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  • » 06/18/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Today’s Christians must pray but also dedicate themselves to action, says Pope



    In today’s general audience Benedict XVI looks at the figure of Isidore of Seville. He highlights the saint’s encyclopaedic culture and his teaching about the need for the right mediation between the desire for the contemplative life and the duty to dedicate oneself to the service of others.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Even today at the start of the third millennium Christians must pray, but they must also act together for the good of their fellow human beings. Prayer is indispensable but not if it disconnected from charity-inspired action in the service of others.

    Benedict XVI devoted his thoughts in today’s general audience to Saint Isidore of Seville, a Father of the Church who lived between the 6th and 7th centuries, who even today teaches us about the need for the right mediation between the desire to lead a contemplative life and the duty to devote oneself to the service of others.

    To the more than 20,000 people present in St Peter’s Square, the Pope focused on Isidore’s thoughts. “Considered the last Christian Father of Antiquity,” he believed that in imitating Christ, who had an active life and at the same time withdrew to the “mountain” to pray, Christians can “devote themselves to contemplation without denying themselves an active life; behaving differently would not be right. In fact as one loves God through contemplation, one loves one’s fellow human beings through action.”

    In looking at Saint Isidore’s life, Benedict XVI said the former was the brother of Bishop Leander, whom he succeeded in 599 AD, who raised him in an environment that befitted the life of a studious monk. The two had a rich library of classical Pagan and Christian texts and he was pushed towards “a very strong discipline in dedicating himself to learning.”

    As his books show he was interested in all cultural fields, had an “encyclopaedic knowledge” and literary texts that went from Cicero to Gregory the Great.

    In order to understand him better it is necessary to remember the complexity of the political times in which he lived.

    In his childhood he “experienced the bitterness of exile,” but “felt the thrill of making a contribution to the preparation of a people that was rediscovering its political and religious unity.”

    He had huge problems like his relationship with heretics and Jews, “problems which appear real even today, especially if one thinks about what is happening in some regions in which we seem to witness situations similar to those of 6th century Iberian Peninsula.”

    A “man with strong dialectical contrapositions’” he went through the same inner conflict his friend Pope Gregory the Great and Saint Augustine experienced, i.e. a conflict “between the desire for solitude to meditate and the need for charity towards his brothers, whose salvation, he felt, was his charge.”

    Men of God, he said, do not want to get involved in secular things and grieve when they are burdened with responsibilities, but they accept what they would like to escape from and avoid if that is God’s will.

    “This synthesis of a life that seeks God’s contemplation and dialogue through prayer and the reading of the Holy Scriptures as well as action in the service of the human community is Isidore’s great lesson to us, Christians of today, who are called to bear witness to Christ at the start of the new millennium.”

    During the audience, the Holy Father gave “warm greetings” in English to “a group of Holocaust survivors present today.”

    PHOTO: Credit CPP

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    See also

    28/05/2008 VATICAN
    “True hope” comes from the “desire for God,” says Pope
    In today’s general audience Benedict XVI describes the figure of Saint Gregory the Great, “one of the greatest in the history of the Church,” a key player in the evangelisation of the new Europe and in reaching peace with the Longobards, a “man immersed in God’ who was always “close to his fellow man and to the needs of the people of his time.”

    27/02/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Saint Augustine, model of a conversion "that lasts a lifetime"
    Benedict XVI concludes the cycle of reflections on the figure of the bishop of Hippo by emphasising his journey toward knowledge of God, and highlighting his own "personal devotion and gratitude" toward this "passionate seeker of truth" who influenced his life as "priest and theologian".

    05/03/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Roman primacy is "necessary" in the Church, today as in the past
    Illustrating at the general audience the figure of St Leo the Great, Benedict XVI again asserts the purpose of the primacy of the bishop of Rome and recalls how at the time of the undivided Church he was also recognised by the Eastern bishops.

    08/08/2007 VATICAN
    “Without God man loses his greatness,” says Pope
    During Wednesday’s general audience, Benedict XVI talks about Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. He highlights that man is valued and discovers “true humanism” only in his relationship to God. Benedict XVI directs his attention to young people, the sick and newly weds.

    30/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Faith and reason must be harmonised, they are not opposed
    At the general audience, Benedict XVI continued to illustrate the figure of Saint Augustine, emphasizing his unyielding efforts in the search for truth, and the meaning, in this context, of the statements "believe in order to understand", but also and inseparably, "understand in order to believe".



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