VATICAN CITY, MAR 7, 2007 (VIS) - During today's general audience Benedict XVI continued with his series of catecheses on the origins of the Church, focussing on the Apostolic Fathers. The audience was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 16,000 people.

 

The Pope turned his attention to the figure of St. Clement, the third successor of St. Peter after Sts. Linus and Anacletus, who reigned in the late first century. Clement, as Bishop St. Irenaeus of Lyon writes, had known the Apostles personally and "still had their preaching in his ears and their tradition before his eyes."

 

The author of an important Letter to the Corinthians, which represents "the first exercise of the primacy of Rome after the death of Peter," Clement returns to "the perennially important theological dialectic between the indicative of salvation and the imperative of moral commitment." And he invites people to respond to "the announcement of salvation with a generous and courageous journey of conversion."

 

The Letter gives Clement the possibility to describe "the identity of the Church and her mission" and, recalling the liturgy of ancient Israel, he "unveils his idea of the Church," in which "the clear distinction between the laity and the hierarchy does not mean conflict but the organic interconnection of a body, an organism with various functions."

 

For this Apostolic Father, the Pope went on, "the Church is not a place of confusion and anarchy," but "an organized structure in which each member undertakes his or her mission according to their vocation. ... St. Clement highlights how the Church has a sacramental and not a political structure. The action of God, which we draw near to in the liturgy, precedes our own decisions and our own ideas."

 

The "great prayer" with which the Letter ends is particularly important, said the Holy Father, being "an invocation on behalf of political leaders. After the texts of the Old Testament this is the oldest prayer for political institutions," and contains "a teaching that, down the centuries, has guided the attitude of Christians towards politics and the State."

 

Clement wrote his Letter shortly after the death of the emperor Domitian and his persecution of Christians who, "though aware that the persecutions would continue, did not cease to pray for those same authorities that had unjustly condemned them.

 

"Praying for the authorities," the Holy Father added in conclusion, "Clement recognized the legitimate authority of political institutions in the order established by God. At the same time he expressed his concern that those authorities ... should exercise their power with peace and gentleness, Caesar is not everything. There is another kingship, the origin and essence of which are not of this world."

 

AG/APOSTOLIC FATHERS:ST. CLEMENT/...                          VIS 070307 (460)


Teachings of Christ

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." (John 10:10 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you." (Proverbs 3:28 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

The soul has followed Moses and the cloud, both of these serving as guides for those who would advance in virtue; Moses here represents the commandments of the Law; and the cloud that leads the way, its spiritual meaning. The soul has been purified by crossing the Sea; it has removed from itself and destroyed the enemy army. It has tasted of the waters of Marah, that is, of life deprived of all sinful pleasure; and this at first had seemed bitter and unpleasant to the taste but offered a sensation of sweetness to those who accepted the wood. Next it enjoyed the beauty of the palm trees of the gospel and the springs; it filled itself with the living water, that is, the rock. It took within itself the bread of heaven. It overwhelmed the foreign host - a victory due to the extended arms of the Lawgiver, which thus foreshadowed the mystery of the Cross. Only then can the soul go on to the contemplation of transcendent Being.

St. Gregory of Nyssa