“In a world where individualism seems to regulate relationships between people, rendering them increasingly fragile, faith calls us to be people of God, to be Church, and bearers of God’s love and communion for all mankind", said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he continued his general audience catechesis on the ‘Act of Faith’, more familiarly known as the ‘Creed’.
Despite foreboding skies and sharp temperatures, the audience was held in St Peter’s square. In off the cuff comments to the thousands who withstood the drizzle huddled under umbrellas to hear the Pope’s words, Benedict XVI noted ‘it could be worse’.
Last week the Pope had spoken of how we have seen that faith is something intensely personal: a gift of God which transforms and enriches our life. But, he asked this Wednesday: “If faith is of a purely personal, individual character? Does it only affect me personally? Do I live my faith alone?”
In comments in Italian Benedict XVI said : “The answer is found in Baptism, when the priest asks the person to be baptized if he believes in God the Father, Jesus His only Son and the Holy Spirit. The "I do" with which we answer "is not the result of my solitary reflection, it is not the product of my own thoughts, but it is the result of a relationship, a dialogue in which there is a listening, and receiving and response; it is communicating with Jesus that takes me out of the "I" that is enclosed in on myself to open up to the love of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I find myself united not only Jesus, but also all those who have walked and walk on the same path; and this new birth, which begins with Baptism, continues throughout the course of my existence. I can not build my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God through a community of believers, the Church, and I a become part of the multitude of believers in a community that is not only sociological, but rooted in the eternal love of God. "
When we recite the Creed during the Mass "we express ourselves in the first person, but as a community we confess the one faith of the Church. That "I" individually pronounced is united to that of an immense choir in time and space, in which everyone contributes, so to speak, for a harmonious polyphony of faith". In fact since Pentecost, "when the journey of the Church began," the Church has been a "community" that brings the announcement of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ “to the ends of the world". The Church “is the People of God based on new covenant thanks to the blood of Christ, whose members do not belong to a particular social or ethnic group, but are men and women from every nation and culture. It is a ' Catholic' people, that is, one which speaks new languages, universally open to welcome all, beyond all boundaries, breaking down all barriers".
Thus there is "an unbroken chain of life of the Church, of the proclamation of the Word of God, of the celebration of the sacraments – he underscored - that comes to us and which we call Tradition. It guarantees that what we believe is the original message of Christ, preached by the apostles. "
Pope Benedict concluded: "The widespread contemporary tendency to relegate faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature. We need the Church to confirm our faith and to experience together the gifts of God: His Word , the Sacraments, the sustenance of grace and witness of love. So our "I" in the "we" of the Church will be able to perceive that it is, simultaneously recipient and protagonist of an event that surpasses it: the experience of communion with God who establishes communion between people. The new life I live in Christ through the gift of his Spirit is received and nourished within the Church’s communion. In this sense, the Church is our Mother. As Saint Cyprian says, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother”. Dwelling in the Church’s living Tradition, may we mature in the faith we have received and, by putting it into practice, become beacons of Christ’s light and peace in our world”.
Following this weekly catechesis, in his greetings to English speaking pilgrims at the Wednesday General Audience, he said: “Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding”.