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Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Holy Father on adult faith

Many thanks to the NLM for publishing the English translation of the Holy Father's sermon at solemn vespers last Sunday. Having just done a class today on the Christological controversies of the fifth century, it was moving to see that the Holy Father welcomed "the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople".

Many blogs have reported the scientific evidence supporting the ancient claim that the bones of St Paul are preserved at the Basilica of St Paul. Pope Benedict moved on quickly to a spiritual reflection on the teaching of St Paul, saying that it was fundamental
[...] that a new way of venerating God began with Christ a new form of worship. It consists in the fact that the living person himself becomes adoration, "sacrifice", even in his own body. It is no longer things that are offered to God. It is our very existence that must become praise of God.
He points out that the world is always in search of novelty because it is dissatisfied with concrete reality. So he offers the answer of St Paul who exhorts us to non-conformism with the logic of our time.

At the core is not a change in behaviour but a change in the way we think, a change in which we conform ourselves to God's will "that it may shape our will". A key point is that St Paul exhorts us no longer to be children but to have a mature and adult faith. Here Pope Benedict offers a heartwarming analysis:
The words "adult faith" in recent decades have formed a widespread slogan. It is often meant in the sense of the attitude of those who no longer listen to the Church and her Pastors but autonomously choose what they want to believe and not to believe hence a do-it-yourself faith. And it is presented as a "courageous" form of self-expression against the Magisterium of the Church. In fact, however, no courage is needed for this because one may always be certain of public applause. Rather, courage is needed to adhere to the Church's faith, even if this contradicts the "logic" of the contemporary world. This is the non-conformism of faith which Paul calls an "adult faith". It is the faith that he desires. On the other hand, he describes chasing the winds and trends of the time as infantile.
He points out that respect for human life from its beginning, and recognising marriage between a man and a woman for the whole of life as the Creator's ordering are a part of this non-conforming adult faith.

He extends this reflection further in terms of the relationship between the univers and God:
The mystery of Christ has a cosmic vastness; he did not belong only to a specific group. The Crucified Christ embraces the entire universe in all its dimensions. He takes the world in his hands and lifts it up towards God. Starting with St Irenaeus of Lyons thus from the second century the Fathers have seen in these words on the breadth, length and height and depth of Christ's love an allusion to the Cross.
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