Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Pope Benedict XVI

1/24/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Christian should not be afraid to go against the grain to live his or her faith, resisting the temptation to conform.

It is the blessed world of faith to which we are all called, to walk without fear following the Lord Jesus Christ. And sometimes it is difficult journey, one that even knows trial and death, but one that is open to life, in a radical transformation of reality that only the eyes of faith can see and enjoy in abundance.

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Highlights

By Pope Benedict XVI

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/24/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Faith, Abraham, living by faith, counterculture, holiness, year of faith, Pope Benedict XVI


VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We present the official Vatican Translation of Pope Benedict's Wednesday Catechetical teaching to the Pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter's Square in its entirety below:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Year of the faith, I would like to start today to reflect with you on the Creed, the solemn profession of faith which accompanies our lives as believers. The Creed begins, "I believe in God." It is a fundamental affirmation, deceptively simple in its essence, but which opens the infinite world of our relationship with the Lord and with His mystery.

Believing in God implies attachment to him, welcoming his Word and joyful obedience to His revelation. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself" (n. 166).

Being able to say that we believe in God is therefore both a gift and a commitment, it is divine grace and human responsibility, in an experience of dialogue with God who, out of love, "speaks to men as friends" (Dei Verbum, 2), speaks to us so that, in faith and with faith, we enter into communion with Him.

Where can we hear God speaking to us? Holy Scripture is fundamental, in which the Word of God becomes audible for us and nourishes our life as "friends" of God. The entire Bible recounts God's revelation to humanity, the entire Bible speaks of faith and teaches us faith by telling a story in which God carries out His plan of redemption and makes Himself close to man, through many luminous figures of people who believe in Him and trust Him, to the fullness of the revelation of the Lord Jesus.

In this regard, chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews is most beautiful, which speaks of faith and highlights the great biblical figures who lived and became a model for all believers: "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen"(11.1). The eyes of faith are thus able to see the unseen and the heart of the believer can hope beyond all hope, just as Abraham, who Paul says in Romans "believed, hoping against hope" (4.18 ).

In fact I would like to focus my attention on Abraham, because he is the first major reference point when speaking about faith in God, the great patriarch Abraham, role model, father of all believers (cf. Rom 4.11 to 12 ). The Letter to the Hebrews presents him as follows:

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God"(11.8 to 10).

The author of Hebrews refers here to the call of Abraham, narrated in the Book of Genesis. What does God ask of this great patriarch? He asks him to leave, abandoning his country and to go to the country that He will show him, "Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you" (Gen 12:1). How would we respond to an invitation like that? It is, in fact, a departure in the dark, not knowing where God will lead him, it is a journey that calls for obedience and radical trust, which only faith can access.

But the darkness of the unknown is illuminated by the light of a promise: God adds a reassuring word to His command that opens a future of life in its fullness to Abraham: "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great; ... All the families of the earth will find blessing in you"(Gen 12,2.3).

The blessing in Holy Scripture, is related primarily to the gift of life that comes from God, and manifests itself primarily in fertility, in a life that is multiplied, passing from generation to generation. And the blessing is also connected to the experience of owning a land, a stable place to live and grow in freedom and security, fearing God and building a society of men loyal to the Alliance, "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (cf. Ex 19:6).

So Abraham, in the divine plan, is destined to become the "father of a multitude of nations" (Gen 17.5; cf. Rom 4:17-18) and to enter into a new land to live. But Sara, his wife, is sterile, unable to have children, and the country to which God leads him far from his native land, is already inhabited by other peoples, and will never really belong to them. The biblical narrator emphasizes this, although very discreetly: When Abraham arrived in the place of God's promise: "the Canaanites were then in the land" (Gen 12:6).

The land that God gives to Abraham does not belong to him, he is a stranger and will remain so forever, with all that this entails: having no intentions of possession, always averting their poverty, seeing everything as a gift. This is also the spiritual condition of those who agree to follow the Lord, who decide to leave, accepting His call, under the sign of His invisible but powerful blessing. And Abraham, the "father of believers," accepted this call, in the faith.

St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans: "He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "Thus shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as [already] dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah. 20He did not doubt God's promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God 21and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do"(Rom 4.18 to 21).

Faith leads Abraham to on a paradoxical journey. He will be blessed, but without the visible signs of blessing: he is promised he will become a great nation, but with a life marked by the barrenness of Sarah his wife; he is brought to a new home but will have to live there as a foreigner, and the only possession of the land that he will be allowed will be that of a piece of land in which to bury Sarah (cf. Gen 23.1 to 20). Abraham was blessed because, in faith, he was able to discern the divine blessing going beyond appearances, trusting in God's presence even when His ways appear mysterious to him.

What does this mean for us? When we say, "I believe in God," we say, like Abraham: "I trust you, I entrust myself to You, Lord," but not as Someone to run to only in times of difficulty or to whom to dedicate a few moments of the day or of the week. Saying "I believe in God" means grounding my life in Him, letting His Word guide each day, in the concrete choices without fear of losing something of myself.

When, in the Rite of Baptism, we are asked three times: "Do you believe?" In God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church and the other truths of faith, the triple response is in the singular: "I believe," because it is my personal existence that reaches a turning point with the gift of faith, it is my life that must change, convert. Each time we participate in a Baptism we should ask ourselves how we live the great gift of faith every day.

Abraham, the believer, teaches us faith, and, as a stranger on earth, shows us the true homeland. Faith makes us pilgrims on earth, inserted into the world and history, but on the way to the heavenly homeland. Believing in God makes us carries of values which often do not coincide with the prevailing fashion and opinion, it requires us to adopt criteria and a conduct which do not belong to the common way of thinking.

The Christian should not be afraid to go "against the grain" to live his or her faith, resisting the temptation to "conform". In many societies God has become the "great absentee" and there are many and diverse idols now in His place, above all possesion. And also the significant and positive progress in science and technology have created in humans an illusion of omnipotence and self-sufficiency, and a growing self-centeredness, which has created many imbalances within relationships and social behaviours.

And yet, the thirst for God (cf. Ps 63.2) has not been extinguished and the Gospel message continues to resonate through the words and deeds of many men and women of faith. Abraham, the father of believers, continues to be the father of many children who are willing to walk in his footsteps and set out in obedience to the divine call, trusting in the benevolent presence of the Lord and accepting His blessing to be a blessing for all.

It is the blessed world of faith to which we are all called, to walk without fear following the Lord Jesus Christ. And sometimes it is difficult journey, one that even knows trial and death, but one that is open to life, in a radical transformation of reality that only the eyes of faith can see and enjoy in abundance.

Saying "I believe in God" leads us, then, to set out, to continually go beyond ourselves, just as Abraham, to bring the certainty that comes from faith: the certainty into our daily reality, that is, the presence of God in history, even today, a presence that brings life and salvation, and opens us to a future with Him for a fullness of life without sunset.

---


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


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Europe

Putin vs. the World: One plane crash may spell the end for Russian president's ambitious plan of conquest Watch

Image of Russian backed separatists stand around wreckage from the downed Malaysian Airlines plane.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World opinion continues to oppose Russian President Vladimir Putin, with the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine being the most notable and recent example of Russian interference in Ukraine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Time and evidence ... continue reading


Prophetic Pope Does It Again: Words to an Economic Conference Make Waves Watch

Image of Pope Francis is absolutely correct. It is not

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On July 12, 2014, this prophetic Pope made waves again. He addressed participants in an international conference entitled - The Global Common Good: Towards A More Inclusive Economy. The conference was convened in Rome and sponsored by the Pontifical Council for ... continue reading


Sting nabs 600 pedos across UK, Scotland, Northen Ireland Watch

Image of Heightened awareness of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom came in the wake of shocking revelations of predatory sexual behavior by late TV host Jimmy Savile.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Internet sting operation targeting pedophiles has led to the arrest of 660 individuals in the United Kingdom. Among those arrested were teachers, doctors, scout leaders, social care workers and former police officers. The six-month investigation was ... continue reading


MYSTERIOUS BISHOP: Father of British science to be honored Watch

Image of Bishop Robert Grosseteste was one of England's foremost scientific scholars, back in the 13th century.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A theologian from Bishop Grosseteste University in the city of Lincoln has called for the erection of a statue of Bishop Robert Grosseteste, the medieval thinker, in his home city of Lincoln. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Jack Cunningham said that a ... continue reading


Faithful at Istanbul church rattled after Muslim attack Watch

Image of The attacks reopened psychological wounds in light of fatal attacks on Catholics and other Christians in Turkey. Members of the Christian minority here fear that things will only get worse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The faithful at Saint Stephanos Church in Istanbul, Turkey are feeling rattled after an attack was carried out there by Muslims. Attackers verbally assaulted and threatened them during a baptismal service. Muslims have also destroyed church property in the last ... continue reading


Where does the Vatican store its gold? Mostly in the U.S. it turns out Watch

Image of A new report from the Vatican bank details just where the wealth of the Catholic Church is actually stored.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Vatican Bank-formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion-has released a 107-page, detailed financial report for 2013. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This release comes just one week after the group published highlights of its 2013 financial ... continue reading


Church of England rejects Christian tradition and votes to allow women bishops Watch

Image of Church leaders have billed the new proposals as part of a

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While the Archbishop of York asked for the result to be met "with restraint and sensitivity," there were cheers among many Anglicans and Episcopalians when the Church of England voted to allow women to become bishops for first time in its history.The vote ... continue reading


Former euthanasia supporter warns against 'slippery slope' in legalization Watch

Image of Dr. Theo Boer says that in his native Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002, deaths have doubled in just six years. This year's total may reach a record 6,000.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Theo Boer, a veteran European watchdog in assisted suicide cases is sternly warning the United Kingdom to not legalize euthanasia. He says that legalizing assisted suicide is a "slippery slope" towards the widespread killing of the sick. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


FOILED: Eiffel Tower, Louvre was targeted by terrorists Watch

Image of France has since unveiled new anti-terror rules which included a proposal to ban terror suspects from leaving the country if it is thought they intend to fight abroad.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As the tragedy of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 proved, forces of terror are keen to destroy landmarks. The destruction of such landmarks serves to demoralize a population, and spread fear and insecurity about their own safety. Such was the case ... continue reading


Oldest tree in United Kingdom is more than 5,000 years old Watch

Image of The yew is found in churchyards across Europe because the early Church often took over existing religious buildings as it converted and took over pagan regions.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A yew that first took root more than 5,000 years ago in Wales is believed to the United Kingdom's oldest living tree. Residing in a churchyard, the yew was planted 3,000 years ago at the time of Jesus Christ's birth. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According ... 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, Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:1-9
1 That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Bridget of Sweden
July 23: Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Upplandís Lagman, Birger ... 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