Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Sunday, 5 August 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Today, the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Word of God spurs us to reflect on what our relationship with material things should be.


Although wealth is a good in itself, it should not be considered an absolute good. Above all, it does not guarantee salvation; on the contrary, it may even seriously jeopardize it.


In today's Gospel, Jesus puts his disciples on guard precisely against this risk. It is wisdom and virtue not to set one's heart on the goods of this world for all things are transient, all things can suddenly end.


For us Christians, the real treasure that we must ceaselessly seek consists in the "things above... where Christ is seated at God's right hand"; St Paul reminds us of this today in his Letter to the Colossians, adding that our life "is hid with Christ in God" (cf. 3: 1-3).


The Solemnity of the Transfiguration of the Lord, which we shall be celebrating tomorrow, invites us to turn our gaze "above", to Heaven. In the Gospel account of the Transfiguration on the mountain, we are given a premonitory sign that allows us a fleeting glimpse of the Kingdom of the Saints, where we too at the end of our earthly life will be able to share in Christ's glory, which will be complete, total and definitive. The whole universe will then be transfigured and the divine plan of salvation will at last be fulfilled.


The day of the Solemnity of the Transfiguration remains linked to the memory of my venerable Predecessor, Servant of God Paul VI, who in 1978 completed his mission in this very place, here at Castel Gandolfo, and was called to enter the house of the Heavenly Father. May his commemoration be an invitation to us to look on high and to serve the Lord and the Church faithfully, as he did in the far-from-easy years of the last century.


May the Virgin Mary, whom we remember today in particular while we celebrate the liturgical Memorial of the Basilica of St Mary Major, obtain this grace for us. As is well known, this is the first Western Basilica to have been built in honour of Mary; it was rebuilt in 432 by Pope Sixtus III to celebrate the divine motherhood of the Virgin, a Dogma that had been solemnly proclaimed the previous year at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus.


May the Virgin, who was more closely involved in Christ's mystery than any other creature, sustain us on our pilgrimage of faith so that, as the liturgy invites us to pray today, "we do not let ourselves be dominated by greed or selfishness as we toil with our efforts to subdue the earth but seek always what is worthwhile in God's eyes" (cf. Entrance Antiphon).


After the Angelus:


At this time, a few days after the death of H.B. Teoctist, the Patriarch, I would like to address a special thought to the leaders and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church. I sent Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to take part as my representative in his solemn funeral, celebrated last Friday at Bucharest's Patriarchal Cathedral.


I remember with esteem and affection this noble figure of a Pastor who loved his Church and made a positive contribution to relations between Catholics and Orthodox, constantly encouraging the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church (as a whole).


The two visits he paid my venerable Predecessor John Paul II and the hospitality which he in turn offered the Bishop of Rome during his historic Pilgrimage to Romania in 1999, are clear proof of his ecumenical commitment.


"May his memory live for ever", as the Orthodox liturgical tradition concludes the funeral service of all who fall asleep in the Lord. Let us make this invocation our own, asking the Lord to welcome this Brother of ours into his Kingdom of infinite light and to grant him the repose and peace promised to faithful servants of the Gospel.


I thank everyone and wish you all a good Sunday!


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.  



Courtyard of the Papal Residence, Castel Gandolfo
Sunday, 1st August 2010



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


The liturgical commemorations of several Saints occurs in these days. Yesterday we commemorated St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus. He lived in the 16th century and was converted after reading the life of Jesus and the Saints, during a long convalescence, while recovering from a wound received in battle. He was so impressed by one of the passages he read that he decided to follow the Lord. Today we are commemorating St Alphonsus Mary Liguori, the Founder of the Redemptorists, who lived in the 17th century and was proclaimed Patron of confessors by Venerable Pius XII. He was aware that God wants everyone to be holy, each one in accordance with his own state, of course. Then this week the liturgy proposes St Eusebius, the first Bishop of Piedmont, a strenuous defender of Christ's divinity, and, lastly, the figure of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, who guided the Year for Priests that has just ended with his example and to whose intercession I once again entrust all the Pastors of the Church. A common commitment of these Saints was to save souls and to serve the Church with their respective charisms, contributing to renew and enrich her. These men acquired "a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90 [89]: 12), setting store by what is incorruptible and discarding what is irremediably changeable in time: power, riches and transient pleasures. By choosing God they possessed everything they needed, with a foretaste of eternity even in life on earth (cf. Ecclesiastes 1-5).



In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus' teaching concerns, precisely, true wisdom and is introduced by one of the crowd: "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me" (Luke 12: 13). In answering, Jesus puts him on guard against those who are influenced by the desire for earthly goods with the Parable of the Rich Fool who having put away for himself an abundant harvest stops working, uses up all he possesses, enjoying himself and even deceives himself into thinking he can keep death at an arm's length. However God says to him "Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Luke 12: 20). The fool in the Bible, the one who does not want to learn from the experience of visible things, that nothing lasts for ever but that all things pass away, youth and physical strength, amenities and important roles. Making one's life depend on such an ephemeral reality is therefore foolishness. The person who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, does not fear the adversities of life, nor the inevitable reality of death: he is the person who has acquired a wise heart, like the Saints.



In addressing our prayer to Mary Most Holy, I would like to remember other important occasions: tomorrow it will be possible to profit from the Indulgence known as the Portiuncola Indulgence or the "Pardon of Assisi" that St Francis obtained in 1216 from Pope Honorius III; Thursday, 5 August, in commemorating the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major, we will honour the Mother of God, acclaimed with this title at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and next Friday, the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's death, we will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The date of 6 August, seen as crowned by summer light, was chosen to mean that the splendour of Christ's Face illuminates the whole world.



After the Angelus :


I would like to express my deep pleasure at the entry into force, on this very day, of the Convention on cluster bombs that cause unacceptable damage to civilians. My first thought goes to the many victims who have suffered and continue to suffer serious physical and moral damage, even to the point of losing their lives, because of these insidious explosive devices whose presence on earth often causes long delays in the resumption of their daily activities by entire communities. With the entry into force of the new Convention to which I urge all States to adhere, the International Community has been proof of wisdom, farsightedness and skill in pursuing an important result in the field of disarmament and international human rights. My hope and encouragement is that we may continue with ever greater vigour on this path, for the defence of dignity and human life, for the promotion of integral human development, for the establishment of a peaceful international order and for the realization of the common good of all people and all peoples.


* * *


I am very pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present, especially those of you who have come from Canada and Australia. In the Gospel of today's Mass, our Lord teaches us to store up treasure for ourselves, not on earth, but in heaven. By God's grace, then, let us seek to grow in faith and good works. In this sense, I willingly invoke upon all of you God's abundant blessings!

Thank you for coming. I wish you all a good Sunday!


Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.  

9 August 2013



Saint Peter's Square
Sunday, 4 August 2013



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


Last Sunday I was in Rio de Janeiro. Holy Mass and the World Youth Day were drawing to a close. I think we must all thank the Lord together for the great gift which this event was, for Brazil, for Latin America and for the entire world. It was a new stage on the pilgrimage of youth crossing the continents bearing the Cross of Christ. We must never forget that World Youth Days are not “firework displays”, flashes of enthusiasm that are an end in themselves; they are the stages of a long journey, begun in 1985, at the initiative of Pope John Paul II. He entrusted the cross to the young people and said: go out and I will come with you! And so it was; and this youth pilgrimage continued with Pope Benedict and, thanks be to God, I too have been able to experience this marvellous milestone in Brazil. Let us always remember: young people do not follow the Pope, they follow Jesus Christ, bearing his Cross. And the Pope guides them and accompanies them on this journey of faith and hope. I therefore thank all the young people who have taken part, even at the cost of sacrifices. I also thank the Lord for the other encounters I had with the Pastors and people of that vast country which Brazil is, and likewise the authorities and the volunteers. May the Lord reward all those who worked hard for the success of this great feast of faith. I also want to emphasize my gratitude; many thanks to the Brazilians. The people of Brazil are an excellent people, a people with a great heart! I shall not forget the warm welcome, the greetings, their gaze, all the joy. A generous people; I ask the Lord to shower his blessings upon them!


I would like to ask you to pray with me that the young people who took part in World Youth Day will be able to express this experience in their journey through daily life, in their everyday conduct; and that they can also express it in the important decisions of life, in response to the personal call of the Lord. Today in the liturgy, the provocative words of Ecclesiastes ring out: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!” (1:2). Young people are particularly sensitive to the empty, meaningless values that often surround them. Unfortunately, moreover, it is they who pay the consequences. Instead the encounter with the living Christ in his great family which is the Church fills hearts with joy, for it fills them with true life, with a profound goodness that endures, that does not tarnish. We saw it on the faces of the youth in Rio. But this experience must confront the daily vanity, that poison of emptiness which creeps into our society based on profit and possession and on consumerism which deceives young people. This Sunday’s Gospel reminds us, precisely, of the absurdity of basing our own happiness on having. The rich say to themselves: my soul, you have many possessions at your disposal... rest, eat, drink and be merry! But God says to them: Fools! This very night your life will be required of you. And all the things you have accumulated, whose will they be? (cf. Luke 12:19-20).


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18 August 2013