Monday, November 8, 2010
Along the way to Santiago de Compostela
The following are excerpts from the homily of Pope Benedict XVI at Santiago de Compostela on Saturday, November 6. The great Cathedral of this city (in the part of Spain known as Galicia) is a pilgrimage site where the remains of the Apostle St. James are buried.
The great theme of the Pope's homily is a call to Europe to return to Christ. He traces the current anti-Christian ideology back to the 19th century, which is the time of Darwin, Nietzsche and Marx. He points out the failures of European society based on these secular philosophies. And he makes clear that Christianity and "freedom" are in harmony - not in opposition as is often depicted.
The Pope's prayers spoken from this spiritual hub of Europe have great strength and resonance. His prayers are spiritually amplified by all the souls who have made pilgrimages throughout the centuries. It is as if the Pope were conducting an exorcism over Europe's corrupted spiritual body.
The Pope has stated repeatedly that what is needed is nothing less than a re-evangelization of Europe; a return to the spirit of the times of the first Apostles just after the death and resurrection of Christ.
Excerpts from: Plaza del Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela Homily of the Holy Father
Brothers and sisters, today we are called to follow the example of the apostles, coming to know the Lord better day by day and bearing clear and valiant witness to his Gospel. We have no greater treasure to offer to our contemporaries.
I would like this message to reach all young people: this core content of the Gospel shows you in particular the path by which, in renouncing a selfish and short-sighted way of thinking so common today, and taking on instead Jesus’ own way of thinking, you may attain fulfilment and become a seed of hope.
This is what, in the secret of their heart, knowing it explicitly or sensing it without being able to express it, so many pilgrims experience as they walk the way to Santiago de Compostela to embrace the Apostle. The fatigue of the journey, the variety of landscapes, their encounter with peoples of other nationalities - all of this opens their heart to what is the deepest and most common bond that unites us as human beings: we are in quest, we need truth and beauty, we need an experience of grace, charity, peace, forgiveness and redemption. And in the depth of each of us there resounds the presence of God and the working of the Holy Spirit.
From this place, as a messenger of the Gospel sealed by the blood of Peter and James, I raise my eyes to the Europe that came in pilgrimage to Compostela. What are its great needs, fears and hopes? What is the specific and fundamental contribution of the Church to that Europe which for half a century has been moving towards new forms and projects? Her contribution is centred on a simple and decisive reality: God exists and he has given us life.
Tragically, above all in nineteenth century Europe, the conviction grew that God is somehow man’s antagonist and an enemy of his freedom. As a result, there was an attempt to obscure the true biblical faith in the God who sent into the world his Son Jesus Christ, so that no one should perish but that all might have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:16).
God is the origin of our being and the foundation and apex of our freedom, not its opponent. How can mortal man build a firm foundation and how can the sinner be reconciled with himself? How can it be that there is public silence with regard to the first and essential reality of human life? How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows?
This is why we need to hear God once again under the skies of Europe; may this holy word not be spoken in vain, and may it not be put at the service of purposes other than its own. It needs to be spoken in a holy way. And we must hear it in this way in ordinary life, in the silence of work, in brotherly love and in the difficulties that years bring on.
It is this Christ whom we can find all along the way to Compostela for, at every juncture, there is a cross which welcomes and points the way. The cross, which is the supreme sign of love brought to its extreme and hence both gift and pardon, must be our guiding star in the night of time. The cross and love, the cross and light have been synonymous in our history because Christ allowed himself to hang there in order to give us the supreme witness of his love, to invite us to forgiveness and reconciliation, to teach us how to overcome evil with good. So do not fail to learn the lessons of that Christ whom we encounter at the crossroads of our journey and our whole life, in whom God comes forth to meet us as our friend, father and guide. Blessed Cross, shine always upon the lands of Europe!