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mardi 27 septembre 2011


VATICAN CITY, 27 SEP 2011 (VIS) - On Saturday 24 September, during the course of his apostolic visit to Germany, the Holy Father met with seminarians in the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, whom he addressed off-the-cuff in German. Extracts of his remarks are given below.

  The Pope dwelt upon the significance of the years spent in the seminary, and he reflected on the passage from the Gospel of St. Mark which narrates the foundation of the community of the Apostles: "The Lord appoints twelve", said the Holy Father. "He makes something, He does something, it is a creative act. He makes them, 'to be with Him, and to be sent out to preach'. ... They have to be with Him in order to come to know Him, ... but at the same time they have to be envoys who go out, who take with them what they have learnt, who bring it to others, ... even into places far removed from Him. ... This combination of, on the one hand, going out on mission, and on the other hand being with Him, remaining with Him, is - I believe - precisely what we have to learn in the seminary".

  "The seminary is therefore a time for training. Also, of course, it is a time for discernment, for learning. ... The mission must be tested, and this includes being in community with others and also, of course, speaking with your spiritual directors". It involves "learning to trust: if He truly wants this, then I may entrust myself to Him. In today's world ... in which everything is in a constant state of flux, in which human ties are breaking down, ... it is becoming more and more difficult to believe that I will hold firm for the whole of my life". But, "if He wants me, then He will also hold me, He will be there in the hour of temptation, in the hour of need, and He will send people to me, He will show me the path. ... Faithfulness is possible, because He is always there, because He exists yesterday, today and tomorrow".

  Apart from being a time for discernment, learning and vocation, the seminary is also a time for prayer, "for listening to Him", said Benedict XVI, "listening, truly learning to listen to Him - in the word of Sacred Scripture, in the faith of the Church, in the liturgy of the Church - and learning to understand the present time in His word. In exegesis we learn much about the past: what happened, what sources there are, what communities there were, and so on. This is also important. But more important still is that from the past we should learn about the present, we should learn that He is speaking these words now, and that they all carry their present within them, and that over and above the historical circumstances in which they arose, they contain a fullness which speaks to all times".

  "Faith comes from hearing", said the Holy Father referring to the words of St. Paul. That is to say, faith needs "the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages" by "priests, bishops and my fellow believers. Faith must include a 'you' and it must include a 'we'".

  In this context the Pope highlighted the importance of accepting other people in their individuality, while remaining aware that they too must accept us in our individuality. Only in this way, he explained, can the community of faithful become a "'we', journeying together towards the living God. ... The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. ... We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others".

  In closing, Benedict XVI reminded the seminarians of the importance of study. "We all know that St. Peter said: 'Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific. ... The faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending towards God and proceeding from God. Therefore it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn. ... Study is essential: only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith".
PV-GERMANY/                            VIS 20110927 (810)

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