By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In a world full of vice and sin, people need to radically change their lives, becoming more humble and less materialistic, Pope Benedict XVI said.
“May we be able to find the source of joy that comes from God’s goodness” and say “no” to the vices of the world, he said at his weekly general audience Sept. 2.
The pope, resuming a series of audience talks about influential Christian writers from the Middle Ages, focused his catechesis on St. Odo, a 10th-century Benedictine monk and abbot of Cluny, France.
St. Odo urged his monks and the faithful to face “the enormity of vices widespread throughout society” by undergoing “a radical change in life based on humility, austerity and detachment from ephemeral things and participation with the eternal,” said the pope.
The saint refused to become pessimistic or sink into despair even when there was so much sin and evil in the world, the pope said, because he knew “divine mercy is always available” for those who yearn for conversion.
The merciful God “persecutes sins and yet he protects the sinner,” the pope quoted St. Odo as saying.
He said the saint was also extremely devoted to the Eucharist and emphasized the real and substantial presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine. St. Odo deplored the “widespread neglect” of this sacred mystery, which was poorly observed at the time and lacking in the celebration of Mass, said the pope.
St. Odo worked to reform the clergy on this matter and stressed the need for being worthy when receiving the Eucharist, the pope said. He warned priests against coming to the altar in a state of sin lest they “stain the bread, that is, the body of Christ,” the pope said, citing the saint’s words.
St. Odo insisted that “only he who is spiritually united to Christ can worthily participate” in the eucharistic celebration, said the pope.
If those who have distanced themselves from Christ “eat his body and drink his blood, it would not be beneficial, but condemnable,” he said.
The saint taught that the salvation of the world depends on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The pope underlined the importance of embracing this truth “with renewed strength” because the presence of God, the creator, among humanity “transforms us, and just as he transformed bread and wine, he transforms the world.”
The pope flew to the Vatican by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, to lead the general audience in the Paul VI hall before about 8,000 pilgrims from around the world.
Pope Benedict looked relaxed and well-rested, though his right hand and wrist were notably swollen. He continued to greet visitors and well-wishers with his left hand, and had a friendly laugh greeting a priest whose left arm and hand were immobilized by a cast and sling.
The pope fell and broke his wrist July 17. Doctors performed minor surgery to stabilize and join the ends of the dislocated broken bones with wires later that day. The cast and wires from the pope’s wrist were removed Aug. 21; doctors said the healing process went perfectly and that the 82-year-old pope would recover the use of his hand after completing a program of rehabilitation.
At the end of the general audience, the pope flew back to the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, where he was spending the final weeks of his vacation.
Editor’s Note: The text of the pope’s audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20090902_en.html.
The text of the pope’s audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20090902_sp.html.
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