Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Benedict XVI Address in Verona

To the Fourth National Convention of the Church in Italy

"His Resurrection, therefore, has been like an explosion of light, an explosion of love that melts the chains of sin and death. It inaugurated a new dimension of life and reality, from which the new world comes forth, that continuously penetrates our world, transforming it and drawing it to himself.

All of this concretely happens through the life and witness of the Church; rather, the Church herself constitutes the first fruits of this transformation, which is God’s work and not ours. It comes to us through faith and the Sacrament of Baptism, which is really death and resurrection, rebirth, transformation to a new life. It is what St Paul reveals in the Letter to the Galatians: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (2: 20). Hence, the essential identity of my life is changed through Baptism, and I continue to exist only in this changed state.

"My own self is taken away and I am filled with a new and greater subject, in which my “I” is still there but transformed, purified, “open” through the insertion into the Other, who acquires new space in my existence. Thus, we become “one in Christ” (Gal 3: 28), a unique new subject, and our “I” is freed from its isolation.

“I, but no longer I”: this is the formula of Christian existence established in Baptism, the formula of the resurrection in time, the formula of the Christian “novelty” called to transform the world.

"Here lies our Paschal joy. Our vocation and our Christian duty consist in cooperating so that they reach effective fulfilment in the daily reality of our life, what the Holy Spirit accomplishes in us with Baptism. In fact, we are called to become new women and men, to be able to be true witnesses of the Risen One and thus bearers of Christian joy and hope in the world, concretely in that community of men and women in which we live."

We are reading this address in CL right now. As always, Benedict is clear and challenging. And also as always, Fr. Antonio is full of insight about this particular passage where I had questions. He said (paraphrasing) "I do not think of this new self as not making mistakes; rather it is that He is with me. My life is defined by my relationship with Him. Even when I make mistakes, He is there and gives me mercy. He accompanies me always..." And, "But I would not have known this if someone had not been there showing it to me; showing me how to live. If someone had not been a father to me, if I did not encounter this reality being lived out."

So once again I am prompted to give thanks for the wretches and other friends in whom I see His Life lived out today, without whom I could not believe in the Risen Lord!

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