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Monday, September 21, 2009

 

Pope Benedict's test for holiness


Pope offers test to see if God is within

VATICAN, Sept. 16, 2009-- There is a way to find out if God is dwelling and working within us, says Benedict XVI: We can ask if we respond to offenses by forgiving and to hatred with love.

The Pope offered this discernment criterion today when he dedicated the general audience in Paul VI Hall to a reflection on Symeon the New Theologian.

The Holy Father said that the 11th-century monk "calls us all to attention to the spiritual life, to the hidden presence of God in us, to honesty of conscience and purification, to conversion of heart, so that the Holy Spirit will be present in us and guide us."

The Pope proposed that attention to our interior growth is "even more important" than the "just" preoccupation with our physical growth.

And interior growth, he explained, consists in "knowledge of God, in true knowledge, not only taken from books, but interior, and in communion with God, to experience his help at all times and in every circumstance."

Confirming Christ

Benedict XVI pointed to something Symeon experienced that confirmed for the monk that God was within him.

He recounted: "[Symeon] began to feel like 'a poor man who loves his brothers.' [...] He saw around him many enemies that wanted to set snares for him and harm him but despite this he felt in himself an intense movement of love for them. How to explain this?

"Obviously, such love could not come from himself, but must spring from another source. Symeon understood that it came from Christ present in him and all was clarified for him: He had the sure proof that the source of love in him was the presence of Christ and that to have in oneself a love that goes beyond one's personal intentions indicates that the source of love is within."

The Pope affirmed that Symeon's experience is important for us today, "to find the criteria that will indicate to us if we are really close to God, if God exists and lives in us."

"God's love grows in us if we are really united to him in prayer and in listening to his word, with openness of heart," the Holy Father explained. "Only divine love makes us open our hearts to others and makes us sensitive to their needs, making us regard everyone as brothers and sisters and inviting us to respond with love to hatred, and with forgiveness to offense." (Zenit)


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