Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to talk to you about St Thérèse of Lisieux, Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, who lived in this world for only 24 years, at the end of the 19th century, leading a very simple and hidden life but who, after her death and the publication of her writings, became one of the best-known and best-loved saints. “Little Thérèse” has never stopped helping the simplest souls, the little, the poor and the suffering who pray to her. However, she has also illumined the whole Church with her profound spiritual doctrine to the point that chose, in 1997, to give her the title “Doctor of the Church”, in addition to that of Patroness of Missions, which had already attributed to her in 1939. My beloved Predecessor described her as an “expert in the scientia amoris” (, n. 42). Thérèse expressed this science, in which she saw the whole truth of the faith shine out in love, mainly in the story of her life, published a year after her death with the title The Story of a Soul. The book immediately met with enormous success, it was translated into many languages and disseminated throughout the world.
I would like to invite you to rediscover this small-great treasure, this luminous comment on the Gospel lived to the full! The Story of a Soul, in fact, is a marvellous story of Love, told with such authenticity, simplicity and freshness that the reader cannot but be fascinated by it! But what was this Love that filled Thérèse’s whole life, from childhood to death? Dear friends, this Love has a Face, it has a Name, it is Jesus! The Saint speaks continuously of Jesus. Let us therefore review the important stages of her life, to enter into the heart of her teaching.
Thérèse was born on 2 January 1873 in Alençon, a city in Normandy, in France. She was the last daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin, a married couple and exemplary parents, who were beatified together on 19 October 2008. They had nine children, four of whom died at a tender age. Five daughters were left, who all became religious. Thérèse, at the age of four, was deeply upset by the death of her mother (Ms A 13r). Her father then moved with his daughters to the town of Lisieux, where the Saint was to spend her whole life. Later Thérèse, affected by a serious nervous disorder, was healed by a divine grace which she herself described as the “smile of Our Lady” (ibid., 29v-30v). She then received her First Communion, which was an intense experience (ibid., 35r), and made Jesus in the Eucharist the centre of her life.
The “Grace of Christmas” of 1886 marked the important turning-point, which she called her “complete conversion” (ibid., 44v-45r). In fact she recovered totally, from her childhood hyper-sensitivity and began a “to run as a giant”. At the age of 14, Thérèse became ever closer, with great faith, to the Crucified Jesus. She took to heart the apparently desperate case of a criminal sentenced to death who was impenitent. “I wanted at all costs to prevent him from going to hell”, the Saint wrote, convinced that her prayers would put him in touch with the redeeming Blood of Jesus. It was her first and fundamental experience of spiritual motherhood: “I had such great trust in the Infinite Mercy of Jesus”, she wrote. Together with Mary Most Holy, young Thérèse loved, believed and hoped with “a mother’s heart” (cf. Pr 6/ior).
In November 1887, Thérèse went on pilgrimage to Rome with her father and her sister Céline (ibid., 55v-67r). The culminating moment for her was the Audience with , whom she asked for permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux when she was only just 15. A year later her wish was granted. She became a Carmelite, “to save souls and to pray for priests” (ibid., 69v).
At the same time, her father began to suffer from a painful and humiliating mental illness. It caused Thérèse great suffering which led her to contemplation of the Face of Jesus in his Passion (ibid., 71rc). Thus, her name as a religious — Sr Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face — expresses the programme of her whole life in communion with the central Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption. Her religious profession, on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, 8 September 1890, was a true spiritual espousal in evangelical “littleness”, characterized by the symbol of the flower: “It was the Nativity of Mary. What a beautiful feast on which to become the Spouse of Jesus! It was the little new-born Holy Virgin who presented her little Flower to the little Jesus” (ibid., 77r).
For Thérèse, being a religious meant being a bride of Jesus and a mother of souls (cf. Ms B, 2v). On the same day, the Saint wrote a prayer which expressed the entire orientation of her life: she asked Jesus for the gift of his infinite Love, to be the smallest, and above all she asked for the salvation of all human being: “That no soul may be damned today” (Pr 2).
Of great importance is her Offering to Merciful Love, made on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity in 1895 (Ms A, 83v-84r; Pr 6). It was an offering that Thérèse immediately shared with her sisters, since she was already acting novice mistress.
Ten years after the “Grace of Christmas” in 1896, came the “Grace of Easter”, which opened the last period of Thérèse’s life with the beginning of her passion in profound union with the Passion of Jesus. It was the passion of her body, with the illness that led to her death through great suffering, but it was especially the passion of the soul, with a very painful trial of faith (Ms C, 4v-7v). With Mary beside the Cross of Jesus, Thérèse then lived the most heroic faith, as a light in the darkness that invaded her soul. The Carmelite was aware that she was living this great trial for the salvation of all the atheists of the modern world, whom she called “brothers”.
She then lived fraternal love even more intensely (8r-33v): for the sisters of her community, for her two spiritual missionary brothers, for the priests and for all people, especially the most distant. She truly became a “universal sister”! Her lovable, smiling charity was the expression of the profound joy whose secret she reveals: “Jesus, my joy is loving you” (P 45/7). In this context of suffering, living the greatest love in the smallest things of daily life, the Saint brought to fulfilment her vocation to be Love in the heart of the Church (cf. Ms B, 3v).
Thérèse died on the evening of 30 September 1897, saying the simple words, “My God, I love you!”, looking at the Crucifix she held tightly in her hands. These last words of the Saint are the key to her whole doctrine, to her interpretation of the Gospel the act of love, expressed in her last breath was as it were the continuous breathing of her soul, the beating of her heart. The simple words “Jesus I love you”, are at the heart of all her writings. The act of love for Jesus immersed her in the Most Holy Trinity. She wrote: “Ah, you know, Divine Jesus I love you / The spirit of Love enflames me with his fire, / It is in loving you that I attract the Father” (P 17/2).
Dear friends, we too, with St Thérèse of the Child Jesus must be able to repeat to the Lord every day that we want to live of love for him and for others, to learn at the school of the saints to love authentically and totally. Thérèse is one of the “little” ones of the Gospel who let themselves be led by God to the depths of his Mystery. A guide for all, especially those who, in the People of God, carry out their ministry as theologians. With humility and charity, faith and hope, Thérèse continually entered the heart of Sacred Scripture which contains the Mystery of Christ. And this interpretation of the Bible, nourished by the science of love, is not in opposition to academic knowledge. The science of the saints, in fact, of which she herself speaks on the last page of her The Story of a Soul, is the loftiest science.
“All the saints have understood and in a special way perhaps those who fill the universe with the radiance of the evangelical doctrine. Was it not from prayer that St Paul, St Augustine, St John of the Cross, St Thomas Aquinas, Francis, Dominic, and so many other friends of God drew that wonderful science which has enthralled the loftiest minds?” (cf. Ms C 36r). Inseparable from the Gospel, for Thérèse the Eucharist was the sacrament of Divine Love that stoops to the extreme to raise us to him. In her last Letter, on an image that represents Jesus the Child in the consecrated Host, the Saint wrote these simple words: “I cannot fear a God who made himself so small for me! […] I love him! In fact, he is nothing but Love and Mercy!” (LT 266).
In the Gospel Thérèse discovered above all the Mercy of Jesus, to the point that she said: “To me, He has given his Infinite Mercy, and it is in this ineffable mirror that I contemplate his other divine attributes. Therein all appear to me radiant with Love. His Justice, even more perhaps than the rest, seems to me to be clothed with Love” (Ms A, 84r).
In these words she expresses herself in the last lines of The Story of a Soul: “I have only to open the Holy Gospels and at once I breathe the perfume of Jesus’ life, and then I know which way to run; and it is not to the first place, but to the last, that I hasten…. I feel that even had I on my conscience every crime one could commit… my heart broken with sorrow, I would throw myself into the arms of my Saviour Jesus, because I know that he loves the Prodigal Son” who returns to him. (Ms C, 36v-37r).
“Trust and Love” are therefore the final point of the account of her life, two words, like beacons, that illumined the whole of her journey to holiness, to be able to guide others on the same “little way of trust and love”, of spiritual childhood (cf. Ms C, 2v-3r; LT 226).
Trust, like that of the child who abandons himself in God’s hands, inseparable from the strong, radical commitment of true love, which is the total gift of self for ever, as the Saint says, contemplating Mary: “Loving is giving all, and giving oneself” (Why I love thee, Mary, P 54/22). Thus Thérèse points out to us all that Christian life consists in living to the full the grace of Baptism in the total gift of self to the Love of the Father, in order to live like Christ, in the fire of the Holy Spirit, his same love for all the others.
|WITNESSES IN THE TRIAL AGAINST GABRIELE AND SCIARPELLETTI |
Vatican City, 1 October 2012 (VIS) - Made public this morning was the list of witnesses to be called in the trials against Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti who are accused, respectively, of aggravated theft and complicity.
The witnesses in the criminal trial against Claudio Sciarpelletti are: Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, William Kloter, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti and Domenico Giani.
The witnesses in the criminal trial against Paolo Gabriele are: Cristina Cernetti, Giuseppe Pesce, Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, Costanzo Alessandrini, Luca Cinitia, Stefano De Santis, Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti.
Also made public today was the response to a question raised during a briefing with journalists on 27 September, to the effect that the trial will take place without a "reporting magistrate". In a criminal trial, unlike a civil trial, normally there is no report into the circumstances of the case. The documents published on 13 August when the accused were sent for trial, and the earlier indictment of the promoter of justice, already describe the case in detail.
|MATERIAL WEALTH MUST BE USED FOR THE COMMON GOOD |
Vatican City, 30 September 2012 (VIS) - At midday today the Holy Father appeared at the balcony overlooking the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered there.
The Pope focused his comments on today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Mark which narrates how a man who was not one of Jesus' disciples expelled demons in His name, The Apostle John wanted to stop him but Christ would not allow it, taking "the opportunity to teach His disciples that God can bring about good and even miraculous things, even outside of their circle, and that one can cooperate with the Kingdom of God in various ways".
"Therefore, members of the Church must not feel jealous, but rejoice if someone from outside the community does good in the name of Christ, provided it is done with right intention and with respect. Even within the Church, it can sometimes happen that people find it difficult to appreciate and recognise, in a spirit of profound communion, the good done by different ecclesial elements. And yet, all of us should always be able to appreciate and respect one another, praising the Lord for the infinite 'imagination' with which He acts in the Church and the world".
Benedict XVI then turned his attention to the Letter of St. James, which inveighs "against the dishonest rich, who put their trust in riches accumulated by deceit. ... The words of the Apostle James, while they warn against the vain desire for material wealth, are also a powerful call to use it in the perspective of solidarity and the common good, always acting with fairness and morality, at all levels".
|APPEAL FOR PEACE IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO |
Vatican City, 30 September 2012 (VIS) - "I follow with affection and concern the affairs of the people in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are currently the subject of a high-level meeting at the United Nations. I remain especially close to the refugees, the women and the children who suffer violence and profound hardship because of the persistent armed clashes. I pray to God that peaceful means may be found to open dialogue and protect the innocent, that peace based on justice may return as swiftly as possible; and that the fraternal coexistence of those sorely-tried peoples may be restored, there and throughout the region".
Subsequently, speaking in French, he spoke of the reopening of universities after the summer break, encouraging professors and educators "in their exalted mission to serve young people". He expressed the hope that they would transmit to their students "the pleasure of learning in order to find a job and occupy a place in society. Universities can be places where people experience fraternity. They are places in which God must not be absent. I invite adults always to educate the young in mutual respect, concern for others and the search for God".
|BENEDICT XVI TAKES HIS LEAVE OF CASTELGANDOLFO |
Vatican City, 29 September 2012 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon Benedict XVI bid farewell to the staff of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo where, as he does every year, he has spent the summer months.
"Everything in this world is transitory", said the Pope. "All things that begin, even the most positive and beautiful things, inevitably encapsulate their own conclusion. So it is for the serene and peaceful time I have spent with you in the beautiful setting of Castelgandolfo where, once again, I have been able to breathe a cordial family atmosphere. ... My affectionate greetings go to all the staff and their families".
The Holy Father went on: "The month of September, which is now behind us, is always a time for restarting after the summer holidays. For your children school has opened, for all of you more intense and assiduous work has begun again. In the Church too, for many Christian communities throughout the world, what God the Father gives us is the time of a new pastoral year which begins. Certain significant events are now upon us: I am thinking of my imminent visit to Loreto by which I wish to recall the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed John XXIII's pilgrimage there during which he entrusted Vatican Council II to the Virgin; I am thinking of the Synod of Bishops which will reflect on new evangelisation in the world and finally of the opening - on the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II - of the Year of Faith which I have called in order to help all men and women open their hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus and the Word of salvation.
"Thus to your prayers, dear friends, do I entrust these important ecclesial events we are called to experience", the Pope added. "May the Virgin Mary, the Church's Mother and ours, whom we trustingly invoke during the month of October with the daily recitation of the Rosary, protect you always", he concluded.
This morning the Holy Father likewise bid farewell to representatives of the civil and religious authorities of Castelgandolfo. The time spent there, he told them "has allowed me to enjoy a period of study, prayer and rest. ... During the summer Castelgandolfo is transformed into a 'second see' of the Bishop of Rome, which competes with the 'first' in its capacity to welcome the visitors and pilgrims who come to pray the Angelus or to attend the Wednesday general audiences".
|SOCIAL NETWORKS: PORTALS OF TRUTH AND FAITH; NEW SPACES FOR EVANGELISATION |
Vatican City, 29 September 2012 (VIS) - "One of the most important challenges facing the task of evangelisation today is that which is emerging from the digital environment. Pope Benedict XVI calls attention to this particular topic, in the context of the Year of Faith, in his choice of theme for the forty-seventh World Communications Day: 'Social Networks: portals of truth and faith; new spaces for evangelisation'", reads a communique released today by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
"The theme suggests a series of important points for reflection. During a time in which technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences, such as relationships and knowledge, we need to ask: can it help men and women meet Christ in faith? It is not enough to find an adequate language, but rather, it is necessary to learn how to present the Gospel as the answer to that basic human yearning for meaning and faith, which has already found expression online", the English-language communique says.
"Such an approach, which will serve to create a more dynamic and humane digital world, requires a new way of thinking. It is not simply a question of how to use the internet as a means of evangelisation, but instead of how to evangelise in a context where the lives of people find expression also in the digital arena.
"In particular, we need to be attentive to the emergence and enormous popularity of social networks, which privilege dialogical and interactive forms of communication and relationships.
"World Communications Day, the only worldwide celebration called for by Vatican Council II (Inter Mirifica, 1963), is celebrated in most countries, on the recommendation of the bishops of the world, on the Sunday before Pentecost (12 May in 2013).
"The Holy Father’s message for World Communications Day is traditionally published in conjunction with the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, patron of writers (January 24)".
|FIRST HEARING IN THE "VATILEAKS" TRIAL |
Vatican City, 29 September 2012 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today the Tribunal of Vatican City State began its first hearing in the trial of Paolo Gabriele and Claudio Sciarpelletti who are accused, respectively, of aggravated theft and complicity.
The judicial bench is composed of Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president; Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, judge, and Venerando Marano, judge.
The promoter of justice of the Tribunal is Nicola Picardi.
The defence lawyers are Cristina Arru for Paolo Gabriele, and Gianluca Benedetti for Claudio Sciarpelletti.
The accused Gabriele was present at the hearing, the accused Sciarpelletti was represented by his counsel.
The trial is public and is being followed by a pool of journalists: one from the "Osservatore Romano" and one from Vatican Radio, as well as eight others from Italian and foreign media outlets who will take turns in attending the court hearings. According to Vatican Radio, at the end of today's sitting Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. held a brief meeting with the press during which he summarised the morning's events.
"One important aspect of the first phase", he said, "was the request made by counsel for Claudio Sciarpelletti to separate the trial against his client from that against Paolo Gabriele, on the grounds that it was not necessary for the two cases to be heard together. The judges accepted his request and therefore the trial against Sciarpelletti will be dealt with after that against Gabriele.
"Counsel for Paolo Gabriele, Cristina Arru raised a series of objections before the proceedings began, regarding the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the documentation and the evidence thus far presented. Having listened to her requests, the three judges retired for approximately one hour and twenty minutes, then emerged to announce their decision. As I said earlier, they accepted the separation of Sciarpelletti's trial, decreeing that it should take place after Gabriele's. They rejected a number of objections raised by Cristina Arru regarding the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, the validity of the indictment and other elements, while they accepted a series of objections relative to the acquisition of statements, for example those relative to conversations which that took place in the absence of the defence lawyers, and other more specific matters".
"In concluding, the president of the Tribunal announced that the trial would continue with the next hearing, or rather the continuation of this hearing, at 9 a.m. on 2 October. The first item on the agenda will be the deposition and cross examination of Paolo Gabriele, because the accused is the first to speak in the proceedings. The other witnesses who have been called will then come up to depose. The president made it known that other sittings may also be held next week. He spoke of the possibility of four sittings during the course of the week, the desire being to expedite the proceedings. Precise forecasts as to the duration and the conclusion are completely inappropriate because everything obviously depends on the course of the debate".
|OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS |
Vatican City, 1 October 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Erfurt, Germany, presented by Bishop Joachim Wanke, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
- Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Passau, Germany, presented by Bishop Wilhelm Schraml, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Giampaolo Rizzotti, official of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as bureau chief of the same congregation.
On Saturday 29 September it was made public that he:
- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: His Beatitude Fouad Twal, patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins; Archbishop Pedro Ricardo Barreto Jimeno S.J. of Huancayo, Peru; Bishop Yves Boivineau of Annecy, France; Bishop Michele Pennisi of Piazza Armerina, Italy; Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, Germany; Fr. Bonnie Mendes (Pakistan), regional coordinator of Caritas for Asia and executive director of the Society for Human Development; Rodrigo Guerra Lopez (Mexico), director of the Centre for Advanced Social Research; Fayez Georges Nahal (Egypt), accounting and budget director of the Confederation of African Football; Juan Somavia (Chile), director general of the International Labour Organisation; Hania M. Fedorowicz (Austria), director of formation at the Community Based Conflict Resolution Institute; Marie-Madeleine Kalala (Democratic Republic of Congo), lawyer and member of the Panel of the Wise of the African Union; Roza Pati (U.S.A.), professor of law and executive director of degree courses in inter-cultural human rights at the St. Thomas University School of Law in Miami, and Elizabeth Joyce Villars (Ghana), founder of Camelot Ghana Ltd.
- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Msgr. Peter Klasvogt (Germany), director of the "Kommende" Institute for Social Studies; Msgr. Martin Schlag (U.S.A.), professor of moral theology at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross; Msgr. Giovanni Manzone (Italy), professor of Church Social Doctrine and moral theology at the Pontifical Lateran University; Fr. Paolo Carlotti S.D.B. (Italy), professor of moral theology at the Pontifical Salesian University; Lawrence Archibald Honny, president of the justice and peace commission of the archdiocese of Cape Coast, Ghana; Paul Murray, director of the Catholic Studies Centre and professor of systematic theology at Durham University, England; Nicolas Michel, professor of international law at the Faculty of Jurisprudence of the University of Geneva, Switzerland; Manfred Spieker, professor of Christian social sciences at the Institute of Catholic Tehology of the University of Osnabruck, Germany, and Takaaki Pio Yasuoka, president of the International Life Commission (International Catholics Organisation of the Media - ICOM), Japan.
- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Bishop Alessandro Carmelo Ruffinoni C.S. of Caxias do Sul, Brazil, and Bishop Vjekoslav Huzjak of Varazdin, Croatia.
- Appointed as consultors of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, Msgr. Giancarlo Perego, director general of the "Migrantes" foundation of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and Msgr. Giacomo Martini, coordinator of the "Migrantes" office of the archdiocese of Genoa, Italy.
- Appointed Bishop Franco Agostinelli of Grosseto, Italy, as bishop of Prato (area 290, population 206,800, Catholics 191,000, priests 144, permanent deacons 19, religious 284), Italy. He succeeds Bishop Gastone Simoni, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Massimo Camisasca F.S.C.B., superior general of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, as bishop of Reggio Emilia - Guastalla (area 2,394, population 576,283, Catholics 508,364, priests 308, permanent deacons 88, religious 378), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Milan, Italy in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1975. Among other roles, he works as a consultor of the Congregation for the Clergy and of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. He succeeds Bishop Adriano Caprioli, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Msgr. Joseph E. Strickland of the clergy of the diocese of Tyler, U.S.A., delegate of the apostolic administrator of Tyler and chaplain of the Bishop Gorman Middle and High School, as bishop of Tyler (area 59,472, population 1,464,000, Catholics 68,600, priests 97, permanent deacons 88, religious 67). The bishop-elect was born in Fredericksburg, U.S.A. in 1958 and ordained a priest in 1985. Among other things, he has served as pastor in various parishes and worked as defender of the bond and judicial vicar.