ANCONA, Italy, JAN. 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, gave Thursday at the conclusion of the bishops’ permanent council meeting. The Mass was celebrated at the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Ancona.
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Everything comes from the Eucharist and everything returns there: The work-days of our permanent council find in this celebration the highest point. Every word of ours, in fact, as every decision and hope, find synthesis and efficacy here, because they matured in the climate of faith, in episcopal fraternity, in communion with the Holy Father, in the desire and the duty to serve our Churches and the country. We had the grace to end our work in this splendid cathedral, and we want to thank the pastor of this archdiocese, Archbishop Menichelli for the fraternal hospitality and the intense preparation for the National Eucharistic Congress. Together with him, we address our grateful greeting to his collaborators and to the delegates gathered here from many Italian dioceses.
As pastors, we are requested to maintain the profession of our hope without hesitation, as the Letter to the Hebrews recommends. And we do this with the help of grace that never disappoints, looking to the Ministry of Peter, and encouraging one another in evangelical charity, the source of every good. Thus we are asked to respond to the expectations not only of the Catholic community, but also of the entire society, which exacts from us — despite our limitations and weaknesses — words that echo those of the Lord, which are attested to by 2,000 years of Christian history, which are bathed in the blood of martyrs of yesterday and of today.
The divine Eucharist, heart of the life and mission of the Church, vivifies our speech and makes our pastoral concern fruitful; it introduces our humble persons into the liturgy of Heaven; it purifies and restores everything as a gesture of love.
However, beyond our words the Word resounds, the Word of God made flesh. He is the Teacher and the great Pastor of souls, and we are aware — from daily experience — that only in assiduousness in his school, as docile and loving disciples, will we be able to be, in turn, an echo of the supreme Teacher, a voice of the Word that saves. Because of this we hear the teaching the Gospel addresses to us today with particular vigor and with very special affection. “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand?” We realize that the image speaks about us and outlines our ministry. In this regard, St. Thomas comes to our help when he reminds us that the light does not only have value because it shines in the dark, but above all because it illumines. If by a verse we are called to be luminous and to shine, we are moreover called and driven so that the light of our priesthood is at the service of the world, placed in relation with the many environments of life, and to illuminate the perennial questions: the mystery of pain and death, the meaning of our existence, the destiny of each one, the end of this extraordinary and dramatic universe, moral good and evil. All this is part of the deep-down enigma — as the Second Vatican Council reminds — that every man is to himself, an enigma that can be removed from the personal and collective conscience, but which sooner or later returns unrestrained with all its implacable force.
And it is here, to the profound wounds of this interior world with the desire to exorcise by a smiling and sad nihilist culture — that the Teacher has invited us, as he did his first apostles, to take the light of redemption and hope. And we started out, surprised and pleased to the point of tears because of this choice, a fruit solely of God’s generosity; we started out knowing that we could keep hidden the light placed in our fragile hands, but which we had to live to make it a beneficent lamp. Dear friends, we know that to be a lamp of the Light we must be next to the Light, we must let it enter us so that it invades our soul even if we have to feel pain and, once illumined, to illumine. We are driven to intensify our spiritual life, and the greater the responsibility and the pastoral tasks we pursue, the more we feel the need to dwell in the light so that the light, which is Christ, will dwell in us and protect us. In this indispensable mission, we are also encouraged not to be afraid or to fear possible incomprehension and criticisms: Pope Benedict XVI witnesses this in his magisterium and in his pastoral guidance; he follows with great diligence and affection the Church that in Italy is us bishops, the priests and our communities. Yes, he teaches us humility of ways, the disarmed clarity of truth, the lucid wisdom of dialogue, the courageous prudence of gestures, liberty in face of the world, the courage of knowing he is in God’s hands.
2. However, there is a second word that we would like to recall briefly: “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” Is the ministry of the truth that illumines reappraised perhaps with these words? Must we perhaps fit the evangelical truth on the small meter of our strength and personal consistency? We know that this is not the aim of the Teacher: in fact, it means leaving the faithful out of the Light, out of the whole Truth, with its exacting and fascinating heights, with its unbreakable appeal, but without ever being discouraged or worse, condemning man, shutting him in his interior prison, depriving him of the future. As priests who have the grace of being ministers of reconciliation, we know that souls wish to have pointed out the sublime aims of the Christian life without reductions, to recognize their sins, to renew their path of conversion, but at the same time they are, as all are, beggars of mercy and trust; they ask to be reassured about the force of grace, the fidelity of God, the love of Christ, the maternity of the Church.
3. There is, finally, a third word which perhaps sounds a bit mysterious and which always calls our attention: “To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” As we well know, it is not enough to have talents and gifts from the Spirit, it is necessary to cultivate them. As all living things, it is not sufficient that they be, it is necessary to take care of them. So it is with love, with faith, with every gift of grace. In this logic, to neglect means to lose. And the temptation to neglect is at everyone’s door. The Holy Father does not fail to exhort the whole Church to a work of renewal of the heart and of life, as the foundation and condition of every true reform: This is taught in the history of innumerable saints; suffice it to think of St. Francis, St. Catherine, St. Teresa of Avila. And we, pastors of the Church, are called to be before our communities, to give example and to mark the way following Benedict XVI. Yes, we must all fight against the routine that discolors life, weakens the fruitfulness of the good, makes faith opaque, deadens the vibration of the soul before the Eucharistic mystery. We could say, that routine exhausts and, weary, leads to an indistinct fog that accounts for the loss of those gifts of grace with which God decks souls. We must every day rekindle our “yes” to him who has chosen us through mercy and clothed us with his priesthood.
Dear friends, let us ask the Lord Jesus — on this day dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust, for the grace to be luminous pastors for our people and to indicate to all, sustained by the Holy Virgin, the warm light of the Eucharistic Jesus.[Translation by ZENIT]