Pope Speaks: Today's Church Needs Saints and Martyrs
Edith Stein, Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pontian, St. Lawrence, all martyrs are a sign of the true face of God and the true face of man.
(Pope speaking at the Angelus) 'The Nazi concentration camp,as every death camp, can be considered an extreme symbol of evil, of the hell that comes to earth when man forgets God, and when He is replaced, usurping from Him the right to decide what is good and what is evil, to give life and or to take life.'
The Saints - the pope cited in particular the martyrs Maximilian Kolbe and Edith Stein - are indeed witnesses of “an antithesis which spans history, but at the end of the second millennium, with the contemporary nihilism, we have come to a crucial point, as major writers and thinkers have perceived, and as events have amply demonstrated. "
Edith Stein - explained the pope - was “born in the Jewish faith and was won over by Christ in adulthood, she became a Carmelite nun and sealed her life with martyrdom”, St. Maximilian Kolbe, is a “son of Poland and St. Francis of Assisi, a great apostle of Mary Immaculate”. Both are martyrs killed in Auschwitz.
"The Nazi concentration camp - he added - as every death camp, can be considered an extreme symbol of evil, of the hell that comes to earth when man forgets God, and when He is replaced, usurping from Him the right to decide what is good and what is evil, to give life and or to take life. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not confined to the death camp. It is rather the culmination of an extensive and widespread reality of often nebulous boundaries. "
This reality is precisely the antithesis that became clear at the end of the second millennium, "the opposition between atheistic humanism and Christian humanism, between holiness and nihilism”.
"On the one hand - continued the pope - there are philosophies and ideologies, but also on an increasing scale ways of thinking and acting, which extol the freedom of man as the only principle, as an alternative to God, and thus transform man into a god, whose system behaviour is of an arbitrary nature. On the other hand, we note the saints, who, practicing the gospel of love, make reason of their hope, they show the true face of God who is Love, and at the same time, the true face of man, created in image and likeness of God. "
Benedict XVI also mentioned St. Clare, and especially the martyrs St. Pontian Pope and the deacon St. Lawrence. As in last weeks Angelus he indicated these saints and martyrs "in the context of the Year of the Priest" so they may be examples to all ordained to the priesthood.
"What wonderful models of holiness, the Church proposes to us! These saints are witnesses to that love that loves ‘to the end’, and ignores the evil received, but fights it with the good (cf. 1 Cor 13,4-8). From them we can learn, especially our priests, evangelical heroism that inspires us, without fear, to give our life for the salvation of souls. Love conquers death!”.
And, before the recitation of the Marian prayer, he concluded: "Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to the Virgin Mary, to help us all - first of all we priests - to be holy as these heroic witnesses of the faith and of dedication even to martyrdom. This is the only way to provide a credible and comprehensive answer to the human and spiritual questions, which gives rise to the deep crisis of the contemporary world: love in truth. "
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