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Pope Benedict XVI

A ray of light streaming forth from the word of God

November 13, 2010

Tags: Church, Pope, Pope Benedict XVI
It is certainly not by chance that the great currents of spirituality in the Church’s history originated with an explicit reference to Scripture.

I am thinking for example of Saint Anthony the Abbot, who was moved by hearing Christ’s words: “if you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). No less striking is the question posed by Saint Basil the Great in the Moralia: “What is the distinctive mark of faith? Full and unhesitating certainty that the words inspired by God are true … What is the distinctive mark of the faithful? Conforming their lives with the same complete certainty to the meaning of the words of Scripture, not daring to remove or add a single thing”.

Saint Benedict, in his Rule, refers to Scripture as “a most perfect norm for human life”. Saint Francis of Assisi – we learn from Thomas of Celano – “upon hearing that the disciples of Christ must possess neither gold, nor silver nor money, nor carry a bag, nor bread, nor a staff for the journey, nor sandals nor two tunics … exulting in the Holy Spirit, immediately cried out: ‘This is what I want, this is what I ask for, this I long to do with all my heart!’”. Saint Clare of Assisi shared fully in the experience of Saint Francis: “The form of life of the Order of Poor Sisters – she writes – is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”. So too, Saint Dominic “everywhere showed himself to be a man of the Gospel, in word as in deed”, and wanted his friars likewise to be “men of the Gospel”. The Carmelite Saint Teresa of Avila, who in her writings constantly uses biblical images to explain her mystical experiences, says that Jesus himself revealed to her that “all the evil in the world is derived from not knowing clearly the truths of sacred Scripture”. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus discovered that love was her personal vocation by poring over the Scriptures, especially Chapters 12 and 13 of the First Letter to the Corinthians; the same saint describes the attraction of the Scriptures: “No sooner do I glance at the Gospel, but immediately I breathe in the fragrance of the life of Jesus and I know where to run”.

Every saint is like a ray of light streaming forth from the word of God: we can think of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in his search for truth and in his discernment of spirits; Saint John Bosco in his passion for the education of the young; Saint John Mary Vianney in his awareness of the grandeur of the priesthood as gift and task; Saint Pius of Pietrelcina in his serving as an instrument of divine mercy; Saint Josemaria Escrivá in his preaching of the universal call to holiness; Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the missionary of God’s charity towards the poorest of the poor, and then the martyrs of Nazism and Communism, represented by Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), a Carmelite nun, and by Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, the Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb.

POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION VERBUM DOMINI OF THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL ON THE WORD OF GOD IN THE LIFE AND MISSION OF THE CHURCH