Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pope Affirms Love is the Key to Knowledge of God

Urges Spiritual Battle Against Greed to Solve Economic Crisis

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming the words of a eighth century writer, who noted that although intellectual study can help, only when we love God can we truly know him.

The Pope said this today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square, in which he continued a catechesis series about great writers of the Church in the Middle Ages, speaking today about the monk and abbot, Ambrose Autpert.

He explained, "The Church lives in people and whoever wants to get to know the Church, to understand its mystery, must consider the people who have lived and who continue to live its message, its mystery."

The Pontiff noted that Autpert lived in an age when "strong political tensions" influenced life inside the monasteries, motivating him to write with the intention of helping his monks live virtuously. The abbot "intended to train the monks specifically on how to address the spiritual battle on a daily basis."

In a treatise on the conflict between vice and virtue, the Holy Father said, "He presents 24 pairs of combatants in a kind of juxtaposition: each vice tries to persuade the soul with subtle reasoning, while the respective virtues refute such insinuations preferably using the words of Scripture."

Benedict XVI pointed out in particular the monk's description of greed and the corresponding virtue of contempt of the world. He explained: "This contempt of the world is not a contempt of creation, beauty and goodness of creation and the Creator, but a contempt of the false vision of the world presented and insinuated to us by our own greed.

"This greed affirms that the value of 'having' is the supreme value of our being, of our living in the world and our image of ourselves as important. And so greed falsifies the creation of the world and destroys the world."

He observed that like St. Paul, Autpert sees greed as the root of all evil. The monk notes that this vice influences the rich and powerful as well as the souls of his monks.

The Pope added: "I offer this reflection, which, in light of this global economic crisis, is revealed in all its relevance. We see that from this very root of greed this crisis is born.

"Ambrose foresaw the objection that the rich and powerful would raise, saying: but we are not monks, these ascetic standards don't apply to us. And he answers: 'It is true what you say, but also for you, in your own way and to the best of your ability, the hard and narrow way applies to you, because the Lord has proposed only two doors and two ways -- the narrow gate and the wide, the hard and comfortable; he did not indicate a third door or a third way.'"

The Pontiff affirmed that even rich people must "fight against greed, against the desire to possess, to appear, against the false notion of freedom as the right to dispose of everything according to one's own will," and they must also "find the authentic path of truth, of love and in this way the path of moral rectitude."

The abbot wrote that the piety that frees the "soul from attachment to earthly and transient pleasures" should be "united with the deep study of the sacred sciences, especially the meditation of Sacred Scripture."

The Holy Father noted the example of Autpert, who emphasized that "every theological search for truth relies on love," and prayed to God, "When you are scrutinized intellectually by us, you're not discovered as you truly are; it's only when you are loved that we reach you."

Benedict XVI continued: "Autpert understood that with mere theological research God can not be known as he really is. Only love can reach him. Let us listen to this message and ask the Lord to help us live the mystery of the Church today, in this our time."

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