Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Pope Benedict XVI

11/8/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Learning or relearning an authentic taste for the joys of life

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Highlights

By Pope Benedict XVI

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

11/8/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Year of Faith, new Evangelization, general audience, prayer, desire, search for God, spirituality, Pope Benedict XVI


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We offer below the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's Wedneday General Audience on Finding Joy and Man's Desire for God:

*****

Dear brothers and sisters,

The journey of reflection that we are making together this Year of Faith leads us to meditate today on a fascinating aspect of the Human and Christian experience: man carries within himself a mysterious desire for God. In a very significant way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens with the following consideration: "The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for"(No. 27).

Such a statement, which even today in many cultural contexts seems quite acceptable, almost obvious, might instead appear as a provocation in the sphere of secularized Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could, in fact, argue that they do not feel such a desire for God at all. For large sectors of society He is no longer desired, expected, but rather a reality that leaves some indifferent and not even worth wasting one's breath over.

Actually, what we have defined as "desire for God" has not completely disappeared and still today, in many ways, appears in the heart of man. Human desire always tends towards certain tangible assets, which are often far from spiritual, and yet it is still faced with the question of what "the" good really is and as a result confront itself with something other than itself, something that man cannot create, but is called upon to recognize. What can really satisfy man's desire?

In my first encyclical, Deus caritas est, I tried to analyze how such dynamism is experienced in human love, an experience which in our era is more easily perceived as a moment of ecstasy, of going beyond oneself, as a place where man senses that he is being filled with a desire that is beyond him. Through love, men and women experience in a new way, thanks to one another, the grandeur and beauty of life and of reality.

If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I really want the good of the other as a path towards my own good, then I must be willing to de-centralize myself, to put myself at the service of the other to the point of surrendering myself. The answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love thus passes through the cleansing and healing of the will, which is required by the very good we want for the other. We have to practise, train and even correct ourselves so that that good may be truly wanted.

The initial ecstasy translates thus becomes a pilgrimage, "an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God" (Enc. Deus caritas est, 6). Through this journey man will gradually deepen his knowledge of that love which he initially experienced.

And the mystery which it represents will increasingly come to the fore: not even the beloved, in fact, is able to satiate the desire that dwells in the human heart, indeed, the more authentic the love for each other is, the more the question of its origin, its destiny and its chances of lasting forever emerges. Therefore, the human experience of love has a dynamism that draws us beyond ourselves, it is an experience of a good that leads us beyond ourselves faces us with the mystery that surrounds all existence.

Similar considerations also could also be made about other human experiences, such as friendship, the experience of beauty, love of knowledge: all that is good and experienced by man is projected toward the mystery that surrounds man himself; every wish that arises in the human heart is echoed by a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied. Certainly from that deep desire, which also hides something enigmatic, one cannot arrive straight to faith. Man, after all, knows what does not satisfy, but can't imagine or define that which would make him experience the happiness that his heart longs for. One cannot know God, beginning simply with man's desire.

From this point of view the mystery remains: the man seeks the Absolute, in small and uncertain steps. And yet, the experience of desire, of the ' restless heart ' as St. Augustine termed it, is very significant. It proves that man is, deep down, a religious being (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28), a "beggar of God". We can say with the words of Pascal: "man infinitely surpasses man" (Thoughts,. Chevalier 438; ed. Brunschvicg 434). The eyes recognize objects when they are illuminated by light. Hence the desire to know the light itself, which makes the things of the world shine and thus illuminate the sense of beauty.

We therefore must believe that even in our era, seemingly reluctant to the transcendent dimension, that it is possible to open a path toward an authentic religious meaning of life, showing how the gift of faith is not absurd, it is not irrational. It would be of great use, for that purpose, to promote a pedagogy of desire, both for the journey of those who still do not believe and for those who have already received the gift of faith. A pedagogy that includes at least two aspects.

First, learning or relearning an authentic taste for the joys of life.

Not every satisfactions produces the same effect in us: some leave a positive trace, are able to pacify the soul, make us more active and generous. Others, after an initial light, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had aroused and sometimes leave behind bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness.
Educating people from their childhood to savour the true joys, in all spheres of life - family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, renouncing of oneself to serve others, love for knowledge, for art, for the beauty of nature - this means exercising the inner taste and producing effective antibodies against today's widespread trivialization and banalization. Adults also need to rediscover these joys, to desire authentic realities, purifying themselves of the mediocrity which may have become involved in.

In this way it becomes then easier to leave aside or reject all that while seemingly attractive, turns out to be rather tasteless, a source of addiction, not freedom. And this fosters that desire of God that we're talking about.

A second aspect, which goes hand in hand with the former, is never settling for what has been achieved.
The truest joys are able to free in us that healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding - to want a higher, deeper good - and also to perceive with increasing clarity that nothing finite can ever fill our hearts. In this way we will learn to reach out, unarmed, towards that good that we cannot build or provide ourselves with by our strengths; to not be discouraged by fatigue or by obstacles born of our sins.

In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it takes a wrong turn, chasing artificial paradises and seems to lose the ability to yearn for true good. Even in the abyss of sin that spark is still alive in human hearts that enables man to recognize the true good, to savour it, and set out again on the upward climb, on which God, with the gift of His grace, never fails to help.

All of us need to tread a path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims on the journey toward our Heavenly homeland, towards that full, eternal good, that nothing can every take from us. It is not a question of suffocating the desire that is in the human heart, but of freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When desire is open to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God.

In this pilgrimage, all are our brethren, our fellow travellers, even those who do not believe, those who are seeking, those who sincerely question the dynamism of their desire for truth and good. Let us pray, in this Year of faith, that God may shows His face to all who seek him with a sincere heart.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Europe

Anguished refugee family throws themselves on train tacks after being denied entry into Germany Watch

Image of Photos show a father trying to protect his wife and child by lying down on the tracks in protest. Hungarian officers dragged them away for their own safety.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Western Europe is in its worst throes of a refugee crisis since the 1990s with the sudden influx of North African and Middle Eastern refugees struggling for a better life in the west. One such refugee family, in a series of dramatic photos, threw themselves on ... continue reading


Heartbreaking images of drowned Syrian toddler captures the Middle East's refugee crisis Watch

Image of The body of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi is found lying on the shore of a Turkish resort town.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Images depicting the body of a drowned toddler lying on the shores of Bodrum have gone viral, showcasing the desperation of fleeing migrants from Syria and the middle East. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (Catholic Online) - Two boats carrying fleeing immigrants capsized on ... continue reading


ISIS fighters caught crossing border disguised as refugees Watch

Image of Europe is experiencing a massive amount of migrant intake.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five ISIS fighters were seized as they attempted to cross the Bulgarian-Macedonian border with gruesome videos and ISIS propaganda on their phones. The terrorist suspects assumed the identities of refugees. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - It was reported ... continue reading


Shocking water misters at entrance of Auschwitz museum remind guests of gas chamber Watch

Image of Misters at the Auschwitz Museum in Polond too closely resemble gas chambers.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Water mists were placed at the entrance of the Auschwitz Museum in Poland in an effort to beat the heat but Israeli visitors were far from "cool." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The mist raining down on guests reminded them of gas chambers, bringing back ... continue reading


Not London, New York or Paris: Luanda, Angola the most expensive city on Earth for... Watch

Image of According to Mercer's annual Cost of Living survey, places Luanda as by far the priciest city for foreign workers to live.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's nowhere as well known as New York, Paris or London - but Luanda, Angola remains the most expensive city by far for expatriates to live in. Luanda ranked as the most expensive city to live in for the third time in a row. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Discovery of purported 'Nazi gold train' taken seriously in Poland Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The declarations from a German man and Polish man of discovery a long-lost Nazi train filled with gold and other treasures is being taken seriously by Poland's deputy culture minister. He says he is "convinced" the train exists. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Abandoned truck holds over 20 dead migrants in Austria Watch

Image of Truck found abandoned carrying the bodies of more than 20 dead migrants

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A police manhunt takes place after the discovery of an abandoned truck containing the bodies of migrants attempting to cross Austria's border. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Austrian police report up to 50 migrants suffocated in the back of a refrigerated food ... continue reading


Vatican involvement in Ashley Madison Web site leak disproven Watch

Image of At first glance, the claim seems questionable - why would top Church officials sworn to celibacy sign up for a Web site for married people, and no less one that promotes adultery?

By CNA/EWTN News

Early this week, a leak of personal data from millions of users of Ashley Madison, a Web site designed to arrange extramarital affairs, wreaked havoc on and off the internet. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - At least two suicides have been reported in conjunction ... continue reading


Four-star General reveals horrendous WWII scenes in never-before-seen photographs (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Four-star General Charles Day Palmer detailed the fights in Western Front during World War II by taking snapshots of the bombed-out cities and lifeless bodies. He kept personal photos of the battlefields in Germany and France and is now releasing them to the public for ... continue reading


Brainwashed teenage girl taken away from radical jihadi parents Watch

Image of Judge Anthony Hayden, pictured, today compared the radicalization of the 16-year-old girl, known as B as similar to that as child sex abuse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A 16-year-old girl in East London has been removed from her home after a judge ruled that she was being radicalized by her parents with Islamic State propaganda. The straight-A student, known only as "B" was stopped last year when she tried to fly to Syria to ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:15-20
15 He is the image of the unseen God, the first-born ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:1, 2, 3, 4, 5
1 [Psalm For thanksgiving] Acclaim Yahweh, all the ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:33-39
33 They then said to him, 'John's disciples are ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 4th, 2015 Image

St. Rosalia
September 4: St. Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses and Quisquina, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter