Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Full Translation of Pope Benedict's Easter Octave Wednesday Audience

The Holy Father had his regular General Audience today. He flew in by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo where is resting up after the busy Easter season. Since it is the Easter Octave it was expected he would not return to the Church Father discussions but continue to discuss the significance of the Easter message. The Ratzinger Forum has the translation which I will post in full.

The Holy Father held his Wednesday General Audience today in St. Peter's Square, flying in by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, where he is staying during the Easter Octave. It was the first GA held outdoors since the venue shifted to Aula Paolo VI at the start of winter last year. Here is a translation of his words:

Dear brothers and sisters!
"Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas" – "And on the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures".

Every Sunday, with the Credo, we renew our profession of faith in the resurrection of Christ, a surprising event that represents the keystone of Christianity. In the Church, everything is understood from the perspective of this great mystery which changed the course of history and which becomes actual in every Eucharistic celebration. But there is a liturgical period when this central reality of the Christian faith - in all its dostrinal richness and inexhaustible vitality - is proposed to the faithful in a more intense manner, so that the more they rediscover it, the more they can live it more faithfully.

That is at Eastertide. Every year, in the "Most Holy Triduum of Christ crucified, dead and resurrected", as St. Augustine called it, the Church retraces, in an atmosphere of prayer and penitence, the conclusive stages of the earthly life of Jesus - his condemination to death, his ascent to Calvary carrying the Cross, his sacrifice for our salvation, his deposition in the sepulchre. Then on the 'third day', the Church relives his resurrection: it is Easter, Jesus's 'passover' from death to life, in total fulfillment of ancient prophecies.

All the liturgy of Eastertide sings the certainty and joy of the resurrection of Christ. Dear brothers and sisters, we should constantly renew our adherence to Christ who died and rose again for us. His Easter is also ours, because in the Risen Christ we are given the certainty of our own resurrection. The news of his resurrection from the dead never grows old and Jesus is always alive. His Gospel is always alive. "The faith of Christians", St. Augustine observed, "consists of the resurrection of Christ." The Acts of the Apostles explain it clearly: "God has provided confirmation of Jesus for all by raising him from the dead" (17,31).

Death alone, in fact, was not enough to show that Jesus is truly the Son of God, the awaited Messiah. In the course of history, how many have consecrated their lives to a cause they believed in and died for it! But they have remained dead. The Lord's death shows the immense love that he had for us to the point of sarificing himself for us. But only his resurrection is the 'sure proof', the guarantee of certainty that what he says is the Truth which is valid even for us, for all men, for all time. In resurrecting Jesus, the Father glorified him. Thus, St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (10,9).

It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith, the historical truth of which has been amply documented, even if now, as in the past, there is no lack of those who would cast doubt on it or even deny it outright. The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus consequently renders weak the testimony of believers. If indeed there should be a diminution in the Church of faith in the resurrection, then everything would stop, everything woudl fall apart. On the other hand, our adherence with mind and heart to Christ who died and rose again changes the life of pesons and peoples and illuminates their entire existence. Was it not the certainty that Christ rose again that gave courage, prophetic audacity and perseverance to the martyrs of every epoch? Was it not the encounter with a living Jesus that has converted and fascinated so many men and women who, from the beginnings of Christianity, have left and continue to leave everything, in order to follow Christ and place their life in the service of his Gospel?

"If Christ has not been raised," wrote the Apostle Paul, "then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith." (1 Cor 15,14). But he is risen! The announcement that in these days we shall hear constantly is precisely this: Jesus is risen, he is the Living One, and we can meet him. Like the women met him, who, on the morning of the third day, the day after the Sabbath, came to his tomb. Like the disciples did, who were surprised and greatly affected by what the women had told them. As many other eyewitnesses did, who met him in the days that followed his resurrection. Even after his Ascension, Jesus continued to be present among his friends as he had promised: "And behold, I am with you always, until the end of time" (Mt 28,20). The Lord is with us, with his Church, to the end of time.

Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the members of the early Church started to proclaim the Easter message openly and without fear. This announcement, transmitted from generation to generation, has come down to us to resound every year at Easter with an ever new power. Particularly in this Easter Octave, the liturgy invites us to personally encounter the Risen Lord and to acknowledge the vivfying force of that event on history and on our daily life. Today, for instance, Easter Wednesday, we are asked to meditate on the very moving episode of the two disples at Emmaus (cfr Lk 24,13-35).

After the Crucifixion of Jesus, immersed in sorrow and disappointment, they were headed home, disconsolate. Along the way, they spoke of the things that had happened in Jerusalem in recent days. At which point, Jesus approached them, joined their discussion and advised them: "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24,25-26). Starting with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them everything in Scriptures that referred to him. Christ's teaching - his explanation of the prophecies - was for the two disciples at Emmaus a revelation that was unexpected. luminous and comforting. Jesus gave them a new key to read the Bible and everything then became clear, priented precisely towards that moment. Won over by the words of the unknown traveller, they asked him to have supper with them. He accepted and sat down at table with them. The evangelist Luke says: "While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them" (Lk 24,290-30)

At that moment, the disciples' eyes were opened and they recognized him, "but he vanished from their sight" (Lk 24,31). Full of wonder and joy, they said to each other: "Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?" (Lk 24,32). During the entire liturgical year, but msot especially during Holy Week and the Easter Octave, the Lord is walking beside us and explaining the Scriptures to us, to make us understand the mystery: that everything [in Scriptures] speaks of him. This should make our own hearts 'burn' so that even our eyes may be opened. The Lord is with us - he is showing us the true way. And just as the two disciples recognized Jesus when he broke the bread, so too, we today recognize his presence in the breaking of the (Eucharistic) bread. The disciples at Emmaus recognized him and remembered the moments when Jesus had broken bread. This breaking of the bread reminds us in fact of that first Eucharist celebrated in the context of the Last Supper, when Jesus broke bread and thus anticipated his death and resurrection, giving of himself to the disciples. Jesus breaks bread even with us and for us, he is present with us in the Holy Eucharist, he gives us himself and opens our hearts.

In the Holy Eucharist, in the encounter with his Word, we too can encounter and recognize Jesus, in this double meal of the Word and consecrated Bread and Wine. Every Sunday, the Christian community relives the Easter of the Lord and receives from the Savior his testament of love and fraternal service. Dear brothers and sisters, the joy of these days makes even more firm our faithful adherence to the Crucified and Risen Christ. Above, all let us allow ourselves to be conquered by the fascination of his resurrection. May Mary help us to be messengers of the light and joy of Easter for so many of our brothers. Once again, to all of you, my most heartfelt wishes for a Happy Easter.

Later, he said in English:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Christ is risen! The mystery of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead stands at the heart of the Christian faith. Throughout this Easter season, the Church contemplates the infinite richness of this mystery and strives to live the new life brought to us by the Risen Lord. Christ’s resurrection is also our resurrection; in his passover from death to life, Jesus has assured us of our salvation. The Church’s joyful proclamation that Christ is risen has the power to change lives and to shed new light upon human history. Today, as in every age, Christ comes to meet us and to remain in our midst with his saving power.

During these days of the Octave of Easter, the Liturgy invites us to reaffirm our faith in the Risen Lord, to hope more firmly in his promises, and, like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, to recognize him in the breaking of the bread (cf. Lk 24:31). In the Eucharist, the living memorial of Christ’s sacrifice and the celebration of his real presence, we truly encounter the Risen Jesus in his word and in the sacrament of his body and blood. Through the prayers of the Virgin Mary, may the joy of this Easter make us faithful messengers of the light and hope of the resurrection. Happy Easter to you and your families! I offer a warm welcome to the international group of School Sisters of Saint Francis gathered in Rome. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Japan, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

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