God Desires Our Thirst for Him, Says Pope

Calls St. Gregory Nazianzen a “Great Teacher”

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says that prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst for us and our thirst for him, as St. Gregory Nazianzen said.

The Pope dedicated his reflection at today’s general audience to St. Gregory, a fourth-century bishop.

The Holy Father introduced the reflection saying that he would summarize some of Gregory’s teachings. The Pontiff touched on the saint’s writings about themes such as the Trinity, Christ’s humanity, Mary, charity, prayer and purification.

He said that Gregory “made the light of the Trinity glow, defending the faith proclaimed in the Council of Nicea: one God in three equal and distinct Persons.”

Gregory also fought the heresy of Apollinaris, contending that “what had not been assumed had not been cured,” and affirming that “precisely our intellect, our reason, was in need of a relationship, an encounter with God in Christ,” Benedict XVI explained.

He added that St. Gregory offered a precursor to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, teaching that “with a view to her lofty mission [she] was ‘prepurified.'”

Union

The Holy Father showed how St. Gregory also taught about solidarity with others.

“Gregory underlines that man must imitate the goodness and love of God, and for that he recommends: ‘If you are healthy and rich, alleviate the need of the one who is sick and poor; if you have not fallen, help the one who has fallen and lives in suffering; if you are happy, console the one who is sad; if you are fortunate, help the one who has been bitten by misfortune,'” the Pope said.

Benedict XVI offered Gregory as an example, above all, of prayer.

He said: “Gregory teaches us, before all, the importance and necessity of prayer. He affirms that ‘it is necessary to remind oneself of God more frequently than one breathes,’ since prayer is the encounter of the thirst of God with our thirst. God thirsts that we thirst for him.

“In prayer, we have to direct our heart to God to surrender ourselves to him as an offering that should be purified and transformed. In prayer, we see everything in the light of Christ, we let down our guard and we submerge ourselves in the truth and in listening to God, nurturing the fire of our love.”

Finally, the Pontiff spoke of Gregory’s teaching on the task of purifying the soul to reach God.

“Gregory […] felt the need to draw near to God to overcome the weariness of his own being. He experienced the urging of the soul, the vivacity of a sensitive spirit and the instability of fleeting happiness,” Benedict XVI said. “For him, in the drama of a life in which the awareness of his weakness and misery weighed heavily, the experience of the love of God was always stronger.

“You have a task — St. Gregory says to us as well — the task to find the true light, to find the true measure of your life. And your life consists in encountering God, who thirsts for our thirst.”

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