On Evangelization

«Wherever God Is Not in the First Place, Man’s Dignity Is Endangered»

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the crowds gathered in the courtyard in the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It was truly an extraordinary ecclesial experience lived last week in Cologne, on the occasion of World Youth Day, with the participation of a very great number of young people from all parts of the world, accompanied by many bishops, priests and men and women religious. It was a providential event of grace for the whole Church.

Speaking with bishops of Germany, shortly before returning to Italy, I said that young people have given their pastors, and in a certain way all believers, a message which is at the same time a request: «Help us to be disciples and witnesses of Christ. As the Magi, we came to find him and to worship him.» Young people left Cologne for their cities and nations animated by a great hope, without however losing sight of the not few difficulties, obstacles and problems that in our time accompany the authentic search for Christ and faithful adherence to his Gospel.

Not only young people, but also communities and pastors themselves must be ever more aware of a fundamental fact of evangelization: Wherever God is not in the first place, wherever he is not acknowledged and worshipped as the Supreme Good, man’s dignity is endangered. It is therefore urgent to lead the man of today to «discover» the true face of God, which has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Also humanity of our time, like the Magi, will be able to prostrate itself before him and worship him.

Speaking with the German bishops, I recalled that adoration is not «a luxury, but a priority.» To seek Christ must be the incessant longing of believers, of youths and adults, of the faithful and their pastors. This search is encouraged, supported and guided. Faith is not simply the adherence to an ensemble of dogmas complete in itself, that would slake the thirst for God present in the human spirit. On the contrary, it projects for man a path in time toward a God ever new in his infinitude. The Christian is therefore at the same time one who seeks and one who finds. It is precisely this that makes the Church young, open to the future, rich in hope for the whole of humanity.

Saint Augustine, whom we remember today, has wonderful reflections on the invitation of Psalm 104 «Quaerite faciem eius simper» — Seek his face continually. He notes that that invitation does not hold good just for this life but also for eternity. The discovery of «God’s face» is never exhausted. The more we enter into the splendor of divine love, the more beautiful it is to go forward in the search, so that «amore crescente inquisitio crescat inventi» — To the degree that love grows, so grows the search for him who is found» (Psalm 104:3; «Corpus Christianorum,» Series Latina (CCL) 40, 1537).

This is the experience to which we also aspire from the depth of our hearts. May it be obtained for us by the intercession of the great bishop of Hippo; may it be obtained by the maternal help of Mary, star of evangelization, whom we now invoke with the Angelus prayer.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus including a group of staff and seminarians from the Pontifical North American College. May your time here at Castel Gandolfo, and in Rome, be filled with joy and deepen your love of the universal Church. Upon you all, I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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