Pauline Year

Conclusion of the Pauline Year

 

Papal Mass for Ss. Peter and Paul

Photos from the Solemn Vespers

 

Solemn Vespers for the Conclusion of the Pauline Year


Pope Benedict brought the curtain down on the Pauline Year yesterday with Vespers at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. He also announced that recent tests conducted on material and bones in the tomb, believed to be that of St Paul, seemed to confirm that these are his mortal remains... http://www.radiovaticana.org/en1/img/listen.gif 

 

Papal Vespers for the Conclusion of the Pauline Year

by Gregor Kollmorgen
The celebration of Solemn Vespers - first Vespers of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul - on the occasion of the conclusion of the Pauline Year, commemorating the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, in the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Here is the booklet for those who want to follow along. Below you will find some images of the ceremony.

Before you come to them, however, here are some pictures of what is probably the oldest icon - in the sense of a cult image - of St. Paul the Apostle, probably dating from the end of the fourth century. It was discovered, as today's edition of L’Osservatore Romano reports, last Friday 19 June in the course of restoration works in the Roman catacombs of St. Thecla on the Via Ostiensis, not far from the burial place of St. Paul:



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And now for Papal Vespers:

The Holy Father arriving and being greeted by the Archpriest of St. Paul, Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo:

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The Pope entering the Basilica:

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Descending into the Confessio to venerate the tomb of the Apostle:

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Having venerated the altar, the Holy Father goes to the throne:

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A nice view of the confessio, the altar, and the Pope at the throne in the background:

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The Pope at the throne. The Cardinal Deacons are the Archpriest of St. Paul, Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, and, if I am not mistaken, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church:

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In this close-up, note the fine silver laminee of the covering of the papal throne:

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The homily. During the homily, the Pope revealed that a special minuscule probe has been inserted into the sarcophagus of St. Paul, which has never been opened, and a radiocarbon examination of a very small piece of bone retrieved in this way, along with traces of precious vesmtents and incense, has shown that the bones belong to a person who lived between the first and second century. In the words of the Holy Father: "This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul. All this fills our mind with deep emotion."
The entire homily is incredible, I would say among the greatest of his pontificate, the text is only in Itaian and German available for now (see GermanItalian):

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Incensation of the altar...

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...and of the tomb of the Apostle at the Magnificat (the practice of having the incensation performed by two deacons - a feature, I believe, of the Ambrosian rite - seems now to have become a fixed element of papal Vespers under Msgr. Guido Marini):

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Oration:

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Veneration of the altar:

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The Holy Father leaves the Basilica:

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Pope Benedict XVI: The Pauline Year, a Time of Grace

 

 

Homily of Papal Vespers on 28 June 2009

 

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The Italian original of yesterday's outstanding homily of Pope Benedict XVI at Solemn Vespers on the occasion of the conclusion of the Pauline Year

Signori Cardinali,
Venerati Fratelli nell’Episcopato e nel Sacerdozio,
Cari fratelli e sorelle!

A tutti rivolgo il mio saluto cordiale con le parole dell’Apostolo accanto alla cui tomba ci troviamo: “A voi grazia e pace in abbondanza” (1Pt 1, 2). Saluto, in particolare, i Membri della Delegazione del Patriarcato ecumenico di Costantinopoli e i numerosi Metropoliti che oggi ricevono il Pallio. Nella colletta di questa giornata solenne chiediamo al Signore “che la Chiesa segua sempre l’insegnamento degli Apostoli dai quali ha ricevuto il primo annunzio della fede”. La richiesta che rivolgiamo a Dio interpella al contempo noi stessi: seguiamo noi l’insegnamenti dei grandi Apostoli fondatori? Li conosciamo veramente? Nell’Anno Paolino che si è ieri concluso abbiamo cercato di ascoltare in modo nuovo lui, il “maestro delle genti”, e di apprendere così nuovamente l’alfabeto della fede. Abbiamo cercato di riconoscere con Paolo e mediante Paolo il Cristo e di trovare così la via per la retta vita cristiana. Nel Canone del Nuovo Testamento, oltre alle Lettere di san Paolo, ci sono anche due Lettere sotto il nome di san Pietro. La prima di esse si conclude esplicitamente con un saluto da Roma, che però appare sotto l’apocalittico nome di copertura di Babilonia: “Vi saluta la co-eletta che vive in Babilonia…” (5, 13). Chiamando la Chiesa di Roma la “co-eletta”, la colloca nella grande comunità di tutte le Chiese locali – nella comunità di tutti coloro che Dio ha adunato, affinché nella “Babilonia” del tempo di questo mondo costruiscano il suo Popolo e facciano entrare Dio nella storia. La Prima Lettera di san Pietro è un saluto rivolto da Roma all’intera cristianità di tutti i tempi. Essa ci invita ad ascoltare “l’insegnamento degli Apostoli”, che ci indica la via verso la vita.
Questa Lettera è un testo ricchissimo, che proviene dal cuore e tocca il cuore. Il suo centro è – come potrebbe essere diversamente? – la figura di Cristo, che viene illustrato come Colui che soffre e che ama, come Crocifisso e Risorto: “Insultato, non rispondeva con insulti, maltrattato, non minacciava vendetta … Dalle sue piaghe siete stati guariti” (1Pt 2, 23s). Partendo dal centro che è Cristo, la Lettera costituisce poi anche un’introduzione ai fondamentali Sacramenti cristiani del Battesimo e dell’Eucaristia e un discorso rivolto ai sacerdoti, nel quale Pietro si qualifica come co-presbitero con loro. Egli parla ai Pastori di tutte le generazioni come colui che personalmente è stato incaricato dal Signore di pascere le sue pecorelle e così ha ricevuto in modo particolare un mandato sacerdotale. Che cosa, dunque, ci dice san Pietro – proprio nell’Anno sacerdotale – circa il compito del sacerdote? Innanzitutto, egli comprende il ministero sacerdotale totalmente a partire da Cristo. Chiama Cristo il “pastore e custode delle … anime” (2, 25). Dove la traduzione italiana parla di “custode”, il testo greco ha la parola epíscopos (vescovo). Un po’ più avanti, Cristo viene qualificato come il Pastore supremo: archipoimen (5, 4). Sorprende che Pietro chiami Cristo stesso vescovo – vescovo delle anime. Che cosa intende dire con ciò? Nella parola greca “episcopos” è contenuto il verbo “vedere”; per questo è stata tradotta con “custode” ossia “sorvegliante”. Ma certamente non s’intende una sorveglianza esterna, come s’addice forse ad una guardia carceraria. S’intende piuttosto un vedere dall’alto – un vedere a partire dall’elevatezza di Dio. Un vedere nella prospettiva di Dio è un vedere dell’amore che vuole servire l’altro, vuole aiutarlo a diventare veramente se stesso. Cristo è il “vescovo delle anime”, ci dice Pietro. Ciò significa: Egli ci vede nella prospettiva di Dio. Guardando a partire da Dio, si ha una visione d’insieme, si vedono i pericoli come anche le speranze e le possibilità. Nella prospettiva di Dio si vede l’essenza, si vede l’uomo interiore. Se Cristo è il vescovo delle anime, l’obiettivo è quello di evitare che l’anima nell’uomo s’immiserisca, è di far sì che l’uomo non perda la sua essenza, la capacità per la verità e per l’amore. Far sì che egli venga a conoscere Dio; che non si smarrisca in vicoli ciechi; che non si perda nell’isolamento, ma rimanga aperto per l’insieme. Gesù, il “vescovo delle anime”, è il prototipo di ogni ministero episcopale e sacerdotale. Essere vescovo, essere sacerdote significa in questa prospettiva: assumere la posizione di Cristo. Pensare, vedere ed agire a partire dalla sua posizione elevata. A partire da Lui essere a disposizione degli uomini, affinché trovino la vita.
Così la parola “vescovo” s’avvicina molto al termine “pastore”, anzi, i due concetti diventano interscambiabili. È compito del pastore pascolare e custodire il gregge e condurlo ai pascoli giusti. Pascolare il gregge vuol dire aver cura che le pecore trovino il nutrimento giusto, sia saziata la loro fame e spenta la loro sete. Fuori di metafora, questo significa: la parola di Dio è il nutrimento di cui l’uomo ha bisogno. Rendere sempre di nuovo presente la parola di Dio e dare così nutrimento agli uomini è il compito del retto Pastore. Ed egli deve anche saper resistere ai nemici, ai lupi. Deve precedere, indicare la via, conservare l’unità del gregge. Pietro, nel suo discorso ai presbiteri, evidenzia ancora una cosa molto importante. Non basta parlare. I Pastori devono farsi “modelli del gregge” (5, 3). La parola di Dio viene portata dal passato nel presente, quando è vissuta. È meraviglioso vedere come nei santi la parola di Dio diventi una parola rivolta al nostro tempo. In figure come Francesco e poi di nuovo come Padre Pio e molti altri, Cristo è diventato veramente contemporaneo della loro generazione, è uscito dal passato ed entrato nel presente. Questo significa essere Pastore – modello del gregge: vivere la Parola ora, nella grande comunità della santa Chiesa.
Molto brevemente vorrei ancora richiamare l’attenzione su due altre affermazioni della Prima Lettera di san Pietro, che riguardano in modo speciale noi, in questo nostro tempo. C’è innanzitutto la frase oggi nuovamente scoperta, in base alla quale i teologi medievali compresero il loro compito, il compito del teologo: “Adorate il Signore, Cristo, nei vostri cuori, pronti sempre a rispondere a chiunque vi domandi ragione della speranza che è in voi” (3, 15). La fede cristiana è speranza. Apre la via verso il futuro. Ed è una speranza che possiede ragionevolezza; una speranza la cui ragione possiamo e dobbiamo esporre. La fede proviene dalla Ragione eterna che è entrata nel nostro mondo e ci ha mostrato il vero Dio. Va al di là della capacità propria della nostra ragione, così come l’amore vede più della semplice intelligenza. Ma la fede parla alla ragione e nel confronto dialettico può tener testa alla ragione. Non la contraddice, ma va di pari passo con essa e, al contempo, conduce al di là di essa – introduce nella Ragione più grande di Dio. Come Pastori del nostro tempo abbiamo il compito di comprendere noi per primi la ragione della fede. Il compito di non lasciarla rimanere semplicemente una tradizione, ma di riconoscerla come risposta alle nostre domande. La fede esige la nostra partecipazione razionale, che si approfondisce e si purifica in una condivisione d’amore. Fa parte dei nostri doveri come Pastori di penetrare la fede col pensiero per essere in grado di mostrare la ragione della nostra speranza nella disputa del nostro tempo. Tuttavia, il pensare – pur così necessario – da solo non basta. Così come parlare, da solo, non basta. Nella sua catechesi battesimale ed eucaristica nel secondo capitolo della sua Lettera, Pietro allude al Salmo usato nella Chiesa antica nel contesto della comunione, e cioè al versetto che dice: “Gustate e vedete com’è buono il Signore” (Ps 34 [33], 9; 1 Pt 2, 3). Solo il gustare conduce al vedere. Pensiamo ai discepoli di Emmaus: solo nella comunione conviviale con Gesù, solo nella frazione del pane si aprono i loro occhi. Solo nella comunione col Signore veramente sperimentata essi diventano vedenti. Ciò vale per tutti noi: al di là del pensare e del parlare, abbiamo bisogno dell’esperienza della fede; del rapporto vitale con Gesù Cristo. La fede non deve rimanere teoria: deve essere vita. Se nel Sacramento incontriamo il Signore; se nella preghiera parliamo con Lui; se nelle decisioni del quotidiano aderiamo a Cristo – allora “vediamo” sempre di più quanto Egli è buono. Allora sperimentiamo che è cosa buona stare con Lui. Da una tale certezza vissuta deriva poi la capacità di comunicare la fede agli altri in modo credibile. Il Curato d’Ars non era un grande pensatore. Ma egli “gustava” il Signore. Viveva con Lui fin nelle minuzie del quotidiano oltre che nelle grandi esigenze del ministero pastorale. In questo modo divenne “uno che vede”. Aveva gustato, e per questo sapeva che il Signore è buono. Preghiamo il Signore, affinché ci doni questo gustare e possiamo così diventare testimoni credibili della speranza che è in noi.
Alla fine vorrei far notare ancora una piccola, ma importante parola di san Pietro. Subito all’inizio della Lettera egli ci dice che la mèta della nostra fede è la salvezza delle anime (cfr 1, 9). Nel mondo del linguaggio e del pensiero dell’attuale cristianità questa è un’affermazione strana, per alcuni forse addirittura scandalosa. La parola “anima” è caduta in discredito. Si dice che questo porterebbe ad una divisione dell’uomo in spirito e fisico, in anima e corpo, mentre in realtà egli sarebbe un’unità indivisibile. Inoltre “la salvezza delle anime” come mèta della fede sembra indicare un cristianesimo individualistico, una perdita di responsabilità per il mondo nel suo insieme, nella sua corporeità e nella sua materialità. Ma di tutto questo non si trova nulla nella Lettera di san Pietro. Lo zelo per la testimonianza in favore della speranza, la responsabilità per gli altri caratterizzano l’intero testo. Per comprendere la parola sulla salvezza delle anime come mèta della fede dobbiamo partire da un altro lato. Resta vero che l’incuria per le anime, l’immiserirsi dell’uomo interiore non distrugge soltanto il singolo, ma minaccia il destino dell’umanità nel suo insieme. Senza risanamento delle anime, senza risanamento dell’uomo dal di dentro, non può esserci una salvezza per l’umanità. La vera malattia delle anime san Pietro, alla nostra sorpresa, la qualifica come ignoranza – cioè come non conoscenza di Dio. Chi non conosce Dio, chi almeno non lo cerca sinceramente, resta fuori della vera vita (cfr 1 Pt 1, 14). Ancora un’altra parola della Lettera può esserci utile per capire meglio la formula “salvezza delle anime”: “Purificate le vostre anime con l’obbedienza alla verità” (cfr 1, 22). È l’obbedienza alla verità che rende pura l’anima. Ed è il convivere con la menzogna che la inquina. L’obbedienza alla verità comincia con le piccole verità del quotidiano, che spesso possono essere faticose e dolorose. Questa obbedienza si estende poi fino all’obbedienza senza riserve di fronte alla Verità stessa che è Cristo. Tale obbedienza ci rende non solo puri, ma soprattutto anche liberi per il servizio a Cristo e così alla salvezza del mondo, che pur sempre prende inizio dalla purificazione obbediente della propria anima mediante la verità. Possiamo indicare la via verso la verità solo se noi stessi – in obbedienza e pazienza – ci lasciamo purificare dalla verità.
E ora mi rivolgo a voi, cari Confratelli nell’episcopato, che in quest’ora riceverete dalla mia mano il Pallio. È stato intessuto con la lana di agnelli che il Papa benedice nella festa di sant’Agnese. In questo modo esso ricorda gli agnelli e le pecore di Cristo, che il Signore risorto ha affidato a Pietro con il compito di pascerli (cfr Gv 21, 15-18). Ricorda il gregge di Gesù Cristo, che voi, cari Fratelli, dovete pascere in comunione con Pietro. Ci ricorda Cristo stesso, che come Buon Pastore ha preso sulle sue spalle la pecorella smarrita, l’umanità, per riportarla a casa. Ci ricorda il fatto che Egli, il Pastore supremo, ha voluto farsi Lui stesso Agnello, per farsi carico dal di dentro del destino di tutti noi; per portarci e risanarci dall’interno. Vogliamo pregare il Signore, affinché ci doni di essere sulle sue orme Pastori giusti, “non perché costretti, ma volentieri, come piace a Dio … con animo generoso … modelli del gregge” (1 Pt 5, 2s). Amen.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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St. Paul Is a Model Priest Reflects on Fruits of Pauline Year

 

 

St. Paul Is a Model Priest Reflects on Fruits of Pauline Year

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI linked the Year of St. Paul with the Year for Priests by offering the Apostle of the Gentiles as a role model for priests.

Before praying the Angelus together with the crowds gathered today in St. Peter's Square, the Pope reflected on the Year of St. Paul, which marked the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth.

The Holy Father closed the Pauline Year in the evening with the celebration of first vespers for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Papal representatives sent to preside at celebrations in the Holy Land, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Syria and Lebanon also brought the year to a close.

"It has truly been a time of grace," the Holy Father said, recalling the numerous initiatives that put the Apostle of the Gentiles at the forefront of Church life for the last year. "His vibrant message has revived everywhere, in Christian communities, a passion for Christ and the Gospel."

Benedict XVI thanked God for the jubilee year, "and for all the spiritual gifts that it has brought to us."

Pointing to the recently launched jubilee year for priests, which marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, known as the Curé d'Ars, the Pontiff noted that St. Paul "constitutes a splendid model to imitate."

"St. Paul is an example of a priest who was completely identified with his ministry," the Pope said, "conscious of possessing a priceless treasure, that is, the message of salvation, but in an 'earthen vessel.'"

"He is at the same time strong and humble, intimately persuaded that everything is God’s doing, everything is grace," the Holy Father added.

"The priest," Benedict XVI concluded, "must belong totally to Christ and totally to the Church; to the latter he is called to dedicate himself with an undivided love, like a faithful husband to his bride."

 

 

 

Papal Mass for Ss. Peter and Paul

Pauline Year: The Ecumenical Dream of Pope Benedict
Together with the patriarch of Constantinople, the successor of Peter has proclaimed a special jubilee year dedicated to another great apostle, Paul. The stated objective: "to create the unity of the 'catholica', of the Church formed from Jews and pagans, of the Church of all peoples"
by Sandro Magister


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ROMA, July 2, 2008 – In the photo, Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I, the patriarch of Constantinople, are praying in front of the tomb of the apostle Paul, beneath the main altar of the Roman basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls. It is the vigil of the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. And together, they have inaugurated a special jubilee year dedicated to the apostle Paul.

The Pauline Year, which began on June 28, will last until June 29, 2009. The occasion is the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the apostle, which historians place at between 7 and 10 A.D.

Benedict XVI announced this special jubilee year for the first time one year ago, on June 28, 2007. And now, this is how he explained the event to the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, before the Angelus on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul this year:

"Rome will be the center of gravity for this special jubilee, and in particular the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, and the place of his martyrdom, at Tre Fontane. But it will also involve the entire Church, beginning from Tarsus, the city of Paul's birth, and the other Pauline sites that are the destination of pilgrimages in modern-day Turkey, as also in the Holy Land, and on the island of Malta, where the Apostle landed after a shipwreck and sowed the fertile seed of the Gospel.

"In reality, the horizon of the Pauline Year cannot be anything but universal, because Saint Paul was, par excellence, the apostle of those who with respect to the Jews were 'far off' and who 'have become near by the blood of Christ' (cf. Eph. 2:13). For this reason, still today, in a world that has become 'smaller', but where very many have still not encountered the Lord Jesus, the jubilee of Saint Paul invites all Christians to be missionaries of the Gospel.

"This missionary dimension must always be accompanied by that of unity, represented by Saint Peter, the 'rock' upon which Jesus Christ built his Church. As the liturgy emphasizes, the charisms of the two great apostles are complementary for the edification of the one People of God, and Christians cannot give valid testimony to Christ if they are not united among themselves."
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Universal and ecumenical. For a church that is "catholic" and "one." This is the twofold horizon that the bishop of Rome and the patriarch of Constantinople wanted to give to the Pauline Year, proclaimed together by the respective Churches of Rome and of the East. At the Mass celebrated on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the two successors of the apostles entered together into the basilica of St. Peter's; together they went up to the altar, preceded by a Latin deacon and by an Orthodox one, carrying the book of the Gospels; together they listened to the chanting of the Gospel in Latin and in Greek; together they delivered the homily, first the patriarch and then the pope, after a brief introduction by the latter; together they recited the Creed, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol in the original Greek, according to the liturgical use of the Byzantine Churches; they exchanged the kiss of peace, and at the end they blessed the faithful together. After almost a thousand years of schism between East and West, a liturgy so visibly oriented to unity has been celebrated by the bishop of Rome and by the patriarch of Constantinople.

The relationship with the Protestant communities remains deeper in the shadows for now. But the Pauline Year could be rich in significance for the dialogue with these communities as well. The leading thinkers of the Reformation – from Luther and Calvin to Karl Barth, Rudolph Bultmann, and Paul Tillich – elaborated their thought beginning above all with the Letter of Paul to the Romans.

And the contribution that the Pauline Year could make to dialogue with the Jews is no less relevant. Paul was an observant Jew and a rabbi, before falling down blinded by Christ on the road to Damascus. And his conversion to the Risen One never meant, for him, breaking with his original faith. The promise of God to Abraham and the covenant on Sinai were always for Paul one and the same with the "new and eternal" covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus. Joseph Ratzinger has written memorable pages on this unity between the Old and New Testament, in his book "Jesus of Nazareth."

Below is reproduced the homily delivered by Benedict XVI on June 28, 2008, in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, at vespers for the vigil of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. In it, the pope answers the questions: Who was Paul? And what is he saying to me today?

Further below you will find the links to the two-part homily – by the pope and by the patriarch of Constantinople – at the Mass, on the following day, and to other texts by Benedict XVI on the apostle Paul. There also links to other resources for the Pauline Year.




"Who was Paul? And what is he saying to me today?"
by Benedict XVI




Dear brothers and sisters, we are gathered at the tomb of Saint Paul, who was born two thousand years ago in Tarsus in Cilicia, in modern-day Turkey.

Who was this Paul? In the temple of Jerusalem, in front of the agitated crowd that wanted to kill him, he presented himself with these words: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God..." (Acts 22:3).

At the end of his journey, he would say of himself: "I was appointed... teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Tim. 2:7; cf. 2 Tim. 1:11). Teacher of the gentiles, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ, this is how he characterizes himself in a retrospective look at the course of his life.

But with this, attention is not turned only to the past. Teacher of the gentiles: these words are opened to the future, to all peoples and all generations. Paul is not for us a figure of the past, whom we remember with veneration. He is also our teacher, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ for us as well.

We have therefore gathered not to reflect on a story from the past, left behind forever. Paul wants to speak with us, today. This is why I wanted to establish this special Pauline Year: to listen to him and learn from him now, as our teacher, the " faith and truth" in which are rooted the reasons for unity among the disciples of Christ.

In this perspective I wanted to light, for the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the apostle, a special Pauline Flame, which will remain lit during the entire year in a special brazier placed in the portico of the basilica [of St. Paul's Outside the Walls].

To solemnize this commemoration, I have also inaugurated the 'Pauline Door', through which I entered into the basilica of accompanied by the patriarch of Constantinople [...] and by other religious authorities. It is for me a cause of great joy that the opening of the Pauline Year should take on a particular ecumenical character through the presence of numerous delegates and representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities, whom I welcome with an open heart. [...]
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So, we have gathered here to ask ourselves about the great apostle to the gentiles. We do not ask ourselves only: Who was Paul? Above all, we ask ourselves: Who is Paul? What is he saying to me?

At this time, at the beginning of the Pauline Year that we are inaugurating, I would like to select from the rich testimony of the New Testament three texts in which his interior physiognomy appears, the specifics of his character.

In the Letter to the Galatians, he has given us a very personal profession of faith, in which he opens his heart before the readers of all times and reveals the deepest driving force of his life. "I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20).

"Everything that Paul does begins from this center. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal way; it is the awareness of the fact that Christ has faced death not for some anonymous person, but out of love for him – for Paul – and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him, Christ has given himself for him. His faith comes from being transfixed by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that shakes him to his core and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of the love of God on his heart. And thus his faith is itself love for Jesus Christ".

Paul is presented by many as a combative man who knows how to wield the sword of the word. In fact, there was no lack of disputes along his journey as an apostle. He did not seek a superficial harmony. In the first of his letters, addressed to the Thessalonians, he himself says: "We drew courage... to speak to you the gospel of God with much struggle... Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know" (1 Th. 2:2,5).

The truth was too great for him to be willing to sacrifice it in view of a superficial success. The truth that he had experienced in his encounter with the Risen One was for him very much worth struggle, persecution, suffering. But what motivated him most profoundly was his being loved by Jesus Christ, and his desire to transmit this love to others. Paul was a man struck by a great love, and all of his work and suffering can be explained only by beginning from this center. The concepts founded on his proclamation can be understood only on the basis of this.

Let's take just one of his key words: freedom. His experience of being loved to his very depths by Christ had opened his eyes to the truth and the way of human existence; this experience embraced everything. Paul was free as a man loved by God who, by virtue of God, was capable of loving together with Him. This love is now the "law" of his life, and precisely in this way is the freedom of his life. He speaks and acts as a man moved by the responsibility of love. Freedom and responsibility are united here in an inseparable way. Because he stands in the responsibility of love, he is free; because he is someone who loves, he lives completely in the responsibility of this love, and does not take freedom as a pretext for willfulness and egoism. In this same spirit, Augustine formulated a phrase that later became famous: "Dilige et quod vis fac" (Tract. in 1 Jo 7, 7-8), love and do what you will. He who loves Christ as Paul loved him, truly can do what he wishes, because his love is united with the will of Christ, and thus with the will of God; because his will is anchored in the truth and because his will is not simply his own will, the willfulness of the autonomous ego, but is integrated into the freedom of God, and from this is shown the path to take.
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In the search for the interior physiognomy of Saint Paul I would like, in the second place, to recall the words that the risen Christ addressed to him on the road to Damascus. First, the Lord asked him: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" To the question, "Who are you, sir?" he was given the answer: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:4 f.) By persecuting the Church, Paul is persecuting Jesus himself. "You are persecuting me." Jesus identifies himself with the Church, as a single subject.

This exclamation of the Risen One, which transformed Saul's life, essentially contains the entire doctrine on the Church as Body of Christ. Christ did not withdraw to heaven, leaving on the earth a group of followers who carry forward "his cause." The Church is not an association that wants to promote a certain cause. In it there is no question of a cause. In it is the question of the person of Jesus Christ, who even as the Risen One has remained "flesh." He has "flesh and blood" (Lk. 24:39), as the Risen One affirms in Luke before the disciples who thought he was a ghost. He has a body. He is personally present in his Church, "Head and Body" form a single subject, as Augustine would say. "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?" Paul writes to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 6:15). And he adds: just as, according to the book of Genesis, man and woman become one flesh, so also Christ becomes one spirit with his followers, a single subject in the new world of the resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 6:16 ff.).

Through all of this appears the Eucharistic mystery, in which Christ continually gives his Body and makes us his Body: "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1 Cor. 10:16 f.). With these words, it is not only Paul who is addressing us now, but the Lord himself: How could you have lacerated my body? Before the face of Christ, this word becomes at the same time an urgent request: Bring us back together again, from all our divisions. Make this a reality again today. There is only one bread, because we, although we are many, are only one body. For Paul, the description of the Church as Body of Christ is not just any kind of comparison. It goes far beyond a comparison. "Why do you persecute me?" Christ continually draws us within his Body, he builds up his Body starting from the Eucharistic center, which for Paul is the center of Christian existence, by virtue of which all, and everyone individually, can personally experience: He loved me and gave himself for me.
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I would like to conclude with some words from Saint Paul near the end, an exhortation to Timothy from prison, composed in the face of death. "Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel," the Apostles says to his disciple (2 Tim. 1:8).

These words, which come as a testament at the end of the apostle's journey, refer back to the beginning of his mission. While, after his encounter with the Risen One, Paul found himself blind at a home in Damascus, Ananias was charged with going to the feared persecutor and laying hands on him, so that he might receive his sight again. To the objection from Ananias, that this Saul was a dangerous persecutor of Christians, came the answer: This is the man who must carry my name before peoples and kings; "I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name" (Acts 9:15 f.). The task of proclamation and the call to suffer for Christ go together inseparably. The call to become the teacher of the gentiles is at the same time and intrinsically a call to suffering in communion with Christ, who has redeemed us through his Passion.

In a world in which lying is powerful, the price of truth is suffering. Those who want to avoid suffering, to keep it away from them, are keeping away life itself and its greatness; they cannot be servants of the truth, and therefore servants of the faith. There is no love without suffering, without the suffering of renouncing oneself, of the transformation and purification of the ego for true freedom. Wherever there is nothing worth suffering for, there life itself loses its value. The Eucharist – the center of our Christian existence – is founded on the sacrifice of Christ for us, it is born from the suffering of love, which found its culmination on the Cross. We live by this love that is given to us. It gives us the courage and the strength to suffer with Christ and for Him in this world, knowing that precisely in this way our life becomes great and mature and true.

In the light of all of the letters of Saint Paul, we see how in his journey as a teacher of the gentiles, the prophecy of Ananias at the time of his calling was fulfilled: "I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name." His suffering made him credible as a teacher of truth, not seeking his own benefit, his own glory, his personal gratification, but dedicating himself to Him who loved us and gave himself for all of us.

At this time we thank the Lord, because he called Paul, making him light of the gentiles and teacher of us all, and we pray to him: Give us today as well witnesses of the resurrection, struck by your love and capable of bearing the light of the Gospel in our time. Saint Paul, pray for us! Amen.

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Photos

The joint homilies delivered by Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I, patriarch of Constantinople, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, in the Vatican basilica, June 29, 2008:

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The Cardinal Deacons are Angelo Comastri, President of the Fabric of Saint Peter, and Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

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The Pope is wearing yesterday's mitre and a new chasuble belonging to the set of yesterday's cope. Here are two shots allowing us a closer look at the nice damask of the vestments:

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The pallia are brought to the Pope:

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The Pontiff imposes the pallium on Archbishop Carlson of Saint Louis:

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And on Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers:

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Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit having received the pallium:

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The Holy Father with some of the metropolitans having received the pallium:

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ncidentally, I've come across a rather interesting detail on the occasion of yesterday's papal Vespers. A user of the Pope Benedict Forum noticed that the mosaic depicting Pope Benedict XVI in the line of papal portraits in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls has been changed. Originally, it showed the Holy Father wearing the form of pallium introduced by Msgr. Piero Marini in 2005 (cf. NLM article here):

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Now, the roundel portrays him wearing the form of pallium introduced by Msgr. Guido Marini on this day last year (cf. NLM article here and here, as well as images from last year's Mass here):

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(Images from St. Paul Outside the Walls by Pope Benedict Forum user "Benodette".)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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