Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pope: Preach a Personal Relationship With Christ

Urges Filipino Prelates How to Keep God at the Center of Life

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says evangelization will come through the understanding that a personal relationship with Christ is the key to complete fulfillment.

The Pope affirmed this today when he addressed prelates from the Philippines in Rome for their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

In his English-language address, the Holy Father acknowledged the many challenges the nation faces in the area of economic development, but he said that "these obstacles to a life of happiness and fulfillment are not the only stumbling blocks that must be addressed by the Church."

"Filipino culture," he said, "is also confronted with the more subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of our times."

The Pontiff warned that the human person "creates for himself a false destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made" when he removes self-sufficiency and freedom from "dependence upon and completion in God."

"The path to rediscovering humanity’s true destiny can only be found in the re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person," he affirmed.

Keeping God at the center of people's lives requires preaching that is "personal in focus," Benedict XVI said, "so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives."

"Your great task in evangelization is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfillment," the Pope told the prelates.

"In order to confront the questions of our times, the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the Lord," he added.

Called

The Bishop of Rome also spoke to the Filipino bishops about ministry to youth.

He urged them to "remind young people that the glamor of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness."

"Only true friendship with God will break the bonds of loneliness from which our fragile humanity suffers and will establish a true and lasting communion with others, a spiritual bond that will readily prompt within us the wish to serve the needs of those we love in Christ," he said.

The Holy Father encouraged the prelates to show youth the "importance of the sacraments as instruments of God's grace and assistance." And he said this is particularly true for the sacrament of marriage, "which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God's presence may sustain young couples in their struggles."

The Pontiff affirmed that pastoral care of youth that establishes a "primacy of God in their hearts" naturally brings forth vocations to Christian marriage and to "plentiful callings of all kinds."

The Holy Father welcomed the success of Filipino initiatives to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life, though he recognized "that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not yet sufficient to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing Catholic population."

"With you," he said, "I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit. May the Church’s mission of evangelization be sustained by the wonderful gifts which the Lord offers to those whom he calls!"

Cardinal Ratzinger (today Benedict XVI): "The central problem of our time is the emptying-out of the historical figure of Jesus. It begins with denying the virgin birth, then the resurrection becomes a spiritual event, then Christ's awareness of being the Son of God is denied, leaving him only the words of a rabbi. Then the Eucharist falls, and becomes just a farewell dinner."

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