VATICAN CITY, AUG. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation
of Benedict XVI´s letter sent by his secretary of state,
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on the occasion of Italy´s 60th National
Liturgical Week, being held in Barletta with the theme: "Celebrate
Mercy: ´Let Yourselves Be Reconciled With God.´"
The letter is addressed
to Bishop Felice de Molfetta of Cerignola-Ascoli Satriano, president of
Italy´s Center of Liturgical Action.
* * *
Most Revered Excellency:
On the occasion of the 60th National Liturgical Week,
which will be held in Barletta this Aug. 24-28, I
am happy to give you, the collaborators of the Center
of Liturgical Activity (CLA), the relators and all the participants,
the cordial greeting of the Supreme Pontiff, who desires the
serene and fruitful development of the meeting and assures all
of a special remembrance in prayer.
appreciation for the commitment over these decades, in constant adherence
to the doctrine and indications of the conciliar constitution "Sacrosanctum
Concilium" (SC), and in wise obedience to the episcopate and
the Holy See in proposing the mystery of the faith,
which is given to man in the Church when celebrated
(cf. SC, 6-7). At the same time, he invites CLA
to continue on this path with the same fidelity and
spirit, helping to spread -- among laborers of the Lord´s
vineyard -- new courage and new perseverance.
these 60 years, the liturgical weeks have given bishops, priests,
consecrated persons, experts, diocesan directors, and faithful who love the
liturgy, precious opportunities to reflect more profoundly, always from the
perspective of ecclesial service, that is, that of making the
community grow in the spirit and life of the liturgy.
It has been possible to grow closer to its center
(Easter, the Eucharist), and its articulation (the sacraments, Word of
God, Liturgy of the Hours, Liturgical Year), and its relation
to life, culture, art and music. Thanks to the uninterrupted
succession of the weeks and the work of those who
programmed them and implemented them, the Church in Italy, especially
in those dioceses in which they have been held, has
reaped great benefit, growing in zeal for the "full and
active participation by all the people […] for it is
the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are
to derive the true Christian spirit" (SC, 14).
of the 60th Week, "Celebrate Mercy: ´Let Yourselves Be Reconciled
With God´" (2 Corinthians 5:20), is rooted in this line,
calling attention to the sacrament of penance or reconciliation --
a particularly opportune choice given both its importance and pertinence
-- 35 years after the new Rite of Penance came
into force for the Church in Italy, and in happy
coincidence with the Year for Priests. The objective of your
meeting consists in understanding the whole penitential process of Christian
life, in which the sacrament is integrated as an intense
moment, always in an ecclesial context. It will be interesting
to verify if, beyond the change in the rite, an
adequate theological, spiritual and pastoral mentality has been formed.
In this connection, in a message sent to the
participants in the recent 20th course on the Internal Forum,
promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Pontiff stated: "These
days, the correct formation of believers´ consciences is without a
doubt one of the pastoral priorities because, unfortunately, as I
have reaffirmed on other occasions, to the extent that the
sense of sin is lost, feelings of guilt increase which
people seek to eliminate by recourse to inadequate palliative remedies.
The many invaluable spiritual and pastoral tools that contribute to
the formation of consciences should be increasingly developed" (Benedict XVI,
March 12, 2009).
And he adds: "Like all the sacraments,
the sacrament of Penance too requires catechesis beforehand and a
mystagogical catechesis for a deeper knowledge of the sacrament: ´per
ritus et preces.´ … Catechesis should be combined with a
wise use of preaching, which has had different forms in
the Church´s history according to the mentality and pastoral needs
of the faithful" (ibid.).
Along with an adequate formation of the
moral conscience, maturity of life and celebration of the sacrament,
it is necessary to foster in the faithful the experience
of spiritual support. Precisely for this reason, the Pope continued
to note, today "wise and holy ´spiritual teachers´" are needed,
exhorting priests to keep "ever alive within them the knowledge
that they must be worthy ´ministers´ of divine mercy and
responsible educators of consciences," inspired in the example of the
Cure d´Ars, St. John Vianney, of whom precisely this year
we observe the 150th anniversary of his death (cf. ibid.).
His Holiness invokes the heavenly intercession of the
Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, so that the 60th liturgy
week may contribute to foster a new start and renewal
in the celebration of mercy and in the meaningful experience
of divine pardon and, being grateful for the service given
to the Church by the Center of Liturgical Activity, imparts
to Your Excellency, to the archbishop of Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie and Nazareth,
and to the rest of the bishops and priests present,
to the relators and to all the participants a heartfelt
special apostolic blessing.
For my part, I assure
you of remembrance in prayer and take advantage of the
opportunity to confirm my affection in the Lord.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone,
Secretary of State
[Translation by ZENIT]