PSALM 119: A CELEBRATION OF THE BEAUTY OF THE WORD OF GOD
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS REPORTS) - In his general audience this morning Benedict XVI focused his catechesis on Psalm 119, the longest of the Psalms, constructed as an acrostic in which each stanza begins with one of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Its subject matter is "the Torah of the Lord; that is, His Law, a term which in its broadest and most complete definition comprehends teaching, instruction and life guidance. The Torah is revelation, it is the Word of God which is addressed to man and which arouses his response of faithful obedience and generous love", the Pope said. (IMAGE SOURCE: RADIO VATICANA)
"The Psalmist's faithfulness arises from listening to the Word, from keeping it in his heart, meditating upon it and loving it, like Mary who 'treasured in her heart' the words addressed to her, the marvellous events in which God revealed Himself and asked for her response of faith", he explained. The Psalmist describes those who walk in the Law of the Lord as blessed, and indeed "Mary is blessed because she bore the Saviour in her womb, but above all because she accepted God's annunciation and treasured His Word attentively and lovingly".
Psalm 119 is constructed around this Word of life and blessing. Its central theme is the Word and the Law, and its verses are replete with synonyms thereof such as "precepts, decrees, promises", associated with verbs such as "to know, to love, to meditate, to live", the Holy Father explained. "The entire alphabet features in the twenty-two verses of the Psalm, as does the entire vocabulary of the believer's relationship of trust with God. We find praise, thanksgiving and trust, but also supplication and lamentation; however, all of them are pervaded by the certainty of divine grace and the power of the Word of God. Even those verses most marked by suffering and darkness remain open to hope and are permeated with faith".
The Law of God, which is "the centre of life", must be "listened to with obedience but not servility, with filial trust and awareness. To listen to the Word is to have a personal encounter with the Lord of life. ... The fulfilment of the Law is to follow Jesus". Thus Psalm 119 "guides us towards the Gospel", the Pope explained. In this context he focused particularly on verse 57: "The Lord is my portion; I promise to keep your words".
"The term 'portion'", he explained, "evokes the partition of the Promised Land among the tribes of Israel, when the Levites were given no part of the territory because their 'portion' was the Lord Himself. ... These verses are also important for us today, especially for priests, who are called to live from the Lord and from His Word alone, with no other guarantees, no other wealth, and having Him as their one source of true life. It is in this light that we can understand the free choice of celibacy for the Kingdom of heaven, which must be rediscovered in all its beauty and power.
"These verses are also important for the faithful, the People of God who belong only to Him", the Pope added in conclusion. "They are called to experience the radical nature of the Gospel, to be witnesses of the life brought by Christ, the new and definitive 'High Priest' Who offered Himself in sacrifice for the salvation of the world. The Lord and His Word are our 'land' in which to live in communion and joy".
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Having addressed greetings in a number of languages to the pilgrims attending his general audience this morning, Benedict XVI launched an appeal for the victims of recent flooding. "At this time", he said, "various parts of the world, from Latin America - and especially Central America - to Southeast Asia, have been hit by floods and landslides which have caused many deaths and left many missing and homeless. Once again I wish to express my closeness to all those who suffer these natural disasters, at the same time calling on people to pray for the victims and their families, and to show solidarity, that institutions and men and women of good will may collaborate generously to help the thousands of people affected by such calamities".
The Pope becomes honorary citizen of Natz-Schabs/Naz-Siaves
At the end of this morning's general audience, a delegation from the local authorities of Natz-Schabs/Naz-Siaves, located in the Italian province of Bolzano, led by Mayor Peter Gasser, conferred honorary citizenship upon the Pope. Benedict XVI's great-grandmother Elisabeth Maria Tauber and his grandmother, Maria Tauber-Peintner, were both born in that town, respectively, in 1832 and 1855.
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Msgr. Francesco Follo, Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), participated in the general conference of that organisation, held in the French capital Paris on 29 October. His comments focused on the question of peace in the world which, he said, needs to be constructed on the basis of small communities such as the family, the school and the city. Extracts from his remarks are given below:
"Local peace is vital in order to achieve universal peace. ... Man is a social being, made to live in community. And it is in small communities, which constitute small societies, that we must first seek models and guidance to live in peace. There are many such small societies, but I will mention just three".
"The first is the family. If man is to learn to be human he must begin within the family. ... The family is an the place in which we first meet others. ... Learning to live in the family is, then, a priority".
The second "small society" is "the school, ... the place where children learn how to behave in a social setting. ... Children need various forms of culture and knowledge, but the school would be failing in its mission if it proposed only theoretical teachings while overlooking its duty to foster serene coexistence, which is necessary if each individual is to achieve fulfilment. ... For this reason we must use all possible means to ensure that children learn to live together, respecting legitimate differences and experiencing human fraternity and friendship. ... Wisdom is not only the accumulation of knowledge, it is the fruit of experience and of the art of living. For Christians it is a gift of God. What counts is not knowledge for its own sake, but knowing in order to serve, to live with others in peace".
"In a deeply divided world, threatened by violent confrontation in many forms, the school can produce workers for peace, promoting a culture of dialogue open to self-criticism. Moreover, in their own way and with their own means, schools can contrast situations of inequality, insisting that everyone's human rights be respected. Above all they can educate people to understand what we are: a single human family".
"Families and schools exist in what we could call a city. ... Our world is becoming increasingly urbanised, and cities have become the dwelling place of most of our contemporaries, places where, paradoxically, we experience refined culture and great violence, wealth and poverty. We must, then, work to ensure that cities and villages become truly human; in other words, to ensure that the community of individuals of which they are composed ... agree to base their lives on the positive principles deriving from their respective cultures, principles which lead to a culture of peace and the eradication of all forms of violence".
"The construction of peace on the basis of these three components: family, school and city, will lead to a culture of peace which may have a positive effect on the harmonious coexistence of nations".
VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Jose F. Advincula of San Carlos, Philippines, as metropolitan archbishop of Capiz (area 2,663, population 766,753, Catholics 715,128, priests 113, religious 122), Philippines. He succeeds Archbishop Onesimo C. Gordoncillo, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Franco Lovignana, vicar general of the diocese of Aosta, Italy, as bishop of that diocese (area 3,262, population 129,919, Catholics 127,116, priests 115, permanent deacons 17, religious 155). The bishop-elect was born in Aosta in 1957 and ordained a priest in 1981. Following his ordination he studied in Rome where he gained a degree in pastoral theology. He has worked as pastor, episcopal vicar for diocesan pastoral care and professor of theology; and as vice rector, bursar and later rector of the seminary of Aosta. He succeeds Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Elevated the territorial prelature of Obidos (area 182,960, population 210,200, Catholics 172,000, priests 21, religious 27), Brazil, to the rank of diocese, appointing Bishop Bernardo Johannes Bahlmann O.F.M., currently prelate of Obidos, as bishop of the new diocese.