Pope Benedict XVI: On this Lenten Journey Let us be Attentive to Christ's Invitation
penance is the primary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sin committed after baptism. Certainly the Savior and his salvific action are not so bound to a sacramental sign as to be unable in any period or area of the history of salvation to work outside and above the sacraments. But in the school of faith we learn that the same Savior desired and provided that the simple and precious sacraments of faith would ordinarily be the effective means through which his redemptive power passes and operates. It would therefore be foolish, as well as presumptuous, to wish arbitrarily to disregard the means of grace and salvation which the Lord has provided and, in the specific case, to claim to receive forgiveness while doing without the sacrament which was instituted by Christ precisely for forgiveness" (31).
The Holy Sacrifice of The Mass: Climax of The Lenten Journey
Returning again to our Christian lenten journey with and in and through Christ, Pope Benedict explained that "It is above all in the liturgy, in participation in the holy mysteries, that we are drawn into following this path with the Lord, . . ."
It is in assisting at the Liturgy of the Mass, the Holy Sacrifice, that Christians are drawn most closely into the Paschal Mystery: the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the path our Savior has set before his People: that they should be present at his most sacred sacrifice, as was the Virgin Mother of God and the beloved disciple (see Jn 19:26). Yet at Mass we are not simply present at the foot of the cross, for as we walk forward and receive the true body, blood, soul and divinity of the Risen One in Eucharist, we receive infinitely more than those who, standing on Calvary some two-thousand years past, received by use of their sight. In reception of Eucharist, we do not merely watch as a distant onlooker; rather, we truly enter into the Paschal Mystery through Jesus' gift of Himself, and thus are swept up into the supernatural life of the Holy Trinity.
Pope Benedict noted that in Liturgy we relive the "events that have led us to salvation; but not as a simple commemoration, a recollection of things past. There is a keyword to indicate this," continued our Holy Father, "which is often repeated in the liturgy: the word 'today,' which must be understood not metaphorically but in its original concrete sense. Today God reveals His law and we have the opportunity to chose between good and evil, between life and death."
The Pope concluded with these words: "On this Lenten journey, let us be attentive to welcoming Christ's invitation to follow Him more decisively and coherently, renewing the grace and commitments of our Baptism, so as to abandon the old man who is in us and clothe ourselves in Christ, thus reaching Easter renewed and being able to say with St. Paul 'it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.'"
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever have. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pope Benedict XVI, Lent, lenten, penance, lenten message, F. K. Bartels
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