Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI was met this Sunday with greetings for his Saints say which falls tomorrow, both from the thousands of faithful who filled St Peter’s square for the Angelus prayer and from the young teenage boys of the Casal del Marmo minors prison, where the Pope paid a visit early this morning, on both occasion speaking of the sense of the relationship between man and God. At the Angelus he underlines how in the Eucharist Jesus love for the disciples “is passed on to us all” becoming the foundation of Christian joy, in the minors prison he instead highlighted how by choosing to follow God one finds the true sense of life and thus happiness.
“The Eucharist – he told the crowds of over 30 thousand pilgrims and visitors present in St Peters – feeds the profound joy of every generation of believer, which unites love and peace and finds its origins in God’s communion with his brothers”.
The Pope also spoke of the publication of his first post synodal exhortataion “Sacramentum caritatis”. “It was elaborated – he explained - by gathering the fruits of the XI General Assembly of Bishops, held here at the Vatican in October 2005. I am sure – h e added - that I will return to that important text, but from the very outset I wish to state that it is an expression of the Universal Church’s faith in the Mystery of the Eucharist, and is posed in continuity of the second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of my venerated predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II.
“In the Eucharist God wanted to donate us His love, which pushed him to offer his life for us on the cross. In the last supper, by washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus left us his commandment of love: ‘As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13,34). But for this to be possible we must remain united in him as branches on a vine (Jn 15,1-8), just as He himself chose to remain with us in the Eucharist so that we con remain in Him. Thus when we eat of His body and drink of His blood in faith, His love passes to us and makes us capable in turn of giving our lives for our brothers. (Jn 3,16). This is where Christian joy, Christian love is born”.
Benedict XVI also spoke of love for live and the sense of life with young detainees at the Casal del Marmo, in his first visit to a prison. The institution which hosts around fifty teenage boys and girls of various nationalities – is the same visited by John Paul II in 1980, on the invitation of the then Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli who for over 30 years spent as much time as possible at the prison, as Benedict XVI recalled.
During the mass Benedict XVI spoke openly and without text to the young prisoners, commenting on the evangelical episode of the prodigal son. He noted how behind the figures of the two sons were two “distinct life projects different one from the other”, with the younger son finding the life of a wealthy landowner dissatisfactory. “He wants freedom from discipline, rules and commandments”, “freedom with all its beauty”. For his part the after is “respectful” of the son’s decision to make his own way.
Thus the young man takes what is his. “Now his freedom is to do what he wishes to do, no longer in the prison of his home discipline”. And “in the first movements he feels happy, but slowly a worrying emptiness settles upon him”: the “slavery of a freedom that is consumed by terrestrial pleasures” was not living, “in fact life began to distance itself from him”. So the young man begins to reflect, “To ask himself if it is not better to live ones live for others”. Thus he begins “an interior journey of maturation towards a new life project which also becomes an outward journey”.
The feast prepared for the return of the prodigal son shows that “the work, humility, discipline of every day life creates the feast”; the young man knows that “certainly even in the future his life will not be easy, that temptation will return”, but he will also know that “life without God doesn’t work, it is missing the essential”.
“The Commandments are not obstacles to freedom, rather indicators on the road to life” and “the Gospel helps us to understand who really is God: our most merciful father, merciful beyond measure”.
In the words of Benedict XVI, it is a matter of “what freedom is and what papers to be freedom”; in short “freedom is a launching pad towards the infinity of God’s love or the abyss of sin and evil”. And meeting with the young teenagers after the celebration of mass, who he greeted one by one along with the present authorities, the Pope once again asked the question “how can you be happy if you suffer, when you are deprived of freedom, when you feel abandoned”, true joy and happiness he answered, “is knowing that God loves you”: “You could even be deprived of everything – he concluded – of freedom and of health but yet be peaceful and serene : the secret is putting God in first place”.
Following the Angelus, the Pope finally had a special greeting for members of the Committee of Catholics for a society of love who, on the occasion of the feast day of St Joseph, are re launching the campaign “adopt a Dad” in conjunction with the missionary Instructions to benefit poor families in developing countries. “Thank you – he concluded – for this initiative”.