12/01/2010, 00.00
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Pope urges Chinese bishops to courageously bear witness to their faith

Benedict XVI's appeal at the end of the general audience that China's Catholics may live their faith and contribute to the harmony of their people. In his catechesis he recalls the teaching of Julian of Norwich: in the designs of Providence, God is able to bring a greater good, even from evil.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Pope has appealed for the Chinese Church, which "is going through particularly difficult times." Benedict XVI has asked for prayers for "all the bishops, so dear to me, so they may witness their faith with courage, placing all hope in the Saviour whom we await. We also entrust to the Virgin all the Catholics of that beloved country, so that, through her intercession, they may realise an authentic Christian life in communion with the universal Church, thereby also contributing to the harmony and the common good of their noble people. "

The Pope launched his appeal at the end of the general and in a certain sense it can be linked to what he had told those present regarding the mysterious designs of Providence, thanks to which even from evil, God is able to bring a greater good. This is the response, which stems from the awareness that "God is love" and one that a British mystic who lived in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, Julian of Norwich, gave when faced with the question "if God is supremely good and wise why is there evil and the suffering of the innocent? ". An answer endorsed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and remembered today by Benedict XVI in his audience address to eight thousand people. He told them: "The promises of God are always greater than our expectations, all will be well, is the message that Juliana leaves us, and that I will propose today".

Julian, who is venerated by both the Catholic and Anglican Church, was born in 1342 in a troubled period for the Church rocked by schism following the return of the popes from Avignon, and for her country, at war with France. She confirms that "God, even in times of trouble, never ceases to inspire people like Julian of Norwich, to call people to peace, love and joy."

"There is little information about this kind and compassionate woman," we know that in 1373 she was struck by a serious illness that brought her to the brink of death, but when a priest brought her the crucifix, Julian regained her health and received 16 revelations which she wrote about and commented on in the book "Revelations of Divine Love." "And it was the Lord who, fifteen years after these extraordinary events, unveiled the meaning of those visions. 'You want to know what your Lord meant and know the meaning of these revelations? Know this well: love is what He intended. Who reveals it to you? Love. Why does he reveal this? For love. Thus she learned that our Lord means love "

"Julian makes a radical choice. Like a hermit of old, she chose to live within a cell, located near the church dedicated to St. Julian, Norwich, and perhaps from which she took her name Julian. "It might even surprise us and even puzzle us this decision to live like a 'recluse', as it was known in her day. But she was not the only one to make that choice, in those centuries a considerable number of women opted for this way of life, adopting rules specifically developed for them. " "The anchorite or recluse, within their cells, devoted themselves to prayer, meditation and study. Thus, developing a fine human and religious sensibility, for which they were revered by the people. Men and women of all ages and in need of advice and comfort, devoutly sought them out. "

Because "the women and men who retire to live in God's company, thanks to this choice acquire a greater sense of compassion for the pain and weakness of others. Friends of God, they posses a wisdom that the world, from which they distance themselves, does not posses and, with kindness, share with those who knock on their door. I think, therefore, with admiration and gratitude, of the monasteries of cloistered women and men who, now more than ever, are oases of peace and hope, a precious treasure for the whole Church, especially in emphasizing the primacy of God and the importance of constant and intense prayer for the journey of faith. "

The theme of divine love is central for n Julian. Her "Revelations" contain "a message of optimism based on the certainty of being loved by God and being protected by his Providence."

"With some audacity," Julian does not hesitate to compare the love of God to maternal love. "This is a most characteristic message of her mystical theology ... But God always surpasses all human love, as the prophet Isaiah says: " Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you" (Is 49, 15). Julian of Norwich has understood the central message for spiritual life: God is love and only when we open ourselves totally to this love and let it become the only guide of life, will everything be transformed, will we find true peace and true joy and will we be able to spread them around us".

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