Pontiff: God Is Visible; We Must Learn to See Him

Reflects on Germanus, a Saint Who Defended Icons

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- God is visible in the world and in the Church, but we must learn to perceive his visibility, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today during the general audience in which he spoke of St. Germanus of Constantinople, an 8th-century defender of the use of icons in worship.

The Holy Father recounted Germanus’ conflict with Emperor Leo III, who opposed the use of icons — a conflict that eventually found Germanus «obligated to turn in his resignation as patriarch and to condemn himself to exile in a monastery where he died forgotten by everyone.»

The Bishop of Rome noted that a principal contribution from Germanus are his homilies on Mary, some of which «have profoundly marked the piety of entire generations of faithful, as much in the East as in the West.»

Noteworthy among these is part of a homily that was taken up by Pius XII in his 1950 apostolic constitution that defined the dogma of the Assumption, and which Pius cited as an example of the age-old faith of the Church in the corporal presence of Mary in heaven.

Still teaching

Benedict XVI went on to propose that Germanus has three primary lessons for believers today.

«The first,» he said, is that «there is a certain visibility of God in the world, in the Church, which we should learn to perceive. God has created man in his image, but this image has been covered in so much filth from sin that consequently God is almost not seen anymore in it. Thus the Son of God became true man, perfect image of God: In Christ we can thus contemplate the face of God and learn to ourselves be true men, true images of God.»

A second lesson that the Holy Father proposed regards the «beauty and dignity of the liturgy.»

«To celebrate the liturgy in the awareness of the presence of God, with this dignity and beauty that allows one to see a bit of his splendor, is the task of every Christian formed in his faith,» he stated.

Finally, the Pontiff suggested, Germanus teaches us to love the Church.

«Precisely concerning the Church, we men are inclined to see above all its sins, the negative,» Benedict XVI said. «But with the help of faith, which makes us capable of seeing authentically, we can also, today and always, rediscover in her the divine beauty.»

And he added: «It is in the Church where God makes himself present, offers himself in the holy Eucharist and remains present for adoration. In the Church, God speaks with us, in the Church, ‘God walks with us,’ as St. Germanus says. In the Church, we receive the forgiveness of God and we learn to forgive.»

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