Wednesday, April 21, 2010

God Breaks into Our Lives


VATICAN CITY, 17 APR 2010 (VIS) - Having prayed for a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament, the Pope descended the steps that lead into the Cave of St. Paul, which is considered to be the cornerstone of the Church in Malta because, according to tradition, the Apostle preached there for three months following his shipwreck on the island. In the Middle Ages a cemetery and various chapels were raised around the site. The first church was built in 1463, later replaced by two others, the latest of which dates from 1653.

"Paul's shipwreck and his three-month stay in Malta left an indelible mark upon the history of your country", said the Holy Father. "His words to his companions prior to his arrival in Malta, ... 'we are to be stranded on some island', in their original context, are a summons to courage in the face of the unknown and to unfailing confidence in God's mysterious providence".

"In God's plan, St. Paul thus became your father in the Christian faith. Thanks to his presence among you, the Gospel of Jesus Christ took deep root and bore fruit not only in the lives of individuals, families and communities, but also in the formation of Malta's national identity and its vibrant and distinctive culture". In this context, the Pope made specific mention of the many Maltese missionaries, encouraging them "in their challenging and often heroic vocation".

"St. Paul's arrival in Malta was not planned", the Holy Father went on. "Sailors can map a journey, but God, in His wisdom and providence, charts a course of His own. Paul, who dramatically encountered the Risen Lord while on the road to Damascus, knew this well. The course of his life was suddenly changed" and "his every thought and action was directed to proclaiming the mystery of the Cross and its message of God's reconciling love.

"That same word, the word of the Gospel, still has the power to break into our lives and to change their course", Benedict XVI added. "Today the same Gospel which Paul preached continues to summon the people of these islands to conversion, new life and a future of hope".

"From this holy place where the apostolic preaching first spread throughout these islands, I call upon each of you to take up the exciting challenge of the new evangelisation. ... In a particular way I urge parents, teachers and catechists to speak of your own living encounter with the Risen Jesus to others...
"The world needs this witness!", the Pope concluded. "In the face of so many threats to the sacredness of human life, and to the dignity of marriage and the family, do not our contemporaries need to be constantly reminded of the grandeur of our dignity as God's children and the sublime vocation we have received in Christ? Does not society need to re-appropriate and defend those fundamental moral truths which remain the foundation of authentic freedom and genuine progress?".

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