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Pope Answers Seminarians (Part 1)

3/4/2007 - 6:00 AM PST

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"We Must Accept Our Frailty But Keep On Going"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the Vatican translation of the answers Benedict XVI gave to questions posed by seminarians of the Roman Major Seminary, during the Popes visit there Feb. 17.

Part 2 of the questions and answers will be published on Tuesday.

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VISIT TO THE COMMUNITY OF THE ROMAN MAJOR SEMINARY
ON OCCASION OF THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF TRUST

ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 17 February 2007

Gregorpaolo Stano, Diocese of Oria (First-Year Philosophy): Your Holiness, ours is the first of two years dedicated to discernment, during which we are taught to make a profound personal examination. It is a tiring exercise for us, because the language of God is special, and only those who are attentive are able discern it among the thousands of voices clamoring inside us. We are asking you, therefore, to help us to understand how God talks in practice and what clues he gives you in his private pronouncements?

Pope Benedict XVI: As a first word, a "thank you" to Monsignor Rector for his address. I am already curious to read that text you will be writing and also to learn from it. I am not sure whether I can clarify the essential points of life in the seminary, but I shall give it a try.

Now, for the first question: how can we distinguish God's voice from among the thousands of voices we hear each day in our world. I would say: God speaks with us in many different ways. He speaks through others, through friends, parents, pastors, priests. Here, the priests to whom you are entrusted, who are guiding you.

He speaks by means of the events in our life, in which we are able to discern God's touch; he speaks also through nature, creation, and he speaks, naturally and above all, through his Word, in Sacred Scripture, read in the communion of the Church and read personally in conversation with God.

It is important to read Sacred Scripture in a very personal way, and really, as St Paul says, not as a human word or a document from the past as we read Homer or Virgil, but as God's Word which is ever timely and speaks to me. It is important to learn to understand in a historical text, a text from the past, the living Word of God, that is, to enter into prayer and thus read Sacred Scripture as a conversation with God.

St Augustine often says in his homilies: I knocked on various occasions at the door of this Word until I could perceive what God himself was saying to me. It is of paramount importance to combine this very personal reading, this personal talk with God in which I search for what the Lord is saying to me, and in addition to this personal reading, reading it in the community is very important because the living subject of Sacred Scripture is the People of God, it is the Church.

This Scripture was not simply restricted to great writers -- even if the Lord always needs the person and his personal response --, but it developed with people who were traveling together on the journey of the People of God and thus, their words are expressions of this journey, of this reciprocity of God's call and the human response.

Thus, the subject lives today as it lived at that time so that Scripture does not belong to the past, because its subject, the People of God inspired by this same God, is always the same, and therefore the Word is always alive in the living subject.

It is consequently important to read Sacred Scripture and experience Sacred Scripture in the communion of the Church, that is, with all the great witnesses of this Word, beginning with the first Fathers and ending with today's Saints, with today's Magisterium.

Above all, it is a Word that becomes vital and alive in the Liturgy. I would say, therefore, that the Liturgy is the privileged place where every one of us can enter into the "we" of the sons of God, in conversation with God. This is important. The Our Father begins with the words: "Our Father"; only if I am integrated into the "we" of this "Our" can I find the Father; only within this "we", which is the subject of the prayer of the Our Father, do we hear the Word of God clearly.

Thus, this seems to me most important: the Liturgy is the privileged place where the Word is alive, is present, indeed, where the Word, the Logos, the Lord, speaks to us and gives himself into our hands; if we are ready to listen to the Lord in this great communion of the Church of all times, we find him. He opens the door to us little by little.

I would say, therefore, that this is the focus for all the other points: we are personally directed on our journey by the Lord, and at the same time we live in the great "we" of the Church, where the Word of God is alive.

Moreover, other points are associated with it: listening to friends, ...

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