On the Saints
"They Represent for Us a Real Path of Access to Jesus"
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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today during the weekly general audience, held at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Every day the Church offers for our consideration one or more saints and blesseds whom we can invoke and imitate. This week, for example, we remember some who are much loved by popular devotion.
Yesterday, St. John Eudes who, in face of the rigor of the Jansenists -- we are talking about the 17th century -- promoted a tender devotion, whose inextinguishable sources, he indicated, are in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Today we remember Bernard of Clairvaux, whom Pope Pius VIII called "mellifluous doctor" because he was outstanding in "distilling from the biblical texts the meaning hidden in them." Events led this mystic, desirous of living submerged in the "luminous valley" of contemplation, to travel through Europe to serve the Church in the needs of his time and to defend the Christian doctrine. He has also been described as "Marian doctor," not because he wrote very much on the Mother of God, but because he was able to understand her essential role in the Church, presenting her as the perfect model of monastic life and of every form of Christian life.
Tomorrow we will remember St. Pius X, who lived in a tormented historical period. Of him John Paul II said, when he visited his birthplace in 1985: "He fought and suffered for the freedom of the Church and for this freedom he offered his willingness to sacrifice privileges and honors, to face misunderstandings and ridicule, as he valued this freedom as the ultimate guarantee for the integrity and coherence of the faith" (Teachings of John Paul II, VIII, 1, 1985, page 1818).
Next Friday will be dedicated to the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, memorial instituted by the Servant of God Pius XII in 1955, and which the liturgical renewal, desired by Vatican Council II, established as complement to the festivity of the Assumption, given that both privileges form only one mystery.
Finally, on Saturday we will pray to St. Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint of the Latin American continent, of which she is the principal patron. St. Rose often repeated: "If men knew what it is to live in grace, they would not be afraid of any suffering and would suffer gladly any sorrow, because grace is the fruit of patience." She died at 31 in 1617, after a brief life full of privations and sufferings, on the feast of the Apostle St. Bartholomew, to whom she was very devoted, because he had suffered a particularly painful martyrdom.
Dear brothers and sisters, day after day the Church offers us the possibility to walk in company of the saints. Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote that the saints constitute the most important commentary of the Gospel, their actualization in the day-to-day routine and, therefore, they represent for us a real path of access to Jesus. The writer Jean Guitton described them as "the colors of the spectrum in relation with the light," because with their own hues and accents each one of them reflects the light of God's holiness. How important and advantageous, therefore, is the determination to cultivate the knowledge and devotion of the saints, together with the daily meditation of the word of God and filial love for the Virgin!
The period of vacation is certainly a useful time to review the biography and writings of some men or women saints in particular, but each day of the year offers us the opportunity to become familiar with our heavenly patrons. Their human and spiritual experience shows that holiness is not a luxury, it is not the privilege of a few, an impossible goal for a normal man. In reality, it is the common destiny of all men called to be children of God, the universal vocation of all those who are baptized. Holiness is offered to all.
Naturally, not all the saints are the same. They are, in fact, as I have said, the spectrum of divine light. And one who possesses extraordinary charisms is not necessarily a great saint. The name of many of them is known only by God, because on earth they seemed to have lived a very normal life. And it is precisely these "normal" saints that God usually wants. Their example testifies that, only when one is in contact with the Lord, is one full of peace and joy and in this way it is possible to spread everywhere serenity, hope and optimism. Considering precisely the variety of their charisms, Bernanos, great French writer who was always fascinated by the idea of the saints -- he quotes many of them in his novels -- points out that every saint's life is like "a new flowering of spring." May this also happen to us! Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the supernatural fascination of holiness! May Mary, Queen of all Saints, Mother and refuge of sinners obtain this grace for us!
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I cordially greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's audience. I particularly welcome the altar servers from Malta -- along with their families -- who have been assisting at St. Peter's Basilica. I also greet a group of university students from Ireland.
This week, the liturgical calendar celebrates several remarkable examples of holiness: St. John Eudes, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Pius X and St. Rose of Lima. The summer months provide an opportunity for us to read about the lives of these and all the saints, who show us that holiness is not the privilege of a few, but the vocation of all the baptized. Through their intercession and inspiration, may you learn to love and serve the Lord more ardently in your daily lives. God bless you all!
[In Polish, he said:]
I greet the pilgrims who have come from Poland. Last week Poland was affected by storms and hurricanes, unusual events for that region. There have been dead and wounded. Many have lost the patrimony of a whole life. To all those who in some way have suffered damages because of this tragedy, I wish to assure my spiritual closeness and remembrance in my prayer. May the Lord's blessing descend upon them and on those here present.
[Translation by ZENIT]
Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana