MESSAGE OF BENEDICT XVI FOR THE 50 TH WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
21st April 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be
held on 21 April 2013, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite you
to reflect on the theme: “Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith”,
which happily occurs during the Year of Faith, the year marking the 50th
anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. While the
Council was in session, the Servant of God, Paul VI, instituted this day of
worldwide prayer to God the Father, asking him to continue to send
workers for his Church (cf. Mt 9:38). “The problem of having a sufficient
number of priests”, as the Pope stated at the time, “has an immediate
impact on all of the faithful: not simply because they depend on it for the
religious future of Christian society, but also because this problem is the
precise and inescapable indicator of the vitality of faith and love of
individual parish and diocesan communities, and the evidence of the
moral health of Christian families. Wherever numerous vocations to the
priesthood and consecrated life are to be found, that is where people are
living the Gospel with generosity” (Paul VI, Radio Message, 11 April
During the intervening decades, the various Christian communities all
over the world have gathered each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter,
united in prayer, to ask from God the gift of holy vocations and to
propose once again, for the reflection of all, the urgent need to respond to
the divine call. Indeed, this significant annual event has fostered a strong
commitment to placing the importance of vocations to the priesthood and
the consecrated life ever more at the centre of the spirituality, prayer and
pastoral action of the faithful.
Hope is the expectation of something positive in the future, yet at the
same time it must sustain our present existence, which is often marked
by dissatisfaction and failures. On what is our hope founded? Looking at the history of the people of Israel, recounted in the Old Testament, we
see one element that constantly emerges, especially in times of particular
difficulty like the time of the Exile, an element found especially in the
writings of the prophets, namely remembrance of God’s promises to the
Patriarchs: a remembrance that invites us to imitate the exemplary
attitude of Abraham, who, as Saint Paul reminds us, “believed, hoping
against hope, that he would become ‘the father of many nations,’
according to what was said, ‘Thus shall your descendants be’” (Rom
4:18). One consoling and enlightening truth which emerges from the
whole of salvation history, then, is God’s faithfulness to the covenant that
he entered into, renewing it whenever man infringed it through infidelity
and sin, from the time of the flood (cf. Gen 8:21-22) to that of the
Exodus and the journey through the desert (cf. Dt 9:7). That same
faithfulness led him to seal the new and eternal covenant with man,
through the blood of his Son, who died and rose again for our salvation.
At every moment, especially the most difficult ones, the Lord’s
faithfulness is always the authentic driving force of salvation history,
which arouses the hearts of men and women and confirms them in the
hope of one day reaching the “promised land”. This is where we find the
sure foundation of every hope: God never abandons us and he remains
true to his word. For that reason, in every situation, whether positive or
negative, we can nourish a firm hope and pray with the psalmist: “Only in
God can my soul find rest; my hope comes from him” (Ps 62:6). To have
hope, therefore, is the equivalent of trusting in God who is faithful, who
keeps the promises of the covenant. Faith and hope, then, are closely
related. “Hope” in fact is a key word in biblical faith, to the extent that in
certain passages the words “faith” and “hope” seem to be
interchangeable. In this way, the Letter to the Hebrews makes a direct
connection between the “unwavering profession of hope” (10:23) and the
“fullness of faith” (10:22). Similarly, when the First Letter of Saint Peter
exhorts the Christians to be always ready to give an account of the
“logos” – the meaning and rationale – of their hope (cf. 3:15), “hope” is
the equivalent of “faith” (Spe Salvi, 2).
Dear Brothers and Sisters, what exactly is God’s faithfulness, to
which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is his love! He, the Father,
pours his love into our innermost self through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom
5:5). And this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our
existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants
to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer in order
to live it to the full. The love of God sometimes follows paths one could
never have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found. Hope is nourished, then, by this certainty: “We ourselves have
known and believed in the love that God has for us” (1 Jn 4:16). This
deep, demanding love, which penetrates well below the surface, gives us
courage; it gives us hope in our life’s journey and in our future; it makes
us trust in ourselves, in history and in other people. I want to speak
particularly to the young and I say to you once again: “What would your
life be without this love? God takes care of men and women from creation
to the end of time, when he will bring his plan of salvation to completion.
In the Risen Lord we have the certainty of our hope! ” (Address to Young
People of the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, 19 June 2011).
Just as he did during his earthly existence, so today the risen Jesus
walks along the streets of our life and sees us immersed in our activities,
with all our desires and our needs. In the midst of our everyday
circumstances he continues to speak to us; he calls us to live our life with
him, for only he is capable of satisfying our thirst for hope. He lives now
among the community of disciples that is the Church, and still today calls
people to follow him. The call can come at any moment. Today too, Jesus
continues to say, “Come, follow me” (Mk 10:21). Accepting his invitation
means no longer choosing our own path. Following him means immersing
our own will in the will of Jesus, truly giving him priority, giving him pride
of place in every area of our lives: in the family, at work, in our personal
interests, in ourselves. It means handing over our very lives to Him, living
in profound intimacy with Him, entering through Him into communion
with the Father in the Holy Spirit, and consequently with our brothers and
sisters. This communion of life with Jesus is the privileged “setting” in
which we can experience hope and in which life will be full and free.
Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of
the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and
confident dialogue with him, so as to enter into his will. It is necessary,
therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound
relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to his voice which is heard
deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to
God’s call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived
intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel,
where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the
total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the
Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This
latter “must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter
between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it
must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches
us again and again how to pray properly.” (Spe Salvi, 34).
Deep and constant prayer brings about growth in the faith of the
Christian community, in the unceasingly renewed certainty that God never
abandons his people and that he sustains them by raising up particular
vocations – to the priesthood and the consecrated life – so that they can
be signs of hope for the world. Indeed, priests and religious are called to
give themselves unconditionally to the People of God, in a service of love
for the Gospel and the Church, serving that firm hope which can only
come from an openness to the divine. By means of the witness of their
faith and apostolic zeal, therefore, they can transmit, especially to the
younger generations, a strong desire to respond generously and promptly
to Christ who calls them to follow him more closely. Whenever a disciple
of Jesus accepts the divine call to dedicate himself to the priestly ministry
or to the consecrated life, we witness one of the most mature fruits of the
Christian community, which helps us to look with particular trust and
hope to the future of the Church and to her commitment to
evangelization. This constantly requires new workers to preach the
Gospel, to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. So
let there be committed priests, who know how to accompany young
people as “companions on the journey”, helping them, on life’s often
tortuous and difficult path, to recognize Christ, the Way, the Truth and
the Life (cf. Jn 14:6), telling them, with Gospel courage, how beautiful it
is to serve God, the Christian community, one’s brothers and sisters. Let
there be priests who manifest the fruitfulness of an enthusiastic
commitment, which gives a sense of completeness to their lives, because
it is founded on faith in him who loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19).
Equally, I hope that young people, who are presented with so many
superficial and ephemeral options, will be able to cultivate a desire for
what is truly worthy, for lofty objectives, radical choices, service to others
in imitation of Jesus. Dear young people, do not be afraid to follow him
and to walk the demanding and courageous paths of charity and generous
commitment! In that way you will be happy to serve, you will be
witnesses of a joy that the world cannot give, you will be living flames of
an infinite and eternal love, you will learn to “give an account of the hope
that is within you” (1 Pt 3:15)!
From the Vatican, 6 October 2012
Możliwości w powieści Fiodora Dostojewskiego Bracia Karamazow
Sr. Aleksandra Bartoszewska FMA
Człowiek, jako byt realnie istniejący zawsze był i jest osadzony w konkretnej rzeczywistość. Historia pokazuje jak osoba ludzka niejednokrotnie poddawała swe działanie pod refleksje. Dzisiaj w XXI wieku coraz częściej dostrzega się człowieka, który uświadamiania sobie, kim jest i jakie jest jego miejsce we wszechświecie. Dlatego też tożsamość człowieka, jako osoby i jego możliwość jawią się, jako podstawowe składniki procesu rozwoju i realizacji istoty ludzkiej.
W obliczu tego żadne pokolenie obecne i przeszłe nie było i nie jest osamotnione
w analizie, kim jest człowiek. Tym samy szukając jakichś odniesień, podmiot możne odnaleźć dorobek współczesnych myślicieli i artystów a także filozofów. Mówiąc o refleksji nad osobą ludzką nie sposób pominąć jednego z największych dziewiętnastowiecznych pisarzy rosyjskich, Fiodora Dostojewskiego. Jego dorobek wymaga nieustannych analiz
i pogłębienia. Autor, w swej twórczości, dostrzega człowieka i jego możliwości, co powoduje, iż w wyniku tego czyni go bezpośrednim „przedmiotem” swych rozważań literackich. Dzięki temu głębia myśli Dostojewskiego biegnie ku temu wymiarowi życia ludzkiego, które włoski filozof, egzystencjalista, twórca filozofii możliwości – Nicola Abbagnano, nazywa możliwością możliwości. W perspektywie tego widać, iż dziewiętnastowieczny pisarz nie tylko nie pozostaje obojętny na aspekt możliwości podmiotu, lecz sprawia, że przenika ona strony jego dzieł. Dostojewski nieustannie „od -poznaje” człowieka dzięki jego możliwościom wyboru, stąd też jego bohaterowie to zwyczajni ludzie zanurzeni w swych codziennych sprawach, w swej codziennej egzystencji. Zwracając uwagę na ową codzienność rosyjski pisarz stał się naturalistą, dlatego też nie ma miejsca w jego dziełach na monolit. Każdy bohater to jaskrawy potencjał obecności możliwości wyboru między jednym działaniem a drugim, między jedną relacją a rozmaitymi uwarunkowaniami i powiązaniami w codziennej rzeczywistości. Te powiązania powodują, iż możliwość często staje się jaskrawym wynikiem kolejnego wybór a czasem zniekształceniem bytu ludzkiego. Sytuację tę poprzedza życiowe zmaganie człowieka, niemniej Dostojewski w swych dziełach nie pozbawia człowieka drogi szczęścia i samorealizacji. Trzeba pamiętać, iż w powieściach Dostojewskiego samorealizacja i szczęście nie jest łatwe. Droga często prowadzi przez cierpienie, złe wybory, ale w możliwości odnalezienie tego, czego się poszukuje. Zatem Dostojewski to pisarz, który pozostaje, podobnie jak włoski egzystencjalista Nicola Abbagnano, blisko człowieka. Dotyka aspektów ludzkiego bycia w świecie. Dzieła, więc Dostojewskiego z jednej strony pełne są pytań, zaś z drugiej elementów pozwalających dostrzec podmiot, jako byt możliwości. Dlatego też z uwagi na wielki dorobek literacki pisarza, w niniejszym artykule skupi się jedynie na powieści Bracia Karamazow. Zapewne rodzi się pytanie:, co przemawia za słusznością wyboru tego dzieła? Odpowiedź jest dość prozaiczna, mianowicie: jest to dzieło, które niejako zwieńczyło artystyczne prace Dostojewskiego a także uważa się je za autobiografię Autora.
Człowiek, jako byt możliwości w relacji do świata
Dotykając człowieka, jako bytu możliwości należy zadać pytanie niejako odwieczne:, kim jest człowiek i jakie są jego relacje? Niewątpliwie odpowiadając można by się oprzeć na spuściźnie historyczno-antropologicznej, niemniej nie chodzi w tym miejscu
o periodyzacje dziejów i przedstawienie poszczególnych koncepcji zaistniałych w historii myśli ludzkiej, ale o zwrócenie uwagi na fakt, iż dla Autora Bracia Karamazow niewątpliwie miały one znaczenie, gdyż Autor dostrzega w tym znaku zapytania dwie rzeczywistości, podobnie jak Nicola Abbagnano, który ukazywał w swej filozofii wzajemne odniesienia, podobieństwa, polegające na możliwości, jako warunku sine qua non bytu ludzkiego. Poruszając, zatem zagadnienie człowieka, jako bytu możliwości można podejść do tego w sposób całkowicie filozoficzny lub teologiczny, a nawet encyklopedyczny. Definiując podmiot można oprzeć się także na samym pojęciu, niemniej po przeczytaniu różnych powieści Fiodora Dostojewskiego można jasno powiedzieć, iż definicją tą jest człowiek wybierający i jego możliwości.
Wydaje się, iż definicja człowieka w powieściach Dostojewskiego nie jest powierzchowna, albowiem udziela wielu różnych i pożytecznych informacji; nie jest to spojrzenie na człowieka w sposób „rutynowy”, ale ma ono zabarwienie egzystencjalne. Nawiązując także do ostatniej powieści Dostojewskiego zatytułowanej Bracia Karamazow, można dostrzec, iż Autor patrzy na człowieka nie tylko jak na przedstawiciela konkretnego gatunku występującego w przyrodzie, ale na człowieka, jako kogoś, kto posiada w sobie pierwiastek egzystencjalnego bycia; stąd też człowiek dla Autora to zbyt mało. Osoba bytująca, istniejąca wydaje się być słowem właściwszym. Choć nie wyklucza indywidualnego podejścia do każdej jednostki, to każda osoba jawi się, jako samoistna istota w istnieniu będąca jednocześnie podmiotem działania, a także podmiotem swych możliwości. Na kanwie tego należy, zatem zapytać:, co oznacza ludzka relacja do świata? W powieści Bracia Karamazow Autor skupia się właśnie na człowieku i jego możliwości, które prowadzą go do głębi bycia. Nie sposób, więc nie wydobyć człowieka właśnie ze świata i postawić go zaraz przed światem, nie jako jego przeciwieństwo, ale jako „coś” ważniejszego. Dostojewski wcale nie stara się ukazując relacje między człowiekiem
i światem, sięgać do samych początków ich istnienia, choć z pewnością będzie to miało istotne znaczenie, ale ukazuje byt działający w świecie. Można byłoby myśl Autora zbratać z refleksją niektórych egzystencjalistów dwudziestego wieku, a w szczególności
z Nicola Abbagnano. Utrzymywał on, że człowieka należy oceniać z punktu egzystencji,
a także z punktu wyboru, w którym ta egzystencja się ujawniała. Zatem samodzielność
w istnieniu nie budzi wątpliwości, ale i nie burzy spojrzenia na splot relacji będących udziałem człowieka. Samodzielność podkreśla autonomiczność bytową poszczególnej jednostki. Czytając powieść Bracia Karamazow widzi się postacie o skrajnych przekonaniach. Tworzą one pewną ilustrację całości, ukazują jak szeroka jest rozpiętość skali widzenia człowiek, a jako osoby. Autor podkreśla w ten sposób indywidualność bohaterów. Alosza i Iwan Karamazow, choć połączeni tymi samymi więzami krwi, są postaciami, u których można zauważyć wiele cech mocno ze sobą kontrastujących. Każda z tych osób jest dla siebie samej celem. Odpowiedzialność za siebie, jaką posiadają, nie może być zrzucona na drugiego. Poddani wielu uwarunkowaniom, wtopieni w wachlarz rozmaitych czynników ostatecznie decydują o swych możliwościach, czyli o stanowieniu
o sobie samym. Gwarantem tego stanowienia, mimo wszystko jest wybór jakiejś możliwości bycia w świecie. Przy rozważaniu aspektu podmiotu, jako możliwości w relacji do świata można jeszcze raz podkreślić, że Fiodor Dostojewski, spoglądając głęboko w osobę, widział ją, jako rzeczywistość istniejącą w „życiu świata”. Mówiąc, więc podmiot możliwości, należy natychmiast dodać realnie istniejący w świecie i to nie tylko przyrody.
W powieści Bracia Karamazow znajduje się ludzi przyjmujących, w swych możliwościach postawę ateistów. Jest to wybór między wiarą w Boga a niewiarą w Byt Transcendentny. W każdym jednak człowieku, jak zauważa Autor nawet w Fiodorze Pawłowiczu dostrzec można głębię osoby. Każdy, według Dostojewskiego winien być traktowany, jako ktoś niepowtarzalny, jako ktoś, kto należy sam do siebie i jednocześnie posiadający możliwość nieustannego realizowania swych wyborów, bez względu na konsekwencje.
Fiodor Dostojewski w swojej powieści nie umniejsza nikogo, jako człowieka i jego możliwości. Dlaczego? Gdyż każda jednostka jest dla niego ważna, jako osoba, podobnie jak dla dwudziestowiecznego filozofa włoskiego Nicola Abbagnano. Takie postaci jak Alosza, starzec Zosima, Dymitr, są przedstawione przez Autora w sposób jasny
i przejrzysty. Fiodor Dostojewski nie ignoruje człowieka. W relacji człowieka do świata zawsze ten pierwszy zajmuje czołowe miejsce, nie tylko ze względu na jego możliwość wyboru, ale przede wszystkim z faktu bycia podmiotem. Godność człowieka wymaga spojrzenia na osobę ludzką integralnie, w sposób całościowy. U Fiodora Dostojewskiego nie upatrujemy godności w osiągnięciach ekonomicznych, politycznych czy też
w wyglądzie, czy w jego zdrowiu. Godność, według Autora to coś, co wynika z istoty człowieka. Nawet po śmierci człowiek nie pozostaje pozbawiony tej godności. Przykładem jest Zosima. Jego ciało, ku zaskoczeniu dotychczasowych czcicieli, ulega rozkładowi, niemniej zmarły nie zostaje przez Autora pozbawiony godności pomimo pytania
o możliwości rozkładu ciała świętego. Nie tu należy jednak poszukiwać potwierdzenia bądź też zaprzeczenia godności.
Mówiąc o podstawach osobowej godności człowieka warto by sięgnąć także do pochodzenia człowieka. Fiodor Dostojewski, analizując osobę ludzką na kartach swej powieści, dostrzegał wielką wartość człowieka. Ta wartość opiera się na akcie stworzenia „A wreszcie rzekł Bóg: Uczyńmy człowieka na Nasz obraz, podobnego Nam. Niech panuje nad rybami morskimi, nad ptactwem powietrznym, nad bydłem, nad ziemią i nad wszystkimi zwierzętami pełzającymi po ziemi! Stworzył, więc Bóg człowieka na swój obraz (…). U Fiodora Dostojewskiego ludzie stworzenie na obraz i podobieństwo ewoluują
w swoich postawach, zachowaniach, uczuciach pozostając tym samym w ciągłej możliwości. Przykładem tego jest Dymitr i jego odrodzenie się w Jestem, który Jestem. Mimo tego, iż po wielu trudnych wyborach i doświadczeniach, traci wolność zewnętrzną, czuje się wyzwolony. Autor, poprzez tę postać i ujawnienie jej możliwości, patrząc w perspektywie relacji do świata, ukazuje wyraźnie prymat podmiotu i jego możliwości w świecie. U Dymitra możliwość jawi sferę duchową. W ten sposób człowiek uzewnętrznia siebie poprzez niezamknięty wybór. Możliwość została ofiarowana każdemu. Są to prawdy fundamentalne w człowieku, znajdujące swe odzwierciedlenie w twórczości Fiodora Dostojewskiego.
Człowiek i świat to dwie rzeczywistości, które stanowią nieograniczone pole badań
i dociekań w różnych naukach. Pomimo to pozostaje człowiek zawsze w jakiejś mierze tajemnicą. Dlatego też Autor przedstawia to, jako misterium. Podążając za tokiem myślenia Fiodora Dostojewskiego należy podkreślić, iż między człowiekiem, a światem widzialnym, mimo wielu podobieństw fizycznych i środowiskowych, istnieje nie tylko zasadnicza różnica, ale i nieprzekraczalna przepaść istotowa. Człowiek stoi nieporównywalnie wyżej od tego wszystkiego, co go otacza. Należy do wyższego świata. Widzenie przez Fiodora Dostojewskiego w człowieku wartości możliwości, wskazuje na aspekt wyboru nieśmiertelności. Człowiek posiada ten przymiot, podczas gdy wszystko inne wokół przemija i ginie. Chodzi tu dodatkowo o jeszcze jeden bardzo ważny argument wskazujący na wyższą pozycję człowieka w stosunku do świata pozostałych bytów. Człowiek zajmuje miejsce wyższe ze swej natury. Podczas gdy rzeczy można używać
i posługiwać się nimi. W książce Bracia Karamazow można znaleźć wielokrotnie przykład tego, w jaki sposób na rozwój człowieka wpływają dobra ziemskie bądź ich brak. Starzec Zosima, jako zakonnik do swego rozwoju potrzebował tylko najbardziej niezbędnych przedmiotów i nic ponad to, co by przeczyło potrzebnemu mu ubóstwu. W przypadku Iliuszy i jego rodziny ubóstwo i brak warunków do godnego życia wiązało się
z poniżeniem i rodzinną tragedią. Jeśli więc nawet między człowiekiem i światem Dostojewski widzi dużą różnicę, mimo to świat jest konieczny by człowiek realizował swą możliwość. Równocześnie Autor widzi złożoność człowieka i jego możliwość wyboru zła. Świat stanowi niejako wyzwanie dla człowieka, który działa. Poprzez czyny przyswaja sobie wartości świata i sprawia, że ten świat w przeróżnych formach, coraz głębiej wchodzi w jego egzystencję.
Napotyka się tutaj na kolejne zagadnienie – zagadnienie kultury, a ściślej mówiąc, jej tworzenia. Fiodor Dostojewski rzeczywiście stara się uwrażliwić czytelnika na wiele kwestii, zmuszając go do refleksji i pracy na rzecz przemiany. Nie są mu obce takie zagadnienia jak bieda, choroba, sprawiedliwość czy rodzina, gdyż relacja człowieka do świata zakłada egzystencję ludzką szukającą uzupełnienia i udoskonalenia. To, że człowiek czerpie ze świata takie wartości, które pomagają mu wzrastać, jako osobie, wskazuje na świat, jako na nośnik tychże wartości. Człowiek jest, zatem bytem żyjącym
w świecie i zawsze pozostaje w relacji do niego, ale nie tylko. Należy, bowiem pamiętać, iż człowieka w świecie nie określa się wyłącznie w kategoriach przestrzennych, ale i w kategoriach rzeczywistości jego egzystencji. Tworzy, sam zarazem przemierzając, jako homo viator, swą własną drogę ku doskonałości. Nie rodzi się także, jako istota w pełni rozwinięta w sensie fizycznym, psychicznym czy też duchowym. Jest dynamiczny, choć
w swej istocie pozostaje zawsze tym samym bytem.
Człowiek, jako byt możliwości w relacji do człowieka
Powszechnie twierdzi się, iż człowiek ze swej natury jest bytem społecznym, w którym homo ludens realizuje własne bycie. Taka wizja człowieka koresponduje z pewnością
z powieści Bracia Karamazow Fiodora Dostojewskiego jak i z egzystencjalizmem Nicola Abbagnano. Tam, w codziennym życiu, człowiek, jako jednostka i członek ludzkiej społeczności dokonuje wyboru w swych możliwościach bytowych. To spojrzenie implikuje dwie ważne przesłanki: społeczeństwo, jako egzystencjalną konieczność dla człowieka
i człowieka, jako potrzebującego społeczeństwa. Pierwsza z nich ukazuje charakterystyczne cechy człowieka, dla którego środowisko społeczne jest nieodzownym warunkiem rozwoju życia, a zarazem swoistego rodzaju „sposobem objawienia się” indywidualności i możliwość. Na przykład bezdomny Maksymów, porzucony przez swego dotychczasowego dobroczyńcę Kałganowa, znalazł przed sobą rozpaczliwą perspektywę najbliższej przyszłości. Kolejnym elementem świadczącym o indywiduum – societas człowieka jest jego działanie i efektywność. Uczucia, będące różnego rodzaju podnietami, jak zauważył Descartes konstruują ludzkie relacje, ale i łudzą. Natomiast według Dostojewskiego konstruują, sprawiając tym samym, iż podmiot – człowiek łączy się w więzi międzyosobowe, nie tylko natury fizycznej, w postaci rozmów, spotkań, ale
i emocjonalne, jak na przykład: miłość rodzicielska, miłość oblubieńcza. Te elementy Fiodor Dostojewski przedstawia w powieści Bracia Karamazow przedstawia, jako ważne
i istotne, a jednocześnie, jako „źródło” możliwości człowieka.
Niepodważalna wydaje się być także rola życia intelektualno-kulturowego, świadcząca
o zależności człowiek od tych warunków. W następstwie tego uzewnętrznia się pokoleniowe ulepszanie bytowania ludzkiego, wskazujące na zależność człowieka od społeczeństwa. Inne ważnym aspektem poruszanym przez Fiodora Dostojewskiego jest kwestie możliwości moralnych, czyli wyboru między tym, co dobre, a tym, co moralnie niedopuszczalne. Życie, bowiem wiąże się z pewną możliwością moralną i oceną, pociąga to za sobą aprobatę lub dezaprobatę jednostek a także społeczeństwa. Cała powieść Bracia Karamazow jest nośnikiem takich reakcji. Widać to doskonale na przykładzie rodziny Karamazowów i ich zróżnicowanych osobowości. Ilustracją takowych możliwości jest przypadek Koli Krasotkina, który w swych możliwościach wybrał koncepcje, światopogląd socjalistyczny. W przypadku wspomnianego już Koli Krasotkina widzi się negację religii wynikającą z zaadoptowanego przez niego systemu „wartości socjalistycznego”. Drugim przykładem może być starzec Zosima, który jako istota egzystująca w możliwości wybiera życie i pobożność w monasterze. Obaj korzystają
z możliwości. Życie społeczne nie jest czymś przypadkowym, czymś, co mogłoby nie zaistnieć w ludzkim świecie. Społeczeństwo jest konieczne dla rozwoju człowieka, jest naturalnym środowiskiem jego wzrostu i możliwości. W niektórych momentach możliwość może doprowadzić do karłowacenia człowieka, jako osoby. Niemniej nie powoduje to jednak całkowitego wyrugowania możliwości, gdyż możliwość zawsze pozostaje możliwością. Tym samym osoba zachowuje swoją odrębność, jak zauważa Abbagnano swoje „ja” egzystujące. A więc społeczeństwo nie jest jakąś masą niedająca się bliżej zidentyfikować. Społeczeństwo, także u Fiodora Dostojewskiego, składa się z konkretnych osób. W ten sposób zauważa się drugą przesłankę wynikającą z faktu traktowania osoby ludzkiej, jako istoty społecznej. Nie tylko społeczeństwo stanowi dla człowieka egzystencjalną konieczność, ale także człowiek jest potrzebny społeczeństwu gdyż byłoby błędem, gdybyśmy twierdzili, że człowiek jest tylko skazany na życie społeczne. Człowiek jest także do niego wewnętrznie skierowany. Jest to również początek jakichkolwiek relacji międzyludzkich, a więc i początek życia społecznego. Dwoje ludzi zostało sobie danych, a dzięki możliwości mogą zaofiarować sobie wzajemną pomoc, wspierać się, być dla siebie darem. Człowiek będący możliwością dla innego, dla społeczeństwa, to przekonanie, które bez trudu można odnaleźć w powieści Bracia Karamazow.
Analizując zagadnienie człowieka i społeczeństwa podmiot ucieka się prawie zawsze do płaszczyzny odniesień konkretnych osób. Tak jak do rzeczy materialnych, osoba posiada swe relacje do konkretnych osób. Mimo to, między tymi dwoma zagadnieniami nie można postawić znaku równości, bowiem stosunek możliwości innego do innego jest moralnie donioślejszy aniżeli stosunek możliwości „ja” do świata przedmiotów. Relacja osobowa ze swej istoty będzie posiadała charakter możliwości, która w wyniku tego może przerodzić się we partnerstwo.
Fiodor Dostojewski oprócz ogólnej relacji bytu możliwości człowiek – człowiek, zwraca uwagę na rolę kobiety i wypływającą z niej relację mężczyzna – kobieta. Kobieta jest nie tylko tą, która fascynuje atrakcyjnością fizyczną. Droga pojmowania kobiety prowadzi
w obrazie pisarza w innym kierunku. Fiodor Dostojewski ukazuje, iż oprócz tej cielesnej fascynacji kobieta znacznie bardziej inspiruje innymi przymiotami, aniżeli tylko te zmysłowe. Te wzajemne odniesienia międzyludzkie przywołują w powieści Bracia Karamazow problem możliwości podmiotu w wyborze, a co za tym idzie i moralności. Moralność wiąże się nierozerwalnie z osobą ludzką. Człowiek w konfrontacji z drugą osobą jest moralnie zobowiązany do określonych postaw, czyli wybranie możliwości, jaką będzie reprezentował przed innym. Każdy, jako konkretna osoba, bez wyjątku, posiada godność płynącą z faktu bycia człowiekiem.
Człowiek, jako byt możliwości w relacji do Boga
W ostatniej punkcie tej części podjęta zostanie ostatnia z rozważanych relacji, którą zauważa się w życiu ludzkim, a która jest mocno zaakcentowana w powieści Fiodora Dostojewskiego Bracia Karamazow. Jest nią byt, jako podmiot możliwości w relacji do Boga. Pozwala ona dostrzec integralne spojrzenie Autora na osobę ludzką i jej życie. Na samym początku należałoby jeszcze raz podkreślić, że człowiek, jako człowiek posiada możliwość siebie, a jego otwarcie się na świat wyraża w szczególny sposób kontakt poznawczy z tym światem. Nieocenionym narzędziem poznawczym człowieka jest jego rozum. Umożliwia on nie tylko poznanie zmysłowe, ale także obejmujące wyższy wymiar, poznanie sięgające, można powiedzieć, nawet w nieskończoność. Jest ono o wiele trudniejsze, często nie daje dostatecznych odpowiedzi. Jest z nim zawsze związany aspekt tajemnicy. Mimo wszystko człowiek zawsze brnie do przodu, nie ustaje w swych poszukiwaniach. Taki jest człowiek również u Fiodora Dostojewskiego. Religia czy Bóg to zagadnienia, które nie były obce Autorowi. Sam Dostojewski, jest tym, który pragnie poznawać i czcić Boga. Transcendencja jest, więc podstawą religijności człowieka. Prawda i Dobro Absolutne, to sam Absolut, Bóg. Jest On traktowany nie, jako jakiś nieokreślony, emanat, lecz jako konkretny byt osobowy, z którym można nawiązywać dialog. Wobec tej Istoty człowiek w swych możliwościach może przyjmować postawę wiary, niewiary, obojętności, ale zawsze w jakiś sposób jego relacja, odniesienie się, jest obecnością możliwości. Przykładem tego, może być cała rodzina Karamazow. W tej perspektywie, religijność człowieka wyraża się w tym, że ludzka możliwość wybiera i przekracza rzeczywistość świata ku Komuś innemu o charakterze absolutnym. Możliwość tę posiada każdy człowiek, czego przykładem może być wybór i wiara, jaka ukształtowała się
w Dymitrze Karamazowie. Należy pamiętać, że pozytywna odpowiedź i wzajemne relacje ze światem, człowiekiem i Bogiem ukazują człowieka, jako byt możliwości. Fiodor Dostojewski nie mówi wprost o tym zagadnieniu, niemniej w powieści Bracia Karamazow poprzez liczne postacie nakreśla wizję człowieka, który w swej naturze jest bytem możliwości.
 Por. J. Bartoszewski, Wprowadzenie do filozofii Nicola Abbagnano, Kraków 2012, s. 76.
 A. Węgrzyn, praca magisterska, Teologiczno-antropologiczne elementy twórczości Fiodora Dostojewskiego, Warszawa 2006, s. 11.
 Por. J. Bartoszewski, Filozofia przyrody, Kartezjusz i porządek życia społecznego, Lublin 2010, s. 17.
 Por. Ibidem, Wprowadzenie do filozofia…, dz. cyt., s. 48.
 Por. J. Bartoszewski, Nicola Abbagnano, filozofia możliwości, Ruch Filozoficzny nr 1, 2011, s. 67.
 Por. F. Dostojewski, Bracia Karamazow, tłum. W. Wileński, Warszawa 2005; Por. także,
A. Węgrzyn, praca magisterska, Teologiczno-antropologiczne elementy twórczości Fiodora Dostojewskiego, dz. cyt., s. 34.
 Por. Ibidem.
 Por. J. Bartoszewski, Existing: from philosophy of possibility to short-term psychotherapy, Psychiatria i Psychoterapia, t 7, nr 2-3 Lato-Jesień 2011, s. 27.
 Ibidem, s. 26.
 Ibidem, Wprowadzenie do filozofia…, dz. cyt., s. 51.
BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS AND PRAYERS FOR THE ‘EIGHT DAYS’
DAY 1 Walking in conversation
Genesis 11: 1-9 The story of Babel and legacy of our diversity
Psalm 34:11-18 ―Come…listen‖. God‘s invitation to conversation
Acts 2: 1-12 The outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of understanding
Luke 24: 13-25 Conversation with the Risen Jesus on the road
To walk humbly with God means to walk as people speaking with one another and
with the Lord, always attentive to what we hear. And so we begin our celebration
of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by reflecting on scripture passages
which speak of the essential practice of conversation. Conversation has been
central to the ecumenical movement, as it opens up spaces for learning from one
another, sharing what we have in common, and for differences to be heard and
attended to. In this way mutual understanding is developed. These gifts from the
search for unity are part of our basic call to respond to what God requires of us:
through true conversation justice is done, and kindness learnt. Experiences of
practical liberation from all over the world make clear that the isolation of people
who are made to live with poverty is forcefully overcome by practices of dialogue.
Today‘s Genesis reading, and the story of Pentecost, both reflect something of this
human action, and its place in God‘s liberating plan for people. The story of the
tower of Babel first describes how, where there is no language barrier great things
are possible. However, the story tells how this potential is grasped as a basis for
self-promotion: ―let us make a name for ourselves‖, is the motivation for the
building of the great city. In the end this project leads to a confusion of speech;
from now on we must learn our proper humanity through patient attentiveness to
the other who is strange to us. It is with the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost
that understanding across differences is made possible in a new way, through the
power of Jesus‘ resurrection. Now we are invited to share the gift of speech and
listening orientated toward the Lord, and towards freedom. We are called to walk
in the Spirit.
The experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a conversation taking
place in a context of travel together, but also of loss and disappointed hope. As
churches living with levels of disunity, and as societies divided by prejudices and 19
fear of the other we can recognise ourselves here. Yet it is precisely here that Jesus
chooses to join the conversation – not presuming the superior role of teacher, but
walking alongside his disciples. It is his desire to be a part of our conversations,
and our response of wanting him to stay and speak more with us, that enables a
living encounter with the Risen Lord.
All Christians know something of this meeting with Jesus, and the power of his
word ―burning within us‖; this resurrection experience calls us into a deeper unity
in Christ. Constant conversation with each other and with Jesus – even in our own
disorientation – keeps us walking together towards unity.
Jesus Christ, we proclaim with joy our common identity in you, and we thank you
for inviting us into a dialogue of love with you. Open our hearts to share more
perfectly in your prayer to the Father that we may be one, so that as we journey
together we may draw closer to each other. Give us the courage to bear witness to
the truth together, and may our conversations embrace those who perpetuate
disunity. Send your Spirit to empower us to challenge situations where dignity and
compassion are lacking in our societies, nations, and the world.
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen
Where do we practice true conversation, across the various differences that
Is our conversation orientated towards some grand project of our own, or
towards new life which brings hope of resurrection?
What people do we converse with, and who is not included in our
DAY 2 Walking with the broken body of Christ
Ezekiel 37:1-14 ―Shall these dry bones live?‖
Psalm 22: 1-8 God‘s servant, mocked and insulted, cries out to God
Hebrews 13: 12-16 The call to go to Jesus ―outside the camp‖
Luke 22: 14-23 Jesus breaks the bread, giving the gift of himself
before his suffering
To walk humbly with God means hearing the call us to walk out of the places of
our own comfort, and accompany the other, especially the suffering other.
―Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.‖ These words from
Ezekiel give voice to the experience of many people across the globe today. In
India, it is the ―broken people‖ of the Dalit communities whose lives speak vividly
of this suffering – a suffering in which Christ, the crucified one, shares. With
injured people of every time and place, Jesus cries out to the Father: ―My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me?‖
Christians are called into this way of the cross. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes
clear not only the saving reality of Jesus‘ suffering, in the place of the margins, but
also the need for his disciples to go ―outside the camp‖ to join him there. When we
meet those who have been excluded, like the Dalits, and we recognise the crucified
one in their sufferings, the direction we should be going is clear: to be with Christ,
means to be in solidarity with those on the margins whose wounds he shares.
The body of Christ, broken on the cross, is ―broken for you‖. The story of Christ‘s
suffering and death is prefaced by the story of the last supper: it is then celebrated
as victory over death in every eucharist. In this Christian celebration, Christ‘s
broken body is his risen and glorious body; his body is broken so that we can share
his life, and, in him, be one body.
As Christians on the way to unity we can often see the eucharist as a place where
the scandal of our disunity is painfully real, knowing that, as yet, we cannot fully
share this sacrament together as we should. This situation calls us to renewed
efforts towards deeper communion with one another.
Today‘s readings might open up another line of reflection. Walking with Christ‘s
broken body opens up a way to be eucharistic together: to share our bread with the
hungry, to break down the barriers of poverty and inequality – these, too, are 21
―eucharistic acts‖, in which all Christians are called to work together. Pope
Benedict XVI frames his reflections on eucharist for the church in just this way:
that it is a sacrament not only to be believed in and celebrated, but also to be lived
(Sacramentum caritatis). In keeping with the Orthodox understanding of ―the
liturgy after the liturgy‖, here it is recognised that there is ―nothing authentically
human‖ that does not find its pattern and life in the eucharist. (SC 71)
God of compassion, your Son died on the Cross so that by his broken body our
divisions might be destroyed. Yet we have crucified him again and again with our
disunity, and with systems and practices which obstruct your loving care and
undermine your justice towards those who have been excluded from the gifts of
your creation. Send us your Spirit to breathe life and healing into our brokenness
that we may witness together to the justice and love of Christ. Walk with us
towards that day when we can share in the one bread and the one cup at the
common table. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.
In light of that prophetic tradition in which God desires justice, rather than
ritual without righteousness, we need to ask: how is the eucharist, the mystery
of Christ‘s brokenness and new life, celebrated in all the places where we
What might we do, as Christians together, better to witness to our unity in
Christ in places of brokenness and marginality?
DAY 3 Walking towards freedom
Exodus 1: 15-22 The Hebrew midwives obey God‘s law over the command
Psalm 17: 1-6 The confident prayer of one open to God‘s gaze
2 Cor. 3: 17-18 The glorious freedom of God‘s children in Christ
John 4: 4-26 Conversation with Jesus leads the Samaritan woman
into freer living
Walking humbly with the Lord is always a walk into receiving the freedom he
opens up before all people. With this in mind we celebrate. We celebrate the
mystery of the struggle for freedom, which takes place even in the places where 22
oppression, prejudice and poverty seem to be impossible burdens. The resolute
refusal to accept inhuman commands and conditions – like those given by Pharaoh
to the midwives of the enslaved Hebrew people – can seem like small actions; but
these are often the kinds of actions towards freedom going on in local communities
everywhere. So we celebrate the determination for freedom—in dignity, social
inclusion, and a proper share in all that is good—such as that seen in the Dalit
communities. Such determined journeying towards fuller living presents a gift of
Gospel hope to all people, caught up, in our different ways, within the patterns of
inequality across the globe.
The step by step journey into freedom from unjust discrimination and practices of
prejudice is brought home to us by the story of Jesus‘ meeting at the well with the
woman of Samaria. Here is a woman who seeks, first of all, to question the
prejudices which confront her, as well as to seek ways of alleviating the practical
burdens of her life. These concerns are the starting place for her conversation with
Jesus. Jesus himself engages in conversation with her on the bases both of his need
for her practical help (he is thirsty) and in a mutual exploration of the social
prejudices which make this help seem problematic. Bit by bit the way of a freer life
is opened up before the woman, as the reality of the complexities of her life are
seen more clearly in the light of Jesus‘ words. In the end these personal insights
return the conversation to a place where what divides these two groups of people –
where they should worship – is transcended. ―Worship in spirit and in truth‖ is
what is required; and here we learn to be free from all that holds us back from life
together, life in its fullness.
To be called into greater freedom in Christ, is a calling to deeper communion.
Those things which separate us – both as Christians searching for unity, and as
people kept apart by unjust traditions and inequalities – keep us captives, and
hidden from one another. Our freedom in Christ is, rather, characterised by that
new life in the Spirit, which enables us, together, to stand before the glories of God
―with unveiled faces‖. It is in this glorious light that we learn to see each other
more truly, as we grow in Christ‘s likeness towards the fullness of Christian unity.
Liberating God, we thank you for the resilience and hopeful faith of those who
struggle for dignity and fullness of life. We know that you raise up those who are
cast down, and free those who are bound. Your Son Jesus walks with us to show us
the path to authentic freedom. May we appreciate what has been given to us, and
be strengthened to overcome all within us that enslaves. Send us your Spirit so that
the truth shall set us free, so that with voices united we can proclaim your love to
the world. God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.23
Are there times, even in our own Christian communities, when the prejudices
and judgments of the world, – with regard to caste, age, gender, race,
educational background – stop us seeing each other clearly in the light of God‘s
What small, practical steps can we take, as Christians together, towards the
freedom of the Children of God (Romans 8.21) for our churches, and for wider
DAY 4 Walking as children of the earth
Leviticus 25: 8-17 The land is for the common good, not personal gain
Psalm 65: 5b-13 The fruitful outpouring of God‘s grace on the earth
Romans 8: 18-25 The longing of all creation for redemption
John 9: 1-11 Jesus‘ healing, mud, bodies and water
If we are to walk in humility with God, we will need always to be aware of
ourselves as part of creation, and recipients of God‘s gifts. There is a growing
recognition in today‘s world that better understanding of our authentic place in
creation must become a priority for us. Among Christians, especially, there is a
growing awareness of the ways in which ecological concern is a part of ―walking
humbly with God‖, the creator; for all we have is given by God in his creation, and
so is not ―ours‖ to do with as we wish. It is for this reason that from 1 September to
4 October Christians are called to observe the Time for Creation—a practice
increasingly observed by many churches. In 1989 the Ecumenical Patriarch,
Dimitrios I, proclaimed 1 September as a day of prayer for the environment. The
Orthodox Church‘s liturgical year starts on that day with a commemoration of
God‘s creation of the world. On 4 October, many churches from the Western
traditions commemorate Francis of Assisi, the author of the ―Canticle of Creation‖.
The beginning and closing of the Time for Creation are thus linked with the
concern for creation in the Eastern and the Western traditions of Christianity,
The Christian story is one of redemption for all creation; it is creation‘s own story.
The belief that, in Jesus, God becomes a human person, in a particular place and
time is a central belief around which all Christians gather. It is a shared belief in
the Incarnation which carries with it a profound recognition of the importance of
creation – of bodies, food, earth, water, and all that feeds our life as people on the
planet. Jesus is fully part of this world. It may be slightly shocking to hear how 24
Jesus heals using his spittle and the dust from the earth; but it is true to this real
sense of the created world as integral to God‘s bringing us to new life.
Across the world the earth is often worked by the poorest people, who frequently
do not themselves share in the fruitfulness that results; such is the experience of
many Dalits in India. At the same time it is the Dalit communities who have a
particular care for the earth, as the practical wisdom of working the land is shown
forth in their labours.
Care of the earth includes basic questions of how human beings are to live within
creation, in ways which are more fully human for all. That the earth – its working
and ownership – should so often be a source of economic inequalities, and
degrading work practices is a cause for great concern and action for Christians
together. The covenantal recognition of these dangers of exploitation with regard to
the earth is spoken about in Leviticus‘ instructions concerning the Year of Jubilee:
the land and its fruits are not given to be an opportunity for ―taking advantage of
one another‖, rather the working of the land is for the benefit of all. This is not just
a ―religious idea‖; it is tied to very real economic and business practices
concerning how the land is managed, bought and sold.
God of life, we thank you for the earth, and for those who care for it and bring
forth its fruits. May the Spirit, the giver of life, help us to recognise that we are part
of creation‘s web of relationships. May we learn to cherish the earth and listen to
creation‘s groaning. May we truly walk together in the steps of Christ, bringing
healing to all that wounds this earth, and ensuring a just sharing of the things that it
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.
Today‘s readings invite Christians into a deep unity of action in common
concern for the earth. Where do we practice the spirit of the year of Jubilee in
our life as Christians together?
Where, in our Christian communities, are we complicit with things that degrade
and exploit the earth? Where can we work more together in learning and
teaching reverence for God‘s creation?25
DAY 5 Walking as the friends of Jesus
Song of Solomon 1.5-8 Love and the beloved
Psalm 139.1-6 You have searched me out and known me
3 John 2-8 Hospitality to friends in Christ
John 15.12-17 I call you friends
To walk humbly with God does not mean walking alone. It means walking with
those who are those vital signs of God‘s presence among us, our friends. ―But I
have called you friends‖ says Jesus in John‘s Gospel. Within the freedom of love,
we are able to choose our friends, and to be chosen as a friend. ―You did not
choose me, but I chose you‖ Jesus says to each of us. Jesus‘ friendship with each of
us transfigures and transcends our relationships with family and society. It speaks
of God‘s deep and abiding love for us all.
The Bible‘s love poem, the Song of Solomon, has been interpreted in various ways
such as the love of God for Israel, or the love of Christ for the Church. It remains
the testimony of passion between lovers which transcends the imposed boundaries
of society. While the lover says to her beloved ―I am black and beautiful‖, her
words come with the plea ―do not gaze at me because I am dark.‖ But the lover
does gaze, and chooses love, as does God in Christ. Dalits know that when God
gazes upon them it is with this same passionate love. When Christ says to Dalits ―I
have called you friends‖ it is a form of liberation from the inhumanity and injustice
inflicted upon them by the caste system. In India today, it is a costly response for a
Dalit to become a friend of Jesus.
What does the Lord require of those called to walk with Jesus and his friends? In
India it is a call to the churches to embrace the Dalits as equal friends of their
common friend. Such a call to be friends with the friends of Jesus is another way of
understanding the unity of Christians for which we pray this week. Christians
around the world are called to be friends with all those who struggle against
discrimination and injustice. The walk towards Christian unity requires that we
walk humbly with God with—and as—the friends of Jesus.
Jesus, from the first moment of our being you offered us your friendship. Your
love embraces all peoples, especially those who are excluded or rejected because
of human constructions of caste, race or colour. Filled with the confidence and
assurance of our dignity in you, may we walk in solidarity towards each other, and 26
embrace each other in the Spirit, as children of God. God of life, lead us to justice
and peace. Amen.
Who are those in your communities whom Christ calls into your friendship?
What prevents the friends of Jesus from being friends with one another?
How does being the friends of the same Jesus challenge the divided churches?
DAY 6 Walking beyond barriers
Ruth 4.13-18 The offspring of Ruth and Boaz
Psalm 113 God the helper of the needy
Ephesians 2.13-16 Christ has broken down the dividing wall between us
Matthew 15.21-28 Jesus and the Canaanite woman
To walk humbly with God means walking beyond barriers that divide and damage
the children of God. Christians in India are aware of the divisions among
themselves. The treatment of Dalits within the churches and between them is a
church-dividing issue that betrays the biblical vision of that unity for which we
pray this week. St Paul lived with the devastating divisions in the earliest Christian
community between Gentile and Jewish Christians. To this barrier and to every
subsequent one, Paul proclaims that Christ ―is our peace; in his flesh he has made
both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall between us.‖
Elsewhere Paul writes, ―As many of you were baptized into Christ have clothed
yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or
free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus‖
(Galatians 3.27-28). In Christ, all the deep barriers of the ancient world—and their
modern successors—have been removed because on the Cross Jesus created in
himself one new humanity.
In a world in which religious barriers are often difficult to cross, Christians who
are a tiny minority in the multi-religious context of India remind us of the
importance of interreligious dialogue and cooperation. Matthew‘s Gospel tells of
the difficult journey for Jesus—and his disciples— to cross the barriers of religion,
culture and gender when he is confronted by a Canaanite woman who pleads with
Jesus to cure her daughter. The disciples‘ visceral instinct to send her away and 27
Jesus‘ own hesitation are overcome by her faith, and by her need. From hence
Jesus and his disciples were able to cross the imposed human barriers and
boundaries of the ancient world. Such is already present in the Hebrew Bible. The
book of Ruth, the Moabite woman of a different culture and religion, concludes
with a list of her offspring with the Israelite Boaz. Their child Obed was the father
of Jesse, the father of David. The ancestry of the hero-King of ancient Israel
reflects the fact that God‘s will may be fulfilled when people cross the barriers of
religion and culture. The walk with God today requires that we cross the barriers
that separate Christians from one another and from people of other faiths. The walk
towards Christian unity requires walking humbly with God beyond the barriers that
separate us from one another.
Father, forgive us for the barriers of greed, prejudice, and contempt that we
continually build which separate us within and between churches, from people of
other faiths, and from those we consider to be less important than us. May your
Spirit give us courage to cross these boundaries, and to tear down the walls that
disconnect us from each other. Then with Christ may we step forth into unknown
terrain, to carry his message of loving acceptance and unity to all the world. God of
life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.
What are the barriers that separate Christians in your community?
What are the barriers that separate Christians from other religious traditions in
What are the differences and similarities between walking beyond the barriers
that separate Christians from one another, and walking beyond those between
Christianity and other religions? 28
DAY 7 Walking in solidarity
Numbers 27.1-11 The right of inheritance to daughters
Psalm 15 Who shall abide in God‘s sanctuary?
Acts 2.43-47 The disciples held all things in common
Luke 10.25-37 The Good Samaritan
To walk humbly with God means walking in solidarity with all who struggle for
justice and peace. This poses a question for those who pray for the unity of
Christians this week: what is the unity we seek? The Faith and Order Commission,
which includes the members of the fellowship of the World Council of Churches as
well as the Catholic Church, understands unity as ―visible unity in one faith and in
one Eucharistic fellowship.‖ The ecumenical movement is dedicated to overcome
the historic and current barriers that divide Christians, but it does so with a vision
of visible unity that links the nature and mission of the Church in the service of the
unity of humankind and the overcoming of all that harms the dignity of human
beings and keeps us apart. As Faith and Order has said:
The Church is called and empowered to share the suffering of all by advocacy and
care for the poor, the needy and the marginalised. This entails critically analysing
and exposing unjust structures, and working for their transformation… This faithful
witness may involve Christians themselves in suffering for the sake of the
Gospel.The Church is called to heal and reconcile broken human relationships and
to be God‘s instrument in the reconciliation of human division and hatred (Nature
and Mission of the Church).
There are many examples of such acts of healing and reconciliation by the Indian
churches. Dalit Christians remind us of other kinds of injustice and the ways in
which they are overcome. Until very recently, Christian inheritance laws in India
disempowered daughters. The churches supported the demand for a repeal of this
archaic law. The story of the daughters of Zelophehad, in which Moses turned to
God for justice in support of the rights of the daughters, was invoked to demand
justice for women. Thus, Dalit Christians have been moved in their struggles for
justice by such biblical witness. They have engaged with Dalits of other faiths and
with secular networks and social movements in India and all over the world in their
resistance to injustice. Dalits have been inspired in their struggle for justice by the
examples of other movements for social reform.
A biblical image of Church united in solidarity with the oppressed is Jesus‘s
parable of the Good Samaritan. Like the Dalits, the Good Samaritan is from a 29
despised and outcast community, who is the one in the story who cares for the man
abandoned by the wayside, and who proclaims by his solidarity in action, the hope
and comfort of the Gospel. The walk towards Christian unity is inseparable from
walking humbly with God in solidarity with any and all in need of justice and
Triune God, in your very life you offer us a unique pattern of interdependence,
loving relationships and solidarity. Unite us to live our lives in this way. Teach us
to share the hope that we find in people who struggle for life all over the world.
May their endurance inspire us to overcome our own divisions, to live in holy
accord with one another, and to walk together in solidarity. God of life, lead us to
justice and peace. Amen.
Who in your community stands in need of the solidarity of the Christian
What churches are, or have been in solidarity with you?
In what ways would more visible Christian unity enhance the Church‘s
solidarity with those who stand in need of justice and kindness in your context?
DAY 8 Walking in celebration
Habakkuk 3.17-19 Celebrating in a time of hardship
Psalm 100 The worship of God through all the earth
Philippians 4.4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always
Luke 1:46-55 The Song of Mary
To walk humbly with God means to walk in celebration. The visitor to India is
struck by the hardships and struggles endured by Dalits, but at the same time by
their sense of hope and celebration. There was a slum on railway land near
Bangalore that was inhabited largely by Dalits and other ―backward classes‖ who
were migrant workers from Tamilnadu who came to build the original railways
before Indian independence. After the community was threatened by expulsion by
the railway company in the early 1980s, the community—through its women‘s 30
leadership—organized itself in such a way that it was able to find new land, and
build permanent housing for nearly a thousand people. The community of Dalits
and others moved into their new homes in 2011, homes paid for by themselves.
This is but one instance of struggle against injustice carried out with great hope,
which calls forth celebration.
Hope and celebration occur together in today‘s biblical readings. The prophet
Habakkuk rejoices in the Lord at a time of drought and crop failure. Such
testimony that God will walk with his people in their difficulties is a celebration of
hope. The Blessed Virgin Mary walks to her cousin Elizabeth in order to celebrate
her pregnancy. She sings her Magnificat as a song of hope even before the birth of
her child. And from prison, Paul exhorts the Christian community at Philippi to
celebration: ―Rejoice in the Lord always.‖ In the Bible, celebration is linked to
hope in God‘s faithfulness.
The celebratory aspects of Dalit culture bear similar testimony to a gospel of faith
and hope, forged out of the crucible of the Dalit experience of struggle for dignity
and resilient survival. As we pray for Christian unity this week, we turn to the
celebration of life that we see in India with focus on the faithfulness of Dalits to
their Christian identity in the context of their struggles for life. Our celebration for
a unity among Christians which has yet to be achieved likewise occurs in hope and
struggle. It is grounded in hope that Christ‘s prayer that we may be one will be
achieved in God‘s time and through God‘s means. It is grounded in gratitude that
unity is God‘s gift, and in recognition of the unity we already experience as the
friends of Jesus, expressed in one baptism. It is grounded in the conviction that
God calls each of us to work for that unity, and that all our efforts will be used by
God, trusting with St Paul ―in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your
requests be made known to God.‖ The walk towards Christian unity requires that
we walk humbly with God in celebration, in prayer, and in hope.
Gracious God, may your Holy Spirit fill our communities with joy and celebration,
so that we can cherish the unity we already share, and zealously continue in the
search for visible unity. We rejoice in the faith and hope of peoples who refuse to
allow their dignity to be diminished, seeing in them your wonderful grace and your
promise of freedom. Teach us to share in their joy and learn from their faithful
endurance. Rekindle our hope and sustain our resolve, that in Christ‘s name we
may walk together in love, raising a united voice of praise, and singing together
one prayer of adoration.
God of life, lead us to justice and peace. Amen.31
What are the struggles towards justice in your community? What are the causes
for celebration on the way?
What are the struggles towards Christian unity in your community? What are
the causes for celebration along the way?
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE
1 JANUARY 2013
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS
1. EACH NEW YEAR brings the expectation of a better world. In light of this, I ask God, the Father of humanity, to grant us concord and peace, so that the aspirations of all for a happy and prosperous life may be achieved.
Fifty years after the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which helped to strengthen the Church’s mission in the world, it is heartening to realize that Christians, as the People of God in fellowship with him and sojourning among mankind, are committed within history to sharing humanity’s joys and hopes, grief and anguish,  as they proclaim the salvation of Christ and promote peace for all.
In effect, our times, marked by globalization with its positive and negative aspects, as well as the continuation of violent conflicts and threats of war, demand a new, shared commitment in pursuit of the common good and the development of all men, and of the whole man.
It is alarming to see hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor, by the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism. In addition to the varied forms of terrorism and international crime, peace is also endangered by those forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism which distort the true nature of religion, which is called to foster fellowship and reconciliation among people.
All the same, the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind’s innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life. In other words, the desire for peace corresponds to a fundamental moral principle, namely, the duty and right to an integral social and communitarian development, which is part of God’s plan for mankind. Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift.
All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).
2. The beatitudes which Jesus proclaimed (cf. Mt 5:3-12 and Lk 6:20-23) are promises. In the biblical tradition, the beatitude is a literary genre which always involves some good news, a “gospel”, which culminates in a promise. Therefore, the beatitudes are not only moral exhortations whose observance foresees in due time – ordinarily in the next life – a reward or a situation of future happiness. Rather, the blessedness of which the beatitudes speak consists in the fulfilment of a promise made to all those who allow themselves to be guided by the requirements of truth, justice and love. In the eyes of the world, those who trust in God and his promises often appear naïve or far from reality. Yet Jesus tells them that not only in the next life, but already in this life, they will discover that they are children of God, and that God has always been, and ever will be, completely on their side. They will understand that they are not alone, because he is on the side of those committed to truth, justice and love. Jesus, the revelation of the Father’s love, does not hesitate to offer himself in self-sacrifice. Once we accept Jesus Christ, God and man, we have the joyful experience of an immense gift: the sharing of God’s own life, the life of grace, the pledge of a fully blessed existence. Jesus Christ, in particular, grants us true peace, which is born of the trusting encounter of man with God.
Jesus’ beatitude tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort. In effect, peace presupposes a humanism open to transcendence. It is the fruit of the reciprocal gift, of a mutual enrichment, thanks to the gift which has its source in God and enables us to live with others and for others. The ethics of peace is an ethics of fellowship and sharing. It is indispensable, then, that the various cultures in our day overcome forms of anthropology and ethics based on technical and practical suppositions which are merely subjectivistic and pragmatic, in virtue of which relationships of coexistence are inspired by criteria of power or profit, means become ends and vice versa, and culture and education are centred on instruments, technique and efficiency alone. The precondition for peace is the dismantling of the dictatorship of relativism and of the supposition of a completely autonomous morality which precludes acknowledgment of the ineluctable natural moral law inscribed by God upon the conscience of every man and woman. Peace is the building up of coexistence in rational and moral terms, based on a foundation whose measure is not created by man, but rather by God. As Psalm 29 puts it: “May the Lord give strength to his people; may the Lord bless his people with peace” (v. 11).
Peace: God’s gift and the fruit of human effort
3. Peace concerns the human person as a whole, and it involves complete commitment. It is peace with God through a life lived according to his will. It is interior peace with oneself, and exterior peace with our neighbours and all creation. Above all, as Blessed John XXIII wrote in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris, whose fiftieth anniversary will fall in a few months, it entails the building up of a coexistence based on truth, freedom, love and justice. The denial of what makes up the true nature of human beings in its essential dimensions, its intrinsic capacity to know the true and the good and, ultimately, to know God himself, jeopardizes peacemaking. Without the truth about man inscribed by the Creator in the human heart, freedom and love become debased, and justice loses the ground of its exercise.
To become authentic peacemakers, it is fundamental to keep in mind our transcendent dimension and to enter into constant dialogue with God, the Father of mercy, whereby we implore the redemption achieved for us by his only-begotten Son. In this way mankind can overcome that progressive dimming and rejection of peace which is sin in all its forms: selfishness and violence, greed and the will to power and dominion, intolerance, hatred and unjust structures.
The attainment of peace depends above all on recognizing that we are, in God, one human family. This family is structured, as the Encyclical Pacem in Terris taught, by interpersonal relations and institutions supported and animated by a communitarian “we”, which entails an internal and external moral order in which, in accordance with truth and justice, reciprocal rights and mutual duties are sincerely recognized. Peace is an order enlivened and integrated by love, in such a way that we feel the needs of others as our own, share our goods with others and work throughout the world for greater communion in spiritual values. It is an order achieved in freedom, that is, in a way consistent with the dignity of persons who, by their very nature as rational beings, take responsibility for their own actions.
Peace is not a dream or something utopian; it is possible. Our gaze needs to go deeper, beneath superficial appearances and phenomena, to discern a positive reality which exists in human hearts, since every man and woman has been created in the image of God and is called to grow and contribute to the building of a new world. God himself, through the incarnation of his Son and his work of redemption, has entered into history and has brought about a new creation and a new covenant between God and man (cf. Jer 31:31-34), thus enabling us to have a “new heart” and a “new spirit” (cf. Ez 36:26).
For this very reason the Church is convinced of the urgency of a new proclamation of Jesus Christ, the first and fundamental factor of the integral development of peoples and also of peace. Jesus is indeed our peace, our justice and our reconciliation (cf. Eph 2:14; 2 Cor 5:18). The peacemaker, according to Jesus’ beatitude, is the one who seeks the good of the other, the fullness of good in body and soul, today and tomorrow.
From this teaching one can infer that each person and every community, whether religious, civil, educational or cultural, is called to work for peace. Peace is principally the attainment of the common good in society at its different levels, primary and intermediary, national, international and global. Precisely for this reason it can be said that the paths which lead to the attainment of the common good are also the paths that must be followed in the pursuit of peace.
Peacemakers are those who love, defend and promote life in its fullness
4. The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.
Those who insufficiently value human life and, in consequence, support among other things the liberalization of abortion, perhaps do not realize that in this way they are proposing the pursuit of a false peace. The flight from responsibility, which degrades human persons, and even more so the killing of a defenceless and innocent being, will never be able to produce happiness or peace. Indeed how could one claim to bring about peace, the integral development of peoples or even the protection of the environment without defending the life of those who are weakest, beginning with the unborn. Every offence against life, especially at its beginning, inevitably causes irreparable damage to development, peace and the environment. Neither is it just to introduce surreptitiously into legislation false rights or freedoms which, on the basis of a reductive and relativistic view of human beings and the clever use of ambiguous expressions aimed at promoting a supposed right to abortion and euthanasia, pose a threat to the fundamental right to life.
There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.
Consequently, another important way of helping to build peace is for legal systems and the administration of justice to recognize the right to invoke the principle of conscientious objection in the face of laws or government measures that offend against human dignity, such as abortion and euthanasia.
One of the fundamental human rights, also with reference to international peace, is the right of individuals and communities to religious freedom. At this stage in history, it is becoming increasingly important to promote this right not only from the negative point of view, as freedom from – for example, obligations or limitations involving the freedom to choose one’s religion – but also from the positive point of view, in its various expressions, as freedom for – for example, bearing witness to one’s religion, making its teachings known, engaging in activities in the educational, benevolent and charitable fields which permit the practice of religious precepts, and existing and acting as social bodies structured in accordance with the proper doctrinal principles and institutional ends of each. Sadly, even in countries of long-standing Christian tradition, instances of religious intolerance are becoming more numerous, especially in relation to Christianity and those who simply wear identifying signs of their religion.
Peacemakers must also bear in mind that, in growing sectors of public opinion, the ideologies of radical liberalism and technocracy are spreading the conviction that economic growth should be pursued even to the detriment of the state’s social responsibilities and civil society’s networks of solidarity, together with social rights and duties. It should be remembered that these rights and duties are fundamental for the full realization of other rights and duties, starting with those which are civil and political.
One of the social rights and duties most under threat today is the right to work. The reason for this is that labour and the rightful recognition of workers’ juridical status are increasingly undervalued, since economic development is thought to depend principally on completely free markets. Labour is thus regarded as a variable dependent on economic and financial mechanisms. In this regard, I would reaffirm that human dignity and economic, social and political factors, demand that we continue “to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone.” If this ambitious goal is to be realized, one prior condition is a fresh outlook on work, based on ethical principles and spiritual values that reinforce the notion of work as a fundamental good for the individual, for the family and for society. Corresponding to this good are a duty and a right that demand courageous new policies of universal employment.
Building the good of peace through a new model of development and economics
5. In many quarters it is now recognized that a new model of development is needed, as well as a new approach to the economy. Both integral, sustainable development in solidarity and the common good require a correct scale of goods and values which can be structured with God as the ultimate point of reference. It is not enough to have many different means and choices at one’s disposal, however good these may be. Both the wide variety of goods fostering development and the presence of a wide range of choices must be employed against the horizon of a good life, an upright conduct that acknowledges the primacy of the spiritual and the call to work for the common good. Otherwise they lose their real value, and end up becoming new idols.
In order to emerge from the present financial and economic crisis – which has engendered ever greater inequalities – we need people, groups and institutions which will promote life by fostering human creativity, in order to draw from the crisis itself an opportunity for discernment and for a new economic model. The predominant model of recent decades called for seeking maximum profit and consumption, on the basis of an individualistic and selfish mindset, aimed at considering individuals solely in terms of their ability to meet the demands of competitiveness. Yet, from another standpoint, true and lasting success is attained through the gift of ourselves, our intellectual abilities and our entrepreneurial skills, since a “liveable” or truly human economic development requires the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity and the logic of gift. Concretely, in economic activity, peacemakers are those who establish bonds of fairness and reciprocity with their colleagues, workers, clients and consumers. They engage in economic activity for the sake of the common good and they experience this commitment as something transcending their self-interest, for the benefit of present and future generations. Thus they work not only for themselves, but also to ensure for others a future and a dignified employment.
In the economic sector, states in particular need to articulate policies of industrial and agricultural development concerned with social progress and the growth everywhere of constitutional and democratic states. The creation of ethical structures for currency, financial and commercial markets is also fundamental and indispensable; these must be stabilized and better coordinated and controlled so as not to prove harmful to the very poor. With greater resolve than has hitherto been the case, the concern of peacemakers must also focus upon the food crisis, which is graver than the financial crisis. The issue of food security is once more central to the international political agenda, as a result of interrelated crises, including sudden shifts in the price of basic foodstuffs, irresponsible behaviour by some economic actors and insufficient control on the part of governments and the international community. To face this crisis, peacemakers are called to work together in a spirit of solidarity, from the local to the international level, with the aim of enabling farmers, especially in small rural holdings, to carry out their activity in a dignified and sustainable way from the social, environmental and economic points of view.
Education for a culture of peace: the role of the family and institutions
6. I wish to reaffirm forcefully that the various peacemakers are called to cultivate a passion for the common good of the family and for social justice, and a commitment to effective social education.
No one should ignore or underestimate the decisive role of the family, which is the basic cell of society from the demographic, ethical, pedagogical, economic and political standpoints. The family has a natural vocation to promote life: it accompanies individuals as they mature and it encourages mutual growth and enrichment through caring and sharing. The Christian family in particular serves as a seedbed for personal maturation according to the standards of divine love. The family is one of the indispensable social subjects for the achievement of a culture of peace. The rights of parents and their primary role in the education of their children in the area of morality and religion must be safeguarded. It is in the family that peacemakers, tomorrow’s promoters of a culture of life and love, are born and nurtured.
Religious communities are involved in a special way in this immense task of education for peace. The Church believes that she shares in this great responsibility as part of the new evangelization, which is centred on conversion to the truth and love of Christ and, consequently, the spiritual and moral rebirth of individuals and societies. Encountering Jesus Christ shapes peacemakers, committing them to fellowship and to overcoming injustice.
Cultural institutions, schools and universities have a special mission of peace. They are called to make a notable contribution not only to the formation of new generations of leaders, but also to the renewal of public institutions, both national and international. They can also contribute to a scientific reflection which will ground economic and financial activities on a solid anthropological and ethical basis. Today’s world, especially the world of politics, needs to be sustained by fresh thinking and a new cultural synthesis so as to overcome purely technical approaches and to harmonize the various political currents with a view to the common good. The latter, seen as an ensemble of positive interpersonal and institutional relationships at the service of the integral growth of individuals and groups, is at the basis of all true education for peace.
A pedagogy for peacemakers
7. In the end, we see clearly the need to propose and promote a pedagogy of peace. This calls for a rich interior life, clear and valid moral points of reference, and appropriate attitudes and lifestyles. Acts of peacemaking converge for the achievement of the common good; they create interest in peace and cultivate peace. Thoughts, words and gestures of peace create a mentality and a culture of peace, and a respectful, honest and cordial atmosphere. There is a need, then, to teach people to love one another, to cultivate peace and to live with good will rather than mere tolerance. A fundamental encouragement to this is “to say no to revenge, to recognize injustices, to accept apologies without looking for them, and finally, to forgive”, in such a way that mistakes and offences can be acknowledged in truth, so as to move forward together towards reconciliation. This requires the growth of a pedagogy of pardon. Evil is in fact overcome by good, and justice is to be sought in imitating God the Father who loves all his children (cf. Mt 5:21-48). This is a slow process, for it presupposes a spiritual evolution, an education in lofty values, a new vision of human history. There is a need to renounce that false peace promised by the idols of this world along with the dangers which accompany it, that false peace which dulls consciences, which leads to self-absorption, to a withered existence lived in indifference. The pedagogy of peace, on the other hand, implies activity, compassion, solidarity, courage and perseverance.
Jesus embodied all these attitudes in his own life, even to the complete gift of himself, even to “losing his life” (cf. Mt 10:39; Lk 17:33; Jn 12:25). He promises his disciples that sooner or later they will make the extraordinary discovery to which I originally alluded, namely that God is in the world, the God of Jesus, fully on the side of man. Here I would recall the prayer asking God to make us instruments of his peace, to be able to bring his love wherever there is hatred, his mercy wherever there is hurt, and true faith wherever there is doubt. For our part, let us join Blessed John XXIII in asking God to enlighten all leaders so that, besides caring for the proper material welfare of their peoples, they may secure for them the precious gift of peace, break down the walls which divide them, strengthen the bonds of mutual love, grow in understanding, and pardon those who have done them wrong; in this way, by his power and inspiration all the peoples of the earth will experience fraternity, and the peace for which they long will ever flourish and reign among them.
With this prayer I express my hope that all will be true peacemakers, so that the city of man may grow in fraternal harmony, prosperity and peace.
From the Vatican, 8 December 2012
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
 Cf. ibid.: AAS 55 (1963), 266.
 Cf. ibid, 34 and 36: AAS 101 (2009), 668-670 and 671-672.
 BENEDICT XVI, Address at the Meeting with Members of the Government, Institutions of the Republic, the Diplomatic Corps, Religious Leaders and Representatives of the World of Culture, Baabda-Lebanon (15 September 2012): L’Osservatore Romano, 16 September 2012, p. 7.
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI FOR THE TWENTY-EIGHTH WORLD YOUTH DAY 2013
“Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19)
Dear young friends,
I greet all of you with great joy and affection. I am sure that many of you returned from World Youth Day in Madrid all the more “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7). This year in our Dioceses we celebrated the joy of being Christians, taking as our theme: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). And now we are preparing for the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013.
Before all else, I invite you once more to take part in this important event. The celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking that beautiful Brazilian city will be an eloquent symbol for us. Christ’s open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him, and his heart represents his immense love for everyone and for each of you. Let yourselves be drawn to Christ! Experience this encounter along with all the other young people who will converge on Rio for the next World Youth Day! Accept Christ’s love and you will be the witnesses so needed by our world.
I invite you to prepare for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro by meditating even now on the theme of the meeting: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19). This is the great missionary mandate that Christ gave the whole Church, and today, two thousand years later, it remains as urgent as ever. This mandate should resound powerfully in your hearts. The year of preparation for the gathering in Rio coincides with the Year of Faith, which began with the Synod of Bishops devoted to “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. I am happy that you too, dear young people, are involved in this missionary outreach on the part of the whole Church. To make Christ known is the most precious gift that you can give to others.
1. A pressing call
History shows how many young people, by their generous gift of self, made a great contribution to the Kingdom of God and the development of this world by proclaiming the Gospel. Filled with enthusiasm, they brought the Good News of God’s Love made manifest in Christ; they used the means and possibilities then available, which were far inferior to those we have today. One example which comes to mind is Blessed José de Anchieta. He was a young Spanish Jesuit of the sixteenth century who went as a missionary to Brazil before he was twenty years old and became a great apostle of the New World. But I also think of those among yourselves who are generously devoted to the Church’s mission. I saw a wonderful testimony of this at World Youth Day in Madrid, particularly at the meeting with volunteers.
Many young people today seriously question whether life is something good, and have a hard time finding their way. More generally, however, young people look at the difficulties of our world and ask themselves: is there anything I can do? The light of faith illumines this darkness. It helps us to understand that every human life is priceless because each of us is the fruit of God’s love. God loves everyone, even those who have fallen away from him or disregard him. God waits patiently. Indeed, God gave his Son to die and rise again in order to free us radically from evil. Christ sent his disciples forth to bring this joyful message of salvation and new life to all people everywhere.
The Church, in continuing this mission of evangelization, is also counting on you. Dear young people, you are the first missionaries among your contemporaries! At the end of the Second Vatican Council – whose fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating this year – the Servant of God Paul VI consigned a message to the youth of the world. It began: “It is to you, young men and women of the world, that the Council wishes to address its final message. For it is you who are to receive the torch from the hands of your elders and to live in the world at the period of the most massive transformations ever realized in its history. It is you who, taking up the best of the example and the teaching of your parents and your teachers, will shape the society of tomorrow. You will either be saved or perish with it”. It concluded with the words: “Build with enthusiasm a better world than what we have today!” (Message to Young People, 8 December 1965).
Dear friends, this invitation remains timely. We are passing through a very particular period of history. Technical advances have given us unprecedented possibilities for interaction between people and nations. But the globalization of these relationships will be positive and help the world to grow in humanity only if it is founded on love rather than on materialism. Love is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together. God is love. When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us. Anyone who understands this can only exclaim with Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).
2. Become Christ’s disciples
This missionary vocation comes to you for another reason as well, and that is because it is necessary for our personal journey in faith. Blessed John Paul II wrote that “faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (Redemptoris Missio, 2). When you proclaim the Gospel, you yourselves grow as you become more deeply rooted in Christ and mature as Christians. Missionary commitment is an essential dimension of faith. We cannot be true believers if we do not evangelize. The proclamation of the Gospel can only be the result of the joy that comes from meeting Christ and finding in him the rock on which our lives can be built. When you work to help others and proclaim the Gospel to them, then your own lives, so often fragmented because of your many activities, will find their unity in the Lord. You will also build up your own selves, and you will grow and mature in humanity.
What does it mean to be a missionary? Above all, it means being a disciple of Christ. It means listening ever anew to the invitation to follow him and look to him: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29). A disciple is a person attentive to Jesus’ word (cf. Lk 10:39), someone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Teacher who has loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Each one of you, therefore, should let yourself be shaped by God’s word every day. This will make you friends of the Lord Jesus and enable you to lead other young people to friendship with him.
I encourage you to think of the gifts you have received from God so that you can pass them on to others in turn. Learn to reread your personal history. Be conscious of the wonderful legacy passed down to you from previous generations. So many faith-filled people have been courageous in handing down the faith in the face of trials and incomprehension. Let us never forget that we are links in a great chain of men and women who have transmitted the truth of the faith and who depend on us to pass it on to others. Being a missionary presupposes knowledge of this legacy, which is the faith of the Church. It is necessary to know what you believe in, so that you can proclaim it. As I wrote in the introduction to the YouCat, the catechism for young people that I gave you at World Youth Day in Madrid, “you need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination” (Foreward).
3. Go forth!
Jesus sent his disciples forth on mission with this command: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:15-16). To evangelize means to bring the Good News of salvation to others and to let them know that this Good News is a person: Jesus Christ. When I meet him, when I discover how much I am loved by God and saved by God, I begin to feel not only the desire, but also the need to make God known to others. At the beginning of John’s Gospel we see how Andrew, immediately after he met Jesus, ran off to fetch his brother Simon (cf. 1:40-42). Evangelization always begins with an encounter with the Lord Jesus. Those who come to Jesus and have experienced his love, immediately want to share the beauty of the meeting and the joy born of his friendship. The more we know Christ, the more we want to talk about him. The more we speak with Christ, the more we want to speak about him. The more we are won over by Christ, the more we want to draw others to him.
Through Baptism, which brings us to new life, the Holy Spirit abides in us and inflames our minds and hearts. The Spirit shows us how to know God and to enter into ever deeper friendship with Christ. It is the Spirit who encourages us to do good, to serve others and to give of ourselves. Through Confirmation we are strengthened by the gifts of the Spirit so that we can bear witness to the Gospel in an increasingly mature way. It is the Spirit of love, therefore, who is the driving force behind our mission. The Spirit impels us to go out from ourselves and to “go forth” to evangelize. Dear young people, allow yourselves to be led on by the power of God’s love. Let that love overcome the tendency to remain enclosed in your own world with your own problems and your own habits. Have the courage to “go out” from yourselves in order to “go forth” towards others and to show them the way to an encounter with God.
4. Gather all nations
The risen Christ sent his disciples forth to bear witness to his saving presence before all the nations, because God in his superabundant love wants everyone to be saved and no one to be lost. By his loving sacrifice on the cross, Jesus opened up the way for every man and woman to come to know God and enter into a communion of love with him. He formed a community of disciples to bring the saving message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to reach men and women in every time and place. Let us make God’s desire our own!
Dear friends, open your eyes and look around you. So many young people no longer see any meaning in their lives. Go forth! Christ needs you too. Let yourselves be caught up and drawn along by his love. Be at the service of this immense love, so it can reach out to everyone, especially to those “far away”. Some people are far away geographically, but others are far away because their way of life has no place for God. Some people have not yet personally received the Gospel, while others have been given it, but live as if God did not exist. Let us open our hearts to everyone. Let us enter into conversation in simplicity and respect. If this conversation is held in true friendship, it will bear fruit. The “nations” that we are invited to reach out to are not only other countries in the world. They are also the different areas of our lives, such as our families, communities, places of study and work, groups of friends and places where we spend our free time. The joyful proclamation of the Gospel is meant for all the areas of our lives, without exception.
I would like to emphasize two areas where your missionary commitment is all the more necessary. Dear young people, the first is the field of social communications, particularly the world of the internet. As I mentioned to you on another occasion: “I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. […] It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this ‘digital continent’” (Message for the 43rd World Communications Day, 24 May 2009). Learn how to use these media wisely. Be aware of the hidden dangers they contain, especially the risk of addiction, of confusing the real world with the virtual, and of replacing direct and personal encounters and dialogue with internet contacts.
The second area is that of travel and migration. Nowadays more and more young people travel, sometimes for their studies or work, and at other times for pleasure. I am also thinking of the movements of migration which involve millions of people, very often young, who go to other regions or countries for financial or social reasons. Here too we can find providential opportunities for sharing the Gospel. Dear young people, do not be afraid to witness to your faith in these settings. It is a precious gift for those you meet when you communicate the joy of an encounter with Christ.
5. Make disciples!
I imagine that you have at times found it difficult to invite your contemporaries to an experience of faith. You have seen how many young people, especially at certain points in their life journey, desire to know Christ and to live the values of the Gospel, but also feel inadequate and incapable. What can we do? First, your closeness and your witness will themselves be a way in which God can touch their hearts. Proclaiming Christ is not only a matter of words, but something which involves one’s whole life and translates into signs of love. It is the love that Christ has poured into our hearts which makes us evangelizers. Consequently, our love must become more and more like Christ’s own love. We should always be prepared, like the Good Samaritan, to be attentive to those we meet, to listen, to be understanding and to help. In this way we can lead those who are searching for the truth and for meaning in life to God’s house, the Church, where hope and salvation abide (cf. Lk 10:29-37). Dear friends, never forget that the first act of love that you can do for others is to share the source of our hope. If we do not give them God, we give them too little! Jesus commanded his Apostles: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20). The main way that we have to “make disciples” is through Baptism and catechesis. This means leading the people we are evangelizing to encounter the living Christ above all in his word and in the sacraments. In this way they can believe in him, they can come to know God and to live in his grace. I would like each of you to ask yourself: Have I ever had the courage to propose Baptism to young people who have not received it? Have I ever invited anyone to embark on a journey of discovery of the Christian faith? Dear friends, do not be afraid to suggest an encounter with Christ to people of your own age. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Spirit will show you the way to know and love Christ even more fully, and to be creative in spreading the Gospel.
6. Firm in the faith
When faced with difficulties in the mission of evangelizing, perhaps you will be tempted to say, like the prophet Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. But God will say to you too: “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go” (Jer 1:6-7). Whenever you feel inadequate, incapable and weak in proclaiming and witnessing to the faith, do not be afraid. Evangelization is not our initiative, and it does not depend on our talents. It is a faithful and obedient response to God’s call and so it is not based on our power but on God’s. Saint Paul knew this from experience: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor 4:7).
For this reason, I encourage you to make prayer and the sacraments your foundation. Authentic evangelization is born of prayer and sustained by prayer. We must first speak with God in order to be able to speak about God. In prayer, we entrust to the Lord the people to whom we have been sent, asking him to touch their hearts. We ask the Holy Spirit to make us his instruments for their salvation. We ask Christ to put his words on our lips and to make us signs of his love. In a more general way, we pray for the mission of the whole Church, as Jesus explicitly asked us: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38). Find in the Eucharist the wellspring of your life of faith and Christian witness, regularly attending Mass each Sunday and whenever you can during the week. Approach the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. It is a very special encounter with God’s mercy in which he welcomes us, forgives us and renews our hearts in charity. Make an effort to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if you have not already done so, and prepare yourselves for it with care and commitment. Confirmation is, like the Eucharist, a sacrament of mission, for it gives us the strength and love of the Holy Spirit to profess fearlessly our faith. I also encourage you to practise Eucharistic adoration. Time spent in listening and talking with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament becomes a source of new missionary enthusiasm.
If you follow this path, Christ himself will give you the ability to be completely faithful to his word and to bear faithful and courageous witness to him. At times you will be called to give proof of your perseverance, particularly when the word of God is met with rejection or opposition. In certain areas of the world, some of you suffer from the fact that you cannot bear public witness to your faith in Christ due to the lack of religious freedom. Some have already paid with their lives the price of belonging to the Church. I ask you to remain firm in the faith, confident that Christ is at your side in every trial. To you too he says: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12).
7. With the whole Church
Dear young people, if you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are sent, you need the Church. No one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together. He spoke to them in the plural when he said: “Make disciples”. Our witness is always given as members of the Christian community, and our mission is made fruitful by the communion lived in the Church. It is by our unity and love for one another that others will recognize us as Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35). I thank God for the wonderful work of evangelization being carried out by our Christian communities, our parishes and our ecclesial movements. The fruits of this evangelization belong to the whole Church. As Jesus said: “One sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37).
Here I cannot fail to express my gratitude for the great gift of missionaries, who devote themselves completely to proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I also thank the Lord for priests and consecrated persons, who give themselves totally so that Jesus Christ will be proclaimed and loved. Here I would like to encourage young people who are called by God to commit themselves with enthusiasm to these vocations: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). To those who leave everything to follow him, Jesus promised a hundredfold as much and eternal life besides (cf. Mt 19:29).
I also give thanks for all those lay men and women who do their best to live their daily lives as mission wherever they find themselves, at home or at work, so that Christ will be loved and served and that the Kingdom of God will grow. I think especially of all those who work in the fields of education, health care, business, politics and finance, and in the many other areas of the lay apostolate. Christ needs your commitment and your witness. Let nothing – whether difficulties or lack of understanding – discourage you from bringing the Gospel of Christ wherever you find yourselves. Each of you is a precious piece in the great mosaic of evangelization!
8. “Here I am, Lord!”
Finally, dear young people, I would ask all of you to hear, in the depths of your heart, Jesus’ call to proclaim his Gospel. As the great statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro shows, his heart is open with love for each and every person, and his arms are open wide to reach out to everyone. Be yourselves the heart and arms of Jesus! Go forth and bear witness to his love! Be a new generation of missionaries, impelled by love and openness to all! Follow the example of the Church’s great missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier and so many others.
At the conclusion of World Youth Day in Madrid, I blessed a number of young people from the different continents who were going forth on mission. They represented all those young people who, echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, have said to the Lord: “Here I am. Send me!” (Is 6:8). The Church has confidence in you and she thanks you for the joy and energy that you contribute. Generously put your talents to use in the service of the proclamation of the Gospel! We know that the Holy Spirit is granted to those who open their hearts to this proclamation. And do not be afraid: Jesus, the Saviour of the world, is with us every day until the end of time (cf. Mt 28:20).
This call, which I make to the youth of the whole world, has a particular resonance for you, dear young people of Latin America! During the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, in Aparecida in 2007, the Bishops launched a “continental mission”. Young people form a majority of the population in South America and they are an important and precious resource for the Church and society. Be in the first line of missionaries! Now that World Youth Day is coming back to Latin America, I ask you, the young people on the continent, to transmit the enthusiasm of your faith to your contemporaries from all over the world!
May Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, whom we also invoke under the titles of Our Lady of Aparecida and Our Lady of Guadalupe, accompany each of you in your mission as a witness to God’s love. To all of you, with particular affection, I impart my Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 18 October 2012
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
Letter of the Rector Major to the SYM
Click here to get the letter in English.
Commentary on the Strenna for 2012
The Rector Major
Click here to find the strenna 2012 in English.
Post-synodal Apostolic Exortation
Click here to find the Apostolic Exortation in English.