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

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Theophany

When You were baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (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.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * "You have come, and You have appeared, O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Random Proverb

"My son, be attentive to my wisdom; incline your ear to my understanding, that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge." (Proverbs 5:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

I pray Thee, compassionate Lord, do not allow me to be condemned because of the unworthy and ungrateful manner in which I contemplate the great mysteries that Thou hast revealed to Thy saints and through them to me, a sinner and Thy unworthy servant. For see, Lord, Thy servant stands before Thee, idle in everything, speechless, as one who is dead; and I do not dare to say anything more or to presumptuously contemplate further. But as always I fall down before Thee, crying from the depths of my soul. . . .

St. Peter of Damascus