre, qui lui fait des reproches, refusant pour son maître la souffrance et la mort ! Jésus est sévère à son égard, et il fait comprendre que celui qui veut être son disciple, doit accepter d'être serviteur, comme lui s'est fait Serviteur. 
Se mettre à la suite de Jésus, c'est prendre sa croix pour l'accompagner sur son chemin, un chemin incommode qui n'est pas celui du pouvoir ou de la gloire terrestre, mais celui qui conduit nécessairement à se renoncer soi-même, à perdre sa vie pour le Christ et l'Evangile, afin de la sauver. Car nous sommes assurés que ce chemin conduit à la résurrection, à la vie véritable et définitive avec Dieu. Décider d'accompagner Jésus Christ qui s'est fait le Serviteur de tous exige une intimité toujours plus grande avec lui, en se mettant à l'écoute attentive de sa Parole pour y puiser l'inspiration de nos actes. En promulguant l'Année de la foi, qui doit commencer le 11 octobre prochain, j'ai voulu que chaque fidèle puisse s'engager de manière renouvelée sur ce chemin de la conversion du coeur. 
Tout au long de cette année, je vous encourage donc vivement à approfondir votre réflexion sur la foi pour la rendre plus consciente et pour fortifier votre adhésion au Christ Jésus et à son Evangile. 
Frères et soeurs, le chemin sur lequel Jésus veut nous conduire est un chemin d'espérance pour tous. La gloire de Jésus se révèle au moment où, dans son humanité, il se montre le plus faible, particulièrement lors de l'Incarnation et sur la croix. C'est ainsi que Dieu manifeste son amour, en se faisant serviteur, en se donnant à nous. N'est-ce pas un mystère extraordinaire, parfois difficile à admettre . L'Apôtre Pierre lui-même ne le comprendra que plus tard. 
Dans la deuxième lecture, saint Jacques nous a rappelé combien cette suite de Jésus, pour être authentique exige des actes concrets. " C'est par mes actes que je te montrerai ma foi " (Jc 2, 18). C'est une exigence impérative pour l'Eglise de servir et pour les chrétiens d'être de vrais serviteurs à l'image de Jésus. Le service est un élément fondateur de l'identité des disciples du Christ (cf. Jn 13, 15-17). La vocation de l'Eglise et du chrétien est de servir, comme le Seigneur lui-même l'a fait, gratuitement et pour tous, sans distinction. 
Ainsi, servir la justice et la paix, dans un monde où la violence ne cesse d'étendre son cortège de mort et de destruction, est une urgence afin de s'engager pour une société fraternelle, pour bâtir la communion ! Chers frères et soeurs, je prie particulièrement le Seigneur de donner à cette région du Moyen-Orient des serviteurs de la paix et de la réconciliation pour que tous puissent vivre paisiblement et dans la dignité. C'est un témoignage essentiel que les chrétiens doivent rendre ici, en collaboration avec toutes les personnes de bonne volonté. Je vous appelle tous à oeuvrer pour la paix. Chacun à son niveau et là où il se trouve. 
Le service doit encore être au coeur de la vie de la communauté chrétienne elle-même. Tout ministère, toute charge dans l'Eglise, sont d'abord un service de Dieu et des frères ! C'est cet esprit qui doit animer tous les baptisés, les uns à l'égard des autres, notamment par un engagement effectif auprès des plus pauvres, des marginalisés, de ceux qui souffrent, pour que soit préservée la dignité inaliénable de toute personne. 
Chers frères et soeurs qui souffrez dans votre corps ou dans votre coeur, votre souffrance n'est pas vaine ! Le Christ Serviteur se fait proche de tous ceux qui souffrent. Il est présent auprès de vous. Puissiez-vous trouver sur votre route des frères et des soeurs qui manifestent concrètement sa présence aimante qui ne saurait vous abandonner ! 
Soyez remplis d'espérance grace au Christ ! 
Et vous tous, frères et soeurs, qui êtes venus participer à cette célébration, cherchez à devenir toujours plus conformes au Seigneur Jésus, lui qui s'est fait le Serviteur de tous pour la vie du monde. Que Dieu bénisse le Liban, qu'il bénisse tous les peuples de cette région bien-aimée du Moyen-Orient et leur fasse le don de sa paix. Amen."

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Homily and Angelus Message from Beirut on September 16, 2012

On September 16th , the final day of his three day Apostolic visit to Lebanon Pope Benedict presided over Holy Mass Mass of the consigning of the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhhortation at Beirut's waterfront beneath the outstretched arms of Our Lady of Lebanon. 350 thousand believers drawn from the 21 different churches of the middle east attended the holy mass.

Below the full text of the homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Eph 1:3). Blessed be God on this day when I have the joy of being here with you, in Lebanon, to consign to the Bishops of the region my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente! I offer heartfelt thanks to His Beatitude Bechara Boutros Raï for his kind words of welcome. I greet the other Patriarchs and Bishops of the Eastern Churches, the Latin Bishops of the neighbouring regions, and the Cardinals and Bishops who have come from other countries. I greet all of you with great affection, dear brothers and sisters from Lebanon and from throughout this beloved region of the Middle East, as you join with the Successor of Peter in celebrating Jesus Christ crucified, dead and risen. My respectful greeting goes also to the President of the Republic, to the Lebanese authorities, and to the leaders and followers of the other religious traditions who have elected to be present this morning.
On this Sunday when the Gospel asks us about the true identity of Jesus, we find ourselves transported with the disciples to the road leading to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. Jesus asks them: “Who do you say that I am?” (Mk 8:29). The moment he chose to ask this question is not insignificant. Jesus was facing a decisive turning-point in his life. He was going up to Jerusalem, to the place where the central events of our salvation would take place: his crucifixion and resurrection. In Jerusalem too, following these events, the Church would be born. And at this decisive moment, Jesus first asks his disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” (Mk 8:27). They give very different answers: John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets! Today, as down the centuries, those who encounter Jesus along their own way give their own answers. These are approaches which can be helpful in finding the way to truth. But while not necessarily false, they remain insufficient, for they do not go to the heart of who Jesus is. Only those willing to follow him on his path, to live in fellowship with him in the community of his disciples, can truly know who he is. Finally, Peter, who had dwelt with Jesus for some time, gives his answer: “You are the Christ” (Mk 8:29). It is the right answer, of course, but it is still not enough, since Jesus feels the need to clarify it. He realizes that people could use this answer to advance agendas which are not his, to raise false temporal hopes in his regard. He does not let himself be confined to the attributes of the human saviour which many were expecting.

By telling his disciples that he must suffer and be put to death, and then rise again, Jesus wants to make them understand his true identity. He is a Messiah who suffers, a Messiah who serves, and not some triumphant political saviour. He is the Servant who obeys his Father’s will, even to giving up his life. This had already been foretold by the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading. Jesus thus contradicts the expectations of many. What he says is shocking and disturbing. We can understand the reaction of Peter who rebukes him, refusing to accept that his Master should suffer and die! Jesus is stern with Peter; he makes him realize that anyone who would be his disciple must become a servant, just as he became Servant.
Following Jesus means taking up one’s cross and walking in his footsteps, along a difficult path which leads not to earthly power or glory but, if necessary, to self-abandonment, to losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to save it. We are assured that this is the way to the resurrection, to true and definitive life with God. Choosing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who made himself the Servant of all, requires drawing ever closer to him, attentively listening to his word and drawing from it the inspiration for all that we do. In promulgating the Year of Faith, which is due to begin next 11 October, I wanted each member of the faithful to renew his or her commitment to undertaking this path of sincere conversion. Throughout this Year, then, I strongly encourage you to reflect more deeply on the faith, to appropriate it ever more consciously and to grow in fidelity to Christ Jesus and his Gospel.
Brothers and sisters, the path on which Jesus wishes to guide us is a path of hope for all. Jesus’ glory was revealed at the very time when, in his humanity, he seemed weakest, particularly through the incarnation and on the cross. This is how God shows his love; he becomes our servant and gives himself to us. Is this not an amazing mystery, one which is at times difficult to accept? The Apostle Peter himself would only come to understand it later.
In today’s second reading, Saint James tells us to what extent our walking in the footsteps of Jesus, if it is to be authentic, demands concrete actions. “I, by my works, will show you my faith” (Jas 2:18). It is an imperative task of the Church to serve and of Christians to be true servants in the image of Jesus. Service is a foundational element of the identity of Christ’s followers (cf. Jn 13:15-17). The vocation of the Church and of each Christian is to serve others, as the Lord himself did, freely and impartially. Consequently, in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship! Dear brothers and sisters, I pray in particular that the Lord will grant to this region of the Middle East servants of peace and reconciliation, so that all people can live in peace and with dignity. This is an essential testimony which Christians must render here, in cooperation with all people of good will. I appeal to all of you to be peacemakers, wherever you find yourselves.
Service must also be at the heart of the life of the Christian community itself. Every ministry, every position of responsibility in the Church, is first and foremost a service to God and to our brothers and sisters. This is the spirit which should guide the baptized among themselves, and find particular expression in an effective commitment to serving the poor, the outcast and the suffering, so that the inalienable dignity of each person may be safeguarded.
Dear brothers and sisters who are suffering physically or spiritually, your sufferings are not in vain! Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering. He is always close to you. Along your own path, may you always find brothers and sisters who are concrete signs of his loving presence which will never forsake you! Remain ever hopeful because of Christ!
And may all of you, my brothers and sisters who have come to take part in this celebration, strive to be ever more fully conformed to the Lord Jesus, who became the Servant of all for the life of the world. May God bless Lebanon; may he bless all the peoples of this beloved region of the Middle East, and may he grant them the gift of his peace. Amen.
Then after the holy Mass, Pope Benedict delivered his customary Sunday Angelus message in which he spoke about Syria and the suffering of people in the Middle East. Below is the full text:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Let us now turn to Mary, Our Lady of Lebanon, around whom both Christians and Muslims gather. Let us ask her to intercede with her divine Son for you and, more particularly, for the people of Syria and the neighbouring countries, imploring the gift of peace. You know all too well the tragedy of the conflicts and the violence which generates so much suffering. Sadly, the din of weapons continues to make itself heard, along with the cry of the widow and the orphan. Violence and hatred invade people’s lives, and the first victims are women and children. Why so much horror? Why so many dead? I appeal to the international community! I appeal to the Arab countries that, as brothers, they might propose workable solutions respecting the dignity, the rights and the religion of every human person! Those who wish to build peace must cease to see in the other an evil to be eliminated. It is not easy to see in the other a person to be respected and loved, and yet this is necessary if peace is to be built, if fraternity is desired (cf. 1 Jn 2:10-11; 1 Pet 3:8-12). May God grant to your country, to Syria and to the Middle East the gift of peaceful hearts, the silencing of weapons and the cessation of all violence! May men understand that they are all brothers! Mary, our Mother, understands our concern and our needs. Together with the Patriarchs and Bishops present, I place the Middle East under her maternal protection (cf. Propositio 44). May we, with God’s help, be converted so as to work ardently to establish the peace that is necessary for harmonious coexistence among brothers, whatever their origins and religious convictions.

Pope Benedict XVI's Message to the Young From Bkerke, Lebanon. September 15, 2012


On the second day of his three-day Apostolic Visit to Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI met with young people from Lebanon and all over the Middle Esat, at the front yard of the Maronite Patriarchate in Bkerké.

Below the full text of the Holy Father's Address:

Saturday 15 September 2012

Your Beatitude, Brother Bishops, Dear Friends,

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord” (2 Pet 1:2). The words from the Second Letter of Saint Peter that we have just heard express a desire which I have long felt. Thank you for your warm welcome! I thank you most kindly for your presence in such great numbers this evening! I am grateful to His Beatitude Patriarch Bechara Boutros Raï for his words of welcome, to Archbishop Georges Bou-Jaoudé of Tripoli, the President of the Council for the Lay Apostolate in Lebanon, to Archbishop Elie Haddad of Saïdā of the Greek Melkites, Vice President of the same Council, and to the two young people who greeted me in the name of all present. سَلامي أُعطيكُم – My peace I give to you! (Jn 14:27), Christ Jesus says to us.

Dear friends, you are living today in this part of the world which witnessed the birth of Jesus and the growth of Christianity. It is a great honour! It is also a summons to fidelity, to love of this region and, above all, to your calling to be witnesses and messengers of the joy of Christ. The faith handed down from the Apostles leads to complete freedom and joy, as the many Saints and Blesseds of this country have shown. Their message lights up the universal Church. It can light up your lives as well. Many of the Apostles and saints lived in troubled times and their faith was the source of their courage and their witness. Find in their example and intercession the inspiration and support that you need!
I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins. In a constantly changing world you are faced with many serious challenges. But not even unemployment and uncertainty should lead you to taste the bitter sweetness of emigration, which involves an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future. You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future and to take your place in society and in the Church.

You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you. She counts on you! Be young in the Church! Be young with the Church! The Church needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. All this is important and it takes time. Seek beauty and strive for goodness! Bear witness to the grandeur and the dignity of your body which “is for the Lord” (1 Cor 6:13b). Be thoughtful, upright and pure of heart! In the words of Blessed John Paul II, I say to you: “Do not be afraid! Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ!” An encounter with Jesus “gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). In Christ you will find the strength and courage to advance along the paths of life, and to overcome difficulties and suffering. In him you will find the source of joy. Christ says to you: سَلامي أُعطيكُم – My peace I give to you! (Jn 14:27). This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.
The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! You face another temptation, too: that of money, the tyrannical idol which blinds to the point of stifling the person at the heart. The examples being held up all around you are not always the best. Many people have forgotten Christ’s warning that one cannot serve both God and mammon (cf. Lk 16:13). Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive.
Bring the love of Christ to everyone! How? By turning unreservedly to God the Father, who is the measure of everything that is right, true and good. Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live “rooted and built up in Christ, and established in the faith” (Col 2:7). The Year of Faith, which is about to begin, will be a time to rediscover the treasure of the faith which you received at Baptism. You can grow in knowledge and understanding of this treasure by studying the Catechism, so that your faith can be both living and lived. You will then become witnesses to others of the love of Christ. In him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which he inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:35). This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian. This is the true revolution of love!
Christ asks you, then, to do as he did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. I know that many among you take part in various activities sponsored by parishes, schools, movements and associations. It is a fine thing to be engaged with and for others. Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! Brotherhood is a foretaste of heaven! The vocation of Christ’s disciples is to be “leaven” in the lump, as Saint Paul says: “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Gal 5:9). Be heralds of the Gospel of life and life’s authentic values. Courageously resist everything opposed to life: abortion, violence, rejection of and contempt for others, injustice and war. In this way you will spread peace all around you. Are not “peacemakers” those whom in the end we admire the most? Is it not a world of peace that, deep down, we want for ourselves and for others? سَلامي أُعطيكُم – My peace I give to you! (Jn 14:27), Jesus says. He overcame evil not with more evil, but by taking evil upon himself and destroying it completely on the cross through a love lived to the very end. Truly discovering God’s forgiveness and mercy always enables us to begin a new life. It is not easy to forgive. But God’s forgiveness grants the power of conversion, and the joy of being able to forgive in turn. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths of peace; they open up a future.

Dear friends, a number of you are surely asking in a more or less conscious way: What is it that God expects of me? What is his plan for me? Wouldn’t I like to proclaim to the world the grandeur of his love in the priesthood, in the consecrated life or in marriage? Might not Christ be calling me to follow him more closely? Think about these questions with confidence and trust. Take time to reflect on them and ask for enlightenment. Respond to his invitation by offering yourselves daily to the Lord, for he calls you to be his friends. Strive to follow Christ wholeheartedly and generously, for out of love he redeemed us and gave his life for each one of us. You will come to know inconceivable joy and fulfilment! To answer Christ’s call to each of us: that is the secret of true peace.
Yesterday I signed the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente. This letter is also addressed to you, dear young people, as it is to the entire People of God. Read it carefully and meditate upon it so as to put it into practice. To help you, I remind you of the words of Saint Paul to the Corinthians: “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written in your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:2-3). Dear friends, you too can be a living letter of Christ. This letter will not be written with pen and paper, but with the witness of your lives and your faith. In this way, with courage and enthusiasm, you will enable those around you to understand that God wants the happiness of all without distinction and that Christians are his servants and his faithful witnesses.
Young people of Lebanon, you are the hope and the future of your country. You are Lebanon, a land of welcome, of openness, with a remarkable power of adaptation. At this moment, we cannot forget those millions of individuals who make up the Lebanese diaspora and maintain solid bonds with their land of origin. Young people of Lebanon, be welcoming and open, as Christ asks you and as your country teaches you.
I should like now to greet the young Muslims who are with us this evening. I thank you for your presence, which is so important. Together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country and of the Middle East in general. Seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. For the beauty of Lebanon is found in this fine symbiosis. It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society.
I understand, too, that present among us there are some young people from Syria. I want to say how much I admire your courage. Tell your families and friends back home that the Pope has not forgotten you. Tell those around you that the Pope is saddened by your sufferings and your griefs. He does not forget Syria in his prayers and concerns, he does not forget those in the Middle East who are suffering. It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war.
In conclusion, let us turn to Mary, the Mother of the Lord, our Lady of Lebanon. From the heights of Mount Harissa she protects and accompanies you with a mother’s love. She watches over all the Lebanese people and over the many pilgrims who come from all directions to entrust to her their joys and their sorrows! This evening, let us once more entrust to the Virgin Mary and to Blessed John Paul II, who came here before me, your own lives and the lives of all the young people of Lebanon and the countries of the region, particularly those suffering from violence or from loneliness, those in need of strength and consolation. May God bless you all! And now together, let us lift up our prayer to Mary:
السّلامُ عَلَيكِ يا مَرْيَم... (Hail Mary …)

Pope Benedict XVI's Sunday Angelus Message on September 09, 2012

A very small word that sums up Christ’s mission on earth was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI’s Angelus reflections this week: "Ephphatha," which means, "Be opened. Drawn from the Sunday Gospel, Mark Chapter 7, which recounts Christ’s healing of the deaf mute, Pope Benedict XVI said Jesus “became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others”.

Below is a translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus reflections.

Dear brothers and sisters!

At the heart of today's Gospel (Mk 7, 31-37) there is a small but, very important word. A word that - in its deepest meaning- sums up the whole message and the whole work of Christ. The Evangelist Mark writes it in the same language that Jesus pronounced it in, so that it is even more alive to us. This word is "Ephphatha," which means, "be opened." Let us look at the context in which it is located. Jesus was travelling through the region known as the "Decapolis", between the coast of Tyre and Sidon, and Galilee, therefore a non-Jewish area. They brought to him a deaf man, so that he could heal him - evidently his fame had spread that far. Jesus took him aside, touched his ears and tongue, and then, looking up to the heavens, with a deep sigh said, "Ephphatha," which means, "Be opened." And immediately the man began to hear and speak fluently (cf. Mk 7.35). This then is the historical, literal, meaning of this word: this deaf mute, thanks to Jesus’ intervention, "was opened", before he had been closed, insulated, it was very difficult for him to communicate, and his recovery was '"openness" to others and the world, an openness that, starting from the organs of hearing and speech, involved all his person and his life: Finally he was able to communicate and thus relate in a new way.

But we all know that closure of man, his isolation, does not solely depend on the sense organs. There is an inner closing, which covers the deepest core of the person, what the Bible calls the "heart". That is what Jesus came to "open" to liberate, to enable us to fully live our relationship with God and with others. That is why I said that this little word, "Ephphatha – Be opened," sums up Christ’s entire mission. He became man so that man, made inwardly deaf and dumb by sin, would become able to hear the voice of God, the voice of love speaking to his heart, and learn to speak in the language of love, to communicate with God and with others. For this reason, the word and the gesture of '"Ephphatha" are included in the Rite of Baptism, as one of the signs that explain its meaning: the priest touching the mouth and ears of the newly baptized says: "Ephphatha" praying that they may soon hear the Word of God and profess the faith. Through Baptism, the human person begins, so to speak, to "breathe" the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus had invoked from Father with that deep breath, to heal the deaf and dumb man.

We now turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whose Nativity we celebrated yesterday. Because of her unique relationship with the Incarnate Word, Mary is fully "open" to the love of the Lord, her heart is constantly listening to his Word. May her maternal intercession help us to experience every day, in faith, the miracle of '"Ephphatha," to live in communion with God and with others.

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer, especially those from the Rome campus of the University of Mary in the United States. In today’s Gospel Jesus cures a deaf man with a speech impediment. Let us pray that our spiritual infirmities may be cured, so that our ears may be open to listen attentively to the Lord’s life-giving teachings, and our speech may plainly profess our faith in him. May God bless you!
In his greeting to French speaking pilgrims, Pope Benedict said his visit to Lebanon, extends to the peoples of the entire region, “too long torn apart by incessant conflicts”.
“My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension to the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace”: On the eve of his departure, Pope Benedict XVI has clearly stated the aim of this his 24th foreign visit and has voiced his serious concern for the “daily sufferings” of the people of the Middle East, “which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life”.
He added “My concerned thoughts go out to those who, in search of a place of peace, leave their family and professional life, and experience the precariousness of being exiles. Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we can not resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions. A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community, increasingly aware of the importance of a stable and lasting peace in the region for the entire world”.

Below is a translation of Pope Benedict’s words.

Dear pilgrims, those of you here, or who are taking part in the Angelus through radio or television; in the coming days, I will make an apostolic visit to Lebanon to sign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, fruit of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, held in October 2010. I will have the happy opportunity to meet with the Lebanese people and authorities, and the Christians of that beloved country and those from neighboring countries. I am aware of the often dramatic situation experienced by the people of this region, too long torn apart by incessant conflicts. I understand the anguish of many Middle Eastern people immersed in daily sufferings of all kinds, which sadly, and at times mortally, plague their personal and family life. My concerned thoughts go out to those who, in search of a place of peace, leave their family and professional life, and experience the precariousness of being exiles. Even though the search for solutions to the various problems affecting the region seems difficult, we can not resign ourselves to the violence and exasperation of tensions. A commitment to dialogue and reconciliation must be a priority for all parties involved, and must be supported by the international community, increasingly aware of the importance of a stable and lasting peace in the region for the whole world. My apostolic visit to Lebanon, and by extension in the Middle East as a whole, is placed under the sign of peace, referring to the words of Christ: "My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). May God bless Lebanon and the Middle East! May God bless you all!

Holy Gospel on the Sixteenth Sunday of Pentecost: Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

Letter to the Romans 8:18-27.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 18:9-14.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:  ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, "God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income." But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’

Monthly Message of the Virgin Mary for Nonbelievers on September 02, 2012 From Medjugorje

"Dear children, as my eyes are looking at you, my soul is seeking those souls with whom it desires to be one – the souls who have understood the importance of prayer for those of my children who have not come to know the love of the Heavenly Father. I am calling you because I need you. Accept the mission and do not be afraid, I will strengthen you. I will fill you with my graces. With my love I will protect you from the evil spirit. I will be with you. With my presence I will console you in difficult moments. Thank you for your open hearts. Pray for priests. Pray that the unity between my Son and them may be all the stronger, that they may be one. Thank you."

Holy Gospel on the Fifteenth Sunday of Pentecost: Repentance of a Sinful Woman.

First Letter to the Thessalonians 1:1-10.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of people we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for in spite of persecution you received the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place where your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it. For the people of those regions report about us what kind of welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming.

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to
Saint Luke 7:36-50.
One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him that she is a sinner.’ Jesus spoke up and said to him, ‘Simon, I have something to say to you.’ ‘Teacher,’ he replied, ‘speak.’  ‘A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?’ Simon answered, ‘I suppose the one for whom he cancelled the greater debt.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘You have judged rightly.’ Then turning towards the woman, he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ Then he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ And he said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’