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The Name of God and human history

Benedict XVI's Visit to the Church in Liguria was exemplary. This is because by concentrating on the essential, which is characteristic of the Bishop of Rome, he revealed the Successor of Peter's pastoral face.
On the Solemnity of the Trinity, despite the brevity of his Visit, the Pope conveyed a strong impression of the "essence of Christianity", which, as he said in Savona, is summed up in God's Name:  "Mercy, which is a synonym of love, of grace". And this Name, "so old yet ever new", is not a distant abstraction; on the contrary, Benedict XVI said in Genoa, "Our history depends on God's Name".
These were not words scattered to the winds but a teaching - taken from Jesus who, precisely, "comes to the point"; and the Pope wanted to impart this teaching with trust and friendship to the hearts of those who had come to listen to him. This happened above all at the Meeting with the youth, a real meditation on the meaning of the future and the importance of God, a reflection that was not prevented by the constant downpour, indeed, a symbol of rain which bathes the "arid terrain of our souls".
On this new Journey in the Country of which he is Primate, Benedict XVI chose to visit two cities with special ties with Rome and its Bishops, both rooted in the devotion to Mary who "never speaks of herself but always of God". And by interweaving symbols in this manner the Roman Pontiff wished to illustrate the example of his two great Predecessors - Benedict XV and Pius VII - who, in their different ways were able to face the powers of the world:  the former, the "Pope of peace" in the First World War and the latter, with his courage in facing the Napoleonic storm, "that dark page of Europe's history", teach us courage "in facing the challenges of the world:  materialism, relativism, secularism, without ever yielding to compromises".
It was looking at the vital and open transmission of the Christian faith, in other words to tradition, which enabled the Pope to connect the past vicissitudes of the Ligurian Church - with such eminent figures of her history as the two della Rovere Pontiffs, Sixtus IV and Julius II, and exemplary in their witness as the Saints commemorated in the Genoese Cathedral - to those of today, epitomized by three Cardinal Archbishops, Metropolitans of Genoa whom Benedict XVI expressly chose to mention because of their service, not only to their community but also to the universal Church:  from Cardinal Giuseppe Siri to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, today his Secretary of State, and to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who is President of the Italian Bishops' Conference.
In the uninterrupted continuity between past and present, the Church looks to the future as she journeys on, certain of Jesus' promises:  "Those who have chosen God still have before them in old age a future without end and without threats".
And, for Christians, choosing God means taking the daily decisions they have always taken:  prayer, especially "a simple style of domestic prayer", the rediscovery of the Christian root of Sunday, Confession, works of charity which discover Christ's Face in the suffering and marginalized, the witness of priests who must "search people out" as the Lord did, a spiritual life to be nurtured, "a "substantial' formation that is more necessary than ever" to develop "thought-out faith that can engage in profound dialogue with all":  non-Cath-olics, non-Christians and non-believers.
These daily choices always involve "the courage to go against the tide", sure that God, even in difficulties and suffering, "never abandons us", confident that the witness of God's primacy and of the presence of his Name in human history will shine out before the world.




St. Peter’s Square

Nov. 17, 2019