SULMONA, Italy, JULY 4, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Silence might be a fearful thing to modern man, but Benedict XVI is encouraging an acceptance of interior and exterior silence, so as to be able to hear God’s voice, and the voices of our neighbors.
The Pope said this today during his one-day trip to Italy’s Abruzzi region, devastated in 2009 by an earthquake.
His trip marked the 800th anniversary of the birth of Celestine V, the only Pope in history to abdicate Peter’s Throne.
During a very warm open-air Mass with some 25,000 faithful, the Holy Father reflected on the life of his 13th-century predecessor, not focusing on his five months of papacy, but rather on his holiness of life.
It is his holiness that keeps Celestine V in history some 800 years after his birth, Benedict XVI said. “Holiness, in fact, never loses its own power of attraction, it is not forgotten, it never goes out of fashion, indeed, with the passage of time, it shines with ever greater luminosity, expressing man’s perennial longing for God.”
The Pope went on to glean relevant teachings from the saint’s life. The first he highlighted was the importance of silence.
“[St. Peter Celestine] went in search of truth and happiness, he went in search of God and, to hear his voice, decided to separate himself from the world and to live as a hermit,” he said. “Silence thus became the element that characterized his daily life. And it is precisely in external silence, but above all in internal silence, that he succeeded in perceiving God’s voice, a voice that was able to guide his life.
“Here a first aspect that is important for us: We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God’s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others.”
The Pontiff also pointed to the importance of grace in St. Peter’s life. His discovery of God, the Pope said, “was not only the result of his effort but was made possible by the grace of God itself that came to him.”
He explained: “What he had, what he was, did not come from him: it was granted to him, it was grace, and so it was also a responsibility before God and before others.
“Even if our life is very different from his, the same thing is also true for us: the entirety of what is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our intervention. The fact that I live does not depend on me; the fact that there were people who introduced me to life, that taught me what it means to live and be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of that is grace and not ‘done by me.'”
The Bishop of Rome affirmed that we can do nothing for ourselves if it is not given to us: “God always anticipates us and in every individual life there is beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of his goodness. Because of this we must be attentive, always keep our ‘interior eyes’ open, the eyes of our heart. And if we learn how to know God in his infinite goodness, then we will be able to see, with wonder, in our lives — as the saints did — the signs of that God, who is always near to us, who is always good to us, who says: ‘Have faith in me!'”
Before leaving the Abruzzi region, the Pope went on to meet with bishops of the area and with youth.
He left the faithful at Mass with this affirmation: “Brothers and sisters! I am among you to confirm you in the faith. I would like to exhort you, firmly and with affection, to remain solid in that faith that you have received, which gives meaning to life and gives one strength to love. May the example and intercession of the Mother of God and of St. Peter Celestine accompany us on this journey.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29795?l=english