Noting the Solemnity of Sacred Heart

"Attracts Souls Thirsting for God's Mercy"

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, before and after reciting the midday Angelus.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

This Sunday, 12th of Ordinary Time, is as though "surrounded" by significant liturgical solemnities. Last Friday we celebrated the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a celebration that correctly unites popular devotion with theological profundity. Consecration to the Sacred Heart was -- and continues to be in some countries -- a tradition in families, which had an image of the Sacred Heart in their homes.

The roots of this devotion are deep in the mystery of the Incarnation: It was precisely through the Heart of Jesus that the Love of God for humanity was manifested in a sublime manner. For this reason, authentic worship of the Sacred Heart keeps all its validity and attracts especially souls thirsting for God's mercy, in which they find the inexhaustible source, from which they can draw the water of Life, capable of watering the deserts of the soul and make hope flower anew.

The solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests: I take advantage of the opportunity to invite you all, dear Brothers and Sisters, to pray always for priests so that they can be witnesses of the love of Christ.

Yesterday the liturgy enabled us to celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, the only saint whose birth is commemorated, as it marked the beginning of the fulfillment of the divine promises: John is this "prophet," identified with Elijah, who was destined to immediately precede the Messiah to prepare the people of Israel for his coming (cf. Matthew 11:14; 17:10-13).

His feast reminds us that our whole life is always subordinated to Christ and attains its fulfillment by receiving him, Word, Light and Bridegroom, of whom we are voices, oil lamps and friends (cf. John 1:2,23; 1:7-8; 3:29). "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30): This expression of the Baptist is a program for every Christian.

To allow the "I" of Christ to take the place of our "I" was, in an exemplary way, the longing of the Apostles Peter and Paul, whom the Church will venerate with solemnity on June 29. St. Paul wrote about himself: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Before them, and before any other saint, the one who lived this reality was Mary Most Holy, who kept the words of her Son Jesus in her heart. Yesterday we contemplated that Immaculate Heart of hers, heart of a Mother, who continues to watch over all of us with tender solicitude. May her intercession enable us to be faithful always to the Christian vocation.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in eight languages. In Italian he said, among other things:]

Today, the Sunday that precedes the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the Pope's Charity Day is observed. My heartfelt thanks to the Italian ecclesial community for the prayers and support it offers my ministry as Successor of Peter, called to serve the whole People of God.

[In English, he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Yesterday we celebrated the solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist. May the example of this great saint's generous and persevering faith inspire each one of us to be steadfast in our Christian life and courageous heralds of the Gospel! May you have a blessed Sunday and a pleasant time in Rome!

[Translation by ZENIT]

© Copyright 2006 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]